Anders Trentemøller became well known as an electro producer. Now he is working with a live band again. In our interview he reveals, why he doesn’t want to be alone on stage and why there is no right and wrong in music.
artistxite: Your musical output is tremendous. Do you ever sleep?
Anders Trentemøller: (laughs) I do, even though sometimes there is really a lot of work. Especially when I am working in the studio recording an album. "Lost“ took me twelve months. Less time is required for remixes or productions that I do for other artists. But at the moment I want to focus more on my own music.
artistxite: You used to play in a rock band, then you started your career as an electro DJ and remixer, now you are back in a band. Why did you make this detour?
Trentemøller: I didn't plan it that way, that's just what happened. Back then I got a bit bored by the band because they weren’t developing in the same direction as me. We were totally into Britpop and wanted to sound like Oasis or Blur. That started to bother me. Why would you want to sound like someone else when you can have you own sound? Plus, at the same time I was getting familiar with computers and samplers. I was fascinated with them because I could develop my own musical ideas. Later on I got bored again when I realised I was missing the human aspect and instruments.
artistxite: How exactly did you discovered electronic music?
Trentemøller: I was in London with my school class when I heard Massive Attack and Portishead for the first time, but also jungle and drum’n’bass. Trip-hop bands like Portishead sound melodic but still fresh. It really blew my mind and as soon as I got back to Copenhagen I bought a computer. I was heavily inspired by the stuff I’ve heard in London but I also tried to find my own sound.
artistxite: Did your autodidactic way of working help you find your own sound?
Trentemøller: I think so. Some of my friends studied music. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think in that case, you might tend to classify ideas too soon as good or bad. I work more freely without these limitations. Then I might use something that others may categorise as wrong, while it fits my sound perfectly. I strongly rely on my feelings. If something feels right to me, then it is right.
artistxite: Is that why 'lost’ combines electronic influences mit rock music?
Trentemøller: I don’t regard myself as an electronic artist. I regard myself as a musician. I definitely use electronic aspects in my music, but I also feel inspired by krautrock and shoegaze. Even folk, classic music and soundtracks influence me. But, even though I am inspired by a lot of different things, I work hard on evolving my own music.
artistxite: You mentioned you worked for a year on 'lost’. Now you are on tour with your band. Where do you feel more comfortable, in the studio or on stage?
Trentemøller: Both are important for me. Working in the studio is lonely. I'm on my own all the time, playing all the intstruments, writing and composing. I'm really insecure in showing my work to others before it's finished. Therefore, I'm relieved when the record is finished and I can play live with my band.
artistxite: Do you think your music has a different effect when played live?
Trentemøller: Definitely! That’s why we try to make the live-version sound different. We have to. There may be ten or twelve guitar tracks on the record, but I can't put twelve guitar players on stage. It's much easier to rearrange the sound with my musicans. They know better how to play their instruments and therefore can contribute good ideas to the sound.
artistxite: Is the live set pretty clear cut or do you get a chance to improvise??
Trentemøller: If you see the first and the last show of the tour, you’ll realise how different they are. A lot of stuff happens. To me it's also boring trying to stick to the original version, so we're constantly changing things. Sometimes I spontaneously give a sign and we start to jam for two minutes because it’s fun. This time our first show of the tour was support for Depeche Mode, which was crazy. We had seven of these huge gigs and could see what worked or not.
artistxite: You just played Melt! Festival. How is it for a musican playing there with all the tower cranes and the big lightshow?
Trentemøller: It was absolutely fantastic! It has an incredible view because of this dark, industrial vibe, but still, the atomsphere is wild. People are happy, there is this whole environment with the big lake – it was amazing being on stage.
artistxite: When I saw James Blake playing, I thought I saw you hanging around in front of the stage. Was that actually you?
Trentemøller: Yes, I was down in the front, checking it out. That is the amazing thing about festivals. You can see all the great colleagues and discover new bands, you've never heard of.
artistxite: Who are interesting acts you have seen recently?
Trentemøller: It wasn’t at a festival but one of my current favourite bands is The Soft Moon. I really love them. They have this certain retro-sound that reminds me of the first records from The Cure and Joy Division. It is really dark but it's still got this groove. And I also like A Place To Bury Strangers.
artistxite: You see and meet a lot of artists – how do you decide which one you want to work with?
Trentemøller: That happens naturally. With the first track on the album I wrote the chords and started to think of Mimi Parker from Low and her voice; how she would suit the melody. I composed the song and finished it as complete instrumental. She digged it, worked on it and it sounded fantastic. Sometimes you get vocals back and have to adapt the music. But this matched perfectly. I got goosebumps and nearly started to cry when I got her version.
artistxite: Didn’t you tell her how you want her to sing the song?
Trentemøller: I want to encourage the artists I am working with to do what they feel is right for them. The same goes for the lyrics. I don't write them, they do. I just keep control over the production. It might be more difficult for me to compose with another artist.
artistxite: Anymore stories about the artists you worked with on 'lost'?
Trentemøller: Well, 'Come Undone’ was recorded by Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead in her bathroom. She told me it had a particular sound there. We tried to clean up her demo in the studio, but there was just something special about her version so we kept it the way it was. It goes to show that a good song doesn't necessarily rely on the technical conditions, but rather on a certain vibe.
artistxite: Coco Rosie also recorded their first record in the bathroom.
Trentemøller: That’s right. Or Bruce Springsteen who recorded his great album 'Nebraska' on a cassette recorder. And it became one of his most important records ever.
artistxite: This process correlates with your concept, to get away from that perfect electronic sound.
Trentemøller: The human touch is really important to me. It doesn’t have to be too perfect. Well, perfect how I see it, but that means you have to allow for imperfections. They lend something to the sound, you won’t otherwise easily get. Little mistakes strengthen the album’s magic.
artistxite: What kind of artist do you define yourself? As a musican with a band or as a solo-artist?
Trentemøller: I am a solo-artist because I produce the music on my own. If I'm on stage, I'm part of a band. My music needs a band to be played live. However, that happens first when the record is finished.
artistxite: When I saw you playing live, you appeared like a conductor running back and forth and playing here and there all over the place.
Trentemøller: There I was a little bit drunk (laughs), but I don't like to just stay behind the keyboard. With the live-set, I really like it to be different every evening and to improvise.
artistxite: Is this why you feel rather limited in a live-DJ-set compared to the band?
Trentemøller: These are two different things. DJing is a lot of fun, but it's more about other people’s music. After a while I get bored with that. Making my own music and developing it with my band is a bigger challenge and is closer to my heart.
artistxite: Do you see a lot of concerts?
Trentemøller: I like going to clubs with small audiences. The Soft Moon I saw in a venue with just a hundred people. It is amazing to experience a band that close. Now in summer we play a lot of festivals, but in autumn we're going on tour again and we'll try to play some smaller venues. It’s unbeatable when everyone dances and someone falls into the drums. (laughs). Sometimes it may get a little bit chaotic, but that’s what I like.
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Anders Trentemøller interview