Alongside Stockholms Cari Lekebusch, Joel Mull and Jesper Dahlback, Adam Beyer has become synonymous with the techno sound of Sweden, which has quite literally shaken the world since the mid-nineties. From the driving percussive force of his Drumcode label to the more open electronic miasma on his current Truesoul and Mad Eye imprints, Beyer remains one of the biggest and most influential producer/DJs on the planet. Ever keen to continually evolve and develop, his three studio albums Decoded (Planet Rhythm, 1996), Protection (Drumcode, 1999) and Ignition Key (Truesoul, 2002) aptly show the Swedes studio development from raw diamond to the polished article.
He has come a long way from sneaking underage into Stockholms blossoming acid house scene but would also be the first to admit that hes still got just as long and interesting journey ahead of him. From listening to hard rock and Kiss at the tender age of 5, Adam Beyer was always fascinated by music and the black shiny discs he would struggle to save up and buy as a youngster in Stockholm. Whilst getting into hip hop and rap, Beyers young ears were suddenly opened to the new sounds emanating from Italy and the UK in 1987/88 via the "rakt over disk" radio show which played a mish-mash of the blossoming house music scene. I decided that it was the coolest thing on earth, he fondly remembers and listened to it every week. He (the presenter) was manipulating a lot of the records, singing over them - he was in a big fancy studio with all this equipment. It was then that I decided I was going to be a DJ. At the time Beyer was playing drums in one of those youth places where kids hang out. It had a disco in one room with decks, studios, drums and a pool table.
However for the young Beyer, buying his own decks and affording all the new dance vinyl he so craved was still a pipedream. Then tragedy struck. At the tender age of 13 his father passed away. A monumental turning point in anyones life and especially for someone still very much in their formative years. With the bit of money he received from his fathers estate he became even more determined to pursue his goal and managed to buy some decks and some records. I think a lot of the drive was that my father was quite well educated, recalls Beyer, and I don't think he would have allowed me to be so sloppy in school and spend so much time behind decks practicing. It was a changing moment in my life for sure. As if to cement this changing moment, later that same year he also went to his first rave. Beyer began frequenting the local specialist dance music store Vinyl Mania which stocked a lot of old italo-disco from the likes of Scotch and Lazerdance. When you are 12 you don't just go for the credible Detroit records, you go for anything that's danceable, recalls Beyer. By the age of 15 he was DJing at school parties and any student gig he could get hold of.
When the time came to leave school, Beyers classmates procured work experience in restaurants and offices. Not so the still determined young DJ. At the time there was a DJ school in Sweden and Beyer got some work experience there for two weeks. His contacts at the school helped to get him more gigs and put him in touch with older people who could help him. Beyers school friends had also set him on the path to produce by sparking an interest in the small amount of studio equipment they could afford between them. I met Joel Mull and Peter Benisch in school when I was 16 or 17 and I taught Joel how to DJ, says Beyer. He introduced me to Peter who had a sampler and we started to fool around with that a bit. I didnt have a clue what to do. We started to learn the basics with one thing and then we bought an Atari, then saved some money and bought a Juno 106, a 303 and so on.
By 1993 they were confident enough to send demos out and some landed at Drive In in New York which was then run by Adam X and Jimmy Crash. Eight months later Adam Beyers childhood dream was realized. His first record came out. With more records coming out the three friends started to get booked for bigger raves whilst interest abroad remained in the Scandinavian environs of Finland, Norway and Denmark. Then everything just snowballed. In we released a lot of records but I still didn't use my name as it was all still a bit of a compromise.
There was a lot of really fast tempo stuff and some hard trance but I was already buying a lot of techno from UR, Jeff Mills to R&S and Harthouse. Nothing was really crystalised. Then Beyer had what one could term a techno epiphany when he finished school in 1995. He went on holiday and came up with the idea of making a record based solely around drums. Thus it was that year that Drumcode 1 was released on Glen Wilsons Planet Rhythm imprint, the same name of the record store that Beyer had managed to find his first work in after leaving the safety net of school and where he was to also meet fellow DJ/producer Cari Lekebusch. After releasing Drumcode 2 and an album for Planet Rhythm in 1995 Decoded, Beyer finally went on to form his own label, Drumcode in 1996. At first Beyers distributors advised him to be cautious and to press up 1,000 copies as he might loose money. The first release on Drumcode however set the pace for the rest of the labels releases by becoming a bit of a hit but I stopped it at 3,000 copies because I was still in this underground mode, recalls Beyer.
