Janushoved – “I always wanted a feeling of anonymity” (interview)
Interview and all photos (Yuri & Internazionale, Soho Rezanejad, Raquin, Manon Lescaut 22.06.2018 @ Mayhem) by Cameron Pagett
“I always wanted it to have a feeling of anonymity.” Mikkel Valentin, founder and recording artist of Copenhagen electronic label Janushoved reflects. “I started making noise music when I was 16, I thought I had invented a completely new genre.” (laughs). Some years later and a total of 80 releases past the beginnings of Janushoved it feels like a big step forward to him. Showcasing and coming out and connecting physically as a label and a unit hasn’t always been directly on the cards. With numerous releases under different aliases, the label has a feeling of mystery and familiarity. Having established itself firmly as a name in the local Copenhagen DIY electronic scene, it feels like this could have or should have been done much more than it has. With an adoring local and international audience and a unique presence in the noise community with a sound normally bearing a romantic and sensual aura, Janushoved has grown organically from the seeds of pure sound and a penchant for exotic, bizarre and sentiment driven visuality. “It’s a label that draws the intellectually stimulated melody junkie,” an admirer reveals, “The style is distinctively Copenhagen but feels less harsh and calculating then some others … it’s more like red wine on a Saturday night rather than vodka.”
It’s a beautiful summer evening as the show starts in a floral and uncharacteristically spotless Mayhem. Videos sourced from scenes around the city ranging from abandoned staircases to children playing in Nørrebroparken dominate the wall from the projector as Oliver Vaupel, the creative mind behind a rather new Janushoved release alias Manon Lescaut prepares to start off the evening. The night has a feeling of Deja vu, many of the people helping throw the party are close friends and I feel that I have already received more hugs then the entire week combined in my first moments of being there. Performing in front of some rather beautiful, and somewhat haunting homemade videos of Japanese day to day Manon Lescaut gave a performance that set the tone for the rest of the evening. Relying on a deep hearted and caring warmth in his sound, the set carried a specific feeling of comfort in the face of phantom dread. Like a parent looking after a carefree child in turbulent times, the feel of the music ranged from scenes of peace and serenity to the far-off look into a coming storm. A trying and depth filled sojourn into the murky waters of conscious decisions, Vaupel closed the set with an industrial feel wafting softly over a deep ambient wall. A favourite of the more intellect driven variety in my immediate circle, a friend described it as, “like walking back through memory and remembering not the nostalgic, euphoric or terrible, but the pleasant moments in day to day and the present effect.”
Running a record label has its charms and challenges. Keeping content consistent, surprising and conceptually solid has its ups and downs. “There have been a lot people who have sent me tapes, or recordings of their work in the past.” Valentin admits. “I have never released any of them until him, he was the first one.” Looking across the room he is speaking of the next performer. A very new and young talent in the scene, Lau Halding Andersson stands tall situating his gear and preparing for a live debut of closely beloved alias Raquin. An ethereal, cinematic and fearless work, the album has many in the room looking forward to hearing it for the first time. There is a considerable amount of very young people in the front row. A new generation of creatives and friends who mark the beginnings of kids who have grown up with a strong DIY scene in the city and also importantly Mayhem. Valentin started with noise at the age of 16, and this release with an artist south of 20 carries a nice sentiment of giving back and keeping a focus on the artists coming up the pipeline.
With visuals of water and rock from summer coastlines the set from Raquin was born into its own artificial mist of sound. A gifted talent in the realm of melody and composition the opening scenes gave me goosebumps. Violin intermixed with heart filling piano from the lower octaves coupled with echoing and scrapes from the ghosts of industry dotted and peppered the room. One of the amazing things I noticed in the first ten minutes was the way that Andersson works with his pacing. For an artist this age and relatively inexperienced he intuitively and studiously has a keen awareness of how and when to let a sound stick. It’s one thing to have talent for melody and sound texture, but the ability to feel out how to move with it, let it move with you and let the audience rest and gather on each note is a rare gift. It’s only the start for him, and after witnessing Andersson take the room through a menagerie of sounds, stories and nearly soul-healing melodic whispers coupled with a severe and at times an ultra smooth level of mechanical understanding I found myself swaying with closed eyes in the front. It was very warm, the support from friends filled the space and each break and transition arrived on the back of a cheer. At some point a member of the local electronic scene grabbed my arm to say,”Hes sooo gooddd!” I wasn’t about to argue. As a real fan of the debut Raquin album I was very much looking forward to seeing it live. Andersson is a real talent, if you get the chance to see Raquin or another one of his projects, go.
