Now I’m in a place,” says Rene ‘Noir’ Kristensen, “where I want to make club music again”. That place is built on the sense of achievement and pride that came with the release of his brilliant self titled debut artist album in March 2015. Producing it involved Noir ‘locking himself up in the studio to get what was inside of him out of my system’ he says, and this process also involved reconnecting with those artists that have been written into his DNA throughout his life.
At 7 years old, when his schoolclass was asked to bring in a tape of their favourite music, René first demonstrated his gift for the unexpected. “All the other kids were bringing in children’s music,” he remembers, “I played Kraftwerk!” At age 10-12 he was listening to UK radio stations playing the first wave of acid house, and by 13, like so many European teens, he was a Depeche Mode diehard. A gifted teenage football player, he had offers from some big local teams, but says he “knew really early that he wanted to create music and express himself.” It was a club called Rendez Vous that gave him his chance aged 17. “I told the owner that I would only do it if I could buy all the music for the club and decide the music style.” Soon he was playing three nights a week. As the upper floor DJ, playing “50% house, 50% R&B and hip hop” to the notoriously late arriving, early leaving Danish club crowd. Listen to the album and you can hear echoes of all these influences, from Dave Gahan and co. to Timbaland.
One of the planet’s most in demand house DJs and the man behind a hugely successful and pioneering label, Noir is also responsible for one of the decade’s biggest house tracks so far, 2011’s global club smash ‘Around’. The track, a sexy, synthesizer-tinted groove featuring vocalist Hayze, was by far the biggest of Noir’s career to date. It dominated dancefloors across the world for nearly 18 months - and didn’t just catapult Noir to the front rank of producers and DJs but Solomun (whose subtle, sexy remix became the definitive version) as well.
The pressures of Rendez Vous forged a philosophy of DJing that remains to this day: a passion for new music, this wish to give the crowd something unique every time, has never left him: eight out of ten tracks you hear Noir play in any club now has been re-edited by him to fit his sets perfectly.
A trip to Ibiza in 2004 led to Noir’s first big international tune. Inspired by Nic Fancuilli’s Skylark bootleg of Tears For Fears, and a snatch of a Dire Straits song he heard from a passing car’s stereo on his return home, he constructed the cheeky, ‘Money For Nothing’ sampling ‘My MTV’. It finally came out on Toolroom in March 2006 (by then parts and vocals had been re-recorded), and its success, coupled with that of 2005’s polemic, “All About House Music” gave Noir (“I was looking for melancholic DJ names and DJ Dark or Black sounded really bad! My girlfriend (at the time) suggested I look for something French like my birthname René) exposure outside Denmark and the confidence to strike out on his own. Giving up his day job at a friend’s gym (“I had convinced them to put a DJ booth in there!”) in 2007 he set up his own label, Noir Music. In 2009 Pirupa & Pigi’s ‘Sweet Devil’, became Noir Music’s first Beatport number one. Since then the label has combined acclaim from DJs and critics (it’s currently the eighth ‘most charted’ label of all time on Resident Advisor) with commercial success; over 180 releases to date (including on sub labels NM2 and Klimaks Records) have garnered too many Beatport top ten hits to count, while the ‘Use Your Ears’ compilation series has consistently showcased the label as one of the best and freshest in house music.
Indeed while Noir maintains that ‘the real kick’ for him is still DJing, thanks to his label, he’s almost as well known for his skills as an A&R / house music tastemaker as he is producer and DJ, with Noir signing for the label the first big records by Hot Since 82, Larse, Kevin Over, Ten Ven, Olivier Giacomotto and Finnebassen. This pioneering, instinctive trait of ‘A&R ing with your ears , not your eyes’ continues to define the label ethos and Rene is as excited by the likes of Olivier Giacomoto today as he was by a certain Daley Padley back in 2012.
Complimenting the A&R function is his much feted and incredibly popular Noir Recommends podcast which after a brief hiatus, is now set to resume it’s mission of bringing to the world Noir’s singular take on underground dance music.
And now with the album out of his system, Noir is targeting the dancefloor yet again. “The festival season started for me with DGTL in Amsterdam, playing the closing set. It was packed with lots of friends, aeveryone was so happy and overwhelmed; it felt like… I’m back.” With a string of festival headline sets and 14 different gigs in Ibiza this season behind him he is looking forward to a string of releases on both his own imprints and, for the first time in years, on a bunch of third party labels he has admired over the years.
“This autumn/winter I have releases on Saved, Material and Get Physical as well as my good friend Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep In Sound, which I am very excited about ! I am also re launching NM2 for more melodic experimental and instrumental tracks and kicking things off with my own Lumiere EP in October”
And finally putting a cap on what has been a groundbreaking year for the Danish dynamo, has been the launch of his own event brand, Noir Presents Dark Stars, at this years ADE
“Dark Stars is a natural evolution from my Noir Music Showcase parties over the last few years, but with a more conceptual feel and image. I fell in love with the idea of both the crowd and the DJ’s who play the parties being the ‘Dark Stars’ for the night. You need a great DJ and a great crowd to make a great party and I wanted to celebrate both”