In all genres, there are artists who find their way and stay there and there are others who evolve with each project. Drawing on a wide range of sounds throughout their career, bass music leader Liquid Stranger falls firmly into the latter category.
The Swedish DJ/producer has been making music for decades now, but first gained widespread notoriety for his explosive, otherworldly sound creations during the great dubstep boom of the late 2000s. Since then, he’s expanded his reach even further, harnessing psychedelic, trap, ambient and beyond to create a sound all his own. It also doesn’t hurt that they are one of the best live bands in the bass scene.
With a headlining set at this year’s Gem & Jam coming up less than a month away, we caught up with Liquid Stranger to discuss everything from his sonic evolution to how he creates a set what to do. expect him in 2022.
Here’s what he had to say.
There is a very strong bond between artists and fans of electronic music, especially bass music. Why do you think that is?
Personally, I’m a big fan too – so I don’t feel like there’s a lot of separation. We have something beautiful in common – our passion for bass music! I’ve always loved the rave scene for its inclusiveness. I guess in the beginning our scene was built by outcasts, so we don’t tend to segregate.
Some artists pick a sound and stick with it and others, like you, are constantly moving into new sonic realms. What drives you to always change your sound?
It happens naturally. It’s something I just need to do to stay interested and true to myself. Music is an emotional language, and this internal landscape of feelings is constantly changing. I don’t want it to sound too pretentious, because a lot of my ideas are pretty silly and humorous, but it’s more of a feeling or a whiff of inspiration, rather than something planned.
Your label waakan is one of the most respected in the world of bass music. As label manager, how do you balance maintaining the artistic integrity of the label with commercial viability?
For us, it’s all about the artists and the art they create. We just aim to be a vessel and help add value and shine to the acts we sign. We do our best to find artists who will allow us to help in areas where we think we excel, such as A&R, touring and merchandise. We believe that the best form of commercial viability is to be true to yourself. If people think what our acts are doing is cool, that’s amazing – if someone doesn’t connect with that, that’s great too. It’s nice that people like what we do, but our goal is less to find something that “sells” and more to work with cool artists that we like and who make good songs.
Do you have an opening song in your set? If yes, what is it? If not, what is your process for choosing the first song for your set?
I try to change my sets as much as possible between shows, including the first song. The beginning of a set is however very important, in order to set the tone and immediately capture the interest of the public. Today I create a custom intro/soundscape for each show, and after that I try to mix in something punchy – ideally unreleased, and definitely something with a strong theme.
Is what you play in your set influenced by the environment you’re in (audience size/reaction, location, previous DJs, etc.) or do you at least stick to a predefined plan?
I always come well prepared. Usually I have around 90-100 songs planned for a one hour set. How I play them, and in what order is undecided. I just rather have as many options as possible. I’m also trying to include more different types of music in my sets these days because my fans love to hear my old songs (throwbacks) and also the downtempo music I do. Therefore, the plan is always evolving and expanding.
As far as I know, you’ve never played Gem & Jam Festival before. What have you heard about the festival and its atmosphere and what are you looking forward to?
Heard great things, plus it’s in my beloved state of Arizona, so I’m so grateful to play there. I lived in Phoenix/Scottsdale for over 10 years. I’m also a gemstone collector, so maybe there’s some of that to look at as well? Playing a new festival is always very exciting for me!
As we enter a new year, what does 2022 hold for Liquid Stranger? Press releases or announcements that you can communicate to us?
I just finished a full album for Wakaan. It’s called Balance and features 13 songs, part of which is made up of dance floor bangers and the rest is made up more of left-field creations. I tried to write a positive album with humor and an uplifting message. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the mixes for an EP titled Unity on my new label Skwan, where we focus on downtempo / chill / melodic / trippy music.
A lot of DJs don’t release a lot of studio albums but you’ve released 7 full albums (as well as many EPs and singles). What do you like about the format of the album and why do you think other DJs turn away from it?
It’s definitely a much bigger challenge than writing a shorter EP, because of the workload. But I prefer albums because it gives me a chance to express myself more fully and explore further the beaten path. It has more room for shenanigans, alongside the bread-and-butter songs fans have come to expect.
Do you have a favorite mineral by chance?
I like the diversity here too, I have a small collection. I think my favorite piece I own is a carved quartz crystal skull.
Catch Liquid Stranger at Gem & Jam Festival 2022, taking place February 4-6 in Tucson, Arizona. Find more information about our Gem & Jam 2022 guide and book your Gem & Jam 2022 tickets and packages here.