04.07.2019 | Words by: Bram Barentsen
To me, it's always interesting when artists have different kind of outputs. Copenhagen based DJ and producer Schacke is someone who uses these diverse ways to express and discover himself. In 2014, he started his industrial and noise label Moral Defeat
, because he temporarily broke up with techno. It flowed out of playing in punk and metal band while being a teenager. The label quickly made a name for itself in the intimate Copenhagen noise scene. After a while he connected with techno again, but it was his uplifting trance techno track ‘Automated Lover’ on Courtesy’s Kulør 001
album from spring 2018 that really made a wider audience familiar with Schacke's unique sound. It didn’t take long until other projects followed, as ‘Met Her at the Herrensauna
’ and ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome
’. The same year Schacke earned a residency at St. Petersburg's club Клуб, which recently closed its doors, and he started playing his hard-hitting and as well as more euphoric sets all around Europe.
I talked to Schacke about his label Moral Defeat, playing in punk and metal bands, his recent and upcoming releases, the closing of Клуб and what DJ’ing means to him. Q: I read that as a young teenager you played in punk and metal bands. Was that when you first felt that music was more than just something to listen to for you? Can you describe that feeling and can you elaborate a bit on the time you were playing in bands?
At that time, it just felt natural to try and emulate the music I was listening to, to express myself. It was all very young and very teenage, feeling misunderstood and alienated. When I was around 15, I had taught myself to play drums and a little guitar, so I found likeminded people and we started a band. We played together for 4-5 years, before I eventually turned to making electronic music. I was attracted to the idea of making music, for as long as I can remember. When I was asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to be a conductor, and in a way that’s what I became. Q: What was it that attracted you within this kind of music? And how do these genres influence you these days?
It must have been the energy, the individualism and the strong statement to be something else than society pressures you to be. All aspects that I still find important and try to bring into the music I make today. Q: At some point you started your own label, Moral Defeat, which broke right into the Copenhagen industrial and noise scene. Can you talk a bit about the start of the label, the identity and the evolvement?
I was at a hard time in my life. I had broken up with techno for a while and started to explore stranger fields, making extreme and experimental music, and also picking up playing in bands again. MD was an output for all that, a way of working through what I was going through and a platform for the niche music that I was delving into. The visual identity was mostly harsh xeroxed black and white collage, I would do everything myself, create the artwork, dub and assemble the cassettes, screen-print the t-shirts and go to the post office. Over the years it gained a small and dedicated audience. I found great satisfaction in having full control of the creative output and the curation of the music, it connected me to a lot of likeminded people. MD has been inactive since the end of 2017, when techno started to take up a lot more of my time, but I haven’t abandoned the project completely.Q: On Moral Defeat you released heavy noise productions under different pseudonyms. What were those pseudonyms and what was the concept behind them?
The two main ones were Haraam and Body Stress. Haraam was about fear, prejudice, conflict, immigration and alienation, I was trying to make music about political topics, that were asking questions instead of trying to give answers, always keeping a certain level of ambiguity, while working with highly sensitive material. I think it went ok. Body Stress was more of an inward study, a kind of abstract storytelling about emotions, fantasies, sexuality, abuse, delusions, pain and pleasure. I was trying to take my musical output to the furthest extreme, while making it about subjects that I found hard to express in any other way, and I still haven’t left that project behind completely. The other ones were highly conceptual sound experimentation, for example, Pest Archive, where I would use live cockroaches on amplified glass as a sound source.Q: In a statement on the label’s Facebook page you said, ‘Moral Defeat has been a journey for me, musically, but also personally, discovering so much about myself through this work’. Can you give us a glimpse of what kind of impact this journey had on you?
Before MD, I was a very different person. Working with the label and this kind of music taught me to put myself out there, to initiate connection with likeminded people and to make art about difficult subjects. I learned to break free of perceived rules in music production and that all emotions are worthy of creative expression. On a personal level, I learned a lot about my own inner workings. It was self-reflection for the most part, forcing myself to dive into uncomfortable territory and bring something constructive out from there. All these experiences play a huge role in what I do now.Q: From there on, you started broadening your sound through different music styles as the 140bpm techno for which Copenhagen is so well known right now. What influences do you keep responsible for it?
I feel like everything that happened in my life and musical journeys led me to where I am now. I can’t really cite any specific influences to be responsible for it, it all just came together. The important thing for me now is to keep exploring and never get too comfortable with what I am doing.Q: I can imagine it’s quite a transition to go from producing noise to the techno sound you produce today. Can you take us with you into your production process? How is it different from what it used to be?
