Back to the Future: A Chat with Beastie Respond
Beastie Respond is the stage name of Danish producer Tobias Pedersen, who made his musical debut in 2011 for the bass music label Teal Recordings. Shortly after two singles on the label, he released his first personal album titled “Fictitious Nostalgia” which came out in 2013. Tobias has spent the following years re-inventing his sounds and changing his studio rituals. The result is “Back To The Future,” a 7-tracker which takes an 80s nostalgic vibe. We’ve had the pleasure to ask Beastie a couple of questions about his own past and future.
JZ: Could you tell us how your background helped you shape your musical palette?
BS: I grew up in a small provincial town outside of Roskilde just outside the greater Copenhagen area. It was a very typical middle class area without much to do. My parents always encouraged me to explore music and they took me to various music festivals in Denmark when I was a kid, so I was exposed to music at an early age. It wasn’t until I changed school and made some new friends there that I got into playing music as more than a solitary leisure activity. A friend’s older brother introduced us to a ska band that we just loved. We founded our own band shortly after. There would always be DJs at the gigs we played who play ska, reggae, rock-steady and the likes thereof and every now and then someone would play some ragga-jungle. I’ve always been very adventurous when it comes to music so I explored it and got into music production. I was completely hooked when I heard a mix Manifest from the Renegade Hardware crew did for Drum and Bass Arena close to a decade ago.
Could you tell us about the origins of your stage name?
Beastie Respond is an anagram of my name Tobias Pedersen
Your productions vary in style. Often people can dance to your music but there are certain tracks where you let machines and groaning robots do the talking. When you’re making a track, are you channelling things from your personal life?
Of course! It would be boring if I didn’t do that. Primarily I write and create my music from emotion and experience and not as a functional tool. Writing something that makes people dance is a nice bonus.
Your most recent EP, Back to the Future, features slightly different types of music than what we’re generally used to, and it also features a remix from the Dubstep/Grime legend Silkie. What was your general inspiration behind the album?
Fusion jazz had a big influence on me. I was listening to Weather Report and Return to Forever a lot when I wrote this new EP. At the same time, I set out to write something sounding like an evolution from the album three years ago. I think the EP sounds more contemporary and polished than Fictitious Nostalgia. It’ll work well as a transitory piece towards forthcoming productions.
Coming from Copenhagen, tell us about the scene and clubs you’re surrounded by and would recommend people to visit.
The scene here is versatile. The idea of a single scene is a little absurd here as there are many different scenes. Techno is big here and I’ve enjoyed going out to listen and dance to that a lot over the last six months. I prefer the more underground parties in places like Bolsjefabrikken and Mayhem to the more established venues. An established place I’d like to point out is Jolene in the meatpacking district. RDG, the duo Code Walk and myself do nights there where we play footwork, jungle, drum & bass, and beyond. It’s small and very intimate but has a booming sound system! And always look for the Circle Vision parties if you’re going to Copenhagen.
Your most recent release came out on Circle Vision, a rather new Danish label. Could you tell us about the relationship that you have with RDG and the label itself?
RDG, who runs Circle Vision, is a close friend of mine. He has released some of my music earlier on; on his digital platform Surfase Records. We agreed it was a good time to move to Circle, his vinyl imprint. We’ve worked together closely bouncing ideas back and forth. It’s fun to be involved in the whole process and I’m very content with the final result.
Your initial introduction to electronic music began with drum & bass, however you tend to jump between genres and then mend them together into one track. How do you explore and get inspired by new genres?
I think keeping a “pure” style of music is straight up boring. I get bored when I listen to music that is too one-sided. I need to have fun both making and listening to it. Not taking style and genre too seriously has really helped me achieve the part where I have fun while I make my music. I use major chords a lot and I make some cheerful stuff that some people would probably call cheesy or lame. It seems that making cheerful music is a sin within many genres of electronic music. When it comes to blending genres together I try to figure out what type of dogmas and clichés are present and try to put that into a new context.
What sort of artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I’d like to collaborate with rappers and vocalists more. Besides that, I’d like to do some more experimental stuff now, so it would be great to collaborate with someone who could teach me something and surprise me. And hopefully I would be able to teach something back.
You’ve travelled a lot and performed in different countries. What’s the most memorable moment in your music career?
It’s very recent actually. We had Om Unit here in Copenhagen in May 2016 for a party that was sort of the release party for my recent EP. It was just good vibes in every corner of the venue and a genuine appreciation of the music and the night from both the artists and the audience.
If you could only play one more record ever, what would it be?
“4:33” by John Cage.
What does the future hold for Beastie Respond?
Not being bored.