Progress Report: Norway’s finest super producer talks about his disco-infused 2012 release, Six Cups of Rebel.
Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has been releasing some of the world’s finest electronic music for nearly a decade now, both on his own and along with fellow production whiz Prins Thomas. In 2011 Lindstrøm released Real Life Is No Cool, a collaboration with Norwegian-Mauritian singer Christabelle that would ultimately prove to be one of the most popular releases of his career (and his most overtly “pop” record to date). Next year Lindstrøm will release Six Cups of Rebel, which ditches the glittery pop of the Christabelle collaboration in favor of funk and disco — and the sound of his own singing voice.
I called Lindstrøm at his studio in Oslo, Norway where apparently it was already very late and the winter is already very cold. He was about to go to bed.
STEREOGUM: This record kind of sounds like a departure for you. Were you working in a manner differently than you normally do?
LINDSTRØM: I’m working on music every day and always trying something new in the studio. I think that’s one of the most important things in music is to keep working and see what happens. There’s a lot of stuff that I’m working on where and trying to decide if it’s going to become an album, EP or single. I guess this album was kind of my second attempt to compile an album out of the stuff I’m doing over the last year. In the beginning I decided it wasn’t going anywhere so I scrapped everything and started again. Everything just started with making a few tracks and hearing that it might make sense to put it together and imagine how it might sound as an album. I guess I just decided that this might as well be an album in the end. I think what I did this time that I haven’t really done before was that I was kind of making tracks for this album in the purpose of making them fit in the album format. I got the first track and third track ready then I could make something more mellow as the second track knowing that it had to fit in between the other two tracks. I really wanted the album to be whole. It’s something that I hadn’t done before.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, the album does feel very cohesive. Is this the first time you’ve only used your own voice and not other vocalists?
LINDSTRØM: I decided that I only wanted to make an album with my own voice and wasn’t sure at first how I would use it. I then came to the conclusion that everything was about tweaking and pitch shifting with my voice. I’m not trying to do this live. It’s only a studio thing, I’m not a vocalist and I don’t really want to try and perform it live. Over the years I haven’t really been exploring my own voice. It’s been too personal. I was seeing what I’d done on re-releases and grabbing the vocal parts I liked and then treating them as someone else’s vocals. It was important to me to just try it. I’ve always thought that it would be great to use the voice in different ways. When we played live in Europe after the release of my last album I was doing a lot of background vocals and enjoyed that. So this time I wanted to see what would happen.
STEREOGUM: Yeah, it’s nice to be a self-contained artist and be able to do everything yourself. Do you prefer that as opposed to collaborating?
LINDSTRØM: I like a combination of it. It used to be that after working with someone it’s really nice to work alone. I think even though it’s really comfortable doing everything yourself, it’s also nice to have that feedback when you have more people in the room. I think it’s interesting and it’s important for me to do a bit of everything. Sometimes by myself and other times with other people.
STEREOGUM: Were you surprised by the success of Real Life Is No Cool? That record seemed to take on a life of it’s own.
LINDSTRØM: I was really surprised by it. I consider it a big personal success as well. I wish they had played more of the tracks on the radio and given it more support. From where I was standing I didn’t really feel like this was my “breakthrough.”
STEREOGUM: Really? That record — particularly “Lovesick” — felt pretty inescapable to me. In NYC you heard it everywhere.
LINDSTRØM: That’s what really counts. It’s not important for me to have a big seller. I really wanted to make that album more accessible. It was my first album with vocals. It felt like it had the most potential to not just be something that was underground for DJs to play. There was a lot of people that told me they really liked the album and that’s what is important to me. I love getting feedback from people I respect.
STEREOGUM: Aside from making and producing music do you spend a big part of your year traveling and DJing?
LINDSTRØM: I spend a lot of time traveling, but I only perform my own music when I’m playing. It might look like I’m DJing onstage because there’s not as much visual things but I’m playing my own stuff only. I’m not sure if I’ll be traveling a lot, something like two weekends a month but I don’t want to travel any more than that. I’ve been doing that for six or seven years. I know that for bands two weeks is probably the limit. I’ve only done that once in the last twelve years and that was like a nightmare. So just doing weekends twice every month is perfect for me.
STEREOGUM: This album comes out in February of next year, will you be coming to the States?
LINDSTRØM: Yeah, we’re scheduling a mini-tour in March. A mini-tour for me is just three dates. I’ll probably continue with those types of shows until the summer when there’s going to be some Festivals I’ll be playing. It’s hard to tell since the album hasn’t come out yet. I was thinking of actually not doing a single at all from the album. I’m starting to think that it’s better if the album is heard from start to finish rather than to split it up. Everything is kind of connected on it. In an ideal world a single shouldn’t be necessary.
STEREOGUM: Any idea what you’re going to work on next?
LINDSTRØM: I think I’m always trying to do something different since I don’t want to get bored. I guess people have been expecting the followup to the Christabelle album somehow — and that’s probably what I should have done — but it just feels more right for me to do something different. I might be digging my own grave every time I do that. There will probably be a lot of people who are like, “Ok I’m really not following what he’s doing now. Why is he doing this every time?” But it’s really important to me, I don’t want to do the same song or album every time. Some of my favorite artists are doing that and I really appreciate them doing something different every time because otherwise you just get bored of the same sounds. I hate to be bored.
Lindstrøm’s Six Cups of Rebel is out on February 7th via Smalltown Supersound.