Nightclubs have long been celebrated as temples of free expression. With bass-heavy music coursing through your body, flaring lights tripping your vision, the usual blinkers, set ways of seeing others and yourself can be slowly discarded. As endorphins infuse your veins, your most primal instincts come to the fore. The physicality of these nocturnal experiences ignite the nervous system and set the soul ablaze.
For their Shaking The Habitual live show, Swedish siblings The Knife continued to engage with the collaborative methods that, as they told us earlier this year, were essential to the album's creation. Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer brought together a collective of artists and performers to further explore the potential for harnessing the political power of physicality, using an avant-garde blend of choreography, iridescent costumes, lighting and music. After the London show, they invoked the spirit of the nightclub in the most literal way, as the performance segued into a euphoric DJ set by nightlife veteran Hannah Holland.
The Knife are now releasing a remix 12” on October 14. One side features the re-imagining of Shaking The Habitual's lead single "Full of Fire" into "Let's Talk About Gender Baby, Let's Talk About You And Me" by Planningtorock, and on the B-side is Hannah Holland’s remix of "Raging Lung", which The Knife requested capture the nightclub atmosphere of Holland’s part of the live show, and is premiered on Dazed today.
To further explore this extension of the Shaking The Habitual project, Holland and The Knife conversed over several emails, tour schedules preventing more direct communication. You can read what they had to say below.
Hannah Holland: The remix was a dream to work with, as the track has so much textures and layers. What do you look for when seeking a remix?
Karin Dreijer Andersson: We really love your remix, the layers and the atmosphere of it!
Olof Dreijer: I look for people who to try to do things differently. We usually ask people to not be too precious with the vocal, but go crazy with other sounds, and we do tend to ask people we have some connection to so we maintain a community feel.
Olof Dreijer: How do you chose which remixes to do? Do you ever think about gender when considering them?
Hannah Holland: If I'm feeling the track and the artist, then I look for interesting sounds to work with, hooks and textures to mould. I’ve been fortunate to remix a lot of female artists as well as male. It hasn't been a conscious decision to be gender specific, but I do prefer female vocals. I also tend to have a relationship with a lot of the people I do remixes for.
Olof Dreijer: When did you start producing music? What made you begin?
Hannah Holland: I started producing in 2008. I had been DJing since 2001 and started to get a lot of ideas for tracks. I was running a regular club night at the time, Batty Bass, with the singer Mama, so it was a perfect platform for our music and that's also when I started my record label. At first I worked with engineers who taught me so much, but a couple of years ago I made the leap to do it all myself.
Olof Dreijer: Do you use mostly software, analogue machines or physical instruments when producing?
Hannah Holland: I mainly use soft synths, and I play bass guitar. I like to make noises out of fucking around with samples, manipulating them in Ableton. I would love to use more hardware, we have a M1 Korg in the studio which is really fun.
Hannah Holland: The Shaking The Habitual show was so inspiring and brave. It really felt like a moment, and I definitely got the sense of a fight for artistic freedom. How did the plan for the stage show come together?
Olof Dreijer: We tried to find fun, unfamiliar ways that would hopefully provoke critical thinking around what a concert or show can be – how we are on stage, how we present gender while playing instruments and singing and dancing.We were interested in embodying sound in all kinds of ways.
Hannah Holland: Those instruments on stage were spectacular. Who made them?
Olof Dreijer: Everything in the show came from collective discussions, workshops, and communal ice-breaking activities. We wanted to build instruments that looked like how we imagine the sounds would appear physically, and our set and costume designer Bella Rune came up with these.
Hannah Holland: What inspired the choreography?
Olof Dreijer: We explored different ways of working collectively for the choreography too, so that everyone could partake in the making of the moves. For example, everyone brought their favourite video clips of group dances and so we learned all these different traditional styles: jumpstyle, banghra, kossack, as well as dances from popular culture: a Rafaella Carra music video and Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation".
Hannah Holland: Were you thinking about these elements during the making of the album?
Olof Dreijer: Not specifically, although we thought a lot about making music that one can move to as we believe that utilising the body is an important part of political activity.
Hannah Holland: It feels like contemporary, progressive movements are all about collectives and networks, about people working together using their skills to do things DIY-style, but now on a global scale due to the internet. How did you bring together the Shaking The Habitual collective?
Karin Dreijer Andersson: In May 2012 we put together a core group of feminists from different professions: a choreographer, a set and costume designer, a curator, a dance producer, a light designer and then Olof and myself. The group grew as the project evolved.
Hannah Holland: It was such a refreshing change to see that your crew was dominated by women. Female presence is absolutely vital, especially in this industry when so frequently whole crews and line ups get put together with zero thought into the fact that there are hardly any, if any at all, women on them. What’s the vibe on this tour been like?
Olof Dreijer: We have had loads of fun sharing this journey. We tried to nurture a sharing, non-hierarchical environment on tour. We collectively call ourselves performers as we all do everything. The experiences together – with long discussions, and the practising of this teamwork - are what create meaning for me.
Hannah Holland: Most people absolutely loved the show, and it felt like you really created 'a moment' to me, but there was a backlash from some people. Did the complaints have any effect on the following performances?
Karin Dreijer Andersson: It made the collective even more important, this idea of having an autonomous environment to work within. We get empowered by working together and helping each other out. This is something we have decided to do together and we really believe in what we are doing. We believe the work is meaningful and that it makes a difference. Olof and I could never have done this on our own, the show is the outcome of a collective effort.
Let's Talk About Gender Baby, Let's Talk About You And Me (Planningtorock Rework) / Raging Lung (Hannah Holland Remix) is out on October 14 on Rabid / Brille / Mute Records