The changing tides of European club culture have been considerably good to Norwegian progressive-house mogul Jonas Fehr (aka Fehrplay). Having taken the leap from his humble homeland and immersed himself in the like-minded stronghold of contemporary British club culture, his new base of London has provided the perfect creative garrison for his work. Renowned for his divine melodic compositions, Fehrplay is yet another success story to emerge from the ranks of Prydz’s European talent pool, with Pryda Friends debut “Incognito” setting the precedent for his hard-boiled progressive sounds.
With lineup spots at Creamfields and South West Four, and his debut Ibizan residency alongside Prydz himself, the young Norwegian has clearly spent countless nights perfecting his musical presence. To commemorate his third at-bat for Pryda Friends, Fehrplay sat down with Beatport News to discuss latest single, “I Can’t Stop It,” the journey from Scandinavia to London, and the over-reliance on genre boundaries.
Talk us through the circumstances that saw you move from Norway to Manchester and then settle in London. Has the city has offered you any considerable benefits as an artist?
I moved to Manchester to study music, but dropped out after the second year. Manchester was where I first got to experience the incredible UK club scene, and clubs like Sankey’s and The Warehouse Project blew me away. I then moved back to Norway, but quickly realized that the UK was the place to be. I decided I wanted to move to London, where I live now. I love the vibe and the range of music and events that are on constantly. There is always something happening here, not to mention like-minded people are everywhere.
Your sound has proven a significantly differentiating factor within your artistic rise. Tell us about how you have shaped and developed your sound over the years.
The sound has quite simply matured as time has passed. My ear and musical taste is always maturing and broadening, so it’s only natural for my sound to catch up with it. I like to take elements of what is happening around me in the different scenes and make something that doesn’t necessarily fit into exactly what is going on at that time in the popular spectrum. “Nightride,” for example, has influences from the deep-house movement, which is huge right now, yet it also carries that element of the hallmarked Pryda sound. When I play live I am very conscious of pushing different records, both old and new, and it appears to be working well within that scene. I genuinely believe that people want to hear something different when they are out, not just the hot tracks of that particular time. You can play big and accessible music without being cheesy. It is that freedom that allows me to drop deep house, progressive, tech house, and techno and everything in between.
As an artist often associated with progressive house, how important do you feel that genre boundaries are to both the industry and fans alike, and are these musical boxes still a complete necessity given the unlimited potential of electronic music?
I may have just made this word up, but it sounds good: The “genrefication” of everything is getting out of hand. Let’s just have great new music! That being said, most what is in the genre-specific chart these days isn’t really what I would personally consider to be progressive. It is very “wham bam thank you ma’am” and quite hard and aggressive—everything that progressive isn’t to me, so I guess there is some room for change. But ultimately, regardless of genre, I am going to make music that moves me and hopefully it will move the crowd too.
The support of Eric Prydz can’t have hurt your forward motions. How did you first come to be involved with the master of Pryda Friends, and what have you taken from the relationship that both of you have built within this time?
Eric has always been a big influence, and working with someone that I have respected for so many years is nothing but a huge honor. We talk a lot and he’s on hand to offer guidance whenever I need it but he gives me the space to grow as an artist in my own right, and for that I’m massively thankful. There is no pressure from him to make a certain type of track or play a certain way. In that sense the relationship is very liberating.
“I Can’t Stop It” has already added some considerable momentum to your name. How did the track come about, and did you feel any pressure in following up on your previous Pryda releases?
For this track I wanted to create a big, euphoric-sounding track which wasn’t as obvious as some of the other records out there, but that was still catchy and appealing to the masses. We had huge love on “Nightride,” but I wanted to come back with something different and “I Can’t Stop It” felt like the right record. We’ve got some great new material that leans more towards the sound “Nightride” pursued.
Likewise, your recently previewed track “Phantom” looks to build on this positivity with a somewhat more melodic approach. Tell us about the track?
“Phantom” is an older track that I decided to freshen up recently. I’ve been playing it out and it’s great to see that even though it’s not been released yet, it is gaining considerable interest outside the club. I decided to feature it on Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy radio show and the feedback has been immense, so maybe a release is in order.
Given the significant travel and experiences you’ve had to date, do you see the modern industry as a positive one to be operating within?
I think the overall scene is very healthy. The new wave of underground producers is really great to see and the music coming out is fantastic. Now it is time for things to open back up and for a new movement in underground music to emerge. I think people are getting bored with the super-commercial sound and want something with more substance. I think that is showing in the clubs all around the world and in the charts.
Did you find the initial leap into electronic music a particularly challenging one?
Getting noticed is a lot harder these days; there is so much music and so many acts competing for attention. I think quality always shines through, but at times it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I was lucky that Eric picked up that demo and listened to it—that moment changed my life, without a doubt.
What can we expect from you for 2013, and how is the road to Miami is looking for you?
I’ve got loads of new productions coming as well as tracks working with some very talented singers. It ranges from deep, dark vocal house to uplifting progressive records. I’m working on a very special collaborationm too, but that’s all I can say at the moment.