After three years in the making, our film Northern Disco Lights covering the birth and rise of Norwegian dance music has been released, well received, competed at film festivals, won an award, been shown on TV and is now streaming on Red Bull TV. We have just had a big show at London’s Village Underground and the promo cycle is pretty much over, except for one final road trip.
Team NDL are headed to the place that is the most northern bit of Northern Norway…with Viking horns on. In fact, it’s the northern most settlement in the world –Svalbård.
Since seeing Carl Christian Lein Størmer, Per and Aggie Martinsen’s brilliant film Ghost Radio Hunter (go seek) it’s been caught in our imaginations and we’ve been trying to get there ever since. There are more polar bears than people (approx. 3000 / 2400), it’s pitch black for 6 months of the year and has a deserted Soviet mining town. It’s as far North from Tromsø as Tromsø is from Oslo and it’s next stop, the North Pole.
After much manoeuvring, Per (Mental Overdrive) managed to arrange a trip to the island for a screening and party with Mental Overdrive live, myself (Flash Atkins) and the mighty Bjørn Torske. Pete Jenkinson (producer) is along for the trip but unfortunately, the third cog in the production team, camera wizz Terje Rafaelsen won’t be as he’s working. He’ll be missed.
It’s hard to know what to expect from the party but the first thing that comes to mind is Gruff Rhys wearing a robot head in the Patagonian outback and playing to a room full of bemused locals in in his excellent film, Separado! We shall see.
So it’s time to practise my gun skills (everybody carries them in case of bear attacks) and stock up on vitamin D.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9
An over night stay in Tromsø where we catch up with Terje and nail the duty free. The city used to feel a long way North, not any more. Forecast for Longyearbyen, -1 and 6 metres per second wind that will make it feel like -10. Coats and snow boots are borrowed.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10
We get on the once daily flight and take off for the Arctic with additional decks, CDJs and flight cases in tow. It’s an hour and forty minutes and a very strange sensation as it gets steadily darker outside. It really does feel like we are flying into the abyss, especially when the wind picks up and things get pretty choppy. As we start to descend, the aircraft is pushed and pulled around and there is still nothing to see outside. Suddenly landing lights appear at eye height and it’s white-knuckle time. Everybody seems to be holding their breath and there’s a collective exhale as we touch the ground.
So here we are in Longyearbyen, the world’s most Northernmost settlement. We are greeted by Jan Martin Berg (our host for the weekend and the man who put it all together) and Per, and we hook up with Bjørn Torske and Nicolas Horne who’s doing the visuals. Then it’s out in to the wilderness. Town is a few kilometres away but we take a diversion to the “Doomsday” Svalbård Global Seed Vault that stores over a million packets of seeds. It is backup for the world’s other 1,750 banks in case of regional or global crises and it certainly seems like we may need it at the moment.
The rough track climbs up in to the mountain and it seems like we are on another planet, dark, barren and cold. The entrance is just a door with some kind of light installation over the top that makes it feel even more sci-fi. You know when they first get to the cave in Prometheus, like that.
Back in the car we bombard Jan-Martin with questions; how cold does it get (-25 degrees), do you really need a gun for polar bears (yes), do they come in to town (occasionally), how long between the 24 hour dark nights and sun (5 weeks, it changes 20 minutes a day), what’s the most difficult season (it depends on who you ask, but the 24 hour daylight sends people crackers). We find out that all the power comes from the last remaining coal-fired power station in Norway and the irony of it being next door to the seed bank is not lost on us.
The majority of the town is heated by water pipes still hot from cooling down the coal furnaces. It seems to be the only power solution as it’s too gusty for turbines, there is no electricity from the mainland and you can’t dig cables in to the permafrost. Everybody has to have a job and if you are ill or too old to care for yourself, you are shipped out. The main industry was mining, most of which have been shut down and the average stay for Norwegians is 6.3 years, but for foreigners (of which there are over 50 nationalities), 4.3. Everything is shipped in and nothing can grow.
But none of these statistics get over how weird it is. It really does feel like we are at the end of the world and that humans shouldn’t be here. If the power went down, things would go south very quickly.
