Adam Askov (left) and Alexander Salomonsen (right)
Before visiting Fast Forward’s energetic warehouse rave and meeting up with agency runner Anders Marc to talk about the initiatives shaping the DIY rave culture in the Danish capital – I find myself biking underneath a sky which is embracing the end of the day with a fiery sunset. As I’m leaving the moon-shaped island of Christianshavn, I enter the neighbourhood of Amager – the eastern part of Copenhagen – while listening to Funeral Future’s 2nd EP called Hard Candy.
The track positive coins my feeling as I’m about to enter the studio the track was created in, meeting Alexander Salomonsen (Repro) and Adam Askov, co-founders of the Euromantic label and half of duo Funeral Future. What initially started as Adam and I sharing our love for Danish techno over Instagram DMs, ended up in booking a flight to Copenhagen which resulted in an everlasting friendship.
Inspired by EBM, old-school goa-trance, post-punk music and high energy old-school rave, the duo is paving their own way and expanding the spectrum of techno music. With their personal approach, they have taken upon the term emo-techno with humour. As part of Fast Forward and with their latest gigs at Possession (FR), their upcoming gig at Bassiani, a night in Säule, their own label and features on Courtesy’s label Kulør, the duo is undoubtedly spreading the fast Copenhagen sound internationally with high acclaim.
But what has led them there? And what is it with this specific sound coming from the city? I meet up with the pair to talk about their label, their music, the Copenhagen sound, on working together, their personal struggles and on their next EP.
Picture: Funeral future: Alexander Salomonsen (solo alias Repro) and Adam Askov in the studio by David Wouters
You’re both owners of Euromantic label and both part of duo Funeral Future. How did you come together?
Adam: We had a mutual friend (named Troels) that brought us together. I met him at a party where we immediately started bitching about the – then – non-existent techno scene in Copenhagen. He invited me over to his apartment and showed me the music he was working on. He told me, ‘either we get together and do something great, or we get some alcohol and get shitfaced.’ That’s exactly what I needed at that point, I wanted something serious.
Alexander: I wrote Troels on MySpace [laughs] – yes I know. When I wrote him I was living in a small city in the middle of Denmark. I didn’t have any friends, all I was doing was working on music in my apartment. Troels told me about this friend named Adam and about how they were throwing a rave together. I joined the project and that’s how Adam and I met each other. In the process of preparing for the party we decided to start a label. That way the party would point back to our projects and maybe create a bit of attention for the music we wanted to push. The party actually never happened, but that’s how our first label count 0 got started.
Adam: At the time Alexander and I were both in a place where we really needed a project. It was a period for us where we were both struggling with our mental health. We were both in the same spot but came from two completely different places. We both wanted something to change and we soon realized that the music was our escape to that place. That’s when in 2013 we decided on setting up our former label named ‘count 0.’ Everything moved pretty quickly after that. We got a three-bedroom apartment that we turned into our studio and moved in together.
I think that’s really interesting – usually music that comes out of a difficult period can turn into something healing. How did you experience that and how did those feelings translate into the music released on count 0? Sound-wise, in what way did the music differ from your current label Euromantic?
Alexander: The first tracks we released on count 0 were very bleak in comparison to the music we produce right now. We find it quite unpleasant to listen to actually [laughs]. We were both going through a tough time, and in hindsight i can see that we needed to get this extreme focus on the dark aspects of life out of our systems.
Adam: When we started out with our old label count 0, it was a time when the techno scene was still very dominated by the dark and hard Berlin sound. We transitioned to Euromantic in 2017. As we were overcoming our personal situation, we started seeing the grace in feeling both negative and positive emotions – to accept the ambivalence that comes with life in general. This reflected in us wanting to experiment with some more melodic stuff, something that’s more expressive than this cool Berlin sound. We wanted techno music that conveys all kinds of emotions and has feeling in it.
Alexander: At the same time, we were interested in the faster and energetic stuff from the beginning. The combination of this high energy of the old kind of rave music and this melodious/emotional side led to the development of this new sound for us – but we had no idea if it would work on the dancefloor. This was all in the beginning of the scene as a whole really starting to come together, and i was surprised to find out that a lot of our peers we’re doing similar things in terms of the tempos they worked with, incorporating melodies and the sources of inspiration they drew from.
Techno can be a form of music where people have the ability to escape their feelings and get into a trance sort of state of mind. With your music there’s a lot of emotion in it, which is maybe something people don’t want to feel on the dance floor.
Adam: It doesn’t all need to be positive. I think it can be beautiful to experience those negative emotions together on the dancefloor, there’s a certain grace to it.
