You would expect that a guy who has become synonymous with Danish electronic music is the kind of person who with one Alfa-male stare makes everyone else in the room lower their gaze. But Anders Trentemøller is a pretty shy guy and as an artist he keeps re-inventing his sound, often alienating old fans in the process. We've had a hard time figuring out why, despite all this shyness and artistic u-turning, he seems to really be hitting his stride right now with a new album, a new video and yet another pending tour. At first we were merely resigned to think "Maybe he's just super talented, huh?" Then we decided we could probably do better than that, so we caught up with him for a little chat.
VICE: So, you must be sick to death of doing interviews about how you’ve changed your style over the years?
Anders Trentemøller: In the beginning it was really in every interview, where I had to intricately explain that my music was no longer techno. But now I think it’s gotten a lot easier and people seem to get it. Having said that, sometimes drunk people shout at me during concerts to play something fast. But you can’t please everyone you know? I’m mostly making music for myself and if people like it then it’s great. When your last record, Into the Great Wide Yonder came out in 2010, there was a little uproar among your audience right?
Yes. Some people were really disappointed, because it wasn’t what they’d expected. They wanted something similar to the first album, but if you’re getting to the point of listening to people and what they think of your sound…Well, that's not for me. But man, I was getting flooded with angry MySpace comments back then. They’re the worst. Was it hard dealing with the criticism?
Well yeah, I really worked hard on it and it took me a long time to be satisfied, so I sort of got a feeling like “Hey, aren’t you my fans, if so, can't you be a bit open minded? I know it’s not four to the floor, but give it a chance.” But your first record wasn’t exactly four to the floor, was it?
No no, exactly. But before that one I did some 12”s that were definitely more techno and it had become a stamp on my name. People really wanted that. Then when I began playing live with a band, there were a lot of people who saw us and didn’t have these preconceptions. So we grew an entirely new fan-base. It was great fun all of a sudden going from playing small techno clubs to doing huge rock festivals, and to be honest, I felt much more at home there. I began my musical career playing in bands. All sorts of bands. I even played in a blues band. Oh yeah? How did you start out and what got you into music?
I was used to rehearsing with a band four times a week in some sweaty rehearsal room from an early age. Then I realised it was possible to make music on your own and you wouldn’t have to suffer some drummer missing the break for like the sixteenth time in a row. I was so tired of it and it was a relief to do it by myself. I think that when the first Daft Punk record came out, I was really blown away and is was around the same time as Prodigy's Jilted Generation. What's your take on that whole DJ-scene that has evolved over that past decade and that you're often said to be part of?
Ten years ago I wasn’t part of the DJ-culture. I was making music in my bedroom and not really going out so much. That was it. I think it’s a bit of a shame to put so much focus on people who are only playing other people's music. Some of them do it well, but I don’t see it as an art. It’s mostly about getting people to dance, feeling out the crowd and hopefully, if you’re a good DJ, surprising them a little bit in the process. Sometimes it’s just great to see someone who mixes terribly but plays some great songs, because hearing people playing from Traktor with perfect sync can be so amazingly boring. But you still DJ occasionally. How is that and are there some clubs you prefer?
Playing your own music with your band is a very personal thing for me. Sometimes it’s just nice to get a little drunk and play some records and last time I played Panorama I got away with playing a lot of weird shit, man. The trick is to mix it in when people don’t expect it. Start off with something everyone feels comfortable with and then slip a weird track in here and there. All of a sudden people are dancing to an old Suicide track without thinking about it. So, back to your new album. Are you worried people are going to have an epileptic fit when they hear it?
Maybe, haha. I’m in a fortunate position now where people no longer know what to expect. This time I’m trying not to think too much about it. It’s my music and it’s the way I wanted it to be. Some of the tracks are actually a little more clubby than others and some are far more guitar driven. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe people get worried when they see Jonny Pierce of the Drums listed as the singer on the new single? They might think you have made some surf pop?
The new single came about because I love the Drums, especially their first album. I met them by coincidence in Copenhagen and I ended up doing a remix for them. Then I was like “So…If you’re ever up for doing a track, let me know.” It’s actually the most electronic track on the record. I think it’s fun to take people out of their own musical comfort zone and it was great to remove Jonny from his indie-pop settings and put him in this situation.
Who else have you got lined up on the album?
I can’t say.
Fair enough. Thanks, Anders!
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