games Moloton Orphan Ann Sonja Tofik Stories

Exploring Swedish Experimental Label Moloton


Stockholm’s studio areas don’t make themselves instantly obvious. Hidden down in the city’s cellars or out in the former warehouses in the suburbs, they only come to your attention once you’ve received an invitation to visit one. On a cold day in March, we’re heading out to one in every of them, Tropiska Förening, a studio collective in Örnsberg, that’s artistic house to Marlena Lampinen and Linus Hillborg, two digital musicians that additionally run the label Moloton.

Moloton stands out as a label due to the individuality of its roster. The music they release is electronic music as avant-garde art, divorced from the panorama of techno and club music around it, with musicians that write abstract compositions hat vary from spectral and eerie to brutalist heavy. We went for a deeper dive into the label’s history, starting by talking to Hillborg (who data as Atonet) and Lampinen (as Mar-llena) about how it all started.

Each received into the electronic music scene in their own approach. “In all probability from [culture collective] Masskultur”, says Marlena. “I additionally used to hang at [venue] Fylkingen once I was underage, it was the one place I might get into. Fylkingen and Ugglan, that they had really bizarre jazz gigs. I didn’t perceive something but I was like ‘that is nice’. I received more into it as I grew up. I started to DJ before I began making music truly, I only started making music like two years in the past”

Linus: I obtained involved enjoying in bands, like [art rock group] Saigon and some other small momentary constellations. It was when there were many DIY spaces where totally different genres met and received combined up, so I received extra fascinated by different forms of music. I worked quite a bit in nightclubs and restaurants too, whereas enjoying in Saigon, and there I heard a whole lot of electronic music. In order that was my means into the digital scene. Forcibly uncovered to it. (laughs)

Around the scene that they obtained involved in, a gaggle of artists and buddies constructed up that may ultimately encourage them to start out Moloton: “We began out as a result of there was numerous music that we appreciated, both that we noticed reside and there have been people who we knew who made music we appreciated. And we felt that this needed to be launched, and there was no-one else releasing it, so we thought we should always do this. And that’s the inspiration principally”, says Linus. “I might say that Masskultur [was source of inspiration]that was Martin Herterich (Sand Circles/Broken Lights), Anja Enerud (From Orphan Ann) and Henrik Söderström (Händer som vårdar). They don’t do stuff so much anymore. However they did lots of exhibits during the last couple of years, and we went to all of them, they’re buddies of ours. They’ve been very numerous. For a time period it was primarily noise and industrial, however additionally they placed on some exhibits where they booked some very several types of music together. We have been impressed by that, and thought there ought to be a label that does that as properly”.

Photograph: Austin Maloney

“I feel we also needed to do music ourselves” says Marlena, “and have been afraid no-one else would launch it. (laughs) I DJ rather a lot as nicely, and I observed that what most individuals have been releasing was house and techno. It can be dark, however it has to have a four/4 kick, you understand?”

It will possibly’t be as abstract as the music you launch?

Marlena: No, which I assumed is foolish […] We talked about that, how every little thing’s develop into so divided in Stockholm. Like there’s this gabber scene there, who only need to social gathering onerous and quick, and this ambient scene right here, that never need to go out in any respect. My DJ circle that solely likes quirky music, that’s allergic to gloomy music. So we needed to work as if there weren’t any teams.

If you began out, have been there some other labels you appeared up to, as like an example of what you needed to do?

Marlena: Yeah, smaller labels like Käften which is run by Towa Isling. Additionally Tona Serenad Data, which is run by our neighbour and pal John Henriksson, he has helped us so much, as he’s a veteran [in the label game].

Linus: I feel there are a whole lot of nice labels that release music, but they seem to go into a distinct segment very quickly. We felt that we didn’t need to do this. We just needed to launch things we like, and it may be a dark drone album, nevertheless it can be lo-fi synth wave stuff as properly. Simply issues we like. We have been open to releasing bands too, we don’t need to be purists of a genre.

Sonja Tofik at Drömfakulteten. Photograph: Austin Maloney

How did you get into this type of experimental music?
At lot got here from me being along with this man who was concerned within the experimental noise scene right here in Stockholm. He knew Marlena and Linus and their buddies, who have been also concerned in the identical scene. That inspired me in some ways. So it was that that received me into these groups, and made me understand I needed to do that.

