Techno dekathlon master

Hakan Lidbo is one the most creative electronic artists in the whole genre history. Just check his latest albums: "Simple" on Container and "Dunka Dunka" on Shitkatapult. These records were a good pretext to talk to him about his musical activity.

- You are probably the busiest artist on modern electronic scene.  Where do you find the energy to produce so many records?

- I eat a lot of vitamins! No, seriously, I used to release tons of records, about one record every second week. But I don't do that anymore. Nowadays, I'm more involved in bigger projects that often deal with some sort of question or problem regarding music, art, creativity, etc. Some of the recent projects I did (and all of them only happened in Sweden) are: "Fucking critics" where I asked ten of the most well-known music  critics in Sweden to write one review each then ten artists (I was  one of them) was asked to create a song from this review. I did the  whole process backwards by starting where it normally ends, the  review, and it ended with a compilation CD. The project investigated  the relation between media and artists and who is dependent of who. Check "The shift" where 8 established Swedish producers of electronica got togheter in my studio and worked collectively for exactly 8 hours, we  took a 15 minutes coffee break before and after noon, and one hour lunch  break, just like any industrial worker. We punched the clock even  though what we did was creatively totally free. This project  investigated the role of the independent musician versus the employed worker. What happens to creativity in this situation, etc. Check "Ström" - the only radio show about electronica on Swedish National Radio. One of my partners in the show is Andreas Tilliander who release records on Type, Cubic, Raster-Noton, Mille Plateaux etc. Check I did some sort of techno ballet called 60.01.60, which also will be a CD/DVD later this year. Its totally built on mathematics and it's  very very academic. Check: Right now im involved in a few upcoming projects. One where classical intrumentalists from the contemporary chamber music scene is collaborating with computer musicians. Check: One not yet named that deals with noise and disturbings sounds in the  city and how these noises can be reduced or disarmed with music, one  dealing with third world countries and the idea of presenting the computer as an instrument to people who yet doesn't even have electricity... So, this I what I've been up to mostly, but I'm still doing straight up tracks and there will be a few releases coming up, but again, not as many as in the old days.

- You recorded music in very different styles: from disco and electro to techno and house. Why did you try to all these genres?

- I'm thinking that if I learn how to make music in very different genres, stretching from commercial pop to very strange experimental stuff, I will learn from these different genres and I will also fid a library of musical tricks that I can use to blend into genres that normally don't use these tricks. I want to make accessable experimentalism and experimental pop.

- "Simple" is the effect of your collaboration with Alex Van Heerden. What is the idea of that project from?

- The idea came totally from the two of us meeting. Alex is the most musical person I've ever met. He is made of music. So the idea of a collaboration came out of a series of jam sessions we did in my studio. And many of the tracks on the album are straight up improvisations, the trumpet is played straight into the DAT master, no second taks, and I mix the electronics totally live.

- Why did you decide to combine jazz improvisations with abstract electronics?

