[dB2015 MIX #5] Josef Gaard

Performing Wednesday, September 23rd at The Crocodile as part of the 12th Annual Decibel Festival Showcase: secondnature

[dB2015 Mix #5] Josef Gaard by Decibel Festival on Mixcloud


There’s something humming in Seattle right now thanks to local techno collective secondnature. Brought together by a love of dark atmospheric techno and DIY venues the collective has been booking the likes of Abdulla Rashim, Shifted and Acronym while cultivating a sound Seattle can call its own. Josef Gaard, one of the collectives’ curators, has be on the rise since 2012. Gaard’s recent EP Obsidian Falls received international acclaim and we can’t wait to see what’s next. We caught up with him before his show at The Crocodile.


What was the idea behind the mix and how did you go about making it?

The idea behind this mix was really just to share some of my recent favorites in a cohesive manner. I strive for a mix that is dynamic and ambivalent because otherwise it just gets boring. I have also been at a pretty transitional point in my life and I think you can hear a bit of that in this mix.  It was made with two turntables, two CDJs, some tape rips, and a Xone DB2 mixer.

We hear you were a Decibel attendee before, tell us about your experience with the festival.

I first attended Decibel in 2012 a month after I moved to Washington, and it was there that I met most of the people that would come to have importance in my life over the years that followed. I owe a lot to the community of people and amazing musicians that have brought so much talent to our region. It’s been a constant inspiration the entire time I’ve lived here, and I am more excited than ever for this year’s program.

Tell us about your creative process. How do you go about creating music?

I tend to create things in bursts, with periods of calm in between. Every release I’ve ever made has come about in a short cluster of time where all I did was focus on music. It really begins with a fascination with sound, an obsession almost. Most tracks are inspired by one or two sounds that dig a hole, plant a seed, and grow into something larger. If I have to force it, I leave the project alone. It must always come naturally because I can hear when it doesn’t.

What inspires you to create the music you do?

I have a real love for dancing and interacting with the physicality of sound. Also, as someone who studied percussion for years I find rhythm to be endlessly fascinating. I think for these two reasons I make the type of music I do, at least on the surface. Peel away a few layers and It’s almost a cleansing process – when something is immensely troubling or ineffably beautiful I need some way to release it.

What experience, artist, sound influenced you most as an artist?

I think the experience of playing three voices of Bach chorals and singing the fourth for aural skills classes back in music school really influenced me. I never really understood until that time that Bach is an absolute genius and we will all forever live in his immeasurable shadow. I can never imagine making music so mathematically pure and harmonically wondrous, and I think living in that shadow helps me always strive to be at that level.  

You’ve frequently opened and been associated with artists on Northern Electronics, what about the scene in the Pacific Northwest do you feel draws a parallel to this sound? How do you feel it is different?

The music of Northern Electronics is definitely part of what brought secondnature together as a collective. At the time I thought I was totally alone listening to this music in Washington, but I found this small group of lovely people who were just as into it as I was. It felt like a special bond because no one else was really listening to it so we banded together to help bring some of this stuff into people’s lives. I think there are a lot of similarities geographically and culturally between Washington and Sweden – lots of dense forests and northern atmospheres. So maybe these sounds just fit into this kind of landscape… that’s what it’s always felt like anyways. I think it’s different in that we aren’t so close to Europe, so organizing a tour for an artist takes a bit more commitment. I also think there are slight differences musically, but generally there is a lot of crossover and cross pollination.

Do you feel like there is  a specific sound or movement associated with Seattle currently?

I think one of the great things about Seattle is that there is a huge diversity in the scene which means there is something for everyone. I’m not sure there is a specific sound quite yet, but we’re certainly getting there! There has definitely been a huge influx of interest in underground dance music in the city at least since I’ve lived here. If you include Portland and Vancouver we’ve definitely got some wonderful things cooking and there is a boundless amount of local talent.

If you could collaborate with anyone (living or not), who would it be?

That’s hard to say. I got asked this in a previous interview and I answered with William Basinski – which I still stand by. However, I think I would also add Arvo Pärt to that list. In terms of techno artists I’d probably say Evigt Mörker who is an absolutely remarkable producer – his music is featured in this mix.

What do you have in store for us at the festival?

I have been having one of those cleansing processes lately and have made a relatively tremendous amount of new music in the past few months, so most of what I will be playing is unreleased material. I’ve been getting into a lot of drone/noise/experimental music from labels like Posh Isolation and Total Black, and I think that influence has definitely come through a bit in my music. Bring your earplugs.


See Josef Gaard, Wednesday, September 23rd at the secondnature showcase with Tin Man, Cassegrain, and Archivist.

Tickets: $20 adv  / $25 DOS / Free with a Festival Pass