At the hotel we dump our bags and head straight into town, which is basically one main street with a few shops, bars, diners and a small supermarket. Longyearbyen runs up the middle of a massive valley with mountains on either side. It’s cold and we’re hungry and the café we go to ticks all the stereotypical boxes; wall to wall pine, arctic photos and dead animals everywhere. We then have a look around the shops, most notably one that specialises in every hide imaginable including seal, badger, wolf, reindeer (which now looks great on my bed), brown and polar bears, which come from the Canadian Inuits who are allowed to hunt the bears. But it still seems pretty wrong. I ask if they have any under the counter dodos, they don’t…. or so they say. The polar bears could well be on the endangered list because they have all been killed and stuffed, virtually every building we go in has one, some wearing boxing gloves.
We pop in for a brew with Per’s mother-in-law, Eva Grøndal who is one of the few people to have been born here as her mother hid the pregnancy until it was too late to leave for the mainland (you’re not allowed to give birth on Svalbård). She and Per told us about how her house was destroyed in an avalanche the previous year as a result of global warming in the Arctic, due to above average snowfall.
Once evening came it felt a bit more normal to be in the dark, so we go for a dinner of reindeer (what else?) with the Tromsø KOFOR / RYK crowd and talk about how we can promote Norway in the UK on the back of the film. Then it’s on to the Svalbård Brewery bar on an industrial estate that is jumping with plenty of young beardy, outdoorsy types. When that shuts down we’re off to the Karlsberger Pub which is the local’s drinking hole. It’s going full bore and no surprises considering there are at least 350 bottle of spirits on display and a ceiling that touches your head. We promise ourselves we will go home early to save our energy for tomorrow when suddenly its 2am and last orders are called….whoops.
SATURDAY, 11 NOVEMBER
We wake late in the dark and go for breakfast in the dark, ready for a day in the dark. It constantly feels like 6pm and I can only equate it to having jetlag. There’s a trip out of town to see some huskies and with the horizontal wind rocking the car, you realize just how hostile the environment is.
Off to the sound check at the Kulturhuset and the room is a big hall with brilliant facilities. Its a bit ‘dry’ which will be great for the film, less so for the party. After all the excitement there’s time for a disco nap then over to Eva Grøndal’s gallery, just out of town. I ask Aggie if it’s safe to walk and she isn’t 100% sure as there’s a stretch of road where there are no houses to run in to if there’s a bear. Crikey. The other danger is getting knocked over by vehicles in the dark so everybody is high-vized up to the max. We cadge a lift.
Eva’s mother and father took over 14,000 photos, mainly on Svalbård. She is curating them and they are amazing, like a lost treasure trove from a by-gone era. I look forward to them get the appreciation and audience they deserve.
At dinner (seal carpaccio is on the menu…Pete steps up) we find out that something has gone wrong with the bar in the venue so we’ll have to find somewhere else. It all gets exciting for everybody except Jan-Martin who has his head in his hands as we talk cafés, rooms and sound systems. Truth be known, we are slightly disappointed when the issue gets resolved after 40 minutes and we are back in the Kulturhuset.
At the screening, it’s pretty quiet as it seems word hasn’t really got out. The film kicks off and those that are there, enjoy it. Afterwards Mental Overdrive starts things cooking with a live modular setup that drifts from ambient noodlings in to sublime techno with plenty of cuts from his new album, “Epilogue” on Prins Thomas’ Rett I Fletta label. More people have turned up and we’ve got a party on our hands as Per proceeds to rock it. He is without question one of the great un-sung heroes of Norwegian dance music.
Next, I am going B2B with Bjørn Torske, in my opinion one of the world’s best DJs and most original producers, so I’m super chuffed. The system is immense and those records that sound like they’ve got a bit of grunt at home are suddenly bloody massive. We soon get in to a groove as house gets mixed in to disco and back again: Ulfus’ Guts! – (Funky Gibbons Dub), Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchetra – Too Much Information (Laolu Remix Edit), Solid State – Philly Live (Rack’em Edit), DJ Click – Lila Club and finishing off with Brassroots – Good Life. High sweat manoeuvres achieved.
Party over, it’s back to the hotel bar to see the night out and we bombard the locals with questions they must have asked a hundred times before. There’s also talk of how to get back for another party so watch this space.
SUNDAY, 12 NOVEMBER
We start on the two-day trip back to Blighty feeling a bit shell shocked by the experience. It is without question one of the strangest places I have ever been. The proximity to nature and elements, climate and geography and just the isolation makes for a something very weird and wonderful.
