Hailing from Norway, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is no longer just running at the head of the pack of the recent broad resurgence in spacey, psychedelic disco. With the release of his first proper full-length album, Where You Go I Go Too, he's arguably joined the ranks of contemporary electronic music's most compelling artists. Here, he talks about the compositional processes behind this impressive, expansive work.
Your previous release was a collection of singles. What was the genesis of Where You Go I Go Too? Did you consciously decide you wanted to something more compositional and long form, or was it more like things taking a life of their own?
I decided to do Where You Go I Go Too after getting tired of working on another project I've been involved with for the recent year or so. So instead of working on short three- to four-minute vocal tracks, I wanted to do something completely different, and I started on the 28-minute title track. I've been working on longer tracks before. "There's a Drink...," from my third twelve-inch on Feedelity, was originally gonna be seventeen minutes, but since I needed an edit to be able to fit it onto the vinyl format, it ended up at "only" thirteen. Also, I didn't want my first proper solo-album to be another collection of singles. So I decided to do an album with fewer, but longer tracks.
I guess the length of the tracks might scare some people, but I was up for doing something that I hadn't done before. It's something that I always try to do, unless I get very easily bored. Making music has to be something that is a fun thing to do, and after I started to make a living out of making music, at a certain music wasn't fun anymore. Remixing, especially, became like that. But after quitting doing remixes and starting to focus on my own music again, it got a whole lot better.
There's a distinct sense of travel and adventure on the record. That seems to be an expansion on the kind of emotions in your earlier singles. Is the feeling of voyage or exploration something that's important to you?
I guess since I've been traveling all around the world in recent years. I've been aware of how listening to music while spending countless hours waiting in airports is the perfect way to shorten the trip. I don't particularily like traveling, but I've realised that it's perfect for listening to whole albums. It's not like I'm writing the soundtrack of my life, but I'm sure the way I'm listening to music now, compared to when I was more into single tracks, has something to do with the music I'm writing.
The album's title track is almost thirty minutes long. How did you go about composing it?
Regardless of the length, I always find it very easy to start writing a track, trying out different ideas and constructing interesting chord changes and so forth. But this was a nightmare to finish. I usually listen from the start after I've done any changes in a song, so I needed to listen to 30 minutes of music every time I did something in the end. So I'll never gonna do it again. What I enjoyed most was the freedom to let the music evolve and move very slowly instead of cramming everything into just a few minutes. It's nice when the intro can stretch over five or six minutes before introducing the drums.
One contrast that this album seems to have with your earlier work is that there's much less of an emphasis here on melody. It seems to be more about percussive elements. Was there any relation between not using melody so much and making the songs so epic in length?
I've always wanted to have melodic elements in my music. Maybe it's because I'm "classically trained," and the fact that I wasn't exposed to "DJ music" before I was 25 and started deejaying. I wouldn't say that the melodies and chords are less important on Where You Go I Go Too. Maybe all those rhythmical echoes and arpeggiated synths somehow make the music sound more percussive.
When I wrote the music, it was important for me that there wasn't gonna be only drums and percussion. And I didn't want it to sound like retro '70s ambient synth-prog without any beats. I like the balance from those classic disco records in the late '70s, where there's obviously a focus on the beats, but also a lot of stuff happening with chords and melodies.
You're a multi-instrumentalist with a lot of diverse musical influences. How did you find yourself in disco territory?
Probably because I found that disco has the best balance between beats and chords. After the disco era faded, most club music has been more about the drums than the melody. Which is understandable, since it's the beats that makes people dance. But I've always been fascinated by how disco managed to merge strings and orchestral sounds with drums.
Six years ago I discovered the music that Daniel Wang put out on Balihu, and I was inspired by the way he focused on chords and melodies as much as on the drums. I was given the chance to release a 10-inch after I won a bedroom-producer-contest at a local club in Oslo. Before that happened, I didn't even think of getting a record deal. But because club music was my entrance to the music business, I´ve somehow stuck to the club format until recently. I´ve tired of making formatted music made for dancing and started incorporating more of the music I grew up to, like '70s pop/rock and chart music as well as music from artists that I didn´t understand just a few years ago, such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
Since the album is so layered and large scale, I'm curious as to what the Lindstrom live set-up is like? What kind of translation do you see happening between the recorded material and the performance?
I´ll do it as I´ve done it since I started. No band, just myself, a keyboard and a laptop. My main focus isn´t on the live performance. I don´t wanna spend more time touring than working in studio. When playing the ØYA Festival in Oslo earlier this summer, I worked with a guy doing some rather impressive light shows. I'd like to use more visual elements when playing live, and it takes some of the focus away from me standing there with my computer, "doing nothing."
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