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Hans-Peter Lindstrom is preparing to soundcheck for a show at Camden’s Koko, along with Glass Candy, Desire, and a bunch of others from the Italians Do It Better disco label. Lindstrom’s personality reflects his music: he sounds relaxed and unhurried, and later he’s playing solo despite his most recent release being a second collaborative effort with fellow Norwegian Prins Thomas, last month’s II [on really excellent Belgian label Eskimo – Ed]. Last time I spoke to Lindstrom, in 2006, he introduced me to snuff – a nicotine substitute you snort. Both himself and Thomas found it handy due to the smoking ban in clubs.
Despite this handy tip, Lindstrom is only really aligned to the club scene by default, due to the popularity of cosmic disco, a movement which he appeared to spearhead with the success of 2006’s I Feel Space (which sold over 20,000 copies on vinyl on his Feedelity label). Ubiquitous over that summer its magnificent melody and pulsing groove was lauded by most leftfield DJ’s from minimal champs like Tiefschwarz to Simian Mobile Disco. It established Lindstrom as a major new club talent.
However, he’s far from nocturnal. In fact, he works 9-5 from his office, plays out rarely and the latest album with Prins Thomas is more akin to the 70s instrumental rock of Tangerine Dream than the disco of Danielle Baldelli, all keenly melodic, unfurling and languid. His solo album released on Smalltown Supersound last year – Where You Go I Go Too – consisted of three tracks, one of which was over half an hour long. A richly experimental and defiantly ‘at home’ listen, it was left up to remixers like Johan Agebjorn to steer him back to the dancefloor. Later at Koko we find his live set is very much in the tradition of a club PA consisting of the not-so-visually-enticing pairing of man, synth and laptop. He chooses the more kinetic moments from his burgeoning canon confirming that you can dance to Lindstrom, sometimes.
How did you approach the second Lindstrom & Prins Thomas album differently to your debut?
After we finished last album we did a few more tracks then saved them, so we worked on those tracks for few years (laughs). We replayed everything again, to get a similar sound across the album. We decided we wanted a more organic sound, the drums are real. Drum machines make the whole sound electronic, there’s also no computers and midi. The drums are very loose so it sounds like it was recorded many years ago.
How do the two of you work together?
Thomas’ room is next to mine, he knocks on my door, “Hey wanna make some music today?” We work every day. It’s very convenient as all our equipment is there so we don’t need to book a studio. Most of the time we just press record and play around. We also send files back and forth to each other to add to. With Thomas it’s more like being in a band, we share responsibility and he takes care of things I may not want to do. I do what I’m best at and he does what he enjoys most. Working alone can be good because you have to do it and it’s good to do everything yourself once in a while. He played all the drums on the latest album because he wants to be a drummer. I did the keys and we share guitars and bass. He took care of a lot of editing and post production.
_Why are the tracks numbered 1, 25, 42, 58, 68, 78, 85 and 92 on the album?_
That’s the record company trying to avoid piracy. You put it on and it says there are 99 tracks (when there are actually eight). It’s not our idea.
Your tracks are generally very long. How do you know when to stop?
Usually when recording we get to a point that you know it’s done. You feel it. You can’t do it anymore. We like long tracks and it’s nice to be able to stretch. Your first album on Feedelity was a compilation of your singles. Then last year’s first proper album had only three tracks on, one of which was 30 minutes long.
Was that a reaction to doing singles?
I really got tired of doing one single then the next. I wanted to do albums to challenge myself. I still prefer working on albums. You have to think of a whole concept. I don’t think I will do another 30 minute track though. There’s no need to repeat myself.
_Where do you get your feel for melody from? _
Because I learnt piano and classical music from a young age. I really like chord changes.
As a multi instrumentalist are there any instruments still left for you to learn?
I have the pedal steel which I don’t know how to use. It would probably take me a year to learn. I thought it might be easier. The sitar too.
I read somewhere you were in a Bon Jovi style metal band in your earlier years. Is that true?
I did that in the early 90s. We made our own tunes and tried to make heavy metal. It wasn’t any good. These days school bands all have their own MySpace and try and get signed. I didn’t know anything about record deals back then. I still have the music.
Do you see any similarities with Italian ‘cosmic disco’ DJ’s like Daniele Baldelli and what you do?
Those guys were mainly DJs I guess. They were collecting music from all over in the eighties. As long as it had a beat that’s what made it. As far as I know the music isn’t just really Italian. It’s from all over. What I’m doing is just making the music I like. I don’t have a specific plan. I’m not trying to fit into a tradition, for some reason the music I am making is suddenly popular. I’m not that interested in that music any longer. I’m listening to other stuff now and making quite different music.
Would you say you were a cosmic dude?
I don’t really think so. I’m quite straight forward.
Do you have any plans to embellish your live set to a full band? Or will you continue working from a lap top and keyboard?
I work alone because I got tired of working with other people. You don’t sell any more records and the only way to get any money now is by touring. I’m still more interested in making music than playing live but It’s good to see people reacting to the music.
Maybe you could record a soundtrack for a film? Your music would lend itself to that well.
If anybody asks I will consider it. Nobody has offered it. But I imagine if I accepted that job then someone will look over me and tell me what to do. It would be better if someone e-mailed me to ask if they can use some tracks. I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing ‘til no one’s interested. And then I’ll do something else.
Resurrect the Bon Jovi band?
If you liked this article, you should download the Milky Disco mix Jon Tye made for us, which is also about the exciting places cosmic disco (or whatever) can go from here.