Photo by Michael Vienø
This is Aarhus based Code Elektro, the moniker of Martin Ahm. By daytime one of Denmark’s modern madmen, working with music for commercials with clients such as MTV, Fanta, BMW, and many others – and has been doing that for 10 years. But when darkness falls and the night comes closer, Martin becomes Code Elektro, a Danish electro artist formed in 2012.
His music is characterized by synth (both analog and digital) and sounds like something from Blade Runner, The Matrix and TRON. His visuals are a chapter for itself. What might look like something from a Daft Punk documentary is in fact Martin’s amazing music video – Especially check out the video for ‘Cyber Dreams’ below.
In 2015, he released his debut album ‘Superstrings’ via Iceberg Records, which you can find on Spotify. To learn more about, why a modern advertiser decides to create electronic vibes at night, we sat down for a chat with Martin, and Code Elektro.
Hi Martin. First of all, can you tell our readers a little more about the Code Elektro project?
Hi, in short Code Elektro is an electronic band where I am the only member. In March 2015 I released my first album, Superstrings, on vinyl, download and stream.
The style is a mixture of electronica and 80s synth-wave with a modern dark twist. A few quick references would be a mix of Daft Punk (TRON:Legacy), Vangelis and John Carpenter.
Your musical style is very different from others, often described from references in the film world, particularly related to sci-fi. Why did you choose to twist your music in that direction?
The short version is that I am a huge sci-fi fan!
There is some kind of synergy between electronic music and sci-fi movies that I think is interesting to dive into. In addition, sci-fi is often my way to get to a certain mood that can help me make music.
As a small guide to our readers, can you describe the ideal situation or atmosphere in which you intended your music to be heard in?
It’s really up to the listener. I have tried to create some sonic images – and if it can create some images in the listener’s head that would be really cool.
Several video game designers have told me that Code Elektro is great as background music when they sit and write code. There are even a few cartoonists and illustrators who made drawings inspired of the music … and that is super cool I think!
On a more personal level, you’ve worked for many years with music for commercials for major international client. While you’ve been focused expressing a specific visual product or brand when working with some major clients, why suddenly take the step to publishing artist?
On a creative level it was important for me to create something new – and completely of my own. To create something where I am the only one in charge. No compromises because of target groups, strategies and stuff. I want music for the sake of music, so to speak.
I’m a strong believer of breaking out of your comfort zone once in a while – On a personal level, as well as on an artistic level. That’s where the really exciting things often happen. So I decided to release my own album.
You don’t use any vocals in your music. Is there a conscious message or idea to leave behind this choice?
I think that instrumental music offers other possibilities than music with vocals – but at the same time it requires much more of composition and sound design to keep it interesting. That’s the challenge. That said, there is the obvious reason. I may not be the most trained singer, but it may come at another time. Who knows?
When I listen to your tracks they quickly guide my thoughts to the intro music for some of the legendary computer games, or some of the old sci-fi movies. If your music were to be characterized by one appropriate film, which movie would it be?
Thank you very much! It is also usually the foundation of my inspiration, so I’m glad you can hear that.
All the great sci-fi movies and computer games have already been made and they would not be the same without their original soundtracks. But I often find inspiration in movies like Blade Runner, TRON, Escape from New York, etc. In addition, artists such as Moebius / Jodorowsky are also a huge inspiration.
The music has roots in the golden age of synthesizers – but I also try to create something new with my own approach and modern elements. I don’t want to repeat a genre as a concept. The music has to say something new and unique. I hope that people will be able to hear that.
How did it go so far with the release of your debut album?
It has really surpassed all expectations in the most positive way. Especially when you consider that it is a niche album and a relatively small market. I’m sending the vinyl out to fans all over the world – particularly UK and USA. And of course the new music video also helped. (See it below)
Last but not least. If you should give one advice to other new musicians, what is Code Elektro’s advice?
I have two things. First of all: You will have to be emotionally invest in whatever you are doing – otherwise it will be too much of a struggle. Secondly: Sit down and start writing the music – do not just talk about it.