Slowolf is the Danish supremo who is causing a whirlwind in British music at present. Having been raised on a healthy diet of jazz and studying jazz drumming strenuously, the producer is branching out with inspiration from everything from Grime to electro. He’s a man on a mission, who has had many struggles personally along the way. We sat down and talked jazz, children and his fantastic new EP, White Feathers.
How difficult was it breaking out in the Danish music scene and what similarities and differences do you see with the British music industry?
In many ways I feel more connected and familiar with the British music scene and industry and I think its more open minded compared to the Danish scene. My music simply needs to cross the Danish borders to be able to breath properly.
Your love and passion for jazz is unprecedented. Do you feel jazz is an elitist genre that is almost secluded off to certain people who may have an interest for it?
When I was 19 years old, I went to the Conservatorium in Copenhagen as a drummer. In there I experienced that jazz can be mad boring with a lot of technique and theory lessons, too much brain and not enough heart. I grew up with my father playing real loud John Coltrane and Miles Davis records on the stereo and that’s the best education I have had so far.
The new EP sees you working with a plethora of talented new musicians from across the globe, including Dream Mclean. How does a jazz drummer from Denmark develop an affiliation for Grime?
I have been in love with Grime since I heard Dizzee Racsal’s “Boy In Da Corner” for the first time. Working with Dream Mclean and Scrufizzer on this EP have been a true pleasure. I love their sound, both so unique and fresh.
The new EP White Feathers is said to be inspired by your son Karlo, who has been ill and fighting for his life in hospital. How does such a tragedy and struggle influence the music you conceive?
Karlo is nine months old and was born with Down Syndrome. Three months ago he was hospitalized with pneumonia, his lungs were in really bad condition and he went in a respirator for five weeks. At some point the doctors started to doubt him, saying they could not offer him more treatment. Thanks to alternative treatment and Karlo’s own will to live, he has now been out of the hospital and back home for five days. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and since Karlo was born I have been seeing things in a new perspective with great impact on my composing and producing work which resulted in this EP sounding more positive and playful than my earlier stuff.
The distinctive use of jazz harmony and melody mixed with electronic and Grime flavoured beat can be heard clearly on the EP. This cohesion of genres can often sound too crazy and out there to be considered listenable yet you do this with relative ease, how so?
I am fascinated about breaking down music borders and try to create music that sounds new in mine and hopefully other peoples ears, too. I love the experimental process of creating music, the state of mind where you got the vibe of something new and fresh is coming your way.
Your other son Albert (aged 11) recently played the MPC Drum Machine live on stage in Denmark with Kimbra, Dream Mclean and many more. How do you teach such a small mind the complex methods of the MPC? Or is it a natural innate ability?
Albert and I have been playing around with drums and MPCs since he were around four years old. His rhythmic timing on the MPC is unique and something I cannot teach him. On top of that he got an amazing memory that allows me to show him new songs real quick. We just came home yesterday after playing shows in Switzerland and Finland over the weekend. It’s a gift to be hanging out as father and son like that.
If you could name three artists that it would be a dream to work with, who would they be and why?
RZA, love his flow and his productions. Kendrick Lamar, I never get tired of his voice. Chris Speed, one of my fave living saxophone players.
What are the plans for the future?
New music and positive vibes.