:: BIOGRAPHY Supreme A&R; and boss of Tellé records and sislabels.

"...there are times when the Phantom leaves his jungle home and travels as an ordinary man...."

Who is the mystery man who’s almost solely responsible for turning Bergen into somewhat of an electronic music factory? Who made the world aware of bands like Röyksopp, Kings Of Convenience, Ralph Myerz And The Jack Herren Band and Annie? And does he DJ?

There are rumours about his penchant for hooded sweaters. About his mad skateboarding skills. His nose for talent. His enormous sideburns, each the size of Greater Punjab Province. There are tales of him darting from club to club in the damp nights of western Norway, cleverly camouflaged in casual street wear, forever searching for the next big act, himself in turn hunted by the A&R execs of the major labels.

There is some truth to each of these stories. Except the one about the sideburns, they’re really not that big. Mikal does have a nose for talent. And he does have an intimate knowledge of the club scene in Norway. Compared to most regular punters, however, Mikal entertains a very clean-cut lifestyle. His only vice is his addiction to quality coke. No, not the flaky, white Peruvian substance. Rather the brownish bubbly stuff from Atlanta, Georgia. Served in a glass bottle, chilled.

Mikal has never been in it for the money. He came to dance. Or rather, to play records for other people so they could dance. For a while, he made a living selling records to his fellow DJs. He had fun arranging huge parties where he and his fellow DJs could play for hundreds of enthusiastic punters. And when an increasing number of his friends started producing music, Mikal decided someone ought to publish the music, so other DJs could play it, and even more people could dance and they could have huge parties with hundreds of crazy punters and go to bed the next morning exhausted and happy. That was it. Print a few hundred vinyl copies of each record, and move on to the next one.

The plan was not to become a huge success and the most talked-about independent record company in Norway, but on that account Mikal failed miserably. Getting rid of 500 copies of each release proved far too easy, and soon radio reporters and magazine journalists were circling the cramped offices of Tellé Records in Bergen like buzzards. The public demanded a CD compilation of Tellé’s artists. They got it, and more. And still they craved more from Tellé.

So did other record companies. Loaded signed Annie, Source signed Kings Of Convenience, Emperor Norton made friends with Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band, and Röyksopp started recording for Wall Of Sound. But Mikal had more tricks up his sleeve. He’s got a host of new artists, like Kaptein Kaliber, Skatebård and Kompis, and he now runs 5 labels: Tellé, Éllet, Telléktro, Primitive and Footnotes. The latter, incidentally, he runs in cooperation with Bjørn Torske, a Norwegian house music veteran who now records for Tellé.

There are times when Mikal leaves his cramped offices in Bergen and travels the world as a DJ. But don’t expect him to just bring a bag of records from the office regulars. Mikal’s taste is even more varied than what he showcases in his wade spectrum of labels. This is a man who used to run a punk record shop, who sold hardcore records when noone bought them, who booked hip-hop artists to house music events, who exported more Norwegian electronic artists last year than the Norwegian major labels have done ever. To say his taste and style is eclectic is like saying The North Sea is somewhat moist.

Mikal needs a change of scenery time and again, and through 2002 Mikal will be DJing frequently around Europe. Bringing Norwegian electronica and his wild eclecticism together in his own unique style. Buzzards of the record industry beware. The Norwegian Indie Record Phantom is here.

(words by lars ursin)


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