Cari had his studio and there was a good vibe in Stockholm. There was a big club which held 2,000 people where we played a lot and it made the scene pretty big in Sweden. A lot of people started getting into the sound. By now Beyer, Lekebusch and fellow local artists like Joel Mull were selling as Beyer succinctly puts it shit loads. It took a few years before we realized how big things had got.
The first time that we heard about a Swedish techno sound was around 97. From 1995 - 98 the Stockholm triumvirate put out a deluge of records that became underground club hits on labels such as Rotation and Reload as well as their own homegrown imprints. At the same time they started to get more European club bookings and gigs at big festivals where Beyer was soon finding himself as the headline act and soon spinning his pioneering sound across three decks all over the world.
From 1997 - 99, Beyer ran a sister label to partner the phenomenal success of Drumcode called Code Red which was stopped at 10 releases. At the time I thought there was a difference between the labels but now looking back on it I think maybe not as much, admits Beyer. Still, ever looking to develop as an artist Beyer released the more expressive Protection album on Drumcode in 1999 which although maintained some of his more customary driving techno tracks as exemplified on his debut album and 12 releases, also displayed more accomplished listening pieces of electronic music which were indicative of where Beyer was heading. During this period Beyer took some much needed studio time out to re-think where he musically wanted to go. When I closed Code Red in 2000 it got a bit flooded with a lot of records sounding the same. Prime (his then distributors) were shipping out loads of titles every week and I felt that there was no need to do similar labels like Code Red and Drumcode anymore. I also wanted to bring the tempo down a bit.
Thus when he had the vision and concept, Truesoul was established in 2002. Beyer set the style for the label with his most accomplished work to date, his third studio album Ignition Key in 2002. Displaying subtle tones, shimmering chords and the kind of sonic intuition that heralded a bold change for Beyer as an artist it wasnt long before the world again was clawing to catch up. The original plan was to put out more albums but the market wasn't right for it, states Beyer. The plan now is that it can still be anything within electronic music. Its a completely open forum for whatever good stuff I find but definitely more on a 12 inch angle at the moment. I want to explore electronic music and make a good platform for everything that is not hard and nasty. It can be anything from clubbier stuff, to strings to minimal and fucked up stuff. As long as it doesnt go near Drum Code! With so many new producers coming up through the ranks in his home country, Truesoul has already seen releases from the likes of Joel Mull, Cirez D (aka Eric Prydz), Cari Lekebusch, Henrik B and even Stockholms Ozgur Can who hails from a more progressive background. With such a melting pot of electronic styles, Beyer has also set up a new imprint for a more stripped down and minimal sound. Mad Eye is only for me. Its kind of an anagram of my name. Its more where I am right now. A bit stripped down, not as obvious and as fast as Drumcode and slightly more experimental. The label heralds a new subtle, more production focused slant and Beyer is quick to point out the catalyst for his new musical direction.
A lot of the change came from going to Ibiza. A lot of things have happened there over the last three or four years and I have been exposed to another environment with longer parties and long after hours. I was a raver when I was young so its nothing new for me to be out partying but doing it in this kind of way has changed me. Indeed the record slated to be the fifth release for Mad Eye was snapped up for Plus 8 after various MP3 files were sent to Richie Hawtin to play out in his DJ sets. Yet Beyer is also quick to rebute his change as copyist. I'm not interested in being another Richie Hawtin, he states matter-of-factly. It's not really my thing to try and copy other people and Ive never been good at it either. I'm taking influences from what I think is interesting and new and doing something that is me and my way of looking at it.
This change has also filtered into his DJ sets. Known globally for his more punishing, looped up techno mastery, Beyer has also infused his more stripped down productions into the flow of his deck manipulation. If I get to play exactly what I want then I would peak my sets with this music because I dont play a lot of the old stuff anymore. Indeed, Beyers new style can be witnessed on his current mix CD for Fabric (May, 2005) which features tracks from the likes of Dominik Eulberg, 2 Dollar Egg and Alex Under - all themselves rising stars within the minimal techno fraternity.
However, Drumcode does still exist but Beyer wants the label to also go through some changes. It will essentially still have the original feel and tempo but with a fresh sound. For me now it is not so important to release a lot of records, states Beyer. Its more about releasing records that matter and records that have a longer lasting life. I want to look back and say wow, I did that. I want to feel that I represented something and I think that things like that become more important with age. What shape or form that takes is hard to tell. The future couldnt be in safer hands.