Martin Stääf— or as many of us know him, Liquid Stranger–has been making music for much longer than I have been alive. In fact, he has been making music for the better part of my parent’s lives’. He started playing piano at the age of four and did classical piano concerts until he traded in his piano for a synthesizer at around the age of seven. He spent the next decade of his life exploring, learning, and developing his sound in the electronic music realm. He never thought about releasing his own music until he hit 17 and all of a sudden realized it was time to get a job and decided there was nothing else he wanted to do at the time than make music. He got a job at Bohus Sound Recordings engineering and producing for various jazz and rock bands, having shaped many tracks outside of his known monikers.
This week’s Man Crush Monday is going to be a little bit different. I feel that to give Liquid Stranger a proper introduction, I will need to take you on a journey through his past alias’ and projects. I wish that I could say that all of these could be found on a streaming platform of choice, but the truth is some of these projects never existed in digital format and still don’t. I have done my best to bring you collections of his past projects in one way or another, although some tracks may be missing. It would be hard to pin these all down on a timeline as a lot of these projects co-existed. Martin never confined himself to one genre and has delved into a variety of sounds flawlessly. So, without further adieu, I bring you Necton.
Necton was formed in 1997 with Patrik Olsén. They mainly focused on Progressive and Psychedelic Tech-Trance. As a duo, they toured extensively around the world from 1997-2003. Together they made two full albums, “B12 Cocktail” and “Children Of The Noizy Village”, and six vinyl EP’s, “Goldflake”, “Rumpfunk”, “Beethoven / Slowmotion”, “Stahlwerk / Bob On Acid”, “Mindboggler”, and “Boilin’ I-Balls”. Martin stayed with Patrick until about 2005 when he left to give Liquid Stranger his full attention.
Rhoca is Martin’s Break Beat project. He played the same stage as the labelhead of Sound of Habib, Johan Soh. He liked Johan’s sound and had a track he thought would be perfect for his sets. Johan signed the song instantly and requested a song to go on the B-side of the record. Just like that, in 2001 Rhoca’s first release “Venom Strikes Back” was produced and released on 12” vinyl. Leaving Rhoca for the same reasons as Necton, Martin parted ways with the project to pursue Liquid Stranger.
Slugger was a very short-lived Goa Trance project. Having few known releases close to the time he parted ways with all of his running monikers, the project’s lifespan makes sense. There may or may not be more releases under this project, though I scoured the internet to collect these.
Bloatsucher is an IDM project that started putting out music at the same time as Rhoca and Slugger. Though unlike the other projects, Bloatsucher put out music after Martin dedicated himself to Liquid Stranger in 2006. He was featured under this moniker on two compilations made by DJ Antaro, Spirit Zone Records label head. The project he did put out under Bloatsucher is called “The Discipline Of Fibers”, which if you google brings up this whimsical blog post about the project.
Hectopascal is a duo Martin created with him brother Jens who goes under the moniker Dorothy’s Magic Bag. They created an intricate and detailed range of electronica grooves, spanning from melodic eletronica to more beat-driven, aggressive IDM. The project started, and like most of his other aliases, ended around the time he decided to devote himself to Liquid Stranger.
Then came the alias that we all know and love, Liquid Stranger. Martin started Liquid Stranger simply to have one alias that would encompass all of his musical output. Liquid in the sense of being formless and adaptive. Stranger in the sense of being different and unpredictable. The words together celebrate the journey into the unknown, much like releases to follow the conception of the name. He has journeyed through Ambient, Downtempo, Dubstep, Drum and Bass, and the list goes on. Living up to his new name and expansive past, there are no confines to what he will make next.
Having an unpredictable sound made it hard for Martin to make his music appeal to a lot of labels. He refused to compromise his artistic integrity so in 2015 he created a label where he has the creative freedom to put out whatever he wanted, Wakaan. Coming to a position where he could help producers who were also seeking creative freedom, he didn’t go looking for artists to sign. He set out to build meaningful relationships with other talented, driven, and pure-hearted producers to support them. In an industry that is ever-growing in so many different ways, he felt that human connection and the family vibe were missing from music. So, he made a place where friendship and business meet to foster that absence.
This year at the first Wakaan Music Festival, Martin announced the new downtempo record label he is starting called Sskwan. He went on to explain that Wakaan is Native American for Grandmother Earth, for the female essence of god. Sskwan is our heavenly father, the male essence of god. When the two components are brought together, he feels like he has something pretty unified.
Whatever will come of Sskwan partnered with Wakaan is sure to be the thing we expect the least. What I do know is that it will be pure, magical, weird, down, and dirty much like the man who started it all himself.
*Featured image via Tessa Paisan*