There’s a certain charming, confident air about Terje Bakke. The young Norwegian may have been releasing records since as early as 2006, but it was in 2011 that he really started to make waves, ditching the big-room sounds of trance, tech house and minimal for deeper, more subtle tones. Having spent the previous 12 months locked away in the library finishing his studies, Terje is back and raring to go for 2013. Widely considered mature beyond his years behind the decks, MEOKO thought it time we catch a word or two with Terje and delve deeper into the mind behind the music (plus, he made us an hour long mix you can download below!)
CLICK BELOW FOR EXCLUSIVE TERJE BAKKE MIX
Hi Terje, thanks for your time. Now that 2013 is well into its stride, how has the year played out for you so far?
Salute! So far so good…There have been some quiet months recently with proper studio time. I love when I get the chance to sit for weeks in my studio.
One of the highlights of your career to date must have been the inclusion of ‘Ekaterinburg’ on the Visionquest Fabric mix. Do you remember where you were when you first heard the news? How did it impact on you as an artist?
It was a big moment in my life, one of the best ever. You know the feeling where you just feel totally alive? I was standing there in the shower, you know, all naked and shit, and this big voice came from above telling me I was the lucky chosen one to be a part of the forthcoming Visionquest compilation fabric series. I was like “OH REALLY??” I started to cry because then I finally understood I’m going to be a superstar….
Ha, no. Honestly, this was not one of the highlights of my career. Do not misunderstand me, however. I’m forever thankful that they included my track on the compilation and it gave me great exposure for sure but there are several other things I value more than being a part of a CD compilation, no matter what compilation it is or who is behind it.
I feel like after 2011, 2012 was a much slower year for you. Why was this? Will 2013 see you back to full-fitness?
I’m glad you’ve asked this question because I have the urge to tell the world why! The reason why it’s been silent/slow concerning me the last two years is because I have wanted to focus on finishing my studies properly before going all in with music. I’ve been working on music all this time as well, but I put a lot of effort and love into my productions so I figured I wanted to work hard on some quality, rather than just spit out some random work just to keep my name warm. I haven’t released new original music in almost two years. I finished my studies last June and have worked on new material harder than ever since then. The process takes a long time with me, but in the end I’m sure it will all be worth it.
2013 will definitely see me back in full-fitness, as I’ve finished dozens of new tracks including forthcoming full EPs on Visionquest and Be Chosen. And this time I won’t look back! I’m working on music full-time now and don’t have any obstacles in the way anymore.
Where do you want to take yourself as an artist in 2013? Do you set yourself end of year goals?
I have a lot of goals. My 2013 goal is to establish myself on a higher level as an artist and tell the world “Hello, I’m back” with my upcoming releases. Then 2014 will be there year of Terje Bakke. Long-term goal is total world domination… [Laughs].
For a long time you were balancing making and playing music with your studies. Is that still the case? That must have been difficult. Did you ever feel like abandoning your studies to pursue music full-time?
It’s been very difficult to be honest. My dream, a long time before I ever started my studies, was to make it as a musician. Right after I started my 3-year Bachelor degree, things started to loosen up and I met the right people in the scene. So I had to balance it for many years and often thought, “I should just quit school and work on music full-time.” I also had a part-time job and it was a big decision for me to just say, “fuck it, I’m leaving.” Saying goodbye to security you know?
But I’m proud of myself that I kept going and now have a grade to fall back upon if I don’t succeed with music in the future. I would love to take a Masters as well at some point, as I really enjoyed what I studied. My dream is to combine my grade and music in the future and soon maybe I will! I studied ‘Information Science’. The term is vague, but it’s basically about providing information – everything from programming to database to marketing to digital communication.
Like a lot of people, your entry into electronic music was through trance. How did you first encounter these first records? And how is it that you arrived at the deeper pastures you now inhabit?
I found the world of trance naturally through the net. I was young, naïve and loved straight melodies in the face. Trance was my obvious choice at the time. When I got older I understood there is more depth to music than just straight melodies in your face and structured grooves. I like to say I got more intelligent when it comes to approaching music and my style and taste evolved and got more playful and creative. I wish I was “smarter” at a younger age but I also like to believe that the path I’ve chosen has shaped me to become the artist and even DJ I am today. I still love melodies, and producing strong melodies and stories comes very naturally to me.
How do you rate your abilities as a producer? Do you feel you have a lot more still to give?
I once asked Thomas Melchior that question and he told me he still has more to give because creativity is a natural process in his blood. He would never get empty of ideas and always knows he will be able to pull it off. And he’s like 50? I don’t know though – I’m not saying I’ll be another Thomas Melchior but I feel I’m in the same boat as him when it comes to natural creativity. Ideas come completely natural to me and I’m never afraid of not being able to express my art, because I simply have too many ideas. I’m totally free from notes, scales and structures when I create music. My music will therefore always naturally evolve and never get stuck in the same veins. I think it’s a massive quality that I simply cannot control.
Techno-esque repetition seems a strong feature of your productions. What is about 1 or 2 bar loops that you feel convey such a strong, particular message?
My music is made for DJ sets not for the radio. Similarly I produce music for my own DJ sets, not for live gigs (because I’m a DJ, not a live artist). I produce and play music that is to be told in a story (several tracks), not track by track. My message comes from this repetition of subtle changes forming a complete story. I believe if served right, people can reach plains of intensive pleasure and happiness in their body – what do you call them…endorphins? Just pure happiness. I think the repetition in production (and whole DJ sets) can be looked upon as a kind of hypnotisation process, so when the crazy after-hours DJ pulls off some mind-fuck in the morning sun and you just stand there and feel pure happiness and love for life, then the DJs before him did their job well! Then the whole story of the evening has been a success: the hypnotising process worked and the cool after-hours DJ can now play with your minds. A good DJ can fuck it up real good, and I’m sure drugs can make that trip even more crazy… [Laughs].
As these are still the relatively early stages of your career, do you feel a constant pressure when DJing to present yourself to the absolute best of your ability? In hyper critical age of the internet, do you feel like you’re constantly being judged and picked apart?
No. I feel completely free when producing and DJing. I know what I can do and what I’m good at. If people like it then, “Heyyy you’re cool, lets find an afterparty” and if they hate it then, “Hey, fuck off wise-ass”. Ha but seriously, if people want to pick apart and judge or just get all hating, then that’s their issue really. I wish I was as confident in real life as I am with my music!
Finally, what’s the next big challenge for Terje Bakke? What would you especially like to achieve in the next 6 months?
My next big challenge is to establish myself on a higher level – how do you say it? Go from Championship to Premier League. This means getting enough gigs and income to be able to keep on living my dream. Easier said than done, but I think I’m one of the lucky ones who has the possibility to pull it off now. I also have some exciting projects I’m working on that I want to launch and establish this year!
Thanks for chatting with us Terje – we look forward to the world domination you speak of!