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2010 A Glass Half Full

Real Life: Hans-Peter Lindstrøm Interviewed
John Doran , June 30th, 2010 06:32

Real Life Is No Cool hasn't been far from the Quietus stereo all year. John Doran chats to Hans-Peter about Christabelle and fucking with the canon...

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Even if you were the sort that wanted to, you’d find it hard to come up with any sensible objections to the brilliance of Norwegian disco/house producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm. For sure, sometimes his records [see the space disco genius of Where You Go I Go Too] do feel more at home on a good pair of headphones than they do emanating from the sound system of a club and when he’s noodling his way through rolling banks of weed smoke and Tangerine Dream motifs, you have to trust implicitly, that he knows what he’s doing. As my friend the writer Lee Arizuno said to me recently, he has an amazing lack of self-consciousness and has thought nothing in the past of using one little stretch of Patrick Cowley's remix of Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' - probably the greatest dance record ever made - and used that as a jumping off point for not one but several outstanding tracks.

That he does this while still producing original, persuasive, functional and blissful work without sinking into pastiche or outright theft is something else again. He doffs his cap in the direction of some pretty outstanding talents on the album he released with the pop singer Christabelle this year Real Life Is No Cool.

The chameleonic pop disco singer Christabelle Sandoo (nee Solale) adds a sumptuous and sexualized depth to Lindstrøm's languid grooves. Admittedly its genesis can be traced back nearly ten years to when she surreptitiously whacked some of her by turns sultry/aggressive/dead pan/exuberant vocals on one of his club bangers. But given this and the fact that tracks such as 'Music In My Mind' and 'Baby Can’t Stop' are club staples doesn’t damage the utter freshness of this disc. (The older tracks are necessary for a tightly plotted album, which is reassuringly old fashioned in its rush-chasing, dance-floor euphoria sequencing.)

This is also easily Lindstrøm’s most unadulterated pop moment, the touch points are glittering and unassailable: Quincy Jones, Prince, Donna Summer, Patrick Cowley and, yet to be utterly contradictory... this is in some ways the most psychedelic thing he’s done also. Behind the spirit of Off The Wall, Purple Rain and Cerrone’s Supernature is not the considered cosmiche proto house of Vangelis or Manuel Göttsching but some pure ecstasy damaged madness. It’s like your favourite school disco memory heard through a jagged MDMA-confusion filter.

We had a quick email natter with Hans-Peter recently.

We had to wait a long time for this album and it was worth the wait but do you see yourself as a tamperer? Do you find it hard to finish a project off and leave it alone?

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm: Hmmm, I find it easy to start a new project, and very hard to finish it. He he! I guess many people do. When a project is 100% finished, mixed and mastered, there´s always more work to do: interviews, preparing the new music for live gigs etc. It would be nice to leave everything behind, and start focusing on something new immediately after finishing off, but I´ve realised that the making of the actual album is just half of the work.

Aesthetically and conceptually there’s something quite old school about Real Life Is No Cool. The way it is sequenced mimics a night out with its peaks and troughs or a DJ set. Was it designed with party use in mind?

H-PL: I like it when there´s a plan behind the sequencing of the songs on an album. Instead of throwing in a bunch of songs with two seconds' silence between every track. I prefer trying to either merge them together like a dj often would do, or making transitions that bridge them together. I didn´t design the album with party use in mind, i just wanted to make an album with a start, a middle and an end. Well, actually, it´s made with the LP-format in mind. 5 songs on side A and 5 on side B. Both sides needs a start and an end. And it also needs to sound good together. There´s a lot of things to consider. Gut-feeling is the key.

Do you think that your background in guitar music is a liberating factor for you? I get the sense that most ‘pure’ dance people would never dare mess with touchstone characters like Prince, Patrick Cowley, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Giorgio Moroder. Are you fearless in this sense or are tracks like 'Baby Can’t Stop' and 'There's A Drink In My Bedroom And I Need A Hot Lady' the product of much fretting?

H-PL: Hmm, messing with other people's signature-sounds can be liberating if done right. For me it's all about using familiar elements in unfamiliar or different settings. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn´t. I always think of other music when I write, but there´s always several tracks or styles playing in my head at the same time, not just one track or one artist. When combining a lot of references and influences, sometimes interesting results come up. These songs can resemble other tracks, but don´t sound like a total rip-off. I don´t mind a little creative stealing here and there.

Have you and Christabelle ever dated? If so, how did this effect your dynamic?

H-PL: He he! No...

The Aeroplane Dub remix of 'Baby Can’t Stop' is sick. It makes me laugh every time I hear that big fat In Deep style bassline drop. What is the favourite remix of one of your songs that someone else has done?

H-PL: I always ask people that I know is able to deliver something great, and I never interfere with their work. Most of the remixes I´ve asked for over the years has been very good. I don´t have a particular favourite. They´re all good!

Thanks for this album – it’s a belter. What is next for you and for Christabelle?

H-PL: There´s a few festivals this summer, among them are Roskilde in Denmark, Benicassim in Spain and Øya in Norway. We haven´t started writing any new music together yet. My next release will probably be a solo-show again. He he! It´s all about getting the balance right, after I´ve done something together with someone, I need to do something alone.

Lindstrøm & Christabelle live this summer...

July 2, Hove Festival, Arendal, NORWAY HoveFestival.com

July 3, Roskilde, Hovedstade, DENMARK Roskilde Festival top picks

July 16, Melt Festival, Berlin, GERMANY Lindstrom & Christabelle at Melt

July 18, Benicassim, Valencia, SPAIN Benicassim.org.uk

August 10, Øyafestifalen, Oslo, NORWAY Oyafestivalen.com