Photo: Adrian Ulander
Linny Hex has just turned 30 and mixes techno and house live in front of an audience, but also has an assignment where she plays in SR P3. Her selection and style of play often goes in the darker and more dubious direction, rather than the right-to-face hardness that many associate with the concept of techno. Linny Hex is also a kind of unofficial evangelist for the Swedish techno scene and her set lists always contain new and unreleased tracks from the country’s producers and remixers. Yes, we get started right away: ten questions for Linny Hex!
1. How did it all start for you, when did you start DJing?
When I was 21 years old, I had had time to run at clubs and underground parties in Stockholm for over six years and was quite tired of it. I needed something new and since I have always stood with one foot quite firmly rooted in the British music scene, I decided to move to London. Somehow I ended up with a bunch of house occupants who ran an artistic collective. Since no one had anything to do during the day, we stood in people’s rooms and mixed Jungle and Drum & bass from morning to night for about a year. When I came back to Stockholm, I started playing at some private parties, and, yes, now I’m here.
2. Do you play an instrument and produce your own music?
Strangely enough, I do not play an instrument anymore. When I was little, I played both drums and piano and sat and played in music programs. By the way, my dad is a bassist. When I got older, I lost the instrument playing, which I regret phenomenally a lot today. Nowadays I sit and sloppily produce tracks when I have time, which is almost never the case. I’m really trying to find more time to sit and jam.
There are musicians who think that mixing audience in front of an audience is not an art compared to playing instruments or singing. What do you say about that?
That is a type of elitism I can not relate to at all and my view is that such opinions are usually born out of an ignorance of what others are doing. Standing on a stage in front of people who expect you to entertain them is challenging whether you are playing with a band or mixing a DJ set. Sedab can definitely be talked about which instruments or programs are technically the most difficult to handle, but just because it’s hard to play the harp does not mean that it’s not an art to play records.
I do not even understand how people measure what is more or less artistic. Anyone with this type of prejudice should stand behind a couple of vinyl players and try to mix two simple techno kicks in 20 seconds, so we can discuss levels of difficulty and artistic expression when it comes to DJ mixing after that.
Photo: Fia Bolin.
4. In what kind of places do you play?
In addition to playing records on the radio, which I do quite often, I would say that right now I alternate quite well between playing at a nightclub and private events. Where I play varies a lot depending on how the electronic scene looks at the moment. By that I mean that more or fewer private music events, or underground parties as people also call them, are created during different periods.
Of course, it is also about choosing which gigs you want to do depending on the type of DJ you want to be and the music you want to play. For example, I have all but two times said no to taking a hotel bar gig. Not that I do not think it’s nice to have a good bar vibe, but the music I want to play right now simply does not fit in there. I prefer to stand in a laser- and smoke-filled room at five in the morning and play for an audience that is there for the music.
5. How often do you play outside?
Right now I am in my last semester of a master’s degree in sociology, which means that I have had to re-prioritize my gigs. In parallel, I host a DJ program on the radio as well and together all that becomes extremely time consuming. This has meant that I have had to cut down quite a lot on playing outside in the last year and right now I would say that I play outside at most once a month or every other year. Going down on playing I almost felt scary at first.
Lately, I have started to let go of it more and more, however, and today I see it as if I rather choose my gigs more carefully. I think that most people who have aged together with their artistry can relate to the fact that other things in life must also take place, even if you really want to keep kicking it as if you were 21 years old.
Photo: Adrian Ulander.
6. You play at parties that can be considered semi-illegal outdoors and the like. Can you tell us what that means for you?
I think this rag debate that has been going on for over 20 years is strange. These are so incredibly moralizing discussions in relation to what I experience that discussions about other musical subcultures are. Just because a party is not at a nightclub, but takes place as a private event, does not mean that it is an illegal party where total anarchy prevails. My experience is that private events are almost exclusively better managed than many clubs I have been to and that people do not become as packed and unbearable there as in the pub. That’s why those gigs are my absolute favorites.
People come there just to listen to the music I play. Then there are of course gold places like Slakthuset, Under Bron and Kägelbanan, and more, which are also absolutely fantastic to play at. And it’s precisely because they work hard that it is the music that is the main attraction of the evening instead of the alcohol. The platform that private parties convey to both me as a musician and a visitor is completely invaluable in a society that otherwise provides quite a bit of space for music in general.
7. What is the best gig you have done and what is your dream booking?
One of the best was at the Norberg Festival in 2010. It was so hysterically bad weather that night, with hail and wind and I played in a big tent where it rained. But it ended up with so many people and such a good atmosphere in the tent that people started partying outside in the total misery. There was so much mud and water and shit everywhere – and no one cared! That was nice. I definitely long to play at Tresor in Berlin. If I get a gig there, I can quit then. Joking!
8. What are your work tools?
When I play outside, I most often use CD players, mixers and Serato. Sometimes I wrap it with vinyl but it all depends on whether the club’s equipment is good. The reason I stopped playing vinyl out there and switched to CD players two years ago is because most players who are in nightclubs are so old now that they are simply not reliable to play on. In the end, it was just hard to go and play, because I did not know if things would work when I got there. A bit like trying to play a guitar that can’t be tuned, I can imagine. But that is starting to change now and more people seem to combine CD players with vinyl, which is cool.
9. Who are your five favorite DJs?
One of my absolute favorites is Swedish techno and house DJ Sandra Mosh. Technically, there is probably no one I have drawn more inspiration from than I have done from her mixes plus I love her selection. Then I would say that Johanna Knutsson is a clear favorite. Technically, she is super talented, her choice of music is great and she is probably the techno world’s most humble person. Then the UK Garage DJ DJ EZ is clearly one of the world’s best DJs. People who think that mixing in front of an audience is not art should check out his Boiler Room x RBMA DJ set from 2012. In general, I have extremely great respect for Drum & bass DJs. If you can mix it on vinyl, you can mix anything, really. DJ Zinc is one such DJ. Finally, I want to say that I think Joel Mull is really good.
10. Who are your five favorite producers?
Recondites techno is so beautiful in my ears that I can hardly even listen to it, haha! When I saw him live at the Into the Valley festival two years ago, I started crying on the dance floor. Who starts crying in the middle of a dance floor, like? His melodies hit me somewhere where no one else does. Then the Swedish techno producer Nima Khak is a clear favorite and has been for a very long time. Burial and Massive Attack are good examples of music I have listened to for a very long time and I will probably play their records even when I am old. The last favorite producer gets to be SouthPaw just for his completely sick production on the world’s best hip-hop record: Immortal Technique- Revolutionary Volume 2.
Linny Hex mixes the best techno tracks from 2016 in SR P3