When did you start to make music your self?
It was fairly late, I used to be 19 (I’m 24 now). I had no musical background. There have also been durations once I wasn’t making music in any respect, so it’s nonetheless quite new, I’m quite new to the method.

You and Marlena released the Vilar i dina spår album, where did the thought to work collectively on that come from?
It got here from us having a continuing dialogue, and we have been all the time sending issues to at least one one other. It was all pretty relaxed, not likely tremendous planned. So we have been sending stuff to one another for feedback, and although we’ve got totally different sounds, we might discover a strategy to discover a mutual concord.

There’s virtually this type of darkish orchestral vibe to your music, and what it type of reminded me of was virtually an evil version of church music. So what sort of stylistic aims do you’ve got, whenever you’re making music?
That’s an correct interpretation in many ways, because I’m inspired by that in some ways. My mother comes from a Christian household, and every considered one of my kin on that aspect have played music with extra classical devices and sung in choirs and so forth. Which I like in some ways. I’m also drawn to the gothic and the dark, and I’m impressed by that musically. So I attempt to mix them in a respectful approach.

Outdoors of music, what evokes you? Your music is sort of cinematic.
I’m fairly an emotional individual, and I course of all my social interactions quite a bit. So rather a lot is inspired by how one offers with being in society, the way you work together with others. I’m perhaps not actively and consciously inspired by it, however I’ve realised that on some degree that’s what’s driving me.

Are there some other inspirations that come into play?
I’ve listened so much to goth from England, a whole lot of Current 93 and people kinds of music. They work lots with the occult and the gothic, and its relationship with Christianity, and it’s also very experimental, which provides you the power to go outdoors of sure boundaries.

Once you’re writing music, do you favor to put in writing solo or to collaborate?
It’s solo truly. From a political perspective, I want I was more of a collaborative individual, because I’m ideologically in favour of that, however I wish to work alone really. I’m also fairly dangerous at accepting assist from others in my artistic process. That’s why Marlena is an effective collaboration companion, [when we work together] I don’t really feel like there’s someone intruding on my course of, that I want to carry anything back.

What do you consider the climate for this music in Stockholm proper now? Is there a very good scene right here, is it troublesome to make electronic music in this city?
The town itself restricts music general, because there’s little or no area for music right here. We’re sitting proper now in a studio collective, but they’re going to demolish it sooner or later, we don’t understand how long we can be allowed to remain here. And it’s the identical factor with organising exhibits, that it’s very troublesome to get venues, and it’s very expensive. That restricts music general. But close to the scene, I feel there’s a variety of ambition right here. The one thing is it’s arduous to seek out the area to precise it.

How necessary are places like [studio collective] Drömfakulteten?
Extremely essential. Even when I really feel myself that I work differently to most people here, as a result of I’m not making club music like them, it’s still an unlimited help for us. And in addition the fact that it’s a separate place for ladies and trans individuals, there’s an openness and a safe area here for creativity.


The primary release on Moloton was Sonja Tofik’s EP Neuros, approach again in 2017. “Marlena and I received to know one another once we worked in a warehouse collectively, as workmates”, says Tofik. “Marlena has all the time inspired me to make music, and she or he stated that she needed to launch my music, even before I had thought of it. It felt like an apparent collaboration actually. I had had concepts about releasing my music, however didn’t how I might do it. So to do it with them was a safe choice”.

After that came more. “There have been issues like Nev Lilit (Siri Jennefelt of EASE and Saigon)”, says Linus, “who we requested ‘Hey, we heard you make music, would you wish to make something for us?’ She had made music for a dance performance, and we heard it and stated ‘this is really good! Would you wish to launch it as a musical launch?’. And from there she got here up with an artist identify and the thing developed. So it’s totally different for all the things. There have been some artists already there [when we started]and a few arrived after”.

The music on Moloton is sort of numerous. There’s undoubtedly a method, which is experimental and abstract, but it might from bizarre electronica to drone to no matter else. What would you guys say are the things that outline a Moloton release? What are the qualities the artists share, although they work in several genres? What attracts you to a launch and makes you need to launch it?

Marlena: Perhaps it’s the suggestiveness. Something a bit mysterious.

Linus: We’ve never talked about it truly. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to speak about it [laughs]. However for me, it’s that it has a core to it that we like. That it has one thing emotional to it, that makes us feel something about it.

