In a relatively short period, it's become one of the most hotly contested debates of this Internet age: who to place within your top friends on a Myspace page.
Among Anders Trentemøller´s top eight is British music icon and Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke. The question for the 33-year-old Danish producer, however, is whether he and Yorke are actually friends or not. No, says Anders, he and the Radiohead headman haven’t met in person, at least not yet, and he ranked Yorke more out a sense of admiration for his work. Of course, Anders says he’d like nothing better than to remix a Radiohead track or, better still, collaborate with Yorke on something original.
With any luck, that will happen - it sounds like musical dynamite to us here at the Voice.
As a producer, Anders has already tackled remixes for some marquee acts in the world of electronic music, including Fred Everything, the Pet Shop Boys, Röyksopp and, recently, a retouch of Moby’s massive classic and anthem "Go.”
“Moby asked me to do the remix,” enthuses Anders. “I actually also mixed his new version of 'Go’ – he wasn’t satisfied with his own mix; it was kind of funny. So, his manager just asked me to do a mix of it. I was happy to, of course, because it was such a huge club track. It was also fun for me to work with the Twin Peaks theme, because I’ve always loved it. And, yeah, if people follow Moby, then my name, it’s good promotion for me.” With releases on Audiomatique and Poker Flat and remixes on countless other labels, Anders, or simply “Trentemøller” on record sleeves, has been making waves after first emerging in the dance scene roughly four years ago. His name has since become synonymous with the best of the minimal scene, from techno to house, has to offer.
I was used to only sitting in my bedroom and making music for myself. I hadn’t really even thought about releasing my music, because I wasn’t that satisfied with my sound; I always felt like I could do it better. You always make excuses. But I think it was good that some of my friends kicked me in the ass (laughs).
Even well before you began producing electronic music, you started off musically playing in bands, right?
Yeah, I started playing in rock bands when I was about 14 or 15 years old. In the '80s we played in a bunch of bands - mostly stuff inspired by U.K. nu wave, so stuff like the Cure, the Smiths, Morrissey – that whole scene. So, it was part of my education in a way.
It was kind of funny, because I used to play with bands practicing four or five days a week. We’d play in a rehearsal space and it got pretty tough sometimes – it got really sweaty. And the drummer might forget what he was supposed to play and we’d just end up doing things over and over again. I wasn’t satisfied with the whole music and sound picture with a band. Then I discovered a sampler and all the different things you could do with electronic music, a whole new universe in a way – and a way of doing my own stuff. I could also keep on doing some of the stuff I was doing with rock bands. For me, I could control more of the sounds than I could with a band.
But you have assembled some musicians to play on the new album, right? (Vocalist Ane Trolle; Henrik Vibskov on acoustic drums; Mikael Simpson, Richrad Davis, Karl Bille and Arnaud Donez all playing bass and guitar; and Anders’s partner in live performance Tom "DJ T.O.M.” Bertelsen for turntable scratching)
Yeah, but it’s not a band – it’s still just me sitting at my computer. I actually added the musicians late in the album recording process to play stuff like bass, but I had a very specific idea of what I wanted and how they were supposed to play. So, for me, it wasn’t at all like having a band – it was a lonely process.
The people on the album contributed in a special way, with a special vibe. They’re all very talented people, who would do little things differently. Sometimes, with music, it’s not about always having control. Sometimes they’d say, let’s try this and let’s try this. But it was important for me to have the musicians come in late in the recording process, so I’d still have control in a way.
It wasn’t that spontaneous, though, because I had written everything for them already and I just wanted them to play certain parts, because I’m not that great of a drummer, bassist or guitar player. It was just helping hands for me. I also think adding acoustic instruments into electronic music gives it some random humanity that’s impossible to add with just a computer.
Bands still have a unique power, and it’s impossible to compare that power to, say, two guys on stage staring into laptops – I would actually rather go see a band play live. I’ve done it myself, just playing a laptop, and I feel people get a bit bored with it. But with music, it’s much easier nowadays. Even the biggest rock bands are using computers for their recording. Even though you can’t hear it in their music, they’re still recording with stuff like Protools.
