Electro, the unsung hero of modern dance music, likes to lurk in the shadows of its more affluent associates, House and Techno. Where the latter two styles continually vie for attention on the dance floor, Electro favours the uncompromising margins of darker corners over the limelight. It’s a style that has always enjoyed a more fluid existence on the dance floor, evolving alongside other genres, but unwavering as it remains close to its roots where off-beat counter-cultures and science fiction narratives are channelled through machine voices and rhythms that swing rather than march. It’s always been there and it’s unlikely to go away, enjoying the hue of attention when it gets the chance, without ever calling on it, or necessarily needing it. The artists that work within this style, artists like Egyptian Lover, Dopplereffekt and ERP seem to embody this mantra of Electro, living out their careers in much the same way as the genre that they all remain so resolutely loyal to.
Luke Eargoggle is one of these artists and from his hometown of Gothenburg, he has marked out a career in this style that spans a remarkable 20 years and includes releases on Bunker, Abstract Forms, Börft and his own Stilleben Records. Active since the mid nineties with a plethora of releases, Eargoggle’s discography features many highlights counting 2000’s Sunglasses EP among these with the modern classic Drinking and Smoking as well as his more recent works like Bass Hunter or The Datamagi EP on Abstract Forms. He is constantly producing and doesn’t shy away from the LP format either where albums like the debut From Luke’s Journal to the classic Audio Warriors reside. The latter which is part and parcel to Luke’s longstanding relationship with the Dutch, Legowelt associated label, Bunker Records also brings to light the community that has cropped up around Electro and which extends to an international audience today where Luke’s music continues to find new ears. It defines an artist who spends the majority of his time working on music, and like the genre and style he works in, an unwavering artistic voice within the chorus of dance music.
Luke will be joining Robin Crafoord in Oslo this weekend for Elektro Romantik so we took to opportunity to shoot over some questions to the artist to try to investigate the appeal of Electro amongst the artists that continue to pursue it.
First off Karl, I think the most pertinent question would be: why Electro? What was it about this music that entertained/fascinated you and set you on the path to make it yourself?
It started in the 80´s with Style wars and other documentaries about what was happening in New York. At that time I went all in with Graffiti, so music only came in the mid 90´s for me, followed by some DJ-ing and finally producing.
The style of music has been a constant in electronic music. What do you believe accounts for its staying power and its timelessness?
Hmmm, for me Electro is almost more a style than a music genre in a way. To be pure/old-school electro, the drums often follow classic types of patterns to communicate the right feeling. There are no rules really and it’s always free to investigate further.
From model 500 to Egyptian Lover to a new artist like Das Muster (coming soon to Stlleben), Electro can incorporate quite a lot of different styles. What ties it all together for you?
I guess it’s the shelf of Electro basically. Mo more no less. Music Nonstop!
Your first releases came around 98/99, a time when Electro was experiencing quite a resurgence. Gesamtkunstwerk was released about then and labels like Stilleben and, in some ways, Rephlex and Tresor were pushing that sound. Do you remember anything significant around that time that pushed the genre back onto the dance floor?
I’m not sure really for me it was always there. I never realized it was “ making a come back “ to the dance floor.
Most of your very first releases were out on your Stilleben Records. How did the label spring into existence, and what’s been the intention behind it over the years?
It was just a natural step in the development. We were running a club here in Gothenburg called “Koolaid “ every second Wednesday and many of my friends made music and I thought there was a distinct feeling and sound around. So we thought: “lets just make it happen and don’t send around demos to people that either won’t understand or might not listen to it. Just do it!”
There’s also a connection to Bunker with you appearing on that label and Legowelt appearing on yours. How did that relationship come to be and has there been any cross-pollination of ideas between Stilleben and Bunker?
I invited him and Orgue Electronique to play here in Sweden for a mini tour of sorts. After that, we became very good friends and we started some projects together like Catnip etc. With Bunker it all came naturally at the time and I felt really comfortable and welcomed on that label and still do.
How receptive has Gothenburg been to the label and your music?
Hard to know, but I am sure it made some impression. Just the way I was brought up and the people I met during this walk of life. It’s a mystery.
Electro is a very machine-driven music. Is there a particular machine that you believe is central to your music and how would it influence the direction of a track?
Not really. Any machine can instil ideas and bring your musical fantasises to life. Of course some gear is better or fits your personality better, but it’s all there and you just have to grab it. The most important element is the drive and the vision and then after a few years you can just turn your autopilot on.
With Electro being quite defined since the 1980’s, how do you believe the genre continually evolves and how have you found your own music has evolved along with it?
There are some different styles in electro, from more classic to more neo electro sounds. What I represent in the genre is basically angles from pioneers like Kraftwerk in the 80´s and Dopplereffekt who came out in the mid 90´s. After that Sweden and Finland got some sort of Nordic electro wind, which hit Europe and the rest of world with its distinct style – a style I don’t believe it’s so cold hehe. Just that people are too hot and need to get the right funky temperature for maximum life quality with a little help from up north!
Has there been any particular highlight in your career?
There are so many but the first time in Detroit 2005, when I played at DEMF ( FUSE ) was really amazing.
You’ve consistently brought out music, although be it at quite a reserved pace since 2004. Is there a reason for that and what do you expect from your music to warrant putting it out?
I just keep on making music instead of watching TV. I also produce under several other names with friends so the worlds of sound are a lot bigger than just Eargoggle. I just released a new VA 12” vinyl on my label “Stilleben Records” and 2 more are in the pressing plant at the moment waiting to be heard by the world.
You’re coming to Oslo for an Electro event. How would your set unfold over the course of the evening and how would you accommodate different moods throughout an Electro set?
I will bring the best songs I have and also some rare stuff that probably never will see the daylight so it’s pretty exclusive I guess. I know Robin (Crafoord) well that and I’m really looking forward coming there to make it a night to remember! It will be a mixture from Electro to more Electro disco. LETS PARTY OSLO!
Is there any particular track you are especially looking forward to playing?
Of course, but you have to be there to hear it!