Hear two tracks from Mental Overdrive’s live set.
Oh boy, that came around quick! One day we’re faxing giant penises to magazines and the next we’ve got kids and are on our 200th single release. It’s been 22 years since things kicked off with Salt City Orchestra’s The Book and in the intervening years we’ve hopefully carved out our little corner in the pantheon of house music. We’ve lived by our first “hidden” message on PAP001 “Look Forward Not Back” by keeping on keeping on but this is a chance to buy ourselves a pint.
PAP200 is three tracks from friends new and old that originally came out on a limited edition 12” Record Store Day release. Crazy P(enis) return to the fold for the first time since 2003 and it’s good to have them back. Last Knockers has their trademark stripped back electronic funk with Danielle Moore adding the disco fizz. There’s plenty of wonk and roll as it builds over 10 glorious minutes.
When Steve Cobby was asked what Paper meant to him he said “northern musical heritage” and we’ll take that. He has been knocking it out the park since the early 90s and this is his debut release for the label. Boule De Suif is a trip through funk and soul that is timeless but of it’s time; it’s what Herbie would sound like if he had grown up in Hull.
Finally Flash Atkins goes down a more conventional route with his trademark layered sound. What starts as a straight forward deep house track evolves with trippy vocals and a chorus that brings the hairs up on the back of your neck. Mixmag liked it so much they gave it their Disco Single of the Month.
Dom Servini – “What a label. Proper. So much love and respect. Killer EP too!”
Harri (Sub Club) – “Hard to pick a favourite, I like and will play them all”
Severino Panzetta (Horse Meat Disco) – “All 3 tracks are amazing”
Get Down Edits – “Nice, Lovely selection”
Pete Herbert – “Superb and congratulations!”￼
Fingerman – “Awesome release!”
Sean Johnston (ALFOS/Hardway Bros) – “Yes young flash! Killer”
One of our favourite artists Daco has more music than we know what to do with so why not give some away? This went out with our last newsletter so don’t get left behind and make sure you’re signed up for future freebies.
A – Crazy P – Last Knockers
AA1 – Steve Cobby – Boule De Suif
AA2 – Flash Atkins – Rivers of Jordan (PAP200 Edit)
Oh boy, that came around quick! One day we’re faxing giant penises to magazines and the next we’ve got kids and are on our 200th single release. It’s been 22 years since we kicked things off with Salt City Orchestra’s The Book and In the intervening years we’ve hopefully carved out our little corner in the pantheon of house music. We’ve lived by our first “hidden” message on PAP001 “Look Forward Not Back” and have been keeping on keeping on with barely a glance over our shoulder but this is chance to buy ourselves a pint.
PAP200 will be three tracks from friends new and old on a limited edition 12” released on Record Store Day in numbered brown paper bags. Crazy P(enis) return to the fold for the first time since 2003 and it’s good to have them back. Last Knockers has got their trademark stripped back electronic funk with Danielle Moore adding the disco fizz. There’s plenty of wonk and roll as it builds over 10 glorious minutes.
When Steve Cobby was asked what Paper meant to him he said “Northern Musical heritage” and we’ll take that. He has been knocking it out the park over the last couple of years and this is his debut release for the label. Boule De Suif is a trip through funk and soul that is timeless but of it’s time. It’s what Herbie would sound like if he grew up in Hull.
Finally Flash Atkins goes down a more conventional route and it’s got his trademark layered sound. What starts as a straight forward deep house track evolves with trippy vocals and a chorus that brings the hairs up on the back of your neck. Mixmag liked it so much they gave it their Disco Single of the Month.
The excellent Undeleted (Sean Smith to his Mum) has written as retrospective of Paper to coincide with out 200th EP that is on the horizon. It has contributions from some of the people who have been on it including Miles Hollway, Sleazy McQueen, Danni & Chris from Crazy P, Chris Massey, Ben Davis, Rune Lindbaek and a host of others.
It’s a wonderful read brings back a whole host of memories.
Brew up, have a biscuit and settle down for a read
Mexico City resident La Guardia De La Luz is back on Paper with three tracks of deep timeless house music. Think Southport weekender early doors and you’re on the right tip.
First up Surface has some heavy atmospherics along with distorted vocal snatches and sax. An industrial drum clonk comes in halfway through for added swing and grunt before the track drifts back to the original groove.
