The playful, spacey character of the recent collaborative release between Johanna Knutsson and Hans Berg set up a proper occasion for a catch-up with the producers. Already out on UFO Station Recordings, the EP We Come In Peace represents a status of broad welcoming from both to those curious enough to meet them, without considering only their work. Starting from their initial involvement with electronic music and extracting some info about their upcoming project Fold, our conversation captured a broad range of thoughts, still active and well-preserved within them. Having a common goal to explore music to whatever ends this leads, they are constantly an inspiration to each other. Not only do they showcase desirable confidence and fearlessness in the approach of their compositions, but they also maintain tremendous chemistry not hindered by spatial distance. Something that works perfectly with their different temperaments, as Hans said. Moreover, counting many years of activity in the scene, they seem to have not lost a tiny bit of excitement about the genre. Yet, more await to be discovered in the discussion below.

How and when did you start with electronic music? And what’s the most “you” thing in it?

Johanna Knutsson: I was pretty late on the ball, I discovered electronic music when I was about 22 years old. I fell for it since the club allows you to be all alone with the music while dancing, no interaction needed. It’s almost meditative for me.

Hans Berg: I was early on the ball I guess, I’ve listened to it since I was a child. I think electronic music’s ability to build whole sonic worlds attracted me; that it can be an entirely otherworldly place, where you can create sounds from scratch, without them being acoustic or mechanical like those from traditional instruments. And the fact that you can be a one man band creating it. Although it can be lonely too, sitting in the studio by yourself. 

How does this genre affect you? Does it still feel like the first time?

J.: It’s been confusing for me since the pandemic. Since I went from playing several times a month to nothing at all. It was heartbreaking at first but now I have a new-found love for it since I’m making more music and enjoying the studio time. I listen to music differently now when I don’t have to consider the dance-floor capability of a track.

H.: Maybe it doesn’t feel like the first time as I know so much about this music now, but I hear new things all the time that I really love and I still wonder how did they do that. I love how it can still be mysterious and let new things happen. It’s pretty much about discovering new sonic territories.

Where do you find inspiration and what sparks your creativity?

J.: I work in a nightclub now, and hearing the music without being able to dance to is really special – in a good way! I get inspired by my local scene here in Malmö, the underground is real and supportive. My creativity is easily sparked, I get ideas from everything but remixing is my favourite. 

H.: I listen to music all the time, try to find new good things. Mostly I listen to Soundcloud mixes, as it’s such a good way to discover a lot of new music in one go. Of course nothing beats going to the club and hearing it loud. Finding inspiration is not a problem. Finding time is more difficult, just to be able to sit uninterrupted in the studio, work and explore.

How did you two meet and what was the starting point of your collaboration?

H.: We met in Berlin through mutual friends, I went to see Johanna DJ somewhere there. We became really good friends instantly and we have a very similar approach to music and language around it. It was very seamless and easy to start making music together. Things just happen, and that’s not very easy to achieve. You really have to have the right chemistry to create a space for open creativity in the studio. 

And where do you think it leads you? Are you exploring something specific?

H.: Since we now live in different cities (Malmö and London) we can’t meet very often. But, we have a new fun project we call Fold, where we take one song I made, then Johanna remixes it, then I remix her remix, and then she remixes my remix of her remix, and so on. We can go on forever with this concept, just turning this particular original song inside out until it’s something completely different. 

How do you achieve balance between each other?

H.: We have a bit of different temperaments I’d say. I’m more speedy and Johanna is a bit more thoughtful. I think that’s a good combo, which is easy to hear when we do our split EPs. The tracks have a lot in common, but similarly have a bit of different temperaments. 

What have you discovered along the way?

J.: That it doesn’t matter where we live. Our relationship is always where we left off and we can work really well away from one another.

What’s the best and most fun part about working together?

J.: Hans is a bundle of joy. He inspires me so much!

H.: Johanna inspires me! It’s great to work with someone who has a different approach, and also, I’m not a DJ like Johanna. She has a vast knowledge, one that I don’t have. We usually have a fun, stupid time in the studio, it’s great to take away the seriousness a bit.

Is there any shared goal and / or vision?

H.: Yes, to continue putting out our own tracks on our label, and trying to create something that’s uniquely us. We don’t strive to fit perfectly in every DJs case but what drives us is the exploration of music, wherever it may take us. 

How are you making a track? For example, how do you start with it and what makes you satisfied with the final result?

J.: I start off with finding samples or sounds to work with, modulate and add stuff to that. For me, the track is ready just by how I feel when I listen to it. I can tell when I’m eased while listening, then I know there’s nothing more I want to change.

H.: That’s a good measure for when a track is ready. I can start a track with anything really, I try to mix it up. You just need one sound to get started and then just throw ideas onto that. I clean up afterwards, I try to have it messy in the beginning.

Do you have any personal productive limit?

H.: No, my problem is rather finding time and then staying put in the studio, and not get distracted by other things. 

Coming now to the UFO Station Recordings, what can you tell us about the aesthetic of the label and its creation? 

H.: Electronic music has always had a connection to sci-fi and the future, and add some space exploration to that, you get the UFO Station. It’s silly of course but we’re having fun with it! The aesthetic just came naturally from what we both like, we’re hippies on the inside. 

Regarding your latest EP, what made you choose its title and how it connects to your tracks and personality?

H.: It’s not super serious. We have the space and UFO theme on our label, and we’ve haven’t released anything under the pandemic, so we wanted to come back with our alien ship with a message. And we DO come in peace, we are really nice people. We don’t like arguments and we don’t have a bad attitude. 

Would you like to share some of your future plans? What should we expect next?

H.: Apart from the Fold series we are going to do, I’m also releasing an album on UFO Station Recordings, beginning of next year. The title is EXTACY and that’s the theme of it, an extract explored in different versions and settings; alone, relaxing, euphoric, together, fast, slow. It will be a mix of slow ambient tracks, some mid tempo songs and fast dancy stuff!


UFO Station Recordings