A cult figure of contemporary dance music, the zeitgeisty music media’s descriptions of Hans-Peter Lindstrøm range from «Norway’s new posterboy» to «reclusive auteur». For years every new single from his hand has been the cause of much anticipation and subsequent dance floor bliss, and his name has become synonymous with suave, citric-fresh feel good. His latest album Where you go I go too reaped unanimous acclaim from the international horde of aficionado critics. He is also one of the most sought-after remixers around. Despite his success he is still very modest and down-to-earth about it all and happy to talk to MIC about his upcoming release (with Prins Thomas), his label Feedelity and the years ahead.
|Listen to and download Lindstrøm releases here|
-I really recommend starting your own label, says Lindstrøm. It is a great learning process and a lot of fun.
Hans-Peter should know what he is talking about. In 2003 he set up the now almost mythical Feedelity label to release his own records. And last year he started a new one, Strømland, together with Joakim Haugland of Smalltown Supersound.
You set up Feedelity before your music started making its true impact. Why was it necessary to start your own label?
-It was not a matter of necessity; it was the other way around really, says Lindstrøm. My first couple of singles were released on the Jazid label, but I was pretty close to the process and I just figured that there was no mystery to it, so I might as well do it myself. I had a little money so I could afford pressing a few hundred vinyl copies of the first singles. Looking back, I think of it as a romantic period. I probably gave away about half of the copies, but then suddenly a Japanese store wanted 200 copies, which amounted to the other half, and I was just ecstatic. It was like Christmas and New years-eve all in one.
And for a long time you continued doing absolutely all the work related to producing and releasing the records yourself, even after your songs started getting international attention?
-Yes, on all the vinyls I did everything myself. The first time I got any help was with the first CD in 2006, (It’s A Feedelity Affair) which I did together with Joakim and Smalltown. Of course I had a distribution deal all along, withy a French company, but at Feedelity I was on my own. I really enjoyed being my own master and controlling everything. It was, and is, a very rewarding way of working with music.
Looking at all your releases there seems to be a continuous theme both in terms of titles and the artwork, making it a kind of complete aesthetic package. Is this an important notion for you as an artist?
No, I have to say that intuitively I don’t care about the wrapping. If the music is good the wrapping don’t matter, if it isn’t, the best cover in the world won’t help it. But having said that, I recognize that there is a nice leitmotif running through all the artwork on my records. It was all done by the same guy; he said he would do it for free if I let him do whatever he liked, so I did. I’m really happy about the way it’s turned out, but in fact I’m a little ambivalent on this issue: on the one hand I don’t care about the wrapping, on the other hand I acknowledge that if I were to do it all over again I think I would have done the artwork myself. That way it would have been 100% personal. My experience is that expertise is not necessarily decisive. I’m not very good at playing any of the instruments I use when I make music, but still I manage to make just the music I want to make. I think the same would be true for artwork.
So deep inside you would like to be in complete control of every aspect, making Lindstrøm the artist one and the same as the person?
-Well, I certainly cherish the freedom and independence of running my own label, and releasing what I want, when I want. On the other hand I think I have matured in way and become more open towards including other people, regarding mixing, mastering and artwork etc. The perfect situation for me is to be concerned with every aspect; paying personal attention to every detail, yet at the same time involving other people and leaving some of the work and the finishing touches to them. I guess the ability to let go of some control is a benefit that comes with time and self-confidence.
With the cult status you now enjoy you are one of the most sought-after remixers around. How do you deal with that?
-These days I turn down most requests, and for that reason I don’t get as many as I used to. The thing with remixes is that they are great at one stage in your career, but then you realize that it is an ephemeral thing, it has little long term value; neither economically nor artistically. Very often I find that there is little point in doing remixes, because the songs are already perfect. Or it is the other way around; I change a song so much that it feels like my own song, which I then proceed to give away. But needless to say, it is a good feeling when the remix gets more attention than the original ever did. And the strategic aspect is important of course; if I do a remix of a band with a very loyal fan base, then it is a natural assumption that this crowd might get interested in my own music.
What we really wanted to talk about is the new album you are releasing with your long-time collaborator Prins Thomas. Can you let us in on how the two of you work together? And how do you personally divide your time between your different projects?
-The album will be out in May I think, on Eskimo, which is a Belgian label. I guess we both feel very good about having someone else release it. In a way it becomes less serious that way, because we don’t have to think about sales. When we release things ourselves, we feel an obligation; it has to be good. When someone else does it for us I imagine we feel freer musically, since there is very little to lose for us personally.
When I work with Thomas it is always a matter of jamming a lot and recording as we go along. On this record, which will be entitled II, he does all the drums, bass and guitar, while I’ve been in charge of all the synths. We usually record long stretches of jamming, and then we edit these, subsequently sending the files back and forth and adding things as we go along. I really appreciate the way we divide the job between us. But after working with Thomas, or anyone else for that matter, I always feel a need to work alone again. So I divide my time like that, in a natural balance. Of course with modern technology, you don’t have to earmark your time like before: I can work with Thomas in the morning, and then on a solo project in the afternoon. Since everything is digitalized I can go back and forth as I like.
In many ways you are now at the pinnacle of independent dance music and you are a cult figure of the international club scene. Where will you go from here? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
-Ha! If you had asked me that question three years ago, I certainly wouldn’t have dreamt of being where I am now. I think my situation today is optimal; I can do exactly what I want, and I never have to compromise. So if I can hold on to this position for another ten years, I should be very happy. Until very recently I was constantly aware of the fact that I might have to get a regular job on the side. But now things are going really well, and I figure that if I can keep innovating and keep making fresh music I might be able to work the way I do now for many more years. There is no ago limit as long as you keep innovating.