Little White Earbuds Interviews Lindstrøm


Lindstrøm performing live @ Smart Bar. Photo by John Bergman

When Hans-Peter Lindstrøm abdicated the cosmic disco throne a couple years ago, his admirers (including myself) wondered where the Norwegian producer’s sound would end up. Lindstrøm documented his sonic travels and brought listeners along for his second album, Where You Go I Go To. Knowing that he wouldn’t stay in one aural place for long, I asked where he was going next when he stopped in Chicago for a show. Lindstrøm filled me in about what it was like to win a Norwegian Grammy, his collaboration with Solale, and the future of his sound. (Interview by Steve Mizek)

Your album Where You Go I Go Too had a long format with three longer tracks, and I was wondering if you expected a long format album like that to win a Norwegian Grammy [Spellemannsprisen]?

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm: (laughs) Well, not really. I was working on this long track because prior to that I did an album with shorter tracks, like vocal tracks.

With Solale?

Lindstrom: Yeah. I was going to finish it, and then I was just, I was out of ideas how to do it and I just needed to do something else. I figured out that I needed to do something really long and build it slowly up and down. And then I played it to the guy from Smalltown Supersound, which is the label I work together with, and was like, ‘This is best track you’ve ever written and this should be your album.’ I was kind of talked into… he inspired me to do a few more tracks and then release it. The Norwegian Grammies, it’s like, there’s not that many electronic albums coming from Norway.

Once you saw you were nominated, did you think you had a chance to win? What was your competition like?

It was… have you heard of Skatebård? His album is called Cosmos. There was another one. Yeah, Mental Overdrive, he’s like like the techno grand daddy of Norway. But I wasn’t even there, I was in Berlin playing. And that happened, I’ve actually won [the Grammy] twice, I won it for [A Feedelity Affair]. But the night when the awards were happening I was going to be in Italy, so I’ve never actually received the prize [in person] — I always receive it two weeks after. It’s nice! (laughs)

Do you care about awards? Does they matter to you?

Outside of Norway it doesn’t mean much, because I guess nobody cares. I guess a Grammy means more internationally, like for an American artist or British artist, it would really… move your CD. I don’t really think we’ll promote the album as, ‘This is a Grammy winner.’ But in Norway I think it means something, especially because my music is not mainstream stuff and maybe 300 more people will buy the CD. (laughs)

With the long format, is that something you’re going to pursue further?

I don’t think think I’m going to do 40 minute tracks, but I don’t mind doing longer tracks. I think it’s a good combination, doing some longer tracks, some shorter tracks. It’s nice just to do something else; I’m always trying to do something different from what I did before.

Do you still disco? I got somewhat of an answer by seeing your live show, but I ask because so much of your music before Where You Go was dance floor-oriented. Are planning to write more singles or are you still concentrating on albums?

I think this year I’ll have a single out with two tracks I’ve been saving for a potential album, but I don’t think I’m going to use it for the album, so I just put it out on single. Some leftover stuff (laughs) from three years ago. I really enjoy working on albums because, I don’t know, doing a single is just like, you need actually just one good track and then maybe an instrumental on the B side. And then it’s done and you start on something else. It’s kind of nice to have a bigger perspective of what you’re working on.

Have you had a chance to work much with Solale or is that project pretty much done?

Yeah, it’s almost, almost done. It’s just a few tracks, mixing, and then it’s done. So it will probably be released… I don’t know, after summer sometime.

Is that going to be on your label, Feedelity? Or maybe Smalltown Supersound?

I guess it’s going to be on Feedelity. And Smalltown, they are distributing me and helping me. We thought about maybe trying something else, but these days it’s really hard. I feel almost secure when doing myself. Because, OK, I might not sell as many records as if I used a bigger indie or somebody else. It’s all a good feeling just to do it myself — I really like that.

I saw a video of you, Ane Brun and Thom Hell performing and recording Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” I was curious how that came about?

