Hans-Peter Lindstrom

 It’s a few degrees below zero and depressingly overcast in Oslo, Norway. While the constant gloom of Norwegian winter may detract from any feelings of warmth, Hans-Peter Lindstrom is in his home getting busy with his sampler and keyboards, making otherworldly sounds that seem even more distant than Northern Europe.

Growing up in an isolated small town, Lindstrom went from being a fan of western folk and choir to a prolific producer that has worked with the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Sally Shapiro, Roxy Music and countless others. How did this happen? Well, he was simply curious. It’s been a few years since his last LP, but 2012 has already seen the release of 6 Cups of Rebel. It’s an eclectic cosmic adventure with some major twists that keep Lindstrom one of the most interesting figures in music. Cooper Saver chats with him to find out more.

One thing about this record compared to your last is the greater presence of vocals. Is this you singing?

Yes. I haven’t sung this much on my own music before. I’ve been doing the vocal harmonies on Christabelle’s (a.k.a. singer Isabelle H. Sandroo) album and I really started to enjoy it. I don’t consider myself much of a vocalist though. It’s weird to hear myself, which is why it’s taken me so long to start using my voice more.

Those aren’t your first singing occasions though, as you were part of a school choir. Was it then you began teaching yourself all of the instruments you use today?

Many years ago! It was all harmony vocals and that’s something I’m still into. Everything I did musically growing up sinks into what I do now, one way or another. For instruments, it came from being in so many bands… metal, folk, rock. Everything gets into my head. There aren’t really any boundaries.

Being in a variety of bands, was there a point when you were inspired to make your own brand of dance music?

Honestly it was all coincidence. I don’t go out much to clubs, and dance music was something I didn’t understand at the time. There was a record shop in Oslo that was having a bedroom producer contest about 12 years ago, so I finished some weird demos and ended up winning! The prize was getting my songs pressed onto a record and released on a limited run.

Even though your music is mainly your own experimentation, do you still put consideration into how your music will translate in a club environment?

It depends. Often when people come and see me, they’re expecting usual club music. With big clubs and festivals I play each year, I need to keep that in mind a bit. I could restrict myself to only up-tempo dance music, but I try to bring something different. I know some of my stuff is too weird for DJs; I’ve been a DJ myself. They usually want music of beat-driven mathematic structure. I find myself breaking all those rules and going my own way. I’m not making music to feed the DJ. It used to be for the dance floor, but when I’m doing albums it’s just my idea of what club music would be in my perfect world [laughs]. 

Being left of the rest of the dance world has always been your trademark it seems…

I think it’s cool to play with the concept of DJ music and bring in something unique. It’s not always designed to work in the club, although the more adventurous DJs will do it. I’m not telling people how to listen to my music or use it, that’s up to them after I make it. I’m trying to make more of an overall listening experience. 

As a frequent collaborator, specifically with Prins Thomas, would you say that teamwork is a big part of your process?

I really like working with other people, but after a collaboration I need to be alone with the door locked. On the other hand, after working by myself, I always benefit from producing with a partner. It seems to be a healthy and important balance.

You work with a diverse range of artists. For you, is the art of remixing more than just making a dance version of someone’s song?

The reason I’ve been holding out on remixing the last while is because people have been approaching me like, “Can you make this into like, a DJ/club monster?” It’s a bit wrong to force a song into a “dance” version. Especially when the original isn’t always made for that. I prefer to maintain the essence of the song while still making an alternate version with my own chords etc. I did a remix of Best Coast, “Boyfriend,” this year – not your typical remix band – but it was interesting to make it dance worthy, which is what people expect of me.

At this point in your career, you have travelled overseas a few times. Do you notice a significant difference in crowds in North America?

When I’m playing in places like Italy, Spain, and southern Europe, people are there for the sake of partying (not interested in the music), and I’m there randomly. Sometimes it can be a little sad like that. I actually really enjoy playing in North America because I get the feeling that people coming to my shows specifically want to see me and hear my music. That feeling is what makes performing live worth it.

Perhaps this style of music is growing among dance music fans in North America.

I’m not sure it will get any bigger than it is now, if that’s the case. What do you think?

Well, we have a small audience that greatly appreciates it, so that’s enough to make me happy.

Yes, I like it. When something grows and grows, it eventually crashes and becomes another forgotten phase. I don’t need it to be any bigger if there’s a constant interest that lasts a long time.

Speaking of playing shows; you’re performing live… this isn’t a DJ set. What kind of gear are you taking out on the road for your live shows?

I’m keeping it simple. It’s been the same since I started; Ableton live on my laptop and my keyboard. I recently added an iPad to my setup which has been fun. It’s all very travel friendly. It may not be the most exciting thing visually, but I don’t like travelling with a full band like I used to when I was younger. 

And your interest in DJing disappeared when you figured out your live set?

After I originally teamed up with Prins Thomas, I realized I couldn’t be any better than him [laughs]. I don’t think I’m the right fit for that sort of thing. I know lots of people consider me a DJ even though that’s not actually what I do. I’d rather be performing my own stuff. 

That being said, staying on top of the next big tracks isn’t one of your concerns.

Not at all. I mean, I enjoy buying music, but I’m always listening to different older things at home. I listen to all kinds of music, I don’t consider myself a disco/house guy. I’m most interested in other types of music, but to be honest I just get really bored if I hear something too much. Sometimes I get bored of music in general.

So to refresh yourself and escape music for a bit, what does the trick?

Recently I have been trying to watch more movies. I definitely think I can benefit from watching more and crossing the classics off my list. Besides that, I’m pretty average; just a simple family man!

Getting back to the new record (released in February), it has a deeper, spacier feel. Do you enjoy full albums over singles in favor of flexibility?

When I started my label, Feedelity, in 2003, I was doing a ton of singles because I felt I wasn’t ready to do an album. A couple years on I released a compilation called It’s a Feedelity Affair. Then I did that album with Christabelle in 2010, Real Life Is No Cool, which was actually a collection of songs we recorded over the years. I felt that album went really well; so then I had the confidence to do a new one myself. I was just taking the time to make sure everything sounded perfect. Albums are a lot of fun, and when you finally complete it you get a great sense of achievement. It’s all about trying different things and that’s how it’s been going for the last few years.

Do you think you’ll try to maintain the crossover potential with the future of your label’s releases?

I’d say all the best music has that crossover potential. Look at Michael Jackson’s Thriller for example; it sounds amazing on the dance floor and equally great at home in your living room. I think a lot of club music is dumbed down and lacks heart and soul. Complexity is something people are afraid of sometimes. The goal is always to make an interesting track that works in every environment. If that’s what you mean by crossover, then that’s definitely something I want to reach with my music.

Are there any recent releases you have been into that we should check out?

You should definitely grab my friend Todd Terje’s upcoming release called It’s The Arps. We share a studio and you’d be surprised how he did it. The entire EP was made with only an ARP 2600 synth and sounds like it was actually an entire orchestra. It’s crazy and sounds very good; I recommend everybody check it out!



Photos: Lin Strensrud

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