I was already producing techno from around 2012, I was just very bad at it, trying to copy what I was listening to, without bringing anything new to it. When I spent a few years focusing on other kinds of music, I learned to put as much of myself into it as possible, and that I didn’t have to live up to any pre-existing standards. I don’t want to talk about the technicality of my production process. Experimentation is the main component, trying to get the most out of everything and keeping an open mind.Q: You released ‘Met Her at The Herrensauna’ on Interstate Records in December 2018 and you started 2019 right away with another EP release ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’ on Instruments of Discipline. Can you talk a bit about these projects? How did these come about and what do they mean to you?
‘Met Her at The Herrensauna’ was about a very special encounter I had in Berlin, after playing a Herrensauna party in 2017, back when they were still doing parties at a small dingy basement club on Maybachufer. It was a moment of true synchronicity, that came to be the most important connection I have ever made with another person. ‘Welcome to the Pleasure Dome’ was an attempt to make music that was erotic and psychedelic at the same time, and also a project about my own sexual liberation and the most insane year I have had in my life so far. There’s a part 2 on the way, exploring the same sound universe and subjects.Q: Since you’re from Copenhagen, how did your residency at recently closed club Клуб in St. Petersburg came about?
They invited me over to play two shows on short notice, back in February 2018. It was my first time in St. Petersburg and it was love at first sight.Q: How do you feel about the club’s closing and what’s the memory you have of Клуб?
I feel sad about it, but I knew from the beginning that it was not going to last forever. Unfortunately, I could not play at their closing party because of visa complications, but I will be back in St. Petersburg again soon. That place will always have special place in my heart and the memories will stay with me forever. Q: You’re also the first one to release an EP, called ‘Клуб Навсегда’ on their label and the title track Кислотный пипл (Kisloty People) is already finding its way to becoming an “anthem”. What did you want to let the world hear with this track/EP?
Actually, that whole EP was made during my residency there last summer. I had one day and night where I borrowed a friend’s studio and I felt so inspired that I managed to make 4 tracks in a row, something I haven’t been able to replicate since. Usually I can take months, even years to finish tracks, so that was definitely something special, to be so far from home making music, with so many new impressions. The Kisloty People track was made to the audience of Клуб, trying to incapsulate the high energy and positive vibes of that crowd. It was made for that place only and I had no idea that it would become so popular.Q: With a planned release on Space Trax, a new Berlin label, under your hard trance alias Dimensionhopper you keep releasing. How does your alias Dimensionhopper differ from up-tempo productions as Schacke?
It’s a modern take on Hard Trance. The idea came about during an acid trip in a Swedish forest with some close friends, back in 2017 when I was attempting to find myself again.Q: How are your roles as a producer and a DJ different from each other? And how do they influence each other?
It’s hard to explain really, the lines have become blurred over time. Sometimes I feel like I am making tracks when I am dj’ing and sometimes it’s like I am mixing when I am producing. I guess the difference is that dj’ing will always be restricted to the setup, while producing is always evolving and open to change and reinterpretation.Q: In your DJ sets it seems, to me, that you balance hard hitting productions with euphoric and bring-together-tracks. How would you describe this balance in your DJ sets? What’s the idea behind it?
I do what I can to keep it interesting to myself and the audience, to not repeat myself too much. Sometimes my sets are as you describe, sometimes I try to do something completely different. The idea is to explore as many emotions and states of mind as possible. It’s that same philosophy about always trying to step a little out of the comfort zone. If I can get the audience to do the same, it becomes a more interactive experience, and I think that is what a lot of people are looking for these days. It’s certainly what I am looking for.Q: In between the first press on the play button and the end of the last track. Is there a way you try to push boundaries when you play a DJ set?
Trying to break down barriers is a huge part of it, transcending different genres of dance music, to achieve a more nuanced and wholesome experience. If I can get people to feel like they are entering some kind of virtual reality, it becomes a kind of simulation therapy, where rules and preconceived boundaries of linear time and social constructs are non-existent, inverting perceived norms and meaning by disintegration and reassembling, so people can get a glimpse into how different life has the potential to be, and how endless the possibilities really are, then my mission is accomplished. Or maybe I just want to make people feel happy for a few hours on their day off, I don’t really know.Schacke plays our basement this Saturday alongside Varg and Spekki Webu. Tickets are still available here.