Norwegian techno labels are few and far between, so when I was approached by Jim Andersen, label manager for Physical Pattern, I was very curious indeed. What could possibly drive someone to establish and run a techno label in Oslo, Norway, which at best could be considered to be in the outskirts of the wider techno world.
Tell me about yourself, Jim, and how you came to setting up you own label
Jim laughs and asks if he’s at a job interview. Then he starts his story;
“I started DJ’ing as Jimi Hoffa when I was 19. Back then I was very much into deep house – the dubbish, slower parts of the scene. I listened a lot to Kruder & Dorffmeister, anything that came out of Ninja Tunes. I remember Amon Tobin made a huge impression. I actually drove my car from Norway to Poland to see him at a festival. That was huge! And then I discovered Dubstep.”
Jim looks up and instantly adds: “UK Dubstep”. Then he elaborates on the distinctions between “his” dubstep and “the other” dubstep. “And then I went off to Rena to study music management.”
Norway is a small country with regards to number of people living there. Nature comes in abundance – many come to Norway for the fjords, the mountains and the forests. Very few come to visit Rena, and even fewer would think of it as anything to do with music, not to mention techno.
“But at that point in time I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do with the study, and thinking about it now, I’m not sure how relevant it was for what I’m doing.”
Sourcing music for inspiration
Jim has spent a lot of time looking for music. Step by step this has drawn him closer and closer to where he is today.
“I discovered Jon Hopkins on a mix he did for FactMag. This was an eye opener. At one point Resident Advisor became a major source for my hunger for new and exciting music. Gradually I understood techno was the thing for me.”
Bass is everything
“I remember when I got my own car and had proper subs installed. I had been with a friend who helped me install them and I had picked up a Rødhåd mix from Resident Advisor. Once I fired up the engine and turned the music on, I suddenly understood what proper bass can do for music. That night I took a very long way home – I just drove and drove. And I kept sitting in my car, listening intensely even long after I had parked the car. I must have looked like an idiot.”
Call to arms as Monodogue
The Rødhåd experience also served as a call to arms. Jim was now intent on making his own music.
“Not long ago I started trying out making music myself. Discovering techno had been like a call to arms for me. I just had to make music. Like many others, I started picking up some boxes of hardware like drum machines and synthesizers and from there on I have tested one drum machine and synth after the next”.
“I was at a cottage (another very typical Norwegian thing) when the name Monodogue, my artist name, saw the light of day around 2015. I had brought some of my music making equipment and was fooling around with it. My dog was lying lazily on the floor, and the name came to me. A mix of Monologue, Moog, mini and dog, I guess, and it has stuck with me since.”
Are we getting closer to Physical Pattern now?
“Yes, we are getting there! I met Ilja (another artist featured on the label) at an OpenDecks event and he came up to me and asked if I wanted to join him make parties. The name, Physical Pattern, was his idea, and in the beginning the name was used for the parties we hosted at MaksiTaksi, a small club in Oslo.“
“Actually”, Jim remembers fondly, ”we made mixtapes on cassettes which could be bought at a price of you own choice. But after a while it became more difficult to run parties so the interest just faded away. A lack of focus, I guess.”
Is there anybody out there…?
“I had been sending out demos for a while to very little response. On Soundcloud nothing gets listened to”, Jim sighs. “Actually the label hasn’t helped change that too much, but I set up a deal with Triple Vision (a Dutch record distributor) which has been very good for demo distribution. My demos have been listened to by artists I admire, and they have provided valuable feedback.”
Then Jim leans towards me and almost whispers: “Having a Physical Pattern track included on the DeepSpace Helsinki podcast has made it worth all the efforts.” Jim puts up a broad smile and I can feel this is at the very core of his motivation for doing what he does: People are listening! This is his reward and recognition.
“Setting up the label has never been a goal in itself, I just wanted to get my music out. The difference in outreach is vast, and I have a distinct pleasure in knowing that a release is a finished product, available on all platforms.”
Except for vinyl?
Jim grins by the obvious contradiction in this. “Yes, I know”, he admits. “But there is one physical release on Physical Pattern, you know: PPM001 – a mixtape! Right now, there is no money for a vinyl release, but I hope the digital releases we have out there will be able to finance a vinyl release soon. In many ways a vinyl release is the ultimate recognition that the music has reached a quality worthy of the investment. Anyway, all the songs currently out on any streaming platform, have also been mastered for vinyl. So I am prepared!”
During our conversation, Jim has talked a lot about quality. He is always looking for improvements and he always ask for feedback – proper, honest feedback.
“Physical Pattern is also a vehicle for feedback. Ilja, Fredrik and I keep sending each other songs all the time, wanting to get the others’ feedback. And feedback is given with brutal honesty. In that way, the label helps the artists evolve and develop their music and when the feedback is finally positive, you know it can be trusted.”
“I reached out to Neel for mastering the music, and I was very happy that he accepted to do it! I don’t see him putting his name on something of crappy quality. At least that’s what I tell myself”, Jim laughs.
Is there anything typically Norwegian about Physical Pattern?
Jim looks puzzled, and thinks for a moment. “That is for others to decide. First and foremost it’s about electronic music,and it would be nice if people would listen to it.”
I point out that at least that statement certainly doesn’t reflect a very selling attitude.
“I don’t want to be cocky”, Jim explains. “I find that the more selling attitude an artist seems to have, the less interesting the music. I find the most interesting artists are very humble, and I want the music on Physical Pattern to speak for itself.”
If you should happen to be in Oslo, you may catch Jim playing live together with grå at Blå on November 8th or solo at Godthåb 21st November.