They’re the hottest electronic duo out of the UK and have worked with artists including Little Mix, Olly Murs, Machine Gun Kelly, Hailee Steinfeld, The Wanted, Cheryl Cole, and Fifth Harmony. Meet Electric, the record producing duo—Edvard Forre Erfjord and Henrik Michelsen. We spoke with Erfjord, who has embarked on a solo career and is making headlines of his own, holding over 76 music credits.
As for Erfjord, whose journey started in his hometown of Stavanger, Norway, there was a good scene which allowed him to begin his musical career playing in punk and metal bands. “My first instrument was a guitar, but soon after, I started playing drums, bass, and keys,” he shared with us.
It wasn’t until he moved to Liverpool in 2007 that his life changed, where Erfjord hoped to build a network and fast. And it all began at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, a school co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney, where the two electronic songwriters found one another.
“What’s really great about the school is that it also offers a management course, so you meet people who later started working with music labels as well as publishing and music management,” Erfjord explained.
Recognizing that “overnight success” is hardly a reality, Erfjord was able to acquire a student loan, which according to him, “…buys you some time to get your stuff together, since it’s hard to start making money on music straight away.”
Yet, everything changed for Erfjord when he met his band-mate Michelsen,
“We shared a flat together while we went to school and started working very organically, as we both had a small studio setup in our bedrooms.”
Little do fans know that the first production venture the duo worked on together, was a pop punk band from Wigan, outside of Manchester.
“We did not have that many writing sessions with other people in the beginning,” Erfjord recalled. “It was more experimentation with different sounds and genres. It was a lot of guitar-based stuff from the start, and more rocky stuff.”
Electricity Begins to Flow
For Erfjord, who built his career playing in punk and metal bands, was accustomed to playing the guitar as his main instrument. It was for this reason that Erfjord became excited about transitioning into the electronic dance music scene.
“…it felt very cool to be able to use synthesizers and programming more. It felt very exotic being able to use other instruments than a guitar, bass, and drums.”
When Erfjord and Michelsen signed their first publishing deal, they were eating at a restaurant in London called ‘Electric.’
“Our publisher came up with the idea for our band name,” he explained. “I thought it was a good name…Electric. It was very simple and not something you would get tired of hearing after a month!”
Over the past few years, Erfjord made his way to the top of the UK’s music chart surrounding Electric’s work with Little Mix, who since winning the eighth season of The X Factor UK, have gone on to release four top 10 platinum certified studio albums, one of which being No. 1 and four UK No. 1 singles and have become one of the most successful girl groups this century. The four-piece girl group, who includes Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, looks to artists like the Spice Girls, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Destiny’s Child, Nicki Minaj, TLC, Christina Aguilera, and Rihanna for guidance into today’s music industry.
But Not Without a Bit of Darkness
The UK dance music industry, according to Erfjord, tends to be a bit darker and more moody sounding. “There are so many different sub-genres today, so it’s hard to trace where the different genres and styles were born.”
With bands like Depeche Mode and New Order, the UK has seen a huge spark in the industry, both sonically and melodically. “And Prodigy of course, they have been very influential to the UK’s electronic music scene. I remember listening to their albums as a kid; I had never heard anything like it before.”
But success was not an overnight experience for the duo. There are always obstacles to overcome.
“Starting out in Liverpool was tricky. There were not many people to do sessions with, so we would have to go to London to work with other writers and artists. We didn’t have a publishing deal at the time, and weren’t sure how to go about obtaining one. Everyone told us it was important to get a publishing deal, to get the ball rolling. But how do you get one? It was very cryptic to me. I remember Googling ‘how to get a publishing deal’ a week or two before we actually received our first offer. So, things started happening after we signed with San Remo/Kobalt.
For the duo, having had three number one spots on the UK music charts was one of their biggest accomplishments. “That’s something I’m very proud of. And winning a Brit Award for the best single. You never know if that is going to happen again, so it’s very cool to have experienced that!”
Yet, life in the industry for writers, producers, and artists over the past six months has been a whirlwind that nobody expected. How Electric has responded and adapted to production life during COVID-19 has certainly impacted them in ways they didn’t initially expect.
“It’s actually been working very well conducting writing sessions over Skype and Zoom, so I think we will definitely be doing more of that in the future. Obviously, it’s better to be in the room with people, but it has been much better than expected. It changes the process a bit, as we’re sending stuff back and forth. A lot of top-liners have a setup for recording vocals at home, so it’s very convenient.”
But what does Erfjord believe to be a key takeaway from the past six months of the global coronavirus pandemic? Flexibility.
“I think the quarantine has hopefully helped producers experiment more with their sound, as you have more time to make tracks.”
Electronic Music Will Always Transcend
As the EDM space continues to evolve and expand, it’s hard to separate out truly unique, quality sounds from the mainstream sound we all hear on the radio and at clubs.
For producers like Erfjord, one outcome that he would like to see come to fruition, is proper accreditation for their work. “I think that in the EDM/dance world, it happens that some producers are not credited fairly and/or correctly. There are sometimes ghost producers and co-producers involved, who do not get a fair credit for their work. I feel like this is something that might get better with time, and I feel like it’s a very good thing that Spotify shows the song credits. It’s easy to see who wrote and produced the songs.”
As for network building, Erfjord’s web of contacts today have roots back in Liverpool’s institute. “I know a lot of people in the industry today that I went to school with, so it’s cool to see that people continue to work with music afterwards.”