And my studio setup is actually quite basic. Only a couple keyboards and a PC, some hardware gear, a couple bass guitars and other instruments (guitars, bass, celesta, glockenspiel, melodica, music box). But it really is quite basic. Sometimes I’m making all my music on a laptop with just a sound card. So, it’s very mobile.
The Last Resort also seems quite different from the reputation you’ve developed for making club-oriented tracks and remixes.
Yeah. Of course, there’s a difference, but the kind of music that appears on my album… I’ve been making that kind of music for a long time. For the last seven or eight years, I’ve done both. But a lot of people only know me from the techy/house stuff I’ve done until now.
I’ve tried to make the album so it isn’t just a chill out or ambient album. There are some really noisy parts, too. The first track’s buildup has that kind of thing happening – I wanted some really noisy guitars and drums. Some of the downtempo music I hear is a little bit cheesy.
It’s got an easy listening/lounge thing and I don’t usually like that – I guess it’s cool if you’re lying on a beach or something like that. So, for me to express my feelings, it was important that the album have this beautiful downtempo stuff. But it was important that it has other darker emotions too, like paranoia. I was trying to mix both.
It’s less like an Ibiza chill mix to me and more like something Brian Eno might have come up with.
Yeah, (laughs) though I wouldn’t want to compare myself to Brian Eno – he’s very good. But he also uses other layers in his music that you can go into, stuff that takes you on a journey and to a different place. I really tried doing that, too. When Poker Flat asked me to do an album, I told them that, without doubt, I didn’t want to release a dance album. I have heard so many techno and dance albums, which are just combinations of pumping beats for the clubs and dance floors.
But they weren’t always albums you could go home and listen to from the first track to the last. But Poker Flat was very open, telling me to do just do what I do. They supported me a lot. I also think the label needs or wants to go a bit further now, because they’ve done the techno and house thing. I think they thought it was an interesting way to go.
I’ve never made music for bread and butter, but only because I really love it. For me, maybe I’ll do some techno tracks or house music and a lot of people only know me for that. But with the album I have a platform with it to show them that I can do other vibes and atmospheres.
Why did you call the album The Last Resort?
A lot of people have asked me and I don’t really want to analyze it; people should use their imagination and feel what they feel about it. I actually just saw the title in a magazine a year ago and I didn’t even really read the article. But I just started wondering, “What is the Last Resort ?” I never really came up with an answer... Maybe it’s a place to escape from daily life or something like that, but it’s up to you. I think it just has two sides to it. Maybe it’s a green space where you can listen to the album and let your thoughts flow.
I know you don’t really DJ, but are you touring in support of the album?
I’ve decided not to play any of the tracks live, because I’d need to have some of the musicians with me. And this album wouldn’t be a killer on the dance floor – it’s not aiming for that. I’ve played a lot of live shows in the last couple years, and I’m tired. I’m not tired of playing live, but I’m tired of all the transportation involved. So, now it’s only two gigs a month – a bit more exclusive.
When I do play live with DJ T.O.M. , I play and effects with a sampler, all the laptop stuff. He’s actually a hip-hop DJ and it isn’t often that you hear scratching on techno and house – he can also scratch in the tempo or pitch that you hear in techno or house. We basically play my tracks live or some custom edits. Sometimes, I’ll throw in a brand new bass line or something. It’s all very spontaneous, like a jam band or something. We take a lot of chances, but that’s the thing about me playing live. I’d never play with just a laptop and a MIDI controller – that’s too boring for me. It’s much more important for me to have a connection to the audience and see what’s happening on the dance floor – I can still do that with keyboards and effects.
And I am actually DJing tomorrow night in Copenhagen, but it’s not techno at all – just me playing my favourite tracks. It will be more rock stuff. I’ve done it several times now and it’s really cool. There’s a much more low-key feeling and we’ve still ended up with people dancing on the tables, without any hard stuff.
And what’s next for you?
Actually, I’m already working on my next album. I’m also working with a really talented Danish singer/songwriter and we’re doing some stuff in English. It’s a bit like Thom Yorke with Massive Attack inspirations – a bit like my universe.
Watch out for The Last Resort on Oct. 6. on Poker Flat!