Rene Kristensen aka Noir has a reputation for being incredibly chilled out, and he's not entirely sure why. But it could have something to do with coming from the “nice and quiet” Aalborg in Denmark, his hometown, that he still resides in.
“In Denmark we have this thing called Janteloven. Danish people live by it. It's basically a rule that nobody is better than anyone else,” he tells DJ Mag in his calm, paced tone. It's in part this way of thinking and general code of behaviour that has catapulted the super laid-back producer, DJ and label owner of Noir Music into our hearts. In the early days of his career, being able to shake the hand of a DJ he looked up to made a big impression on him, and determined how he wanted to conduct himself in the future. His fan-base will concur that here is an accessible DJ, one that tries to stay down to earth. “I always tell people, promoters, other DJs, fans, friends, that if I start to act different than I do now just because I start to become famous, then please come to Denmark and kick my ass!”
Noir's immediately classic and happily recognisable 'Around' tune with its Solomun mix was famously picked up by Defected Records, who consider him one of their own, employing his mixing and DJing skills. Last year they released 'Noir in the House'. He'll be appearing at their Ibiza residency as part of a summer that, although at first glance looks to be punishing, also allows time for him to finish his debut album. The surprise here being that it's going to be 12 songs, not tracks. Full vocals, chorus, verses and everything. Aiming to keep the production of each track completely different, Noir has all bases covered with house, techno, electronica, chill-out and even a nod to hip-hop referenced.
We dialled his digits to find out about the forthcoming album and lots more...
The album sounds like a really exciting project. How long have you been working on it?
“To be honest I decided to start doing songs as Noir in 2010, I was kind of missing doing songs, I hadn't been doing many songs. But it was a mixture of missing doing songs and missing having songs to play in my DJ sets. I remembered back in the day, like in Ibiza and when you went to clubs around the world, seeing the people with hands-in-the-air, singing along to the tunes, and around 2008/2009 I felt there was a lack of good songs in dance in general. My first songwriting was in 2010 and it ended up as the track that you probably know as 'Around', in 2011, so that was the first song I was determined to make and it has become my biggest track so far.
“I write the music and I send it to singer/songwriters, and give them free reins to get inspired by the music and come up with ideas for the vocals and lyrics, and then they send something back to me. It becomes a ping-pong situation.”
How do you think the whole thing will pan out?
“Many producers have a specific sound and they have a template in their software where they produce music, and they often start with that template and then develop whatever they've got going on. I start from scratch with every track I produce, so I start with a new kick and a new snare. I don't have a specific set-up that I use for every song, I want them to be different. And some of the people that have heard the demos that I put down, they still feel that you can hear it's from the same producer, even though I've tried to use different synthesisers on every track, and write different melodies. But I guess I'm turned on by specific sounds or harmonies, so for some reason they sound similar, even though I try to be diverse.”
When do you think it'll come out?
“February, March next year. I hope to be finished before November, and then you need three or four months to promote the album.”
You're DJing for our Ministry of Sound Saturday Sessions party. What was your first experience of playing the Ministry?
“The first time I played there was for Defected. It was around the time that we started working together. I decided to licence my single with them after several meetings with Simon Dunmore. Some people you just click with, you have the same love for house music, you have the same values in life and stuff. Simon Dunmore has become a really good friend of mine and he's been in the business longer than I have, he's been in A&R longer than I have, he's been a label owner longer than I have, he's been a DJ longer. So he's also a man who gives me advice from time to time. They put me in the big room and I really enjoyed it, I think it's a great club.”
Tell us about your gigs with Defected...
“I do a lot of gigs for Defected. I really enjoy working for them, playing their parties, because they are very professional, organised, and they're very good promoters, and you always end up playing really good events. They have great success in Ibiza so it's a great party for you to play [there]. The Defected parties are all about house music and all about happy people, it's pretty diverse. If you go to label parties for other labels it's usually techno or underground house, or very commercial. With Defected it's a big mix of it all. You can play a wide range of music, you can play from deep house to techno and that's exciting for me not to have those boundaries, of having to play one specific style or whatever.”
What were your very first experiences of Ibiza?
“The first year I went there I had a small gig in a small club and I don't remember the name of it. I was very excited to play there and that was a very nice experience. I remember when I first went to Ibiza I was very excited to see Cafe Del Mar and to see Pacha. And Pacha was a great experience, it was way bigger than I had imagined, that was one of those clubs that's been around for years. I really enjoyed Space too and I still think it's one of the best clubs in Ibiza. And then I was a little bit disappointed in Cafe del Mar, I didn't realise it was so small. When you go to those places like Ibiza and the first time you're at Miami at the Winter Music Conference, and the first time you're at Sonar, the first time you're at Amsterdam Dance Event, those are reminders of why you're doing what you do, because there's so many people out for the music, there's so many artists, promoters.”
You've got a tattoo of your label Noir Music, that's quite radical, when did you get that done?
“About three, four years ago. I guess it's just because I believe in what I do. I don't believe Noir Music will ever stop, if one day I stop DJing, I don't think I ever will, but if I do one day, I would keep the label running. To still be signing stuff, still be releasing great music from other artists... it's just me showing I believe in what I do.”
We're really enjoy listening to your Noir Recommends...
“Oh thank you. That podcast was made because back in the days I used to do a little radio show in my home town, where I still live, in Aalburg. And we didn't have a big reach of people, but we did have a good reaction and I just really miss telling people about good music and sharing the music I felt was good. I missed getting the reactions, like 'Wow, where did you discover this?' or 'Thank you for playing this track for us' and stuff like that. It's escalated into something really big and people are really really onto me on social media and emails if I don't get those podcasts out on time now, sometimes a big drama if I don't make it on time! It's funny, but also I am very honoured and humbled if people are listening to it.”
Do you think it will evolve into something else?
(laughs) “If Pete Tong one day steps down and asks me if I could do a Noir Essential Selection on Radio 1, I might not say no, but I have no plans for it. It's pure passion and love for the music, it's something I do because it's fun to do, it's natural for me to do, I enjoy sharing music. It's like doing a DJ set, you are able to tell people what you are playing.”
We see you've been giving away vinyl copies of your single 'Angel'. What's that all about?
“When I press vinyl, it's all handled from Germany, that's where my distribution for my vinyls and where the pressing plant is. Once every third or fourth month they will send me a pack with vinyls from the different releases from Noir Music. I got 'Angel' one month after the digital release and because it got to No.1 on the tech house chart on Beatport and it's been in the charts for many weeks, because I got so much great support for the track, I told my distributor to send some more vinyls. And then I just put them up on Facebook as a give-away, I told people to tell me why they should get a free vinyl? I had someone saying that he never won any competitions because of his name, which was Mike Tyson, so I thought that was really funny so he won just because of his name.”
You've said that you wouldn't be the person that you are today without music...
“That goes for everything, that's not only because of the feeling about the things I do in clubs and making music myself. From when I was very young I used music for an escape. We are talking before I turned 10-years-old. I used English words quicker than anyone in my class. I bought a dictionary and I looked up the English words from the music that I liked. I wanted to know what they were singing about in the music that I liked. So I very much used music as an escape from problems. I used music to not feel sad.”