Later, Valentin was set to perform under the most popular of his many aliases Internazionale (also of posh isolation fame) but for the first time would be doing it with a new artist from the Janushoved roster Yuri: A project from another new artist Susanne Mouritsen, the first tape had a glimmering and resilient intensity. Sensual and at times faintly foreboding we knew that it would most likely be very interesting paired with the technically proficient, romantic and nearly expensive sound that Valentin seems to conjure with Internazionale.
Starting with an edgy opening resembling a turbulent asteroid belt viewed from the window of a small spacecraft the table was quickly set for something that could blaze. Slow burning, industrial and full of shrouded voices, and calls from your most intense blurred memories, the duo worked together, communicated constantly and built an opening that allowed you to observe closely and quietly the spatial soundscape as it wafted in vapour over the room. Standing beside Valentin’s father we talked about the way that noise music reveals something different in your experience and observation of sound. While other genres can easily give way to giving a projection, noise when done well can give such a poignant look into the artists ebb and flow. A portrait of the inner workings and personality emotionally. Transitioning from the simmering beginning to the finale, Valentin and Mouritsen broke into a rather jovial and struttingly sophisticated finale that gave the feeling of a futuristic ball. Possibly navigating through the Asteroid belt and the opening paved the way for enjoying the intergalactic party at the end of the story. Sharing an embrace at the final note, the two made there way to friends as did I to await the final set from Soho Rejanzad.
“I hope she makes me dance!” One person remarked “I love it when she makes me dance.” It was a bumping affair from the start that only built with intensity. Heavily percussive a bounding, Soho Rezanejad ended the evening with a set that ranged from groovy dance to borderline harsh intensive noise and the incredible range of her voice. She danced, she sang, she climbed onto the table and the room loved every minute of it. In the final movement my friend got his wish as she transitioned into an all out thumping near industrial techno sound which made the room shake. A vital piece in the Janushoved label, the show from her had a completely different feel. I’ve seen her perform multiple times, but never seen anything from her this dance oriented or involving particularly in the vocal sections where she really came into the sound with a fury and immediacy as if the beats all at once shrouded and concealed a cry for peace amidst turmoil and uncertainty. After that DJ Troels Hass played trap rap in Mayhem, then I got really drunk and danced till we all had to leave.
I’ve been listening to Janushoved for quite some time now, and even while still living in LA before moving to Copenhagen. When you listen to Copenhagen artists outside of Denmark, YouTube groups everyone together from Posh Isolation to First Hate to Janushoved. I remember first coming across a rather charming and beautiful little tape called “Security” from little known artist Ballista. It quickly became a favorite and it even helped me through difficult times. There was a particular snippet from it I really adore and I reached out by email from LA to request using it for my photo website. The Janushoved site features only an email so I directed it there. I didn’t hear back immediately and after a few subsequent attempts I made a cordial contact, I remember I asked specifically who Ballista was. Janushoved was more then happy for me to use the recording but offered me no knowledge into who was the creator of the album. I came away thinking these guys must be full of it, or just super underground.
After the show Valentin makes sense of it in conversation. The anonymity he sought after in the beginning was set up to take attention off of the individual solely and onto the music and sound. “I want to always be the same, treat everyone in the same manner,” reveals Valentin. We discuss the challenges of remaining authentic in the face of artistic success. The recent showcase from Janushoved has been something relatively new for them. Certainly known with a healthy level of popularity in the local scene, getting out there and showing themselves was never a big priority. Maybe it still isn’t, but from the warmth and quality of the night hopefully it becomes something we can look forward to on a more regular basis. With a real influx of youth and converging groups and scenes the quality is set to remain high and possibly surge. Apart from that, expect them to remain the same so long Valentin is enthusiastic and at the helm. Romantic, beautiful and sensual ambient crafted in Copenhagen musical heart. One face in the future, the other peering into the past.