Interview: Trentemøller

To say that Anders Trentemøller has been touring extensively is an understatement beyond measure. For the past two years, Trentemøller and his band have been traveling all over the world. From Croatia to California, he is about to take a quick breath from touring just in time to release his newest effort, Reworked/Remixed. I got a chance to catch up with Anders on Halloween night before his set at the Roseland Theater in Oregon.

The Silver Tongue: How are you doing?

Anders Trentemøller: I’m fine, thank you, and you?

TST: I’m doing good, happy Halloween!

AT: Yeah, thank you! And you too!

TST: I just have a couple questions for you if you don’t mind. First off, your tour right now – you’re kind of wrapping up a fairly extensive tour through Brazil, Mexico, and the States, and now you’re finishing up in Canada. How has the tour been going?

AT: It has been totally fantastic! We’ve had a lot of sold out shows, especially in the big cities like New York, San Francisco, and LA. And the reaction has been really really great. We were actually kind of surprised how many people showed up to our shows and we are really happy.

TST: Awesome! So now that you’re slowing down from touring are you already feeling antsy to get back on the road? Or are you ready to take a break for a bit?

AT: You know, we have been playing pretty much nearly nonstop for the last two years or so. So after we finish in Canada we have two shows in Copenhagen, and then I take a big break – I think for about eight or nine months – to work on my next album. It’s really hard to really get into music writing and just have the quietness and the peacefulness to really concentrate on composing. I’m definitely going to go back to my studio in Copenhagen after this tour and start working on the next album.

TST: Ok, cool. So I know when you perform now you use a full band. Do you have to approach performing in a different way? How is it different?

AT: It’s totally different. When I’m playing with my band we’re only playing my music and we’re playing it all live. So there’s no turntables and definitely no DJing. I’m playing keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion, and stuff, and we have seven people on stage: two guitar players, a bass player, a drummer, and two vocalists. So it’s pretty much like a rock concert, but still with some electronic elements. When I DJ – it is quite rare that I do that now because my passion really lies in playing with a band – but when I DJ it’s much more simple because it’s just me playing some cuts from a CD player. So it is much more fun for me to play with a band because we have this special live show with a lot of visual things going on. This whole thing about playing together with people you really admire and respect is something that I wouldn’t live without.

TST: That goes perfectly to my next question: how did you go about picking the musicians in the band that are backing you?

AT: For me, it was quite easy because they are all my friends from Copenhagen. We have been playing together in different bands, and we have had some transitions over the years in Copenhagen. So the whole music scene, especially the underground music scene, in Denmark is very talented right now. I think a lot of critical music is coming out of Denmark because people are very much up for working together, even with different music styles. It is very common that a guy doing mostly folk music suddenly teams up with a guy doing pure electronic music. This mix-match of different music styles is something that is very common right now for the whole music scene. So it was easy for me to just choose those friends that I knew already play great music, and asking if they wanted to join me on this trip.

TST: That’s awesome that you got all the people you knew already. I’m sure it makes it a lot easier.

AT: Yeah, yeah! Also because it’s musicians that I really admire, and they are all doing their solo things. They’re all playing in their own band and they have a lot of – I don’t know what the word is – but they have been doing this for many years. They are very pro and still they are open minded and ready for giving feedback on the music. That’s also a really cool thing, because normally I’m doing all the music in the studio alone, sitting there without even having contact with other people while I’m doing the music. Suddenly we go out on the road and play for a lot of people, and then it’s really cool for the musician to give feedback and ideas that I never would have come up with.

TST: Yeah, that’s really cool!

AT: Sorry, that was a very long answer [laughs].

TST: No no, that’s awesome. I’m glad you have a lot to say about them, it shows that it’s a good band. Also, I was going to talk about some of the venues you played. I was looking through the list of the US dates and you played smaller venues like Asheville’s Orange Peel, but at the same time you played Coachella. Is there a specific type of venue you prefer? Do you prefer the festivals over the bars? What is your preference?

AT: For me they’re two really different things, because playing – as you said – Coachella was for us a very very big thing because it turned out to be a really huge thing. I think 25,000 people were there going crazy.

TST: Yeah, I saw the video on Youtube. It was incredible!

AT: Yeah, it was! And you know, we were really surprised because no one really knew us before, and after this show we got a lot of attention. I can feel that when I do interviews. Also a lot of people are coming to our shows now. That was really great, but then again it was also great to play small venues, sometimes only for 300 people or 400 people. It becomes much more intimate, and you can actually look in the eyes of the people in the crowd and feel this contact much closer and then you can also sometimes actually experiment more with the music. When we’re at festivals we’re only allowed to play 50 minutes, but when we play our venue shows it’s 75 or 80 minutes so it’s possible to play the music that’s a little bit more demanding, I think. That is really fun to do.

TST: Yeah, that’s awesome. So I take it that the crowds react better in the intimate settings, people are more interactive?

AT: Yeah, sometimes, but this energy that you get from 20,000 people, that is also so crazy. Sometimes all it took was to play the songs that are not so off tempo or not so danceable and listen-friendly, we have been playing those tracks at festivals and they actually worked. It’s all about where you put them in the set list. So every venue has it’s own good and bad things.

