Stockholm-based ambient producer and DJ Isorinne has had an impressive track record in recent years , having released 6 albums on various labels, including 3 on the influential Northern Electronics. His most recent album; Stumhetens Toner just released on the 10th of this month, once again showed his vast proficiency in the production of ambient music, setting himself apart as one of foremost figures in contemporary ambient. The Swedish artist has prepared a beautiful 75-minute-mix for MNMT, alongside a chat we had with him, which can be read below.
Hi Michel, how are you? Thank you for agreeing to this interview and making a mix for our podcast.
Hey! Thanks for having me!
This whole year has had me feeling super stressed and very happy, at the same time. A lot of things going in life, but most of the thing are good. Family, kids, studies and music.
Where does your love for ambient music come from?
I’m not really sure to tell you the truth. Perhaps the love for it sprung forward from my love of all things calm and relaxed; slow and moody tunes often acts as an escape route to that state of mind when things get hectic in life. Ive always been fascinated by the music of films, mainly the kind that can bring forth and invoke emotions on cue.
What is your usual routine in the studio when producing? Do you have a preference regarding the use of software/hardware and how do you find your inspiration?
The routine varies. Depending if I’m producing music in the company of friends or if I’m doing solo stuff. When with friends, we usually have a cup of coffee and make loose plans on what we want to do. When solo, sometimes I have a clear idea of what to do. But most times I just sit down and let my finger play, I might start off by making a new patch and then let that sound sort of play itself. To me, the character of the sound often carries a certain type of melody, like it’s always been there, within the waveform. When I hear it I just know what to play. Those are the compositions I’m usually the most satisfied with, I simply have no of idea how I did them when looking back.
As for technical preferences, I like sitting with physical instrument more than I like sitting in front of a computer. But don’t get me wrong, the computer serves its purposes, mainly, it acts as a multitrack recorder and tool for arranging and editing the recordings sourced from hardware. I don’t have the common analogue synthesiser fetish. As long as it sounds nice and it’s interface is pleasant to work with — I don’t give a rats ass on how the sound is generated.
Could you name an artist or track (any genre) that strongly influenced when you were younger?
I can name an album. Geogaddi by BOC. It really opened my mind in a way music never had done before. Still remember the day I brought it home. Putting it into my Discman the moment after unwrapping that sucker and laying down on a couch, headphones on. What a freaking trip that was. It made my mind feel like it was popping in and out of my head. I think you can hear in my tunes that their melodies made a great impact on me and my style of composing.
What is your take on the ambient scene in Stockholm? Is there a lot of talent and do they get the opportunities to play gigs and develop?
The scene is really blooming, at least artist-wise. So much good stuff surfacing all around. As for gigs it’s not that great. It’s usually located at small venues and is usually pretty poorly promoted. One of the biggest and best places to catch a glimpse of the ambient scene is probably at the annual Norbert Festival inside of Mimer, such an awesome setting for ambient sounds.
Do you feel in someway that the Stockholm architecture and surroundings has a large influence on your productions? If so, in what way?
Never really thought about whether or not there could lie a connection there. Maybe.
The surroundings, as in nature and the long, dark and cold periods of Scandinavia has probably had a greater impact on my music than architecture.
Could you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Martin Sander as Bandhagens Musik Förening? How does the style differ from your usual productions as Isorinne?
I’ve known Martin for quite some time, but it wasn’t until we became neighbours a couple of years back that we started working together. The whole thing sparked from a couple of jam sessions. Guess we noticed that our thought on music were quite similar and that our styles and sounds mingled well together. The way we work differs a lot from my solo productions.
Many more hours and work goes into our joint efforts compared to my solo endeavours. And the level of synths, equipment and outboard goodness that dude has managed to acquire throughout his musical career is just insane. My setup is like a grain of sand next to the holy mountain that sits in his living room studio.
One of your tracks that I thought was particularly captivating is ‘Reality is what you can get away with’, could you tell us a bit about your state of mind when making this track and in what way you felt inspired at that point?
That was one of those releases that happened in a complete spontaneous way. I managed to get my mind out of the way and then the tracks just completed themselves. That EP was recorded in two or three days I think. Jonas was switching apartments at the time and was kind enough to lend me a bunch of his Roland classics, Juno 60, SH-101, TR-606 and RE-201. That EP was the result of just exploring that setup.
What is your relationship with the Northern Electronics guys, how did you guys meet?
Jonas (Varg) was a regular customer in a store I used to work in. We’d usually hang out and drink coffee and talk shit when business was slow. Then one day we just decided on hanging out at his place for some coffee, cigarettes and synths. And through Jonas I meet Anthony. Such lovely guys. Glad I met them.
Your newly released album Stumhetens Toner is your third album released on Northern Electronics, how do you reflect back on your development as an artist in the past years during the development of these albums?
I’m pretty bad at reminiscing actually. Especially on my prior creations, I listen too much to the tracks when working with them so after they make it onto a release, it’s kind of a closed chapter. – On to the next!
What was the concept/idea you had prior to creating Stumhetens Toner? How did they differ from previous albums that you have created?
The tracks on this tape are to me, pretty frail and unrefined. It’s a bit of a side effect on my current lack of time. I had a playlist with the tracks I was working at for the time being, so I could easily listen through them to come up with which direction I wanted to take them in. But the more I listened to them the more I fell in love with their simple nature, so I decided that they were going to have to stay that. I hope the ones that give it a listen will be able to appreciate that lofi and sketch-like vibe.
I did this pretty uncharacteristically happy release for Origin People’s earlier this year. So my main intention with this one was to go back to the sad and wistful theme that I normally present, I missed it.
Two tracks of your newly released album that stood out for me because of the emotions it was able to invoke are Medan världen passerar förbi and Tårlös Sorg. Would you say these tracks represent a certain more emotional frame or state of mind you were in when creating these tracks?
Yes, definitely. Medan världen passerar förbi is another one of this totally spontaneous tracks, you’re good at pinpointing those. I had been feeling incredibly beat, too much stress and to little sleep, and then I finally managed to get some time to just dive into the music, so what went into that track was a was a mix of relief, sadness and happiness.
Tårlös sorg, was a bit more planned. I wanted a nice ending to the tape that would lull the listener into a reflective state on things coming to an end, like all thing eventually do. A tearless sorrow.
What can people expect from you in the near future in terms of releases and gigs?
Gigs will be sparse for the next couple of years. As I said in in the introductions, a lot of things going on. School and studies take up virtually every waking moment that I have outside of family life. I try to find time for music a couple of days a month and when I do, I go all in and do as much as I possibly can.
I have five or six releases planed. A second Bandhagen album and an EP. And with Jonas I’m hoping to do D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. cassette box. Solo, I have a couple of LPs planned, one with old material which will be a re-release of two of my tapes previously released on Mixed-Up and two more with new material. Oh, and then there’s a collaboration with Wanderwelle and Bandhagens Musikförening! Really looking forward to finishing that. It’s going to be a good one, one track from that can be previewed in the mix.
Finally, could you tell us a bit about the mix you made for us? Did you have a certain concept in mind prior to making the mix?
The mix was recorded from digital sources through a old Boss BX mixer with some effects and then some slight post-editing in Ableton. I rarely have a concept when recording mixes. I kind of start out with one track that I’ve been listening to a lot lately and then just tag along for the adventure. On this occasion I had a few tracks more than usual that I really wanted to feature, so I guess there was more planning that usual for this one.