It all started with a group of teenagers in the arctic city of Tromsø, who wanted to escape the boredom of growing up in a remote town. By setting up radio stations and organizing parties, building synthesizers and making tunes, they soon created their own music scene—one that would go on to change dance music and Norway forever. Meet Norway’s space disco: a genre that’s still going strong after 20 years and has spread like wildfire well beyond the country’s borders. These are the artists who are keeping the (disco) lights on.
He has been called many things. From “King of the summer jams” to “one third of the Holy Trinity of Norwegian disco” and “one of the 25 DJs that rule the earth” (that last one’s from Rolling Stone magazine). A DJ, songwriter and record producer, Todd Terje just wants his music to be “fruity” and with a silly sense of humor. Best known for his 2012 house track “Inspector Norse,” Terje frequently collaborates with nu-disco sensation Hans-Peter Lindstrøm.
Stavanger-born and Oslo-bound, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm never listened to dance music growing up—except for a few years back, when trying to figure out how to make it. His contemporary “downbeat disco” sound is inspired by whatever his influences are at the moment and that—combined with the fact that he insists on playing melodies on real instruments on his recordings (guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and percussion)—makes his work very versatile. Lindstrøm today enjoys a cult-like status within dance music circles, and releases all his music on his own label Feedelity in collaboration with Oslo’s Smalltown Supersound.
Often called the “cosmic house forefather,” Tromsø’s Bjørn Torske is one of the first Norwegian artists who started experimenting with electronic music back in the late ’80s and transformed the otherwise sleepy university town on Norway’s west coast to the hippest place to be. The house music producer who has collaborated on many occasions with Röyksopp has developed a sophisticated, minimal and deeply idiosyncratic style over the years, that revolves around dub, cosmic disco, house, Balearic sounds and a playful wistfulness.
Prins Thomas, born Thomas Moen Hermansen, is a producer, DJ and remixer who began mixing hip-hop, electro and the likes of Arthur Baker and Shep Pettibone before taking up the bass and playing in more bands than Norway has trees. He is responsible for a swag of the eclectic ‘space disco’ sounds emanating from Norway and joined forces with Hans-Peter Lindstrøm in 2003. They both have backgrounds in different Norwegian band projects, ranging from punk and heavy metal to gospel, folk and psychedelia, but they also share a passion for collecting records, and run their own labels: Feedelity, Full Pupp, and Internasjonal.
Pål “Strangefruit” Nyhus has been a key figure in the Norwegian dance scene since the early ’90s; somewhat of a veteran who has helped shape and form the unique and eclectic sound of Nordic electronica and influenced an entire generation of artists. Renowned for his ability to fuse styles in an original way, DJ Strangefruit is a founding member of the astounding project Mungolian Jet Set and spins a vibrant mix of dance music’s most interesting sounds.
Per Martinsen, aka Mental Overdrive, is one of Norway’s most prolific and influential techno musicians (and part of the original group that started it all). Active since 1990, his tracks have ranged from hardcore rave techno to vibrant space disco, while always maintaining a healthy balance of humor and braininess. His new album, Epilogue, combines experimental rhythm with ambient-ish and retro-esque techno grooves.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into Norwegian space disco, you should definitely watch the documentary Northern Disco Lights.