Interview with boundary-pushing electronica duo BYLJA

Image credit: Alexander Hjorth Jespersen

Releasing their debut EP Sojourn via the record label Springstoff, electronica duo BYLJA showcase their passion and drive with four mind-bending tracks. BYLJA consists of old school friends Marchel Mørk and Emil Aagaard who share a mutual love and appreciation for high-quality cheeses and synthesizers. BYLJA would only form in 2018, but since the duo’s inception, they have performed at some of Denmark’s biggest festivals like Spot Festival and Uhørt Festiva. Sojourn is inspired by the vast galaxy and its many wonders, each track feels like the galaxy is being shuffled around and we are not complaining one bit.

We chatted with this emerging duo and found out they are just as quirky as we pictured.

Stream/ download: Sojourn EP

Sum up your year so far in two words.

Relieving, exciting.

Tell us more about how your latest/upcoming release was conceptualized?

Our new EP Sojourn was created during the pandemic, while we were living on two different continents. We wanted to simulate a journey out into the universe facilitated with music, by exploring the musical equipment and sounds we associated our musical ideas with at that moment. We are both deeply fascinated with space and all of its wonderful and overwhelming facets, and we wanted to use that fascination creatively, and turn that fascination into music. It took a lot of effort transferring ideas and sound across the Atlantic Ocean up to the point where we had a complete EP, but it was all worth it and we are really happy with the result.

You bonded over a mutual love of synthesizers in your teenage years. Can you please describe the significance of synthesizers in your current EP?

We have a lot of associations and feelings associated with certain synthesizer sounds, and some of our synthesizers are very classic. For instance, we almost always use the Prophet 6 and Juno 106 for spherical pads and chords. And Moog Sub 37 for bass, since these sounds are so well-defined and classic sounding. To us, these sounds sort of give us a retro-futuristic vibe, from a time before digital synthesis and where synthesizers represented the sound of the future. In some instances, outer space and the unknown. 

We really like working with synthesizers, since we think it’s very entertaining and stimulating for us to sculpt and polishing the timbre of a sound. The piano is also a recurring sound we use, but always in a manipulated or synthesized way. 

Describe a typical day in your studio space.

Music is our day job, so we try to keep a good work discipline by starting a session in the morning and ending it in the afternoon – heavily inspired by members of Kraftwerk who view themselves as “music workers”. We usually meet up, drink some coffee and talk about what we are going to work on that specific day – practically, creatively, or polishing already existing tracks. Then we drink some more coffee and get working. Usually one of us brings an idea that we start working on and try out different things. We drink a lot of water throughout the day, in order to keep the perfect balance of hydration, combined with all the coffee. We also really like cheese, so sometimes one of us brings an interesting cheese that we have stumbled upon.

What are the most important pieces of equipment for you?

Ableton and our synthesizers – especially our modular synthesizer and our Prophet 6.

Describe what an ideal day would be for you?

We wake up well-rested and it’s our birthday! We are celebrated with cake and friends, and we are go bowling and have a cheese tasting. Also, our dear friends have brought a lot of interesting beers – so we have another tasting. In the evening we go to a Daft Punk concert because they didn’t split up after all. And of course, we are invited backstage with Beyoncé who is also in a great mood. We end the evening at 2 am, slightly drunk, full,  perfectly stimulated, and tired. So we have no difficulty falling asleep.

 What emotions would you want the listener to associate with when consuming this cosmic EP? 

Some of the adjectives we use about our music is dynamic, melancholic, and awe-inspiring. We hope the listeners will imagine themselves traveling through our solar system, appreciate the rings of Saturn, and look humbly back at the Earth to see how fragile and lonely it is drifting through space. 

Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far that you will take with you forever?

Playing as support for Maribou State in front of a happy and supportive crowd! That was a wonderful experience! Very good mood and a cheery backstage room.

Who is your musical guilty pleasure?

Fergie – Glamorous, and Abba – Dancing Queen. These are really not guilty pleasures, just really amazing music!

What can we expect from you in the near future? 

We have some more releases in the works, including a Sojourn-related surprise, and some collaborative work with a certain prominent electronic musician. Watch out for that!

The Sojourn EP features on the Spotify playlist

Read BYLJA‘s previous feature on Chill Music

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