Ahead of Ulf Eriksson playing at our MNML SSGS party on Saturday night, I did a short Q&A with him for RA Japan. The interview only appeared in Japanese, however. I liked Ulf’s answers and thought some people might be interested in reading them. So here’s the English version:
This year you are celebrating 10 years of your label Kontra Musik. Do you think the aesthetic / idea behind the label has stayed consistent over this time? Or have you and the label changed?
Musically the label changes all the time. I think that is a must if a label shall be able to survive for 10 years. Change is also a must to keep things interesting and changeling for my self. I love all kinds of music and I do not like to limit the label into a narrow sound. Still I think the foundation of the label is the same. Kontra-Musik is independent, free and brave. And the releases are always more focused on personality than functionality.
Who / what were some of the formative influences in shaping your approach to music?
I like honesty, musician and artists who do not take the easiest or fastest way, but rather stay true to the vision. A bit worn out, but Sun Ra is a good example.
By the time when I started the label I was very inspired by American and especially Detroit techno. The name Kontra-Musik and the attitude back then was of course influenced by Underground Resistance. I liked the way they communicated that their releases was something more than just music, but rather a subversive force. Sonic warfare… Today I am older and maybe wiser and actually more influenced by the opposite. I like labels who mange to stay alive without to much hype strategies. Creative and good music should be enough. I am not so interested in all the branding going on.
Can you tell us a bit about the recent Intonal festival you organized? Do you have a similar approach with booking acts to running the label?
Intonal is an experimental music festival in Malmö, Sweden (my home town) that I do in collaboration with CTM (Berlin) and Unsound (Krakow). This year was fantastic and I am so very happy about it. It was the second year and it just felt very familiar and special. I do not think I can compare how I work with the festival and the label. The festival works mainly with experimental music, a proper budget and has as a main purpose to stimulate meetings between genres and audiences. But there is one important similarity. There is an element of risk involved and no bookings are made out of safety. There are so many festivals these days that just showcase the same artist as everybody else. Always the same headliners over and over again because they sell. Fuck that. Also somehow everything in my work is part of the Kontra-Musik web. All the connections I have today that makes this festival possible, basically comes from working with Kontra-Musik for all those years.
Over the last year or two you’ve been developing the live/DJ hybrid performance with Sebastian Mullaert. Has playing with Seb had any influence on how you approach music and perform?
Yes for sure. Sebastian is very much focused on dance music and how dance music can stimulate almost a spiritual experience. So in a way I think I have become more interested in pure dance music and how you can use it over time in a dj set to create an interesting, deep and meaningful journey for the listener. Sebastian is a force of life and positivity and a very experienced and motivated musician. How can I not be inspired?
What’s next for Ulf and Kontra Musik?
We have so many releases in the pipeline. TM404 – Acidub is just out, a new Wa Wu We EP, remixes of the Dance album I did with Sebastian Mullaert, a Frak album and so on. And of course more touring, both solo and with Sebastian. I really love to travel, meet people and make new friends through music. I think that is the best part of this work. Hope it never has to stop.
MNML SSGS night at Contact Tokyo, 14 May 2016