The Exchange is a periodic in-depth look at the artistic motivations of musicians and collectives. We try to approach this from a more cultural and societal perspective, aside from the necessary musical one, because we cannot deny the influence of modern age bringing ideas from all over the world which broaden our horizons. It is a fact that we can learn a lot from movements that are foreign to us.
“Full lighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than darkness, which ultimately protected. Visibility is a trap.”
Michel Foucault. Discipline & Punish (1975)
The musical output hailing from the Scandinavian regions is generally marked by an intense intimacy, contrasted by colder winds of dissociating distance. A tonal overlap of landscapes where sound has the characteristic of photographic moments. Danish artist Jens Konrad Barrett captures the hyperactive emotions common to the intangible world of the Online with his first EP as Severin. Delving deeper into his fascination with the dualist character of the Internet -both present and not-, we touch upon his inspirations and positions.
Z- You’re part of the duo Lyra Valenza, formerly known as Lyra. How does the Severin project distinguish itself from the former collaboration, apart from it being a solo engagement?
I would say that Severin is a more personal and emotional project for me. Although I don’t necessarily find it more important to me than the other musical projects I am involved in, the Severin project is where I channel out some of my inner emotions, thoughts and ideas.
Z- How would you describe your position within the Danish experimental scene, which seems to be an amalgam of different monikers and overlapping noise, techno, and ambient landscapes?
In general I’m very excited about a lot of the stuff that happens around me on the Copenhagen scene at the moment. Through my work with the Petrola 80 label, I’m very grateful to be in a position where several amazing artists and producers are sharing their music and ideas with me, and we can exchange thoughts and ideas and learn from each other. This is where it all makes sense for me, I don’t think I would enjoy being part of a scene or running a label if there wasn’t a two-way communication.
Z- Petrola 80 seems to investigate exactly these fringes where styles overlap. What has been the incentive to call this label into life?
The inaugural initiative to launching the label was the release of our first Lyra record, but back then we already knew that we wanted to document a certain part of a rising scene going on in Denmark. We had (and still have) some friends who are making completely outstanding music, but not really doing anything about it, so we’re trying to push them a little bit and create some sort of home to like minded artists and friends. The crossover and overlapping of styles that you’re mentioning is actually one of our missions with Petrola 80, as we want to constantly surprise our audience and try to take new paths without losing the artistic and aesthetic common thread in our discography. We’re putting out a big compilation release soon with many of the exciting artists and producers around us, showcasing a broad variety of styles and ideas within the label, I think it will give a good glimpse inside what our musical community and the label is all about.
Z – The focus of the EP on the thematic of online stalking is quite unusual. What has fed this fascination? Do you consider the interest in the shift between public and private to be a logical outcome of our generation’s confrontation with the Internet?
There are many layers of my interest in the subject, and I guess that’s also why the entire record ended up being somehow inspired by the theme, but to me it’s also closely connected with other digital themes like data, social media and digital communication in general.
I have always been very interested in the ways that the internet are extending human connection, communication and information, and I remember that when I was 12 years old the most exciting thing during the whole day was chatting with my ex-girlfriend on MSN messenger before going to sleep, but nowadays I’m almost unable to write a single chat message or upload a single photo to social media without thinking about who is watching and gathering all this information in the other end. To me the phenomenon of stalking touches upon an interesting paradox in general human nature since it’s a very serious and dangerous matter that we all condemn when a person is actually experiencing the real thing, but at the same time it’s something that we all practice to a certain extend nowadays through social media and the rise of the smartphone. It’s very intriguing to observe other people, but on the other hand it feels very uncomfortable to be watched by others, especially if it’s not that obvious.
I definitely think that our generation is beginning to get more aware of the consequences of the infinite sharing of information and data on the internet, and how being online all the time affects our social life in general. Curiosity is one of the most amazing qualities that we have as human beings, but the problem from my perspective is that a medium like Facebook or the smartphone in general tries to get you addicted to your curiosity so it’s no longer an adventure but becomes an addiction, something that you feel you have to stay in sync with all the time.
Z- The video made by Camille Doussy for the track New Partial Freedom seems to make use of Foucault’s panopticon by introducing the architectural method of “strict spatial partitioning”. Has this video been a collaborative effort, and in which way do you seek to incorporate different mediums into your already vast musical vocabulary?
After I had finished up the music and we started to work on the actual release, me, Camille, and Laurits Hanak (who designed the artwork of the record) sat down and exchanged visual ideas on the subject of the record, to try and uphold the aesthetic outline of the record throughout the design and video. That’s also why you’ll see an image from the video on the back sleeve of the record, and vice versa Laurits’s typo design from the sleeve occurs in the beginning of the video. This is something we’re very interested in exploring further in the future, with an aim to create a coherency in the overall presentation of each release – audio, video, design and promo. Besides working with Laurits on the album designs, we recently started collaborating with visual artists for videos and live visual design on our shows. The video for Lyra Valenza – “Bomber” also made by Camille Doussy is already out on YouTube and there is more videos to follow shortly, so stay tuned. Thank you very much for doing this interview.