Say I’m a listener, what kind of emotional response should I feel from a Moloton launch?

Linus: They will really feel no matter they like, we don’t have a aim for that.

Marlena: I feel I would like it to really feel a bit mysterious. Even when it’s completely satisfied, sad, upbeat, downbeat, I would like it to have that special vibe.

I feel a variety of the music you set out just isn’t very targeted on the artists’ personalities as individuals. It’s extra targeted on the music, the individuals who make it are quite distant from what you supply the listener. 

Marlena: I feel that’s as a result of we’re nerds. (laughs) I like that though, once I search for music on Discogs or whatever. I don’t like it once I know too much about any person. If I’ve their artist persona in my face on a regular basis I feel ‘blagh, this is so boring’.

Linus: It’s a bit out of necessity as nicely. If we had had the time and cash to do press shoots or no matter, perhaps we might have. It turned out like naturally.

Marlena: I feel it’s a bit weird when you need to promote your character and personal life. It ought to be the music solely. I acquired so sick of it once I DJed lots, that ‘oh, what do you do in your free time, where are your Instagram tales’, individuals eager to have press pictures all the time. Having a biography or no matter, I feel it’s so boring. You then get confused, questioning ‘what’s my persona, what’s my character’. I feel it’s a bit strange. I feel it’s extra enjoyable to have totally different monikers, fake to be issues. It doesn’t need to be so critical.

Linus: It’s good factor to have this platform [where you can release in this way]. And the individuals who make the music, don’t need to do any of the little or no advertising we do. It’s a great way to maneuver away from the self-promotional facet of creating music, as a result of that’s not what you need to do whenever you’re making music.

From when Moloton started, one of the issues that distinguished them from lots of new labels was their insistence on physical releases. Each Moloton launch thus far has additionally been launched bodily, with the earliest as cassettes and newer releases out on vinyl. It was a part of the label’s philosophy from the start. Marlena says:

“It looks like there’s a ritual to that, that you could see that it’s completed because the physical object arrives. But I feel it may also be a USB stick or no matter, you possibly can release in several formats. Nevertheless it’s straightforward to do cassettes, individuals purchase them they usually look good on the internet.”

However there’s a worth to it, whether or not it’s cassette, USB or vinyl, some form of physical release?

Marlena: Sure, and it’s simpler to save lots of also. Digital codecs might be destroyed.

Linus: I feel it’s additionally based mostly in the materiality of it, something you possibly can touch. I feel it’s a response to a hyper-digital era. I don’t assume it’s necessarily nostalgia, however it’s that folks want some materiality.

Because in case you launch music only digitally, it will possibly really feel quite like throwing it into the ether.

Linus: Exactly. That’s true. And you additionally need to put some money in [with physical]. Even when it’s low cost to do tapes, you still need to do a launch, design it. And then it truly seems like doing something.

Marlena: Also, they reserve it within the bomb shelter. The royal library [Kungliga Biblioteket] contacted us after the primary launch and stated we needed to send them a tape, because they needed to place it within the nuclear-proof archive they have.

So Moloton is now nuclear-proof?

Marlena: Sure, every little thing that is physically released needs to be sent to the royal library.

Linus: By regulation. In order that they contacted us. I don’t understand how they found us once we had simply launched the first tape, however they did. They usually informed us ‘you need to send one copy, for the archive’. Our associates acquired an analogous request truly, and once they advised the library that that they had their own storage, the library responded ‘nicely, is it nuclear-proof’?

So if there’s a nuclear assault, we’ll all die in all probability, however the tapes can be protected?

Linus: Yeah, but perhaps not the servers holding the digital releases.

Marlena: That might be nice for the aliens.

Linus: They’ll solely discover the bizarre stuff.

With the final couple of releases, the Nev Lilit, the Vilar i dina spår document and Orphan Ann, you moved onto releasing on vinyl. So was that all the time the long-term aim, if you had the label a bit extra established, and had a bit extra money to work with?

Marlena: Yeah, I feel so. By way of we had a struggle concerning the Instagram identify, ‘molotontapes’, because I needed to launch vinyl, which made it weird to have the tape identify. It’s nonetheless ‘molotontapes’.

Linus: My argument was that it might be ‘molotontapes’ and nonetheless launch vinyl. However we need to proceed releasing tapes as nicely.