Well, that was also something that happened because I was nominated for the third best album on the national TV station in Norway. Both of them are guitar and piano kind of thing, and the TV station, they asked us to do something together. And was like, ‘I’m not going to pick up a guitar and just…” (laughs). So there was a suggestion, why don’t we just do a Christmas song and this Paul McCartney track came up and… I’m a big fan of Paul McCartney and maybe one of my favorite albums is the one this track is from; it think it was the single from the Paul McCartney II album, from 1980something, which lots of Paul McCartney fans really hate. Because he used lots of synthesizers and I think he played everything himself with lo-fi production. I think in the UK it’s one of the most famous Christmas songs.

Interesting; it’s definitely not as known here. Either way it was a lot of fun to watch and listen.

Yeah. I just replayed everything and they did the vocals.

Was Ane somewhere else when she was recording?

Yeah, she was in Sweden. I think she lives in Sweden. I’ve never actually met her.

I swear, I used to have the same sunglasses: Lindstrøm relaxes.

A friend and I were discussing your music and, after hearing part of your album, he was curious what your favorite Kraut rock album is?

I’m not really listening to a lot of… I think I was trying to get into all the stuff from Can a few years ago. I can’t say or think of any specific albums or names, but I think the only album I’ve really, really been listening to and it’s one of my top albums. And I’m not sure it’s really a Kraut rock album. It’s from 1980 and by the bassist from Can [Holger Czukay].

Oh, is it Movies?

Yeah! (laughs)

That’s cool, that’s one of his favorite albums from the period as well.

Really? (laughs)

Yeah, that’s a great record.

It is, but I think most of [Can’s] classic stuff is from the early 1970s.

I was curious if you thought at all about Manuel Gottsching’s E2-E4 album when you were writing Where You Go?

I didn’t, but I can understand why people… I haven’t really listened too much to that. I think maybe it gets too monotone, but it’s really good and I like it.

It is, it’s really a building block for what people would do with that sort of sound. What else do you have planned for 2009?

Me and [Prins] Thomas just finished our forthcoming follow up to the album we did in 2005. It’s going to be hopefully out in May or something.

Are you guys going to tour on that?

I don’t think so because we tour on our own both of us. I don’t think we’re going to do anything together. I’m not sure how we’re going to do it. It’s not very dancey material, it’s more… everything is played on just a drum kit, guitars and bass. It’s much more live, jam kind of– it’s not programmed. It’s more like loose, in a way.

Do you like having all these different outlets?

I do! It’s very important for me, because I really want to do so much at the same time. I think sometimes it’s just better to just focus on– do one project in a certain style and then something else. Working with Thomas and recording everything and writing with him is really good, but after we finish it’s good to just work alone or Isobele [Solale]. The album I’ve done with her is much more of three or four minute tracks with vocals and more compressed, get straight to the point. (laughs) After that I’m just dying to do something completely different.

It’s interesting that you describe your tracks with her as shorter, because, I guess I’m thinking of tracks you’ve done with her like “Let’s Practise” and “Let It Happen,” which were so much longer. Is that just how the project evolved?

I think, I didn’t want to make an 80 minute album. I think it’s like 48 minutes with 10 tracks. Some of the tracks are longer, a couple of the tracks are 3 minutes. I wanted it to be an easier, in a way, album to get into. Most of the tracks don’t have long intros but rather have long outros. I’m very used to making longer tracks with long intros and then it’s sometimes interesting what happens if I do it differently.

Do these tracks sound like something a DJ would want to play?

I really want to release the album as just a vinyl album, just one single record — five tracks on A, five tracks on the other side, which is not very DJ friendly. There’s going to be quite a few remixes from the album which is going to be the DJ food. The album is for the listener or whoever.

ballyhoo  on March 19, 2009 at 10:55 PM

for a moment, imagine a michael jackson and lindstrom collaboration……

sweeet.

derek_miller  on March 20, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Nice job with this interview, Steve. Bring on L&PT II says I!

Alex  on March 23, 2009 at 9:09 AM

that christmas song is wicked!

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