In the 1990s a generation of very talented techno producers slowly emerged in Iceland, led by several figures who would then join forces to create one of the best dub techno labels ever made, the not-so-well-known Thule Records. Arnvidur Snorrason is one of them, having been active as Exos since 1997, the name under which he has released three LPs and more than fifteen EPs on labels such as Force Inc., Thule or Mosaic, aka three of the most important and innovative dance music labels of the 90s. With other amazing producers like Thor, Ozy or Sanasol, Exos has defined a very singular techno sound throughout the years, inspired above all by the Icelandic environment and climate. As huge fans of the Thule sound and his own productions, we asked the man a few questions about the label, his career and his projects, while Exos recorded a very special 3 hour vinyl set composed of the best and rarest gems in his collection just for us, and it’s THE shit, just check the tracklist in the comments and you’ll see.

- Version Française -

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So you just got back from Holland right, how was the gig ?
My gig in Holland was so much fun. It took place in a very large location, a skatepark, and the people just wanted to keep the party going on… I loved it.

Cool ! You’re originally from Reykjavik where you still live, do you often get booked there ?
It’s about one date in month, I am doing montly techno events with local techno djs and one live act… I am doing this with Dj Yamaho who is my favorite DJ in Iceland, these events are always really exciting with a lot of energy going on.

Do people generally listen to a lot of techno in Iceland ?
Techno music is now well recognized in Iceland and has been approved by the crowd…When DJs play techno here they don’t have to worry about boundaries. We have two small clubs at the moment and a lot of great local DJs. The electronic scene has grown tremendously and there are lots of small events with local artists taking place now, as well as the Sonar festival which is always eagerly awaited by the people here.

Cool, can you tell me about how you personally got into techno ? I know that it must be quite a family thing for you as your father is also a producer, so I guess you discovered this music at a pretty early age ?
My father raised me on all kinds of sounds, everything from African music to bebop jazz and i remember him translating Grand master flash lyrics in 1984. I however discovered real Techno from a very important radio show in Iceland, PartyZone in 1994, the golden year of Techno. They had local djs playing House and Techno in the show and were like the foundation of the dance music scene. Dj Frimann, the most dedicated Techno DJ in Iceland played there a lot and that’s where i got my education at first. My father never liked the hard Beltram sound but when he heard me playing Maurizio in 96, he told me to turn that shit up to the max.

Did you go out a lot at that time ? I guess it was that love of music that led you to meeting Thor and all the future Thule crew…
I was just 14 years old, i didn’t mix music or go to parties so early. At this time, in 1994 there was no internet, no youtube, no beatport, music was so valuable and techno was so rare especially in Iceland. The radio and our local record store were the only way to catch it, and that’s why the older djs were so important. I began making music in 1996, at 16 years old. An employee in our school was giving electronic music courses because of our big interest in Techno. He got in contact with Thor and asked him to teach us for a few courses, and that’s how I met him. Exactly at that time period he was launching Thule Records. Thor and his music also had a huge influence on me in 1992, him being the main frontrunner in the Icelandic scene at that time. All the Thule members were Thor’s best friends, Yagya (Sanasol), Biogen and Ozy, so when he decided to release two records by me on the Thule label I was really happy.

Exos, Biogen, Thor, Yagya & Ozy back in the day

It was « Green Beat » right ? I’m just listening to it now, it’s crazy to hear how mature your sound already was at only 16 years old…
Green Beat was a total experiment, I just recently began to like it for the first time. However it works well in a club, Dj Yamaho played it yesterday for the crowd and they loved it.

Although Thule has always been dedicated to many different styles of techno, it has quickly taken a huge dub direction. What was it in dub techno that appealed so much to you ? Apart from the fact that Basic Channel must have been a huge influence for all the Thule members…
Dub techno is cool as ice. We get our influence from the Icelandic nature. Cold ice, warm snow, dark clouds, northern lights, near mountains… Iceland is all about the nature, and deep techno represents our environment. I think every country has something really special in its nature, the thing with Iceland is that there’s such short distance between all those amazing places. You only have to drive for 20 minutes and you can explore the countryside at its best.

Did you organize any parties there when Thule was launched, like raves and stuff like that ?
I’ve been DJing in clubs in Iceland since 1997. At that time we had the legendary club called Thomsen, with its dark basement and warm upper floor. They had Mistress Barbara, Monika Kruse, Larry Heard, Dmx.Tim Taylor, Little Louie Vega but when Adam Beyer rocked the place then it got really legendary !!! And so many other DJs played there… It was an amazing club, the Icelandic Tresor. Outdoor events never made their marks in Iceland because of the unstable weather, in spring and autumn we can have sun, rain, snow and wind all in the same hour sometimes.
Iceland is very UK influenced so we got the punk scene right away, so even in 1989 there was a small group in Iceland doing parties with acid house and new wave music. The rave scene came to Iceland in 1990, and Thor was one of those who made it quickly happen.

