Thursday nights in NYC are the new Friday nights, apparently, and a recent one in late April at Greenpoint’s Good Room
made that patently clear. Norway’s oft-dubbbed “King of Cosmic Disco,” Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, weaved a sonic spell over the packed-out room, hordes of joyous Brooklynites sweating under the venue’s massive, radiant discoball. For over the decade, the Scandinavian maestro has been creating tracks that uniquely and expertly blur the lines between dance music and experimentation, unafraid to explore new musical frontiers while regularly producing irresistibly danceable results. We chatted with Lindstrøm to get some insight into his production process and news on his numerous, ecletic new projects.
Most of your collaborations have been with fellow Norwegians like Prins Thomas, Todd Terje, Christabelle, etc. Is that more of a by-product of proximity or do you feel more of a musical kinship with artists from Norway?
I guess it’s mainly because it’s easier to work with people from your own city, especially when we actually share a studio space as well … and, yes, I do think there’s a certain degree of musical kinship too.
Speaking of working with Norwegian artists, you just released a track with Maya Vik called “Y.M.D. (Young Michael Douglas).” How did that come about?
I asked Maya if she wanted to contribute to one of my tracks for a possible forthcoming album project, which she did. However, since the project that the track was gonna be a part of was heavily delayed, she asked me if she could release it herself. She’s responsible for the Michael Douglas lyrics — I usually never involve myself in lyrics. She’s awesome and knows a thing or two when it comes to stacking vocals. I also did a remix of this track; hopefully it will get a release soonish.
You also just released the “Home Tonight” single, which features vocals by a non-Norwegian, Los Angeles’ Grace Hall. How did that collaboration come about?
I haven’t met her yet, but Tiffany from Rainbow Arabia hooked us up via email. The track was initially very different from the version that ended up as the single, for various reasons. However, the “original” track will probably get a release later.
The “Home Tonight” remixes are terrific as well. Does one stand out as a favorite?
All the remixes are good, but I have a soft spot for Fort Romeau. His music is awesome, and he’s a great guy as well!
“I Feel Space” has definitely secured its spot as a classic dance music track. Have you ever felt any pressure to recreate its success in your songwriting process?
It’s been more than 10 years since the making of and release of “I Feel Space.” Even though I guess the track got some attention when it came out, I didn’t really notice until it was over. (laughs) I don’t feel any pressure at all. I’m still happy with the track, but there are tracks I wrote later that I believe are equally good.
Along those lines, does seeing how fast Todd Terje’s profile has risen over the last few years scare you a bit or does it give you something to strive for? Is commercial success important to you?
I’m really happy for what Todd Terje has achieved the last couple of years, and ever since I met him more than 10 years ago, I’ve been inspired by his music. I guess commercial success can be a good thing, at least economically. However, it’s more important for me to be able to do whatever I feel like doing. As long as nobody is pushing me to do something I don’t really want to do, I’m happy.
You actually have an indie rock background. What was the turning point for you where you decided to focus on making dance music? Do you ever feel a pull to return to a more rock direction?
I spent a lot of time making music on a Roland D-10 digital synth and a cheap simple Alesis sequencer in the late ’80s. However, since all my friends were playing in bands, I joined them, and traded my digital equipment for a Hammond organ and a Jupiter-4. Being in a band was great, but a lot of compromises; being alone with a synth and a sequencer was much easier in many ways. Ten years later, in the late ’90s, I got a sampler and a cheap computer and started making electronic music again. I really enjoy being able to work alone, which probably hails back to those early years. Working with other people is great, but I always end up preferring to work on my own. I don’t have any plans for doing more rock-oriented music.
Experimentation seems to be a huge element of the creative process for you. How would you sum up your approach to making music?
Music [for me] has always been about having fun. The transition from doing music as a passionate non-profit hobby to a full-time work isn’t necessarily an easy one. There’s a fine line between the work part of it and the fun part. I’ve always been most interested in the music, which is the fun part for me, and it’s usually about trying out things, experimentation, pushing limits, and so on. Not always for the good, but that’s the only way for me to still being able to enjoy my life in the music business. There are a lot of interesting aspects of the music business, but I’m in it for the music itself.
Are there any artists you’re particularly excited about at the moment?
Every time I pass the door of my studio neighbor Andre Bratten, I stop and listen to whatever music he’s currently working on… and it always sounds amazing!
We’ve heard about your new Runddans project, but it’s still a bit mysterious. What can you tell us about it, and how is Erol Alkan involved?
Well, it’s been my main occupation for the last three years, and it might be one of the things that I’ve been involved with that I’m most happy with… ever! In short: Todd Rundgren, Emil Nikolaisen, and myself got a chance to work together while Todd was in town. We spent two days recording, then three years of editing. (laughs
) Erol Alkan made an amazing remix! [Learn more about Runddans in this short video interview with Lindstrom
What’s next for you musically? Is a new album in the works?
I recently decided to finish the album I’ve been working on for almost three years… but I’m always changing my plans.
As of now, this week’s NYC date is the only American stop on your tour schedule. Does NYC hold a special place in your heart in terms of touring in the U.S.?
I love NYC, especially after deciding to stay in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan. There’s always been a lot of support from NYC since I first played there 10 years ago, and I’m always looking forward to coming back!
Finally, tell us something your fans would be surprised to know about you.
I love Tracey Ullman!