TST: Yeah, so I’ve been listening for the past couple weeks to your upcoming album Reworked/Remixed, and first off I love it. It’s a great album.

AT: For me it was, of course, not another real studio album. It’s more like a compilation of what I have done remix wise.

TST: Right, now you remixed a lot of big names on there, there’s Franz Ferdinand, Depeche Mode, and Modeselektor. I was wondering, did you ever get to contact any of these artists themselves and talk about the creative process with them?

AT: No, normally it’s like sometimes – I’m talking to the artist after I finish remixing. I did that with UNKLE and Modeselektor. We did this swap that was quite cool, I think. They asked me for the remix and then I did a remix for them, so there was no money involved and no label bosses to think of. So it was pretty much artist-to-artist. That is something I really love, because then you suddenly have the chance to work with some people that you really admire, really respect, and see how they work. With a big band like Depeche Mode it is much more of Depeche Mode asking me for a remix, then I do the remix, and of course also get feedback. They were very happy about the remix, but it’s really fun if you can take it even further and work more together like with Modeselektor and UNKLE.

TST: Yeah, cool. Now not only were there a lot of big names on the album – all the remixes – but there seemed to be people from all different kinds of genres. Are there certain things you look for in a song when you’re choosing what to remix?

AT: Yeah, yeah. For me I’m always looking for something that has a unique ring to it, you know, and that can also be the vocalist or certainly also be a good melody or a special track theme or synth theme or something that makes the track stand out. It was very challenging and fun to work with a name like The Knife’s Karin Dreijer.

TST: Oh yeah! I love them.

AT: Yeah, she also does the Fever Ray thing. That was great because she has such a special voice, and being able to build something around her voice was very challenging and fun to do. So it’s pretty much about – if it’s an artist that I really like, it’s not so much important if it’s a well known big artist like Depeche Mode or a more unknown artist like Chimes & Bells, Chimes & Bells was a Danish band that I also remixed. For me it is much more about the music, not so much about if it’s a high profile act. Of course it helps you when you remix Moby or Depeche Mode because a lot of people know those names, but it’s important also to work with totally underground artists that are just making cool music.

TST: Right. Are there any artists in particular that you would like to collaborate with or remix in the near future? Anyone in mind that you want to contact next?

AT: Yeah yeah! Definitely Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star, I’m a big Mazzy Star fan. So you know her, I would really love to do something because her voice is really really unique, and I like the way she and Mazzy Star put their music together. They are actually releasing a new single, the first one in fifteen years. I’m really looking forward to hear what they sound like now.

TST: Oh awesome. What artists would you say have influenced you the most as a performer and compositionally as an artist? What groups have really stood out to you and shaped who you are?

AT: I must say Suicide has been a very big influence because they made rock ‘n’ roll music, but they made it without guitars. They used drum boxes and keyboards, and still they had this really really cool rock ‘n’ roll attitude to their music. Also bands like The Cure have been a big influence for me, Joy Division, Velvet Underground, and Mazzy Star as already mentioned. Those bands really have so many layers in their music and that is something that I am really inspired by. I think it’s interesting not only to do music that is aimed for the band’s goal or the listening session, but try to mix shit together and hopefully make something that has its own unique sound.

TST: Do you have any new plans coming up on the horizon? I know you’re going to stop touring here for a bit, but do you have any projects you’re currently working on?

AT: No, the next thing is definitely this release of Reworked/Remixed and then I’m going to take a break of eight, nine, or ten months and just concentrate on writing new stuff for my next album. I’m actually really looking forward to going back to the studio again after two or three years of touring and just concentrating on making new music.

TST: Yeah, that’s awesome. So what is one thing you’d like the fans to know about Remixed/Reworked that they might not know just from listening to it?

AT: One thing that is quite unique about that album is actually the first track on the first CD – there are two CDs. It is Marie Fisker, she’s the girl that I wrote “Sycamore Feeling” together with and she is also singing on it. She did a really cool new version of that song, it’s totally acoustic without any electronic elements. That song suddenly got a sort of new life and I really love her version. That’s also why I put it on as an opening track of the album. It is fun to see how a song can work very differently not only when you produce it differently, but also when you sing it in a totally new way. I’m very happy about her version. It’s not a remix, but more like a reworked session.

TST: Right, right. Well that’s all the questions that I had. If there’s anything else you want to add feel free to.

AT: No no, I think we pretty much talked about most of everything [laughs].

TST: [laughs] Yeah, I think we got touring covered, we got the new album, we got your band, we got all the artists that you like, I think we got everything. We even got The Knife thrown in there for a bit.

AT: Yeah, that’s also fun for me! But I think we have a soundcheck now actually, so if you are satisfied, I am also satisfied.

TST: I am very satisfied, and good luck with your show tonight also.

AT: Thank you, thank you man, and it was nice to talk to you. Have a great day and happy Halloween again.

TST: Alright, happy Halloween to you too! I’ll talk to you later.

AT: Ok, see you!

TST: Goodbye.

AT: Bye bye.

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