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A tribute to Else Marie Pade (1924-2016)

Dacapo Records, 2016

Techno granny

Else Marie Pade is known as the ‘grandmother of electronic music‘ in Denmark. She was an extraordinary figure: a sickly, protected child who became a resistance-fighter during the Nazi occupation of Denmark (1940-45) and a front-running pioneer of electronic music during her long lifetime. She died in early 2016 and this tribute CD was released on what would have been her 92nd birthday.

Writer and composer Henrik Marstal, was a friend of Else Marie and was greatly affected by her death. He decided to make a tribute to her by inviting 11 of Denmark’s leading electronic artists to remix her piece Etude from 1961. Each remix was to have the exact duration of the original work: ‘Hence the title of the album: EMP RMX 333, where EMP are her initials – or the abbreviation for the electromagnetic pulse; RMX are the three consonants in the word remix: and 333 is the number of seconds per track on the album – or the numerological figure for the union of mind, body and spirit that says we are all one, and that everything (including all sounds) runs in parallel.’

Henrik came to my studio to brief me on the release and I sat with a sheet of A4 paper and a ball-point pen, scribbling my usual rough notes as he told me about Else Marie Pade and ideas behind this CD.

At one point, I sat doodling and lined up the ciphers of the title into a square grid. ‘That’s it!’ said Henrik. I laughed…  it took me a while to realise that Henrik was serious and he actually meant that my scribble should be the artwork on the cover of the CD.

Every fibre of my designer’s body said ‘No way!’ – I couldn’t possibly allow something so raw to be the final design – a crazy idea! Henrik explained how fascinated he was by people’s first instincts and reactions and that the little sketch I had made was just perfect.

My strong resistance to the idea made me think that maybe Henrik had a point, why not let the rough sketch be the artwork? It would certainly make it the ‘easiest’ cover I ever made! I would embrace the awkwardness and self-consciousness I felt and go with his gut-feeling.

It turns out that Henrik is not only a fan of first-instincts but also of associations and coincidences. When the CD came back from the printers, we discovered a huge mistake: the inner pages of the booklet had been mistakenly replaced with those from a German, thrash-metal band – full of images of bullets, weapons and war-machines! Else Marie was trained in using weapons and explosives before she was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1944. It was while in prison that she had a revelation and began composing.

We enjoyed the strange booklet mistake – I think Else Marie would have smiled too.

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