Sol has a walking bassline and organ with noodly guitar before the minor chord keys are introduced at the break. Then it’s back in with added percussion, lead synth lines and you’ve it’s the perfect warm up tune.
Finally Post Junk Libido keeps to the same formula of delayed keys and heavy ambience but with a left field arrangement aimed at the head. The final three minutes fade out on a floaty cloud of chords and twinkly business.
Read the Juno review HERE
Label boss Ben Davis has pulled on tights and cape once again to launch his debut LP for Paper “The Life and Times of Flash Atkins” and it’s a belter. The first singe “Levenshulme Orphanage For Boys” had love from types such as Francois Kervorkian, Peter Kruder and Ivan Smagghe as well as glowing reviews in Mixmag and DJ Mag and the long-player has more of the same.
The tracks cover an array of musical styles from house to disco, chug funk to bass, bangers and afro rhythms to 80s influenced cosmic beats. As well as dynamic production and a keen sense of groove, the whole album is based on a short story of the life of Flash that will be published as a comic at the same time. The track and chapter titles are one and the same to provide a sensory listening experience that tells a tale reflecting the mood of the story as well as blowing up dance floors with its sonic superpowers.
Says Flash of his creation. “I wanted to create an album that drew inspiration from my 20 years making music and DJing. You can hear classic disco (‘Saved By The Fall’), post dubstep (‘Forbidden Flesh’), Dirtybird (‘Summer Of Love’), Theo Parrish (‘Drug Empire’), Afro (‘Squatting’), Nu Disco (‘Badger From The North’), 90s US deep house (‘The Wilderness’), ALFOS (‘Levenshulme Orphanage For Boys’), Todd Terje (‘Acid House Creator’) and Metro Area / Balearica (‘A New Kind of Superhero’)”.
There will also be a smartphone game, limited edition Flash Atkins beer called “Hops For Heroes”, full colour printed comic and remix album later in the year featuring The Emperor Machine, Steve Cobby, The Revenge, Ralph Myerz, Rune Lindbaek, Sleazy McQueen and B.G. Baarregaard amongst others.
Hugely ambitious and creative in so many ways, this album is already looking like one of the highlights of the year.
Laurent Garnier – “Great compilation – Drug empire is brilliant”
Ivan Smagghe – “Plenty in there for me for sure”
The Revenge – “Lots of great stuff on here, really digging The Wilderness”
Steve Cobby – “Really digging this!”
Ray Mang – “Great work!”
The Emperor Machine – “Love it!”
Bonar Bradberry (PBR Streetgang) – “Some great sounds on this .. look forward to giving it deeper listen”
Bill Brewster – “Yeah there’s some very god stuff on here”
Sean Johnston (A Love From Outer Space) – ‘Size of a dog is very good!’
Sleazy McQueen – “Excellent”
Hot Toddy (Crazy P)– “I love the vibe of Drug Empire…DOPE!”
Sean Johnston (ALFOS) – “Size of a Dog is very good!”
Horse Meat Disco – “YES great vibe here!”
Doc L Junior – “Dirty as it should be and crazy like a true super hero.”
Rune Lindbaek – “Ace!”
Fingerman – “Sounding very tasty! Some real gems on here :)”
Billy Scurry – “Feels like I’ve played one of these every set for the past 20 years!! Hot stuff indeedy Mr
2 Billion Beats – “Top notch production throughout Flash, hard to pick a winner!”
Joe Morris (Clandestino) – “Great stuff here, very high quality LP and something for everyone. Congratulations
Flash! I’m plumping for ‘A New Kind of Superhero’ as my fave, love the downtempo vibe on that but will defo try ‘Drug Empire’ out for the dance floors”
e’ve not been using the C word for a while round these parts but that’s not to say we’ve gone off it. This knockout 3 track EP from Paper newcomer Robot 84 has rekindled the love of all things CHUG.
Secrets gets things rolling and is driven along by an arp bassline whilst spaced out percussion hits spin & sparkle alongside reverb drenched pads & strings that look to the stars.
If Secrets is the journey then Automatic lands you slap bang in the middle of the dance floor with a straight up, heads down house vibe. Imagine underground Manchester crossed with Baldelli’s Cosmic Club and you’re headed in the right direction.
Ego is a darker affair than its predecessors and more tuned for the 4am crowd. No messing house music, it trucks & thunders along with stubby brass sections coming in here & there, all topped off with spaced out delays & reverb to make it a worthy addition to this interstellar EP.