Steve O’Sullivan launched the Mosaic/Bluetrain label around the same period as Thule I think, what was Thule’s relationship with Mosaic at that time ?
None, but the story about how I got to know him is rather funny though… Thor used to sell me some of his techno records like DBX’s Losing Control, 69 – Lite Music, and some oldschool stuff, but he didn’t want to sell me Mosaic 004 by Aubrey. At that time Mosaic was a very hot label and the boyz in the hood were really excited about it, they collected as many of their records as they could, as I did myself. Thor lent me his copy of Mosaic 004 but when I came home to listen to it, I dropped it and made a scratch on one of the tracks…
So I phoned all record stores in the UK looking for a copy as I didn’t want to give it back broken, but it was sold out everywhere and impossible to get it… So I decided to call the Mosaic label directly. Steve O’Sullivan answered and told me he only had 2-3 copies that he couldn’t give away, but he asked me where I was from and if Iceland had any local labels. I told him about Thule and he had heard great things about the label, so he told me to send Thule records over and he would send me a copy of the Mosaic 004. I sent him all of our records and a demo of my track « Orangeblue »… Four days later, Steve O’Sullivan left a very intensive message on my voice mail saying that he wanted to release the track on Mosaic, and that’s it. I sent him more tracks and we did another record together for Mosaic, « Steve O’Sullivan vs Exos – Rhythms & Dubs Vol 1″, as well as an Exos and Octal split, and a record by Octal called « Nucleus i Bata », a great solo track by my father. So basically if you need something, just go ahead and get it… It can turn up with a nice suprise.

ESHU x Mosaic x Thule : Roger Gerressen, Steve O’Sullivan, Exos & Ben Buitendijk in Holland

Amazing !! Was it difficult to spread the word in other countries and promote Thule, as there wasn’t any Beatport at that time as you said ?
Yes, Thule had massive problems with distribution… Even though Sven Vath did a remix for the first record and Richie Hawtin played all of our records, not many were ready for us at that time. The distribution requested different music from Thule in the end and didn’t want to distribute more music in the deep minimal genre. They did not focus on spreading our records to the world, and being an isolated small record label on an island in North Atlantic ocean it was a little bit hard to push our records and publish our music. But for some reason a lot of people seem to be more and more interested in our sound today, wich is great…

So did some of you still manage to get any bookings abroad back in the day and travel for music, despite the distribution issues ?
I actually played some great gigs abroad, especially when I was releasing music. My first gig abroad was at Tresor in 1999, I played there a few times. Paradiso in Amsterdam the whole night, So36 in Berlin, U club in Slovakia. I played at Ostgut, the former Berghain. I also played in Berlin a few times. Me and Thor went to Russia for a big tour and I played few times in Estonia. The Thule crew had a special label gig at Batofar with Biogen, Ruxpin, Den Nard Husher, Yagya, Thor and myself. It was fun. So yeah I played here and there from time to time.

Well you had a cool thing going on, why did the label end brutally in 2002 ?
For some reason many deep minimal labels stopped suddenly at that period. The market demanded more club sounds and many minimal labels had distribution problems with low sales. A blend of progressive House and Techno took over the world scene I think, deeper sounds got quiet… for a moment. Today deep minimal sounds are expected everywhere. Back then it wasn’t recognized to much, I remember thinking in 97 that maybe one day, people will finally like this music. Only 15-20 people were into it in Iceland at that time, now you go to the Vega resturant in Reykjavik and they are playing Maurizo.. It’s a dream come true.

But you kept producing music even though the label had stopped ?
Yes of course. Even though I was an original Thule member, I made music for other labels as well such as Force Inc in Germany, and I made tracks and remixes for Ben Sims also. I stopped making music in 2005, and didn’t do any producing until Paulo Reachi in Berlin sent me an email in 2011 asking me to make a record for his label. That’s why I called Ruxpin and Yagya and did a record for him. Since then the ball started rolling again and now I’ve got few releases lined up.

And did that recent revival of the deep minimal sound lead you to new projects apart from new releases ?
At the moment I am working with Thor on re-releasing the good old Thule material as we are selecting which records will be re-released. We are very excited about that and we get a lot of feedback from all over asking us about those releases. I am also preparing a release for a very good label in Holland called ESHU Records and for a Romanian label called Crystal Structure, me and Thor share one side on their label and C Rock/Dubstar has the flipside. Then I have my focus on Strobelight Network !!!!

