Trunkfunk Records 20th Anniversary

Today DMCWORLD are speaking with Fredrik Nyberg, aka DJ Nibc, founder of the Swedish label Trunkfunk. This year Fredrik is proud, and rightly so, to be celebrating the 20th year of Trunkfunk, a monumental feat for any label. Pioneers of the Scandinavian house scene, Trunkfunk has refused to follow trends and has kept the music at its core. A two-part vinyl sampler series is set to mark the occasion, championing the Scandanavian electronic sound. Both samplers combined will form twelve tracks to be included in a twenty track compilation album to follow later this year.

Fredrik, it is an absolute pleasure to have you with us today at DMCWORLD to mark such a momentous occasion. Congratulations to you for reaching this milestone. Before we get going, we must ask, how does it feel to have reached this milestone?

The pleasure is all mine! Thanks for having me. It feels great and surreal that it’s been such a long time since it all started. What a ride! I guess it makes you realize that time really does fly when you’re working on a passion project or doing something that you love to do.

What better way to start than to ask you, where did it all begin for Trunkfunk? What led you to starting out on this journey?

Back in the mid-90’s I started a digital network for music and artwork creators in the pre-internet era. The 90’s was such an amazing era for electronic music, it felt like there was a new genre born almost every week. While getting more busy with DJ bookings I also started learning the ropes of beat making and synth tweaking with my buddy Johan Inkinen. Together we set up a funky little basement studio and formed a live act which lead to the very first Trunkfunk release. Looking back, I think that the 90’s free mentality inspired us to experiment in the studio, on tour, on the radio and we just had a lot of fun with everything we made. It felt like almost anything was possible in that early stage.

Who were some of the original artists to feature on the label?

The first release was a split EP between Gunnar Underground & Chuck Cogan, they were both up n coming Swedish artists at that time. After those original filter funk house trax we started leaning more towards vocal house, which is why we worked with a lot of vocalists, like Karime Kendra, Awa Manneh, Mapei and Darryl D’Bonneau. Carl Rydén and Jonas Rathsman were two key producers that shaped the early sound and direction of the label during that era.

In 20 years there are sure to be some great memories and some great stories. Tell us, what favourite memory springs to mind when you think of the early days of Trunkfunk?

Most of my Trunkfunk memories consists of blurry club nights and weird stuff that happened on tour. A lot of them is hard to explain and sometimes I’m not even sure exactly what really happened. One memory that comes to mind is when I had a gig in Dublin and realized I forgot my headphones just before my set. So I ended up playing both the main gig and a trashy after hours set without headphones, vinyl only in a total amount of 10 hours. Initially I thought I was gonna fuck it up but luckily the crowd didn’t seem to notice at all and it went way better than I expected. The day after I went straight to the airport from the afterparty and got stuck in customs with traces of explosives found on my record bag… I still don’t have a clue where it came from, but probably from that strange after hours basement. The whole place smelled funky and I prob brought with me some of that funk in my trunk?

A lot of labels have come and gone within the last 20 years, yet Trunkfunk has stood the test of time. What do you think has been the most important factor in the label’s longevity and how do you feel the label has changed/evolved over time?

I think one of the key factors is that we’ve always had a close connection to the club scene. We never stopped doing parties and that really set the compass for the labels musical output. I’ve always been curious to try new styles and embrace new waves of underground music. 

The label’s vinyl catalogue have become prized possessions for many record collectors, not only for the music but for the designs and the picture discs. Can you tell us a bit more about those?

We’ve always let the designer feel free to make their own interpretation and try not to interfere with their ideas too much. We’ve been lucky to have so many talented people on board and I think the visuals plays a super important part of our story, which has gone hand in hand with the music since day one. Especially those times when we explored a new direction musically it was important  to have someone visualize that change with the artwork.

As the 20th birthday celebrations begin, the release date of the 20 Years of Trunkfunk Vinyl Sampler – Part 1 approaches. How did you decide who would feature on such a significant release? Can you tell us a bit about the artists that feature on the sampler and their relationship with the label?

We reached out to almost all of the artists that was involved with Trunkfunk over the years and ended up with an impressive amount of amazing tracks. From there on out we handpicked tunes that worked well together and at the same time captured the essence of Trunkfunk. During my time in Berlin I got to know John “mul.apin” through Casino Times who previously released on the label. I’m a big fan of his music and when I first heard ‘The Only Game in Town’ I was 100% sure that track should be on the first of the samplers. Such an epic tune!  Jens Wickelgren is a dedicated producer, DJ and radio host who sent me a bunch of stompers from him and artist Polisen. Their track was also a certain pick for the first sampler.

One of my favorite duos I’ve had the pleasure to hang out and work with a lot over the last years is franskild. I just love their clever way of using samples and grooves. Their track was perfect for the A-side of the vinyl. And of course I had to bring in something by my favorite Norwegian buddy Vinny Villbass who had the perfect closing track for this EP. I also asked our mutual friend Skateboard if he had anything unsigned to contribute and got his dreamy remix of Gork on board as well. Over all I’m stoked of this first sampler and can’t wait to share the rest of the music from the compilation!

The extensive back catalogue of the label is brimming with quality, so this question will perhaps be a tough one… What have been your favourite releases on the label, or perhaps the ones that you were most proud of?

Yes, this is definitely the hardest question of all, since I’m very proud of every single one! But ‘Every Word’, ‘Pretty Girls’ and ‘Proof’ are three favorite blasts from the past. And some newer goodies from the last decade are e.g. ‘Gryning’, ‘Tucan Fever’ and ‘As It Were’.

Which release on the label springs to mind when you think of the one that pushed the boundaries the furthest?

I think we played a lot with the boundaries towards the commercial side during the first decade. Maybe ‘Let It Rain’ was the most pop-sounding release so far. On the opposite side of the spectrum I think both Pig & Dan and DJ Assault pushed the boundaries in interesting directions. I also heard some strange happy hardcore remixes of ‘Every Word’ that was produced under third party licensing, definitely further than we ever took it!

What’s been the most enjoyable aspect of the journey so far?

There are so many things I could think of. I guess the creative stuff is what I have enjoyed the most. And nothing beats that feeling of having a new release ready to share with a crowd at an upcoming gig.

It’s been a joy to speak with you today Fredrik and to hear some of the history of the label. We’d like to take this chance to congratulate you and all involved at Trunkfunk once more on this 20 year milestone. We wish you all the best with the release of the sampler and we can’t wait to hear more about Part 2.

Thanks a lot, we really appreciate your support! It was a fun trip down memory lane and we’re looking forward to see what’s in store for the next two decades. Hopefully we’ll still be in touch for the anniversary of 40 years of Trunkfunk!

20 Years of Trunkfunk ‘Vinyl Sampler – Part 1’ is out now on Trunkfunk Buy link