Marlena: It’s simpler to launch [tapes] quick. With the vinyls, we had such a hard time this summer time, as a result of they arrived late, they usually melted within the heatwave.

Linus: Once we received the check presses that they had melted. You also need to order a lot more.  There’s extra immediacy once you launch a tape, as a result of you’ll be able to simply do it and you’ll have them the subsequent week.

Releasing physically additionally allows for a much bigger canvas for Moloton’s cowl art, an essential a part of their visible id which Marlena controls: “I determine the whole lot. I studied graphic design, so now I can truly use my school diploma [laughs]”.

Linus: Yeah, that’s like the one rule we’ve got. If we ask somebody in the event that they need to release with us, the deal is that Marlena will do the paintings. There can’t be a negotiation about that.

Marlena: I used to do covers and posters, and I received really sick of individuals having dangerous ideas, unreasonable concepts that wouldn’t work. They will look a bit totally different, but there’s similarity. I feel it’s a habit I’ve from DJing too, I hate dangerous album covers. I would like them to be boring than to have too much stuff on them. It’s silly whenever you learn covers from the 80s, there’s like a ebook’s value of information and no one reads it, no one cares about it.

Linus: It takes time too. If each artist needed to make modifications and requests, it might take a lot more time. And Marlena does it at no cost, so…

Photograph: Austin Maloney

You released the debut album The Practise Of Surrender initially of this yr, but you’ve been around quite a bit longer than that, you launched the first monitor virtually two years in the past (Предатели), and also you’ve been performing for a similar period of time. How did the Orphan Ann challenge get began?
It started with Sofia and I being buddies. We have been hanging round in the same circles, I used to ebook bands with a collective referred to as Masskultur. We booked her several occasions, and that’s how we received to know one another. We travelled to Copenhagen collectively and decided to start out a band. I had by no means made music before, so she introduced me into that world.

Your songs are typically these tense and detailed compositions. How does the standard Orphan Ann music get made?
From the beginning, we wish to improvise. We work lots with themes, try to provide you with a theme that is and attempt to provide you with music that seems like that.

And once you say theme, is that the sense the music should give off?
No, not likely. I feel the primary release we did was about traitors, and this LP is about give up. We decide a word that’s fascinating and we try to examine what that’s.

What does the title The Practise Of Give up, mean from your viewpoint? Because it is an evocative title.
We talked quite a bit about give up and what it is. It might be about giving up, you may give up in a approach or no matter, or surrender on yourself, surrender on a relationship. You’ll be able to even see it on this like religion, like with Islam once you discover ways to surrender to God. We attempt to see what the phrase means in several methods.

That’s type of the facility of the word, that there is a lot historic and cultural which means behind it?
Yes, it’s really fascinating.

Once I take heed to the report, the impression I get is that the facility of the music you guys make, is the best way it’s capable of impose emotions, feelings and atmospheres onto the listener. You take heed to the document and it brings out your internal feelings and emotions, as it’s this atmospheric and heavy music. It pushes itself onto the listener and brings them into its area. Is that what you’re going for with this music?
We never take into consideration the listener once we create. But we really try to work with feelings, because making music is to us also therapy. Once we meet and rehearse, I feel 50% of the time we spend talking about our lives. Making music is then the subsequent step in that dialog.

How did you become involved with Moloton in the long run?
Marlena is one in every of my closest associates, we’ve recognized one another for fifteen years or something. We had another labels , but in the long run it ended up being Moloton because Linus and Marlena are buddies with us, and we trust them, we trust their music taste, how they work, every little thing about that label could be very us.

How do you assume the climate is for this type of music in Stockholm now?
I feel it comes and goes in cycles. I feel Moloton is an effective sign of something getting better. You even have Kalkatraz tapes, Theo, he’s began placing out tapes. So perhaps it’s beginning to change. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless a problem that venues are closing down, and that folks aren’t placing on exhibits as much as they used to. But perhaps the label scene is coming back. We enjoying in Gothenburg final week, at a Gallery referred to as NEJD, they usually put on noise exhibits. It was really nice, actually good. Stockholm doesn’t have that sort of place anymore, so I’m actually jealous of Gothenburg that they have that also.

