Despite the impact that Lindstrom tracks such as ‘I Feel Space’ have had on dancefloors over the past few years, he remains something of a perennial outsider in the contemporary dance scene.

Together with Prins Thomas, Lindstrom practically invented the new-wave of cosmic disco and his tracks have become favourites of many DJs, but he’s uninterested in crafting tailor-made DJ tools, and is happily oblivious to many of the trends and fads that propel clubland. Often, his music sounds like transmissions from another age; a 70s vision of the future, perhaps.  After releasing some delightfully poppy singles and remixes over the past year, the Norwegian producer has now returned to the epic space-disco that made his name, with his first solo album, Where You Go I Go Too, released this week. FACT caught up with him to find out where he’s come from and where he’s going.

What’s your background as a musician?

“I was playing in a lot of bands when I was younger, but nothing serious; it was just a hobby, I didn’t record anything. I was also singing in some choirs when I was at school, doing a capella cover versions. And I was in a Deep Purple covers band; so I was doing all kinds of different things. I don’t come from a dance music background at all. I grew up listening to old folk music, Woodie Guthrie and Hank Marvin. But then me and my friends starting going out to the cool discos! Dancing to funk and soul stuff, but not house and techno. I didn’t understand house music at all. And I started to get interested in it because of that; I wanted to find out what it was about, and if any of it was any good! [laughs]. I figured that there’s so much of it, at least 5% of it has got to be good…”

So, were there any dance records that were particularly important to you then, that got you interested in dance music?

“No, nothing, really. I mean, I didn’t buy any house music at all till 2001. I guess at first it was stuff like Basement Jaxx albums. But I never listened to a lot of dance music. I was just trying to make it myself, to learn about it. So I bought a sampler and started doing it myself.”

And now, do you see yourself as a dance producer? Are you thinking about what will work in clubs when you’re producing?

“When I started out on my own I was just doing something I thought was interesting, I wasn’t thinking about how other people would respond to it. And then I started to think it was perhaps too complicated for other people. So then I started to try and make more accessible, less introverted music. In 2007 especially, I was doing a lot of shorter, more poppy tracks like ‘Let’s Practise’. But it’s nice to have a balance, between the shorter tracks and then doing something really epic, and that’s what I’m back to doing now.”

“With a lot of DJ music, what I don’t like about it is that’s just a tool for the DJ, it’s just a beat. It’s not a song. And I mean, if you’re going to do a whole album of just beats, then it has to be a really good beat! I like songs, and melodies. That’s why I listen to a lot more old music than new music; the melodies, and the way the songs are produced. But things are getting better in new music I think. I heard this really good band recently, MGMT. They’ve got the melodic sense of the 70s but the modern sound of 2008.

“In dance music I’ve always felt to the left of everything. It’s weird, and it still surprises me, that I get so many offers to play clubs. Some times when I’m playing in clubs it’s great, because there are fans there who really want to hear that music, but some times it doesn’t go that well, and they’ll be people shouting ‘Louder! Faster!’. And I just think: Why didn’t the promoter ask someone else to play, who could give this crowd what they want? Why ask me”?

What do you think about the ‘Disco’ tag that’s often attached to your music?

“I used to really hate disco, but then I came to like some of it, especially the stuff with all the synth arpeggios. But my music really doesn’t have anything with disco if by ‘disco’ is meant stuff like Donna Summer or Boney M. I’m certainly not an obsessive fan of disco. I think once these names get attached to a musician, then that name tends to hang on them forever. Like Justice will always be seen as, what do you call it…New-rave music? It’s the same with my music and disco I think. It’s just an easy tag that sticks.

“I prefer the name ‘cosmic’; that seems wider, more inclusive- not just tied down to one sound.”

Tell us about your new album; what can we expect from it?

“I recorded it really quickly, in about three or four months. I’d spent last year working for a really long time on vocal tracks with people like Solale, and I was a bit fed up of working like that. I had an initial plan of how the album was going to sound; I wanted it to have no vocals, and that meant that it had to be interesting instrumentally, with unpredictable chord changes for instance. And I wanted to do some longer, epic tracks, kind of as a reaction against doing shorter tracks last year. I find it easier to work if there’s some plan beforehand.

