The early days Cejero
"Working with contrasts and odd relations, trying to find a glue that can hold everything together, still excites us a lot in itself." says label co-founder Emil Kragh-Schwarz.
This pretty much sums up Cejero, a wonderful Danish label that was born only in 2013 but has already released some of the most interesting, radical and experimental electronic music you'll ever hear. The Copenhagen based record label doesn't chase trends, Cejero seems to be more focused on "releasing and working for radical and curious music". In the following feature, Cejero's label co-founders Emil Kragh-Schwarz and Thomas Buhl-Wiggers tell the story of the early days of Sejerø Festival and Cejero.
Tell us about the story behind Cejero - How did you and Thomas meet? What led to you working together and what really sparked you two into getting the label going?
Emil: Between 2011 and 2015 Thomas was co-organizing a festival on a Danish island called Sejerø. After the first year he asked me to help book the music program and we ended up doing that together until the festival had to close down last year.
We both wanted to bring together a lot of different stuff and try everything to release the most open-ended energies we possibly could. The festival was blessed with amazing surroundings and an insanely curious audience that made this focus possible. We could easily have Dennis Tyfus play weird tape music at peak hour right after Palmistry’s catchy club bangers. As long as the music was great, people would always figure out a way to freak!
We really enjoyed trying to create these situations and we had great discussions about how to do it. Basically we just had very similar visions for how we would like to work with music. On top of this it has always been a huge pleasure to work with Thomas, who will basically do everything to do things just right and treat all artists with incredible respect. So to answer your question Cejero emerged from a wish to continue a collaboration that we were getting more and more happy about.
What’s the relation between Sejerø Festival and Cejero?
Emil: In the beginning, we mainly used Cejero to expand projects and build on to relations from Sejerø. And we still do this a lot. For example, we know Senyawa from Sejerø. And the cover art for their recent LP was made by Kasper Lynge Jensen, who was the other main organizer at the festival. Now we are working with other people as well, but what we try to do is still very similar to what we were trying to do with the music programming at Sejerø – and for that matter what Thomas and Kasper were trying to do with the whole festival, I think.
What are the main principles and ideals of the label?
Emil: First of all, we try to work with artists we admire no matter how different they might be. Or appear. We are both passionate about so much different music, that Cejero just has to be a flexible platform where all of these different creatures can exist together in a meaningful way. But of course it is not only out of need. Working with contrasts and odd relations, trying to find a glue that can hold everything together, still excites us a lot in itself.
What kind of music did you listen to as a kid?
Emil: Oasis. And Beastie Boys. I think Thomas was a Blur guy. And a Talk Talk fan, I believe.
Did you have a breakthrough record or artist that opened the door to experimental/electronic music for you?
Emil: I never really thought about this, but my dad loves jazz music. Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane. Pharoah Sanders. This sort of stuff. So growing up seeing how important this was to him it has always just felt natural to be around and investigate music.
How would you describe where the Copenhagen scene is now and how it has evolved over the last five years? What role do you feel like you have there right now?
Emil: There are a lot of great venues, acts, and labels here. More and more, I think. Often things can feel a little divided though. As many other places we have a pretty big and crowded border area between noise and techno now, but otherwise most action is still going on in small and rather closed circuits. Magic stuff happen in some of those bubbles, but hopefully Cejero can supplement them with a platform for slightly more open-ended interactions.
There are other Danish platforms for this of course. And some great ones too. Mayhem, which is one of the most incredible venues in Europe, for example. Or an amazing record store called Insula Music. Or the Escho label. But there’s definitely room for more.
You guys and Aaron Dilloway (Hanson Records) have been responsible for revamping the career of industrial/noise/ambient legend Robert Turman. How did you meet Robert?
Emil: I don’t think we should take credit for revamping his career but we do work with him a lot. We met, when he was playing Sejerø for his first trip to Europe in decades. We immediately became close friends and ever since it has basically just been a natural thing (and a huge pleasure) to keep working with him. He is a very special person!
I’ve heard there's a new Robert Turman record in the making. Care to share more details?
Emil: He is always working on new amazing solo stuff, and we talk about different projects all the time... Also, we are working on releasing a pretty crazy album of house music that he did with Paris Treantefales (as Acid Radio) in the early nineties. Hopefully it will be out sometime in 2017.
What’s one artist who really surprised you with a track or album?
Emil: I’m not sure if this is what you asked actually, but if I should mention someone who really fascinated me recently it would be Francesco Cavaliere. His recent LPs for Hundebiss are incredible! Everybody should listen to the new Miaux LP for Ultra Eczema as well! And whatever Slowscan is putting out. C. Spencer Yeh’s vocal record for Primary Information. Different projects by James Hoff. The recent Augustus Pablo 10” on Dug Out. Palmistry’s Pagan LP. Dale Cornish on Where To Now? The Lorenzo Senni EP on Warp. The new LP by Graham Lambkin. There’s so much crazy stuff. We need to ask Thomas as well? He always has great recommendations.
Thomas: Well, what Emil said but I have to say that following Aaron Dilloway recording and performing closely on the two occasions he stayed at my house here in Copenhagen with his lovely family has overshadowed everything else in a pretty crazy music year. Aaron is so committed and in sync with his art and craft that it physically hurts me to understand it. His concert at Mayhem was the music moment of the year for me.
Let’s say someone is new to the label and wants a solid introduction to the range of sounds that Cejero represents. What are the two records they should start with and why?
Emil: I’m not sure. I don’t really like to choose. Maybe Thomas some kind of answer now that I called him up anyway?
Thomas: All our releases hold a special place in my heart and I actually think that our two latest releases, Senyawa and Eric Frye, both released on the same date, does a fairly good job of showcasing the broadness of the spectre in which we work. I can't really think of any other label that would have released both those records. If that's a good or a bad thing, I'll leave to whom it may concern.
Photo credits: Emil Kragh-Schwarz
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