Moloton has its origins in Stockholm’s experimental scene, but over the previous few years the noose has started to tighten on the town’s area for this type of art. Experimental digital art music is many things, however it’s not a business pressure. Meaning in Stockholm, a metropolis that’s gentrifying fast with lots of its buildings and neighbourhoods hunted down by start-ups and condominium developers, discovering area for artwork for art’s sake, and even simply nightlife, is getting robust.  “There are things like Drömfakulteten, which is a hub of utmost creativity, many various individuals sit there”, says Linus. “And in addition there are labels like XKatedral and Kalkatraz Cassettes for instance, which might be lively right here at Tropiska Föreningen, and arrangers like Kuggljud. However I feel like during the last couple of years, the experimental scene has dispersed so much. You don’t see club and dance music booked along with ambient exhibits as typically as before. And there aren’t actually good spaces to do DIY exhibits anymore”.

Marlena: There’s simply Fylkingen, and that’s nice, nevertheless it gets absolutely booked very far prematurely.

Linus: The DIY spaces which might be there are very targeted on dance and membership music. And I like that sort of music, although I don’t really like to bop. I really like going to golf equipment, nevertheless it wouldn’t be really easy to e-book a type of locations to throw an evening of mainly [experimental music].

How necessary are spaces like this one? These studio spaces in previous factories?

Marlena: Tremendous necessary.

Linus: The place else would we be?

You additionally talked about that you simply couldn’t really have exhibits right here anymore, because the house blocks moved in subsequent door. Are these spaces within the city disappearing a bit? The DIY zones disappearing?

Linus: Absolutely. There are none. Earlier than there was stuff like Solna HQ, Hemliga Trädgården, stuff like Reflexen, there were extra places you would do a present spontaneously.

Marlena: Business and non-commercial locations are being closed down. As an example, [clubs] Marie Laveau and Rökridån closed down lately. It seems like individuals simply need to have a comfortable condo in the city, with good eating places.

Linus: The people who move into the town now don’t truly appear to like city life. They don’t like numerous culture.

Marlena: I feel in southern Stockholm only [clubs] Beneath Bron has a late permit, perhaps Slakthuset. And I do know that they’ve had hassle with their neighbours in new flats.

Linus: With DIY areas, aren’t lots to choose from anymore. And that’s been a quick improvement. So now it’s more durable to put on these sort of exhibits, with numerous kinds of music.

To return to what you have been saying about stay stuff. It is troublesome to arrange exhibits and to seek out venues for the type of music you set out? Because it doesn’t appear to suit band venues or golf equipment, as it’s virtually extra artwork performance once they play it reside.

Marlena: Yeah, particularly stuff like Orphan Ann, as a result of they’re such a efficiency. And I fear that individuals are going to be rude. However we had a show at Beneath Bron, and that went rather well. We combined it with DJ units, and the other bands have been more upbeat, so you had a nice mix.

Linus: But you do have to think about that if you e-book at clubs, that it’s a business venue and there’s an entrance charge, and there is perhaps different individuals there that aren’t interested, who may just need to dance and be drunk. So it’s a shame that there aren’t extra areas like that. More options.

Marlena: I feel you possibly can mix membership and ambient stuff, you just need to not care what individuals assume. Perhaps have the performances in a smaller room. Although then individuals assume you’re rude! ‘You must invite everybody!’ Why? Most people gained’t prefer it.

I feel it’s robust in a club, because music like this wants some silence from the gang. It’s not like club music that can overpower a crowd’s noise. The ambient stuff could be ruined by individuals speaking.

Linus: That’s the difference I feel. You’ll be able to mix ambient at a membership, however it’s higher at a venue the place individuals know what to anticipate from the artists. We need to do extra reside exhibits, and we might have if there have been more areas for them, like there have been earlier than.


Photograph: Austin Maloney

Despite these difficulties, the label has just turned two, and is wanting in the direction of the longer term. “We talked about performing some compilations and splits”, says Marlena. “Also, now individuals assume we’re principally ambient, so I need to do more beat-based music. It might be enjoyable to mix it up.”

Linus: I feel I simply need to maintain releasing issues we like. We have now a small crowd that likes the stuff we do, I feel we’ve like one individual in Romania that orders our tapes, a couple of individuals in Japan, and so forth. A small proportion of the entire world. So we just need to continue, and have the economics of it work in order that we will proceed doing releases. No particular objective I feel. I’m also excited about releasing a pc recreation, an ambient pc recreation beneath the Moloton label.