FRISKY Nightlife: Diving into Denmark’s Underground with Tim Andresen

Lauren Krieger

TLDR: Culture Box resident & international DJ Tim Andresen talks about the current state of music in Denmark and beyond.

Producer, remixer, DJ, party organiser and label owner, Tim Andresen has his fingers in many pies and his list of accolades is longer than your arm. Described as Denmark’s busiest house DJ, he is the founder of the highly acclaimed What Happens label; now home to some of the finest talents in underground house music and a whole string of his own productions and remixes.

These days DJs come and go but Tim remains at the very frontline of the Scandinavian club scene. As one of just a few DJs out of Denmark with truly international reach, he has taken his music to 35 different countries across Europe and far-flung destinations in Asia and South America. On home ground he is the main resident at the famous Culture Box, one of the most sought after positions for DJs in all of Denmark. Month in month out, he rubs shoulder and plays next to the coolest and most prolific DJs on earth helping to secure the club it’s unique position with worldwide recognition and 5 awards for Best Danish Club. Never one to rest on the laurels, Tim continues to spread his sound far and wide. Wearing his many hats, he keeps pushing the scene forward. We managed to catch up with ‘Denmark’s finest export’ to talk about his label, the residencies and how he feels dance music is evolving.

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Hi Tim, its been a while! How have you been? Whats been happening since we last spoke?
Very good mate, thanks. Been up to the usual stuff really. Making music, running the label, DJing and promoting our nights.

Tell us about your involvement with Culture Box. How did the opportunity arise?
Around 2005 I played regularly with Rune RK aka Kölsch. We were probably the most in-demand Danish DJs around the time and were both extremely busy. When Culture Box opened their doors, it was mostly techno and a slightly different style of house music than what we played back then. However, we both loved the venue and the managers called us in for a chat and we decided to do a back-to-back night which turned out to be a massive success and they immediately offered us a monthly night. In 2007 I started my own What Happens label night down there. It’s been 7 truly amazing years with countless label artists and friends of the label creating one of the best atmospheres I see anywhere in Denmark with a truly open minded crowd. It’s a highlight every month and something we’re always looking forward to. Much fun!

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Warm ups are a dying art. So many young DJs seem to want to play the hype tracks with no forethought to the flow of the night as a whole. D’you think the art of DJing has changed?
Yes, to a certain degree it has. Festivals now dominating the market whereas clubs have been pushed a bit to the back. Set times are usually shorter now and everything is more hectic. That has certainly had an influence on how some of the new DJs play. People in general also seem to arrive slightly later to the clubs today than what they did 10-15 years ago. Some of them don’t even hear the warm up sets and that’s a shame. DJs also search differently for new music than they did back in the days. For some it’s a struggle just to keep up to date with the promo campaigns in the inbox. It’s not always a pleasure to look and search for the gems like it used to be. All music is available right there in front of you and if you only added and stick to a limited number of labels and artists as favourites on Beatport or Traxsource, it’s likely to be heard in your sets too. At the end of the day though, it’s something that promoters and club bookers need to take responsibility for and it’s an art that must not die out. They have to book people in for the right slots.

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What have been your favourite memories of the club?
Looking back at playing with so many DJs I admire and respect is something truly special. Being able to reach out to guys like Steve Lawler, Nic Fanciulli, Joris Voorn, Maya Jane Coles, Nicole Moudaber etc and bring them here to a play our humble and intimate surroundings makes me really proud. Much different to the 1000+ capacity venues they mostly play and that’s also what they like and why they’re keen on coming back. James Zabiela’s booking agent even got in touch with me the other month as he had heard so many good things and wanted to play. So many great memories from the years but one of the best ones in recent months were when Nick Warren asked me to play back to back with him which of course was a big honour. My best memories as a guest are the parties with Luciano and Laurent Garnier who both pulled off massive sets.

What is it d’you think that makes Culture Box unique within the Danish scene?

We have full focus on the music and all the rest comes second.

That brings in a special crowd. It’s run by dedicated music lovers to dedicated music lovers. Not by greedy money men or former bartenders without a clue. That’s what really separates it from the rest.

What have been some of your personal challenges with keeping a residency at such a high profile venue, and how have you overcome them?
If you have a residency at the same club for almost a decade, there will always be ups and downs. Music trends change. So do the crowds. To be totally honest with you, I have only felt a small pressure once or twice when the number of guests for my monthly What Happens night suddenly dropped some years ago. I was forced to make sure that the people around me paid full focus on our night and gave it their very best. Unfortunately I had to rotate and skip a couple of my Danish resident DJs a few times and that has been tough as it has been someone I was in personal touch with and like and respect. But that’s the name of the game and I have experienced that myself at other venues in the past. If things don’t work then do something about it and since we’re still here and successful at the moment, I guess the decisions were right for us to keep things fresh.

Another different but very challenging thing is to try and navigate between all the requests from DJs asking me for bookings at the club all the time. I only book for my own label night and that’s basically artists with releases on the label, DJs who support the label and friends of the label. I’m not the club booker although I do sometimes have a word to say as it’s quite often something we discuss in the office. But when you get let’s say 10 requests a day and many of them from people you know personally, it’s sometimes a bit of a pressure when people think you’re the guy to help them fulfill their dream of playing in a proper club.

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America is awash with the EDM craze. Similarly, Sweden, a stones throw away from you in Copenhagen, also has a vibrant pop culture within the confines of dance music. How have you seen the underground scene change over the last 5 years?
Here in Copenhagen it has certainly grown opposite of the rest of Denmark. I see a lot more promoters and DJs pushing new types of music and parties while people seem to love things that are different in general. But without talking badly about the rest of the country, I guess it’s very much a thing we see in Copenhagen only. Speaking of Sweden and Malmö in particular as it’s so close to us, they seem to have a good little underground scene too. We don’t always appreciate what we have I think and often think the grass is greener somewhere else. But there’s only one way to make a difference and that is to support the things you like and believe in in real life. Not just on Facebook or Twitter. We’re not always good at that these days.

If money and time were no barrier, who would you have as your ultimate club line up?
Best warm up set I ever heard that springs to my mind was Danny Howells at Bedrock at Heaven 15 years ago. If he can still pull something like that, he would be perfect to open up. Then some of the above mentioned plus guys like Yousef, Shonky, Adam Beyer, Coxy and perhaps a couple of the real house legends from the nineties. Together they would form a proper lineup and I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them break out of their natural habits on a night like this. Having said that, there are so many great names out there and a lot of lesser known and talented people who also deserve to be on a dream team like this.

Photos from Culture Box:

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