The first compilation from Ost & Kjex's Snick Snack Music showcases rising electronic talent from their native Norway
Due in stores this Friday is Snick Snack Vol 1, the first ever compilation from Snick Snack Music – the label set up by Ost & Kjex and fellow Norwegian eclecticists Trulz & Robin in 2007.
That it's taken them 14 years to get around to a compilation should come as no surprise… the label might have been running since 2007 but it's still only just over a dozen releases old! But Snick Snack Vol 1 marks the dawn of a new era for the label. Because while Snick Snack Music was originally set up to provide an outlet for the twin duos' own material, they've recently had something of a change of focus.
Now, the emphasis is on providing a platform for up-and-coming Norwegian electronic music artists – regardless of genre. Accordingly the compilation, aptly titled Sounds Of The Norwegian Underground, features a selection of tracks that range from the Eastern-tinged minimalism of Center Of The Universe's flute-sporting Bellydance With A Stranger to the small-hours techno of Karolinski's EsauC NnownknU MSW, and from the bouncy, dirtybird-ish skank of Trulz & Robin's Revolver to the tropical-tribal house of Wild Flowers's Coconut Grove.
By turns lazy, proggy, sleazy, dubby, driving and even poppy (see Ost & Kjex's own Motown, which could easily pass for a mid-00s Moloko out-take just back from a week in 'Beefa with the girls from the salon), one thing the album never is boring, or less than interesting. As befits a collection curated by two guys who once made an album entirely from sounds generated by cheese and biscuits, really!
Anyway, here's what they had to say about it…
Can you start by telling us a bit about your backgrounds, and how you came to me making/playing electronic music in the first place – individually, and as a duo?
“We met skating as teenagers in about 1987/88. A band was forming and Kjex asked me to join on bass. The band Beyond Dawn existed from this time until we released the last album in 2003. You can trace our personal musical evolution through this band as we went from death metal, to doom, goth, industrial, indie and in the end electronic.
“In the band, me and Kjex particularly fell in love with all the new electronic sounds coming out in the 90s. From drum & bass, IDM, house, techno, also experimental stuff like Mego records, Finish Sakö records and so on. It was so fresh, new, and mostly instrumental. Far from the gloomy lyrics and bleak worldview in the music of our past. Endless new possibilities suddenly were open and we were sucked in.”
It's nearly 20 years since you released your first EP – did you ever think, back then, that you'd still be doing this 20 years later?
“Hard to say, but I remember us being so into it that we hardly thought about anything else. Once you’re caught with the music bug, it’s hard to imagine a life without it.”
We're talking today because you're about to release Sounds From The Norwegian Underground on Snick Snack. So tell us about how you first met your fellow label owners Trulz & Robin, and why you decided to launch a label together in the first place?
“We met Trulz & Robin on the scene in Oslo. They were already established JDs and producers when we first met and were very welcoming and supportive, inviting us to play at gigs at an early stage. We have struck up a true friendship over the years doing a lot of gigs, tours, electronic jams and parties together. Back in the days we were also sharing a flat and studying music technology together. We have an electronic jam band – sometimes called The Johnsons, sometimes The Tronix, sometimes Robomatix – where we try to jam techno like a jazz band, changing who will do the lead solo/theme every now and then.
“We actually started Snick Snack in 2007 on request by the distributor Amato, who reached out to us. They folded only a year later or so, bringing loads of labels with them in the traction. We thought that would be the end of Snick Snack, but after leaving Diynamic in 2018 we revived the label as a platform to release our own music, without needing to serve the taste of others.
“The idea to develop the label into a hub for Norwegian electronic music slowly came about as we reconnected with the local scene and also as a result of the corona situation. Shifting from an international to a local perspective.”
What do the two of you bring to the table that Trulz & Robin can't, and vice versa?
“First of all I have to say that Trulz & Robin bring heart and soul into Snick Snack. They are very warm and inclusive and have been a very positive force in the Oslo scene for decades. They arrange open OPEN sync jams at clubs in Oslo and are also involved in the free party scene, playing raves in the forest etc. They also have a deep knowledge of analogue gear, and of dance music itself. They are defiantly underground, music for the heart by the heart.
“For the Ost & Kjex part, I guess our greatest contribution is that we are doers. We, to a certain extent, get things done.”
Snick Snack hasn't been the most prolific of labels – you seem to release about one or two records a year! I'm assuming that's a deliberate 'quality over quantity' approach, but do you have any plans to ramp up the release schedule going forward?
“We definitely will ramp up the schedule. Not anything hectic though. It has to be a labour of love. Also we want the time and means to work properly with each release. Since streaming and the democratisation of music production, the world is swimming in music. As musicians we relate to how much effort it takes to make a tune or an album. It’s quite an investment in time and emotions. So if we release something we will aim for the artist to get the most out of it.”
If someone's never heard a Snick Snack release, how would you summarise the label's ethos and musical output?
“Versatile and life-affirming electronic music from Norway. From dance to experimental.”
What are some of your personal favourite tracks on the compilation?
“I love them all of course, but have got a sweet spot for Karolinski’s deep dub monster, Center Of The Universe’s playful oriental touch, Helene Richkard’s dark and atmospheric breakbeat number and Wild Flowers’ ethereal old school vibe.”
…and now that the album's all done and dusted, what else have you got lined up for release on Snick Snack?
“Next out is a new EP (or two) by Trulz & Robin. They’ve got some great new tunes in the pipeline. Second is a new Ost & Kjex album that is slowly starting to take shape. Should be out winter 21/22. Then there is talk about a new Trulz & Robin album. We also would love to release music by some of the artists on the compilation, but time will show. We take one step at a time.”
Am I right in thinking you recently reissued your Cajun Lunch album from 2010? Why did you decide to put that out again now?
“We actually did not reissue it, but as our contract for the album with Diynamic expired, we transferred it to Snick Snack. In time I think we will reissue it on vinyl, as it has been out of print for quite some time."
Finally, what else is going on/coming up for you/Snick Snack right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
“Hopefully your lovely readers will have time to check out Snick Snack Vol. 1 when it’s out. It’s full of versatile and exciting electronic music from the Norwegian scene. We are extremely proud of all our friends featured on the compilation, believing they show a vibrant and original scene in full bloom. We recommend you start off with our friend and beloved Oslo DJ G-ha’s continuous mix of the compilation.”
Words: Russell Deeks
Snick Snack Vol 1: Sounds Of The Norwegian Underground is out on Friday 20 August on Snick Snack Music