Yeah that’s the new label you recently announced, what are the plans with it ?
Strobelight Network is a new label that will release new material only from the Thule crew. I met an amazing guy from New York called Amaury who convinced me and Thor to work on the old Thule sound. At first we were pessimistic about doing it again, but he wouldn’t let the idea go so we set up the label. Basically we are doing this together, but Amaury is the director of it. The first release is a Various Artists, it has a track by Plastic (Yagya), an old unreleased track by Thor, and a track by Octal with a remix from Exos and Ruxpin. Then we have a new release by Thor, Exos, Sanasol and Ozy. After the Strobelight Network thing came across, another distribution got in contact with us to re-release all the old Thule records, so it’s time to work on some music I guess !

Great news ! Finally, can you tell me about the 3 hour mix you recorded for us ?
I originally wanted to follow up my minimalclassix mix. I played some favorites from the Mosaic era with tracks from Steve and Aubrey and then I went for Detroit and Chicago to play some of my first records. Then I played some Icelandic minimal with local artists and ended in some ambient zone, so the mix tells four different stories… Morning, day, evening and night…

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Download here : (TAL122) Exos – 08.12.2013

2 Comments
  1. Fil says:

    ——— Cd mix Thingamajicks – Priceless – Bliq 08 Rhythm of Snow – 16.Bounce (Yagya) Sanasol – Thule 006 (Thor/Yagya) Sanasol – Hlýleg Justin Simmons – Being Samuel L Bronowitz (Thor) Ozy – Supertrack Ozy – track Volcan Nerve – track (Thor) Thor – Eggjandi Ozy – White label (Dons) ——— Vinyl mix Downlink – Optimus Prime – Mosaic 005 Alien Disco – track Aubrey – Warehouse – Texture Cab drivers – Open air Steve O Sullivan – Moovement ep – Mosaic 008 Memory Foundation – Greenflash – Mosaic Cari Lekebusch – Above the Skyline Ymc – last stop ep – Yoshitoshi Mark Ambrose – Smoky Clinic – Craylon 002 Marco Carola – Question 007 Steve O Sullivan – Bluetrain 001 The persuader Stephan G – Kaos – Svek White label – Being with you Steve O Sullivan – Top shelf Dubs – Mosaic J.Dahlback, Jl hUHTA – midnight Express Ohm – Joe the hoe Aubrey – Contact funk – Mosaic The Vision – Detroit one circle Steve O Sullivan -A New perspective Robert Hood – Moveable parts 2 Aubrey – Impressions – Solid Groove Octave One – 15/13 Octave One – Track Aubrey – U be dick Weed people – The greenland ep Ilo remix Rhythm methood vol 3 – Mosaic R.Hawtin – Bang Bang Bang Missile 10 Kenny Larkin – Seven days Kenny Larkin – Catatonic Dum records Torsten Profrock – Chain Reaction 002 unknown track Sean Deason – the shit Dj Hell – Take a shot Rac – 9 Alien Fm – Nightmare K Alexi – All for Lee Sah Basic Channel – 004 Mark Broom – Pure plastic Freq – With a vintage – Matrix Js 002 Unknown track Johannes Heil – are u ready Electro track Xtrak – Relay – Peace frog Baby Pop – Know what i am sayin Robert Armani Ride me – Dance mania Hd – White label Strand – Juggernaut remix Grow – Crucial Marco Carola – Question 004 Grow – Friday Island Exos – 5 a.m Exos – Haus í krukku Exos – Elevent Exos – Elevent Maus and Stolle – Adore — Cdmix Octal – Dt9 – Ruxpin and Exos remix Den Nard Husher – track Krisz Deak – 34 Kesz Damon Wild / Steve Stoll – Betwean the lines Exos & Octal – áttfalt Plastic – Thule 11 Kristjan Wage – Leaf Petur Sturla – track Ricardo Willalobos – extended Dj Koze – I want to sleep Den Nard Husher – track 4 Octal Industries – útkall Ruxpin & Mike – Tsunami Krisz Deak – Angular momentum Demo Reitur Exos – Concord (unmixed demo) Ohm & Exos – Fróði Dubirgis – Nighmusic 001 Dubirgis – Nighmusic 002 Fixia – Outone Exos & Octal – With the (Ruxpin and Exos emake) Plaid – OI Flowmachine – Class of 96 (Thor) Baby Ford – Bad friday Thor – Thule 009 Thor – Memory Alex Bringen – Humanoids Octal – Hevier petting Exos & Octal – With the (Yagya remix) Yagya – track Yagya – Will i dream during the process Ruxpin – Dröfn Bisphere – spring fever Rising High – Lp Rising High – Lp Pub – Summer – Verical form Torsten P. – 8,5 Bjorn Torske – Nedy myra Thingamajicks – Sub Rosa X – bLIQ 08 Thingamajicks – Patrick’s Last Trip – bLIQ 08

  2. (TAL122) Exos - Trace A Line says:

    [...] English Version [...]

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