Alexander: I have always felt very ambivalent at parties, euphoria is a slippery thing. As sweet as it is when you experience it – as quickly it can dissapear and make way for whatever is beneath. For me these have often been pretty challenging feelings, even during a night I could cycle through these feelings very quickly. I think thats why it’s important to me to have a range of emotions in your music because theres so much comfort in relating to something when you don’t feel too good. If a severely depressed person hears a joke about suicide they might laugh at it and it takes the edge off, where others might just find it morbid.
I agree with you. I think this is the best way to approach life in general. In accepting that there’s going to be both downtime and uptime, you’ll be open to go through stuff but you’ll also be open to experience all kinds of feelings which you’ll eventually grow from – you were both going through things but then also putting that in music, together. Did that strengthen the bond you have with each other?
Alexander: Definitely, it made it safer to explore these things.
Adam: I still feel that working within the framework of music and what we have together, is what is foremost a friendship and has become easier and easier. It’s really just a lot of fun right now.
You mentioned earlier the ambivalence of life, in what way does the music released on Euromantic reflect that?
Alexander: Our music has always been about our personal stories. With everything we do we want to integrate all aspects in a way. When you listen to our latest EP Blue Euphoria, all of the tracks possess their own energy. Not all of them are melodious. We wanted to incorporate the whole spectrum of human emotion in our music, not just this extremely positive – above all else – kind of vibe.
Adam: In a way, techno music is such a straight form in terms of emotion – we were questioning: how can we make this something more? We don’t have lyrics, but how can we express something that you would express by singing. How can we do that by taking our ideas into the sound design?
Adam: The first tracks we released turned out pretty good. I was listening to them as I was walking close to the place I live. I was really happy that we came to a point where we made this kind of stuff. As I was walking down the street, I heard this bell ringing and it resonated with the beat. I looked up and there was this funeral taking place. A family stood there, crying, people carrying a coffin. It was this weird moment where I realized: even though you’re going through hard times in life, you have to be grateful for what you have.
Did this experience inspire you for your artist name Funeral Future?
Adam: The idea was definitely based on it. It was also like a pun on the whole 90’s vibe. In the 90s, everyone was like ‘future this’ and ‘future that’ and it was just like; in the future you’re going to die you know. It’s dark, but it’s important to have humour in things.
About the name Funeral Future – many elements in your work are ambiguous word-plays. Your previous label was named ‘Count 0’, your latest EPs released are named ‘Blue Euphoria’, ‘Hard Candy’, ‘Post-Nostalgia’ and ‘No Sex Only Feelings’. You guys are all about contrasts, aren’t you?
Alexander: I realize I keep stressing this, but ambivalence and ambiguity are a huge thing in our work, because I think that’s how life is. It’s what we realized in all of this, when times are difficult, it’s important to see the flipside and have humour in things. It reflects back to our music where we want people to feel the whole spectrum of human emotions. So we also wanted titles that were very evocative and visuals that express it more.
Speaking about ambivalent visuals, when I found out about your music, I stumbled upon a trailer video for the release of your label.
The video shows people dancing and people dying. I’m wondering what it was inspired by. You see people partying amidst fragments of important moments in history. What inspired you for that?
Adam: It was inspired by the news. We just took things that we saw around us at that time. The assassination of Kim-Jong-Un’s brother, the Russian ambassador who was shot in Ankara. It was a scary time because Turkey is a NATO country and there was a lot of tension around Syria. There were also fragments of bombs falling out a plane, someone getting stabbed in a parking lot.
And then there are fragments in between of people raving. Was it like a statement: ‘Raving against all the bullshit that’s going on in the world?’
Alexander: Also an escape from the world as it is. Just not being naive about what you’re doing and your position in the world, but still fully allowing yourself to indulge aswell. Escapism isn’t just a priviledge, it’s closer to a basic need I think.
That statement leads me back to what you said about raving. I read in an interview that you quoted Mio aka HORNS (DJ) on his quote in his thesis about the Copenhagen techno scene. He wrote about that ‘In the past it would be raving for a utopia. To celebrate life. Now it’s raving in dystopia, to escape from the world as it is.’ In the 90s, this euphoric-trance sound took over and there was this feeling of things were going to get better. Right now, the sound has become harder, more aggressive and people are raving in dystopia, to escape from the world as it is. I think it’s very interesting how that reflects into your sound and the Copenhagen sound in general as you incorporate both elements of harder, faster music and this incorporation of melodies that reflect the entire spectrum of human emotion. Where do you think that emo-techno in Copenhagen comes from?
Adam: I feel that there’s definitely this specific sound in Copenhagen, but it’s not much of a coming of age thing anymore, it’s all very personal. We all came from different backgrounds than the techno background, most came from the punk-rock scene. So we already liked energetic sounds – which gave us a framework to build on. We took the elements of other music genres with us into the the fast sound that everyone was experimenting with – so every DJ had their own take on it.
