In the five years that she has lived in Australia, Sandra Sundelin has made a name for herself as a DJ, promoter and music writer. On Friday 6 October, she will headline La Vibrations at Montague in Brisbane.
Q. Sundelin, with your authentic take on techno and tech/minimal sounds you have been making waves in Melbourne and surrounds for years now. In that time, you’ve become very well established. But you haven’t always lived here, you are from Sweden. You came to Australia as a university student when you were 22. What made you decide to stay?
A. I already knew I wanted to stay for an extra year and have a break in studying. That was when I fell in love with Melbourne – the people and the music scene here made me feel home and motivated to be creative. I decided to stay and finished my degree in Melbourne instead of in Sweden, I could not see myself going back to my old life when I had started this new exciting life here!
Q. Your sound is clearly defined, and it is something you have pursued with vigour. Reaching this point must have been quite a journey for you. Can you describe some of your early experiences in Melbourne’s electronic music scene? What was it that captured your interest so strongly?
A. My first musical influences were mainly pop and rock. When I started DJing I gradually moved over to more electronic music. When I got to Melbourne, deep house was really big and I started exploring that genre. Maybe from my history as a rock lover, I really like it tough and I love percussion and bass, so this drew me closer and closer to those styles of sounds within the house genres. From deep house I moved on to tech house and then to techno, which is my main sound today, but I am in no way restricting myself or trying to be a purist. Good music is good music, whatever the label is.
Q. Recently you recorded a set for Hoppa, a fairly new techno outfit in Amsterdam who have had a prolific output of podcasts in the last two years, and started putting on events late last year. You were in Hoppa’s home town while on a trip around Europe in the last few months. What did you get up to? Did you find any good records?
A. Yes, I was very honoured when they asked if I could do a podcast for their series! Amsterdam was so beautiful, although quite rainy while I was there. The people there are very friendly and I enjoyed walking around the picturesque streets, as well as checking out a few clubs and restaurants. I went to Rush Hour Store and got a couple of nice gems too!
Q. In October and November of 2016 you were on tour in Japan, and recorded a live streaming video set for DOMMUNE. You also played at CIRCUS Tokyo, Sankeys and TUSK. Japan has a diverse electronic music community and is a popular destination for many Australians. What is your impression of the Japanese electronic music scene? What do you think Australian musicians could learn from them?
A. The way Japanese people go out is quite different, they really know what music they like and what clubs they want to go to to hear that sound. Although Melbourne has a wide variety of music and events and a lot of good quality out there, I feel like a lot of people go to events because of peer pressure rather than trying to find what they truly love themselves.
Q. At home you have been very active as a DJ in clubs in Melbourne and at festivals, as well as supporting popular local and international DJs. But your deep involvement in the Melbourne scene, which goes further than just playing gigs, has made you a major player. In 2015 you joined Node Techno Collective, which was founded by Andre Jones (also known as SFBM to Underground Sound readers). Tell us about Node, and how you got to know and work with Andre as your career progressed.
A. Andre contacted me initially about coming along and running a new TRNSMT show. He founded Node and I was happy to be on board. We have had many great local DJs on board and we’re pushing the tougher techno and house styles.
Q. 2015 was also the year that you started Kontrast Collective with Caspian. What a busy time! The events that you two have put on are focused on audio visual experiences for attendees to immerse themselves in. It sounds like an exciting concept, and the parties you’ve already put on look great, based on the photos on the Kontrast Collective website. What is the process that you and Caspian go through to select artists and visuals for each event? How do you see the events evolving in years to come?
A. Each event normally has one specific focus, and most of the time it’s the headliner that will create the vibe and theme of the show. We then select DJs to suit the style of sound and we program the night so that it will progress in a nice way to keep patrons excited to be there. The visual side is quite similar but might be more restricted to fewer artists per show. We love when artists get the opportunity to be creative and show their own style, rather than us giving them strict directives on what to do.
Q. Your other project is Whono’s Music, which you’ve been contributing to since 2013. In this case I have the pleasure of interviewing the interviewer. The work you have done for Whono’s is substantial, and during that time you have interviewed some big names, including well known internationals. How has that opportunity changed your life?
A. It’s been great to get to know artists better in the way they think about music and their career, and how they create music and find inspiration. It is of course exciting to interview big international acts, but I also find it very useful and important to get to know our local artists better too. We have many great talents here in Australia and just because some might be lesser known doesn’t mean they don’t hold a lot of great insights and knowledge.
Q. You are an industrial designer, and did an internship at KORG in Japan while there last year. As well as playing electronic music, you have been acquiring production hardware, with plans to focus on that aspect of design. Can you tell us how things are progressing on the production front?
A. My music productions are slowly getting there; I’ve found it hard to keep working on it consistently with all my projects going on. Now I am at a point where I feel like I am finally able to start focusing more in this area and fully commit. I want to release music soon but also get into the design thinking of music hardware to one day combine my two big interests.
Q. On Friday 6 October you will be the main act for Defwill’s La Vibrations at Montague in Fortitude Valley, representing Stable Music and Kontrast Collective. It’s your first time playing in Brisbane and visiting the Sunshine State. We have a growing community of techno enthusiasts. What can we expect on the night?
A. I am thrilled for my first gig over in Brisbane! Since I have the honour to be the headliner, I want to show everyone what my techno style is all about. At the same time I will of course get the feel of the people and the vibe of the party, so I will play by ear as I normally do and see where the night takes us.
Q. Thank you so much for talking to Underground Sound Sundelin, and for recording an exclusive set. There is some serious techno in there!
A. Thanks for having me, it’s been a pleasure!
01. Tale Of Us, Vaal – The Hangar
02. Bambounou – Each Other
03. Addison Groove – Allaby
04. Markus Suckut – Subway
05. Hollen – Terminal
06. Slam – Like This
07. Mario Ochoa – Beast
08. Slam – Positive Education (Shlømo Remix)
09. Thomas Schumacher – Unconfused
10. Valerio Panizio – Sentence (Demia E.clash Remix)
11. Shlomi Aber – Conexión
12. Thomas Schumacher – Falling
13. Shlomi Aber – Panix
14. Specialivery – Haksum
15. Oscar L – Push’n Me
16. Maral Salmassi, D_func. – Coils (Mark Broom Remix)