“The album has three very long tracks- the longest is half an hour long. The tracks are really slow, building up and down, and there’s no pauses between the tracks; each song flows into the next one. I wanted to make this as an album, not just a collection of tracks, or a collection of singles. I think it’s important to do that now, when because of downloads and so on, everyone’s skipping tracks, and not many people are listening to albums all the way through anymore. It’s like there’s music overload now. With the new album, all the tracks are so long that on iTunes you’ll have to buy the whole album, rather than the individual tracks. You’re going to have to own the whole thing!”

Would you say this album is a progression for you?

“I think it’s more like a return to the kind of music that was I was doing on first releases on [Lindstrom’s label] Feedelity; stuff like ‘Drink In My Bedroom’. It’s not a very obvious sound- it’s quite odd and complicated.

Is progression important for you as a musician?

“What’s really important for me is that there’s no pressure to meet any one else’s expectations. I can’t really deal with other people telling me what to do! For me, the studio is like a playground, and I like to work in a really free way. It’s hard to do remixes sometimes, if there’s some one on the other side telling me to do it this way or that way, like DJs wanting tracks with long intros and so on.

“I’ve been doing a lot of collaborations this year; me and Prins Thomas are doing the follow-up to our album on Eskimo, and I’m recording an album with a singer called Isabelle. That’s going to be weird psychedelic pop music, quite unexpected stuff. It’s really nice to work by jamming with other musicians, but also I like having a balance; one week of working with other people, and then a week of working on my own. Working on my own feels freer in a way; I can just change direction and go with my imagination without having to talk it through with other people first.

Do you have any thoughts on why there’s been so much cosmic, or space-disco from Norway recently? Obviously there’s yourself, and Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Bjorn Torske…

“I thought about this a lot, and I really don’t know. I think, or I wish to think, that when I’m working doesn’t actually affect my music very much- that my music would be the same wherever I made it. It’s what’s in my head.”

Still, it’s odd that so much warm, summery music comes from such a cold place…

“Ha, I’ve actually tried make some colder, harder music and I just can’t do it. It doesn’t really work for me. It is odd that all this warm music comes from Scandinavia, and there might be some really fascinating explanation of it, but I don’t know what it might be; like, why does Paris produce such hard music at the moment? It’s a really difficult question to answer.”

What’s happening with your two labels, Feedelity and Stromland at the moment?

“I’m putting out my new album on Feedelity along with Smalltown Supersound: they’re helping with the distribution, which is getting to be a big problem because I’m just running the label on my own now, and there’s so much work involved with each release. With Feedelity, I’m afraid of connecting other people with it, because it’s such a big responsibility in terms of legal stuff and so on to release other people’s music, so I just tend to leave Feedelity for my own music. So I set up Stromland with Joakim from Smalltown to release other people’s music; Joakim is a great help with the administrative side of things. Right now we’re getting ready to release an album from a San Francisco musician called Dominque Leone. It’s not DJ releated at all; it’s kind of like Electric Light Orchestra meets Animal Collective. Really nice, crazy pop songs. It often happens that people send me music to see if I’d like to release it, and I have to say ‘no’ to lots of people, but with Dominique I knew I’d regret it forever if I turned his demo down.”

Are there any records that were particularly important inspirations when you were recording Where You Go I Go Too?

“I was really inspired by mid 70s music, especially Todd Rungren. There’s a track of his called ‘International Feel’, that was a big inspiration; it’s really beautiful pop music, but also really spaced out and experimental. I like that contrast and clash, between the weird and the mainstream. Recently I’ve been buying lots of effects, old analogues synthesisers, flangers, ring modulators. It’s easier to do weird stuff with old equipment like that, and it’s also a reaction against using computers; all the keyboard lines on my old records were played on computers.”

What other music has been exciting you recently?

“Panda Bear’s album [Person Pitch] I really like. When I heard it I was like ‘wow’. It’s so simple. And it sounds like a real album. It sounds like there’s a lot of samples there, but it’s been worked on so much it’s hard to say where they’re from, or where the sample ends and his original parts begin. And the icing on the cake for me is that it’s hard to define when the sound is from. There’s some bits that sound like Motown, or Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, but it’s all really futuristic as well. Another producer I like at the moment is Caribou; again it’s an interesting blend of looking to the future but also looking back; you can tell he’s been listening to Fleetwood Mac.

“That blend is what I aspire to in my music. There’s some artists who are making very retro stuff, and in some ways it’s amazing; it really does sound perfectly like music from the past. But you’ve got to look to the future as well. Between the past and the future is where the most exciting things happen.”

Simon Hampson



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