Adam: At the same we were influenced by each other’s music as we all started playing around the same time – as the Copenhagen techno scene started to grow, we grew with it. It was a small scene, but we all knew each other. We played the same parties, went to the same raves all the while Fast Forward brought us together. At the same time, people who went to trance parties also went to techno parties. So the sound was also influenced by that. In general, people were pushing the boundaries on what was played in the city before – we wanted a sound of our own.
Alexander: I think for me – I’m younger than Adam – I grew up with Eurodance on the radio, MTV etc. But i always associated it with people I couldn’t relate to at all. Listening back to it, it was fun to realize there’s actually a lot of energy in this music, we felt like it could be fun to appropriate this vibe, take it and give it a new face.
Adam: Trance of course has been a huge influence. I feel like this whole trance thing in Denmark was really big in the 90’s. A lot of the classic goa-trance artists on blue room and stuff are from Copenhagen. So there’s always been that connection. However, I feel like we don’t identify with this whole trance revival. Our idea has foremost been to kind of try and take influences that we like and do it our own way.
And doing it your own way seems to work. You’ve gained a lot of international exposure with your label, music and gigs. How’s that been?
Adam: There’s been a really great response to the sound.
Alexander: I feel like it’s being received really well too. Our first release received more attention than we’d ever imagined. That gave Euromantic a good following from the start.
Adam: We’ve gotten offers to play abroad, but we want to plan everything carefully.
There’s been a lot of talking about DJs and mental health lately. I can imagine that a life where you’re flying around the world thirteen times a month can be depleting. How do you experience that?
Alexander: Many people forget that DJing is not just fun but it’s also a ton of logistics, flying from country to country, breaking your sleep cycle. You can feel like its expected of you to be the life of the party, to be super social and to fully take part in the party with all that it entails. If this is your job that means really pushing your mind and body every week. This really takes a toll on you and it’s very important to tailor your life in a way that allows you to do this in a healthy way or atleast to have time to recover. This can mean “being that boring DJ” and going straight to the hotel, skipping a dinner or leaving right after your set. I hope people can learn to understand why some DJ’s need to do this. It can be surprisingly hard to get there. I’m here if anyone needs to talk [laughs].
Alexander: I’ve been playing a lot more under my solo alias, Repro. To me it seems that if you become this top tier techno DJ – you do alot of high profile club gigs and festivals and you can earn a decent living. But nothing of that really interests me and i wouldn’t be able to live like that. Making music will always be the most important thing to me. Having our own label provides us with the opportunity to do exactly what we want at any given time regardless of what is going on in the scene on a global scale. This music will ultimately be our legacy so it’s important to us that it’s presented exactly how we want it.
I really like that what you’re doing is coming from the heart. It’s important to look at what you have right now. As humans we have a tendency to always want more. By looking at what you’re working with at the present moment and the happiness and fulfilling it gives you, it’s good to stick with that if it makes you feel that way. So what’s next for Euromantic?
Adam: We want to experiment a lot. We have so many projects going on. For every release you want a double pool of material to pick out of so that we’re sure we have the best material on each record.
Could you give us a hint on the next Funeral Future record?
Adam: Our next EP will be named ‘The Bright Light of Life’ – the cover picture of the EP shows climbers in queue to reach the top of Mount Everest. Several of them died of hypothermia. It shows the absurdity of aspiration and the mystique of motivation. Especially in our case, where life comes with a lot of hardship – which goes for most artists I guess. So the Bright Light of Life is that guiding power, and Neverest in its Utopia, reflecting that perfection we’ll never reach.
Another interesting contradiction!
Adam: The EP will be dedicated to ‘Green boots’ – a dead climber who’s corpse you’ll have to pass to reach the peak of the mountain. There’s a lot of speculation about his identity, but it’s still not known. For me he’s kind of a martyr, a saint. He’ll be on the label. I know this is just electronic music and maybe I’m putting too much into it, but this is just the way it comes out. And you know: Neverest, Never rest, Neverland.
When will the EP be released?
Adam: We are expecting it to be released this spring!
Last but not least: how would you describe the techno scene in Copenhagen in three words?
Adam: Alone, together and free.
Alexander: Ambiguous, emotional and personal. I was thinking about a lot of the other guys as well, Schacke and Nicolaj from Fast Forward. Everyone supports each other and everyone’s doing it from the heart, doing exactly what they want to present at that time.
To stay up to date on Funeral Future’s upcoming gigs, you can follow the pair on Facebook, Adam Askov on Instagram and Alexander Salomonsen alias Repro on Instagram for more of their music, you can go to Soundcloud
Photo credits: Morten Bentzon – for more of his incredible work, give him a follow on Instagram.