Vinyl Creators—an Interview with Frederik Tollund
Vinyl Creators is an AM Clean Sound interview series featuring contemporary creatives inspired by vinyl. In the third edition of the series, we had a coffee-fuelled conversation with the Barcelona-based, Copenhagen-connected DJ, Frederik Tollund, and came upon several topical topics like safer spaces, the evolving Copenhagen club scene and the ritualistic joys of listening to vinyl at home.
Frederik Tollund is mild-mannered, articulate and very reflective DJ who’s made a name for himself as the resident at one of the Danish capital’s most interesting and progressive nightclubs known as Ved Siden Af—a tight-knit, inclusivity-driven community, which recently found a new home in a new space, prompting a name-change to Den Anden Side. By no means has the relocation and change of name made Den Anden Side turn down the amp on its emancipatory politics.
As you might expect, Frederik isn’t about the ego-driven hype culture that’s sometimes comes with operating on the international DJ circuit. Speaking to the cultured selector, you get the sense that, although he's the party’s acting master of ceremonies, he doesn’t actively court the adulation. It’s not about him. Echoing the sentiments of the great Larry Levan, it’s about the radically transformative potential emerging in the dynamic space between dancefloor and DJ. In simpler terms: it’s about the community.
Having relocated to Barcelona to work on fancy machine-learning things that we’re not quite sure we fully understand, we were lucky to catch Frederik on a break from his otherwise busy Copenhagen schedule. We sat down with the nomadic DJ, electronic music buff and vinyl appreciator at his favorite coffee house for a chat about dancefloor politics, safer spaces, what goes into creating that special dancefloor atmosphere—and what he loves about playing vinyl at home.
Tell us about your residency at Den Anden Side—is it different to Djing at Ved Siden Af?
It’s still young and we’re still feeling it out, so still exploring! It’s definitely a continuation of how I liked to play in Ved Siden Af, but with the added difference of the room being roomier. Instead of this techno cave, we have a very open space which I think really lends itself to vocals and big emotional break beats.
Is Den Anden Side different from Ved Siden af—if it is, how is it different?
We only have one dance floor now, but it is much much bigger and with different spaces for different tribes. I think people are still learning to feel and understand the space, which makes it interesting and sometimes confusing to move around. The general vibe and most the community has moved along with it, so it’s in good hands.
What kind of impact would you say that your safer spaces policy has on the atmosphere at the club?
A big part of creating that atmosphere is having a crew of people, DJs, bouncers, bartenders, who are all excited and on the same wavelength and excited about creating a great night for everyone. When you have that kind of atmosphere, it tends to spill over in the crowd and the club itself.
Some people would say that having a door policy isn’t inclusive, but actually exclusionary and elitist—what would you say to those people?
This is a complicated question with many different sides to it. First of all, letting everyone into your club isn’t necessarily very inclusive. We want to make room for everyone, but there has to be a certain diversity and a certain vibe. A door policy that’s completely open often means that certain people with little respect for other people who are less privileged than themselves are let in. An important part of the way that picking works at DAS is that everyone speaks with the picker before entering, so it’s a decision based on conversation, connection and sometimes intuition.
What’s your favorite physical music format and why?
For DJing it’s digital (probably mostly aiff for metadata included), while when home listening it’s vinyl. 9/10 times I would rip vinyl for DJing because of the ease and the possibilities for digital manipulation. I do, however, love DJs such as Kiernan Laveaux, Eris Drew and CCL that can manipulate vinyl in very imaginative ways.
What do you like about the vinyl record as a format?
For home listening I think I enjoy the attention and the ritualistic aspect of it. It’s such a small thing, but I think that it sometimes feels sacrilege to stop a record playing or not listen to the B-side. For this reason, I also really enjoy buying records that are full albums and lend themselves to an end-to-end listening experience.
Photo: Sofie Hvitved
Favorite record in the world right now?
I recently moved to Barcelona, so I’m going with the easy choice and say Discos Paradiso in Raval. For record stores I tend to either like big chaotic messy places or snug and heavily curated shops where there’s an intention behind every record placed there.
Now just realised that the question was about favourite record… that’s a tough tough one. Some that will never leave rotation are Mark Hollis’ solo album, Ys by Joanna Newsom or Dansktoppen møder Burkina Faso i det himmelblå rum hvor solen bor by Frisk Frugt.
What’s your go-to piece of music hardware?
Uuuuuuuuuuh! Tough one. Some years ago I bought a Monomachine by Elektron, which is still early 2000’s digital synthesizer and sequencer. It’s the harsh, squelchy, but can be so bubbly and is so good to go all out modulation confusion on. Almost all tracks I’ve made have been made based on a happy accident from that machine.
Monomachine by Elektron
What do you make of the sustained interest in the Copenhagen techno/trance scene?
I think it’s lovely but I also think there’s a lot more to it! There are so many talented artists here that widen the umbrella of what can fit under a techno/trance umbrella and I think the sound of Copenhagen is carried by crews and dancefloors and is thereby very odd and lovely.
How would you describe the Copenhagen club scene?
Copenhagen is big enough to have a rich underground, but small enough for a lot of people to end up knowing, dancing or working with each other in some kind of way. I definitely feel like post-lockdown removed a lot of the barriers between different sounds and approaches. It’s been super refreshing to get rid of a lot of purism and work toward more surprising and eclectic music.
Follow Frederik for mixes, tracks and upcoming gigs: