A Chat With : Prins Thomas
With Lindstrom & Prins Thomas’ much-anticipated ‘II’ album just about ready to drop, Bodytonic caught up the latter to talk influences, workloads and the pitfalls of the disco re-edit.
It's been three years since the debut record - a pretty amazing three years. Did you think when making 'Lindstrom & Prins Thomas' that you would end up here?
Ha ha ha! I'm not even sure where "here" is. I knew we had made something special and personal at the time but I wasn't sure whether I could make a living out of this. You can't underestimate the synergy effect of doing tons of remixes, DJ gigs, live performances and running our labels - but if we hadn't been good at what we do we would have disappeared of the map earlier...
There is a different focus to the new album. What do you see are the major changes?
The main difference from this and the first album is that we tried out more acoustic stuff and longer, unedited live sections. Just as likely, we could have done a fully electronic synth and drum machine record - but this is what felt natural to us at the time. I don't know… maybe we're only led by our egos. I don't worry too much if people will “get" it or like it - but it would be a nice bonus besides being happy with the record ourselves. The fact that we've worked together for another three years after the first album must mean that we're also communicating better as musicians too.
With ‘II’, you are exploring a more adventurous space musically… do you agree?
I do agree that the record is less conventional (or maybe that’s more?) and more exciting than the first record. It might not have the same crossover potential as the last album but I feel it's more a proper album - with stronger connections between the songs.
(On the first album) we tried out many ideas for the first time together but I think now we maybe sound a bit more confident in the way the music twists and turns throughout the record. That said, I don't think there's any noodling on the record, more tinkering... ha ha ha!
How did the method of recording the album change? Or did it?
It hasn't changed radically but we started arranging the songs at a much earlier stage. This time we added more and more stuff on top before even deciding which direction the track should take. That way, I think some of the more musically "out there" elements survived to the final mix, some on purpose and some not. Like playing open and free stretches with little or no structure before bringing it back home again...
As it is a different type of sound, did you purposely change the way you approached what you did?
Well, we had an idea of relying less on leading elements, arpeggios and programmed drums when we started recording. If we wanted a big dreamy synth pad, could we instead play it with layered guitars or an organ?
Basically, my wish was to record more of the room itself, what we heard while playing and not a clean and conventional sound. There's loads of unintentional sounds on the record which ended up being important elements of the songs. An example is the bass sound on the first part of ‘Rothaus’ which is just me touching a cable getting ready to plug in the bass. It was connected through an old tape recorder as an amp and we suddenly realised that the tone coming from me touching the cable was in key with the track, besides sounding like a nice and dirty Moog-y type sound.
In the studio, who does what? Do you have defined roles, or do they cross over?
We don't really have any pre decided roles except me doing the final bits of arranging and mixing while Hans-Peter takes care of the technical recording stuff. One of us might be better at something in particular but then again there's often more exciting results if we trade places and do something we're not good at.
What is the starting point for a track for you? Where does a track begin?
Ha ha ha! It usually starts with, "Do you wanna jam?". Usually when we've wrapped up individual projects and feel the need to just have fun. One of us might have a riff or a melody to the jams but it's always a very open and democratic process
Do you both play instruments?
Yes, we both play a bit of everything on the album. This time I did most of the drums and percussion, maybe with the exception of one track. Hans-Peter is much more Hans-on with keyboards so I've left that to him. There's a couple of bum notes on the last track though... that was me.
What is your favourite track on the album and why?
I don't have a favourite.
Apart from some background vocals, the tracks are largely instrumental - were you thinking about using more vocals at any stage?
Yes, we've been talking about it since the first album but I think it will come naturally if we feel like it. There's usually an instrument filling out every empty space now anyway so it's not like there's something missing from the music. I think… maybe if we managed to make a more stripped down and "arranged" record there would be room?
So is this a 'space disco' record? If not, what is it - how to you classify it?
Please don't... Even if it's naive thinking we're able to defy categorisation I can't really call it anything else than music. There's elements and influences from all over but I think the only thing I would agree to call it would be a "psychedelic" record. However, that doesn't really say much except describing the music as "dreamy" and/or "druggy"...
As this is a more 'live' sounding album, do you plan on pushing this into the live arena?
We've been discussing it and we're keen to do it if time allows. We've even got a couple of band members on standby. Now I guess it mainly comes down to finding the time and getting some proper offers.
Who/what was the biggest influence on you making this record?
Personally it was just jamming with Hans-Peter. Interacting with somebody in the studio is inspiring in itself as we often tend to sit in each or room and work solo. And of course travelling, reading books, watching movies, family, friends, food... sedation by late nights and early flights...
Did you kind it difficult to make the record with the amount of stuff you both had on: solo album, mix CDs, running labels…
Yes and no. Most of the tracks were been put together over the last three years. We haven't spent a concentrated time together doing it and it's been important for us having this project as a free zone. We make something when we feel like it and that's usually when there's time off from other projects. Running the labels is maybe the most challenging thing, trying to keep in touch with all the artists, communication with all parties involved. But it's a lot of fun so I guess that counts more!
Do you spend much time together? Do you ever get sick of each other's company?!
We usually see each other a few days every week as we share a studio space together. Whenever I'm not there or travelling somewhere I usually spend my time at home with family – so my social life is kind of non existent. We meet once in a while in social settings or delivering the kids to the kindergarten. That said, next to my wife and son, Hans-Peter is probably the person I see the most...
What do you think of the explosion in interest around disco music? Is it all real and genuine?
There's definitely a huge hype around it but as with any other trend or genre that's just how it is. Interest comes and goes. I personally think people are talking too much about categorisation of music and whether something is "balearic" or "cosmic" than actually spending time finding good music regardless of genre. I think there's also too many producers getting too comfortable in the genres they feel connected to. Churning out anonymous dreamy, dubby and dull so-called "disco"... People set out to make "cosmic/balearic/etc" using a strict formula and turns it all into the new electro clash/electro house/minimal in the process. Same can be said for any genre though...
And what about edit culture, which is very popular now. Just a phase, or something more substantial?
As with everything else, there's good and bad. The worrying thing these days is that the edits usually outsells original music in most of the vinyl stores. With edits (as an editor) you can ‘BE’ disco immediately and in the process contribute to the slow death of original ideas. As a DJ you don't have to dig anymore. A bunch of DJs playing the same history-less DJ sets with records not connected to anything else they play. Sorry - you got me angry there!
Lindstrom and Prins Thomas’ ‘II’ is out now on Eskimo.
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