Leftside Wobble – The Italo bump and grind of ‘Secrets’ is working it’s magic on me.
Tronik Youth – “Love this EP!”
Neil Diablo (El Diablo’s Social Club):
“good ep. love ego!”
Billy Scurry (Electric Elephant):
“OOOOFFFF!! That’s just made the weekend a bit better!! Top vibes all round”
Joe Morris (Clandestino):
“Top gear from Scott as always. Secrets my fave, will be playing. Full support!”
“Robot 84 killin it! Secrets gets the stand out for me on this! ELECTRO GREATNESS!!! Good job :)”
Ben Pistor (Disco Bloodbath):
“Enjoying this! Just found in my junk mail! On it.”
Ed Mahon (Cowbell Radio):
“Loving the return of the chug! Secrets is my pick, but loving Automatic too”
We’re getting prepped & ready to leave the cold Winter nights behind us with these two cuts from Mezman.
Le Deepend filters into action as soon as you press play and much like its partner on this EP it’s got a warm & throbbing low end in spades. A simple loop is used to great effect with a subtle & cleverly used Aretha vocal to give it that little bit of extra disco dust.
Heatwave gets into action right from the off with a slap bass thats packs enough wobble to make Larry Graham proud. It’s classic jacked out disco percussion cracks in all the right places before we’re treated to a hell of a breakdown that builds before dropping right back in to the good stuff.
Both tracks are certified killers and pack a shallop when they’ve been dropping at Paper parties.
“I SIMPLY THINK ITS HOT! I would play both mixes”
“Nice one will play it!”
Harri (Sub Club):
“Can use heatwave for sure!”
Jim Baron (Crazy P/Ron Basejam):
“staright in at the Deepend!”
Severino (Horse Meat Disco):
“YES PLEASE this is AWESOME!!!”
Stuart Knight (Toolroom):
“LE DEEPEND is the one for me”
“Packs a whallop!”
“This is without a doubt absolute massive stuff! Solid disco licked house workout vibes that’ll sound boss on a big rig.”
“Fantastic tracky disco gear. Both will get a rinsing :)”
“Quality jams… i’m a Mezman fan. Just in time for Oslo too. All over it :)”
Somerville & Wilson:
“Great release on Paper Disco. Loving the loopy vibes of Heatwave. Support from Somerville & Wilson”
Badbarbie Beats (Kane Fm & Cruise FM):
“Good Time Vibes, Perky little groover x”
Wrighty (Soul Buggin’):
“funky as it comes, loving both these two”
“Great EP. Will be playing both tracks for sure”
Get Down Edits:
“Totally up our street :)”
“Le Deepend rocking it and will get the most plays from me, great suff :)”
house, disco, edit
The latest Paper Radio has interviews with Emperor Machine and Magnus International & Blackbelt Anderson as well as a mix from the first lady of disco Sophie Lloyd. Add the latest and greatest from the label plus what’s coming up and a classic from the vaults.
1. Rave-enka – Påfuglen
2. Mezman – Heatwave
3. Weedyman – BMBJ (Radio Edit Jam)
THE EMPEROR MACHINE INTERVIEW
4. Brioski – Radio Anatomy [Emperor Machine Stretched Version]
5. Flash Atkins – Levenshulme Orphanage for Boys (Doc L Junior’s Flashing Thunder Dub)
6. Solaris Heights – Solarism (Off The Beaten Track Mix)
7. The Funk District – Don’t Stop
SOPHIE LLOYD MIX
8. Pete Herbert & Dicky Trisco: Aperol Sunset (Disco Devience)
9. Aroop Roy: A Gira (Gamm)
10. Imagination: Music & Lights (Sleazy McQueen remix) Midnight Riot
11. Dr Packer: Hypnotising (Hot Digits)
12. M: Machistator (Delabel)
13 Sophie Lloyd: Womanly Tattoo (Paper Recs)
14. Ralph Myerz presents REC – Dirty Diva feat. Nomi Ruiz
MAGNUS INTERNATIONAL & BLACKBELT ANDERSON INTERVIEW
15. Annie – The Greatest Hit
16. Robot 84 – Automatic
17. Diskobeistet – Gammal Morro
18. B.G. Baarregaard – Partysvenskenes Dans