Interview : Lindstrom

25 Jan

Working the nine-to-five grind may not be glamourous for most people, but for Oslo-based producer/DJ Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, those hours spent in studio have afforded him international prestige for his brand of modern space disco. And if his past releases haven’t cemented his status, his just-released album on his own Feedelity Recordings, “Real Life is No Cool” in collaboration with Norwegian singer Christabelle (a.k.a. Solale a.k.a. Isabelle Sandoo) certainly will crown him disco king.

Okay, so he doesn’t frequent clubs, he doesn’t consider himself to make ‘dance’ music anymore, and he grew up on everything but disco music. It doesn’t discount the facts that he’s made dozens of dope remixes (ranging from LCD Soundsystem to Franz Ferdinand), he believes that his music is best for listening to and not aimlessly bopping around, and in 2008 he won the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy, a Spellemannsprisen, for his album “Where You Go, I Go Too.”

But now, it’s a new decade, and Lindstrøm is making a new kind of disco with help from Christabelle’s night-woven vocals. Lindstrøm met Christabelle in 2001 when he was sharing studio space with her brother, drummer/producer/DJ Dennis Jr. After Dennis Jr. played one of his sister’s tracks, Lindstrom immediately asked if she would be up for collaborating, and she must have said yes because they’ve been writing and recording sporadically ever since.

The duo had always envisioned completing a full-length album together, but Lindstrøm had more remixes, a couple albums with Norwegian producer Prins Thomas, and travelling to do before he could devote himself to a pop-driven full-length laden with her lyrics and dreamy voice.

Their two previously released songs, “Music in My Mind” and “Let’s Practice” are both featured in “Real Life is No Cool.” The album title comes from Christabelle’s lyrics for the song “Keep It Up.” Lindstrøm admits that he just happens to like how the words look and sound, and that Christabelle has more of an explanation of its significance.

When it came time for Lindstrøm to get the 10-track album together, he used a lot of her old recordings from when they first met and went from there. Other times the songs came as a result of their jam sessions. He admits he spent more time “patching the songs together” (i.e. recording, arranging, producing, and mixing) than writing them.

“I guess I’ve taken on a remix-approach on many of the tracks, more than actually writing the songs together. It’s a very interesting way of working,” said Lindstrøm.

“Many times when I sit down trying to write a song from scratch, it sounds like crap, but when using already existing material, it’s sometimes easier to get started.”

All of the album’s songs are recorded in English because Lindstrøm believes not only that English is the universal language of music, but also that it fits better with his sound than Norwegian. Because English was not his first language, he finds it easier to treat it as an instrument of its own. 

“Even though I know how to play the piano in any given situation, many times I’ve experienced that people who don’t know how to play piano come up with a much more interesting result than myself. Just because they do it wrong, it sounds fresh and ‘right.’ It’s the same thing with lyrics, and also accents…

I’m aware that the title of our album is wrong, and that Christabelle’s words sometimes are weird, but that’s how I want it. If everything is right, it becomes wrong sometimes. Hm… enough clichés for now!” said Lindstrøm.

Lindstrøm and Christabelle haven’t made any set plans to tour North America yet, but when they do, it will be sometime after this summer. However, he’s still unsure as to what the appeal of his Euro-disco sound is on this side of the pond.

“Maybe our music sounds a little weird? European disco can sometimes be more interesting than the traditional disco that you guys once invented. At least that’s how I see it from my point of view,” he said.

Lindstrøm’s not exactly one for extensive touring. He does not enjoy travelling because he believes there’s too much waiting and time-wasting in airports and hotel rooms. This is all lost time, he believes, that would have been better spent in the studio or being an attentive family man.

Lindstrøm’s goal is to be less laptop-oriented during his shows than he usually is, and instead include more instruments. He’s never been to Toronto, but he thinks it “sounds like a cool city,” and might even include a stop in the Canadian city more known for its indie-rock than its (lack of) discothèques. But that doesn’t mean Canada was never a hub for proper, Lindstrøm -approved disco. In fact, he’s been listening to a lot of Montreal-born ‘70s singer Gino Vannelli.

“There’s a fantastic clip on YouTube when he performs this track in a white suit sometimes in the late 70’s. Unbelievably good!” recommends Lindstrøm.

It’s been a crazy ride for a guy who left his native town of Stavanger in the late ‘90s to study romantic literature at the University of Oslo, and in the same blow, opted to retire from music for good; trading in his instruments for works by Schelling, Schiller, Hegel, Novalis, and Hoelderlin.

But there was no escaping the music; whether it be through the classical piano he was raised on, the Deep Purple tribute group he grooved in, or the eight-track recorder he invested in, he couldn’t forego his calling. He lost interest in reading, and after four years, he quit university with no regrets and became a DJ.

Eight years after he started Feedelity Recordings, he says that as long as he can self-release his music without taking orders from anyone, he’s a happy artist. In fact, he recommends other artists represent themselves through their own labels as well because they can own the rights to their music and they don’t have to compromise their integrity in any way. 

However, Lindstrøm knows that running a label is not for everybody; what with all of the paperwork, accounting, and office hours, but he finds it especially worthwhile when he sees people buying digital copies of his first 12’’ on iTunes, one decade after it was released on vinyl.

“Time will tell how long I’m able to do this. Hopefully I won’t end up doing music for commercials…”

But no matter how things go for Lindstrøm, don’t expect him to retire from the music business before releasing an album with his own vocals, a feat that he has avoided to this day. He almost made the “Real Life is No Cool” track “High and Low” a duet between him and Christabelle, but ultimately “chickened out.”

But what did he not chicken out on? Having the best signature in the history of e-mail correspondence: ;-D hp

Posted by : Melissa Kim

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