You can read the interview in Stool Pigeon
Norwegians think of music festivals as more than an opportunity to get drunk enough to make indie bands tolerable, and so it was that Diskjokke (Joachim Dyrdahl) found himself the recipient of a generous grant from Oslo’s Øyafestivalen to go and do, well… something.
“They just wanted me to create something new and I had no limitations,” he explains, sounding tired from two gigs the night before, one at a food festival, the other in a club. And, from the off, Joachim knew he wanted his festival-financed project to move outside of Western music, or the electronica that he’s become known for making. “I thought of other music from around the world — African music from Mali and so on — but I really wanted to get away from percussion and from what I am used to doing,” he says.
Gamelan, an ancient form of music from Indonesia, seemed like just the sonic departure Joachim was looking for. He flew to Bandung, Indonesia, “saw all sorts of different ensembles playing and being taught”, and realised that there were, in fact, threads between the gamelan and the kind of Norwegian electronic music played by himself and the likes of Lindstrøm. “We went to a wedding in Indonesia and it lasted for three days,” he explains. “There was a gamelan ensemble of about 20 people there and they slept on the stage, and then played, and slept. It had that momentum of techno.”
As well as the music, the culture shock had a massive impact: “What struck me most was how busy everything is; how many people there are in the cities and how fast everything moves. And then you go into the jungle and there’s just nobody there. It’s such a massive contrast. It seemed so different to how it is in Norway, where everyone is so worried about safety and things like that. In Indonesia there is less feeling that life is important in that way.”
All this shaped Sagara, the album that is the fruit of the Øya project. Aside from gathering field recordings, no music was actually recorded in Indonesia, and it would be a mistake to regard Sagara as a Norwegian gamelan techno album from Diskjokke: “Some people have said that they can’t hear the gamelan in the music, but that was the intention. I wasn’t trying to make a gamelan record — Indonesia just melted into the music.”