- We both believe that jazz and electronica are very closely connected, the problem with jazz is that it's too respectful to it's own history, the problem with electronica is that it's history is so boring. When we get together we meet half-way, I pick up the methods of improvising and the openmindness to how the music flows, Alex picks up the sound treatment and the focus on short abstract sounds from the electronic music. This is how we put our ideas into words, this is how Alex describes it:
If jazz represents the pinnacle of  emotion sophistication in improvised music, at what point will it  dissolve and re-appear as it's diametric opposite? Can fragments of improvisation be registered, 'felt' to be bytes of information, capable of being copied, repeated or altered? Can the original spark of inspiration be distorted, re-inspired after the fact? Why not play  the 'jazz' trumpet as an electronic-music producer? As if one's performace is constantly being manipulated and fragmented from outside of the improvisational moment. If electronic music is seen as  fixed and unmutable, repetitive and without emotion, at what point can we experience it as being created under conditions of extreme uncertainty, repetition happening only purely by chance out of a chaotic, improvisational disorder? Why not create electronic music as if on stage in a jazz club? Constantly forgetting everything one has learnt only to rediscover it at the perfect moment. In a sense, jazz has always been electronic, and electronic has always been jazz. We want to celebrate that fact. It's simple. 'Simple' is an album born  of a very special meeting. H?kan and myself shared an atmosphere of  trust and exploration from the very beginning, and each session flowed in a way which was beautifully natural. We also had a  fascination with each other's skills of improvisation, and this music truly is a celebration of zen-like spontanaeity. But it is also more  than that. For the first time as a 'jazz' improviser, I felt that there was a context within which I could express myself freely. H?kan's productions created a musical landscape of fragility, cool excitement and an understated funkiness that encouraged the quiet, fragmented, poignantly humorous side of my trumpet playing. I feel that we have stumbled onto something quite new. A deconstruction of jazz, an amplification of it's imperfections.A blurring of the line  between digital and analogue. A projection of emotional sophistication into a realm of infinitely subtle fragments, minute bytes of expression.
Alex Van Heerden is the most musical person I've ever met during my  fifteen years as a producer. He is made of music and he can make anything sounds beautiful. When we work together it's very rarely that Alex makes a second take of anything. For me, being a computer musician with endless possibilities to change, improve and manipulate, it has been a musical trip where I've discovered the place in me where music comes from. And the title track of the album "Simple" suggests precisely that. Music, at its best, can reflect the eternal questions of our existence, or even a glimpse of the Divine. The title track is also sung in three languages simultaneously - English, African and Swedish. In addition to that some of the track titles are in San, a South  African language that is spoken only by less than ten living people  today. This is to suggest that if the differences between these languages can dissolve so beautifully in the music, so can the problems we all think we carry. If we live our life from the place where music comes from. It's simple. But not easy.

- How did look producion of the album like?

- Very much improvised, and also it was recorded over a very long period of time, actually almost three years, and this is a veeery long time to be me. Alex used to be in Sweden only in the summer time, to play at some Europeian festivals, so we did the recodings then. And finlly, after a couple of years, we had enough music to put it together as an album. Some of the tracks were recorded almost like a dogma project. We put up some rules for the recordings. Some tracks are created totally from sounds made by Alex' trumpet, all the  percusion sounds, that sound very electronic, are in fact sounds when  he taps his instrument, blows a percussive noise and things like that. We also had a method where we created very very quiet sounds in the studio and used those as the rhythmic sounds in the beats. Alex' style of playing and singing is very quiet and something very remarkable happens when you deal with these quiet sounds and amplify them into 0 dB, you sort of travel into this microscopic universe of unknown sounds. It's almost like you were 2 cm tall yourself. These quiet sounds are the ones you never hear as most recording processes are about to filter those out, the un-wanted sounds. But if you focus on these un-wanted noises and amplify them, you will get a sound that is very special, and very surprising as you've never heard these sounds before, they're too quiet.

- Do you think that the future of club music is in combining electronics with acoustic instruments?

- Not really. The idea of combining the both is not very fresh any longer. I don't think the next big musical innovation or musical  change in electronic music will come from this type of collaboration.  I think people will kept on exploring this field and I think more genres outside the traditional electronica will pick up the experimental  attitude from electronica. As pretty much all music is produced on computers there is no reason why traditional pop or rock or even jazz or blues should sound like it always has sounded. Electronica will keep inventing new sounds and beats but the future is more in the hands of new people making music and more people from new countries making music.

- Do you play a music from "Simple" on concerts?

- Not yet, but we're booked at the Danish National Radio's Festival called "Public Sernice" in August. I know there are some major Polish jazz festivals going on. Maybe we should try to get a gig there. Our music is just as much jazz as it is electronica. Or maybe as little as...

- Your new album on Shitkatapult - "Dunka Dunka" - is probably your the most agressive record ever. Where is that anger on the album from?

- It may sound like anger and the cover art suggest anger as well, but it's in fact happyness, or energy and enthusiasm over life in general. I've had a period where I haven't produced any straight up club tracks in a while. I got a bit fed up with myself and then it was time to do something different. But when I was travelling from a gig in Montreal in Canada, I had some spare time, and I was very inspired by the gigs in Canada, so I hanged out in my hotel room and at a café with my laptop and my new headphones. And then a sort of new sound came to me, but even though it's quite rough, noise and  distorted, it's not about agression, to me it's happy music. The references of what's beautiful and what's ugly is pushed forward all the time. And I'm not very interested in traditionally beautiful music at all these days. But I find beauty in quite noisy music. So again, this is a happy album with beautiful music.

- Is raw "Dunka Dunka" a kind of your reaction on conceptual character of "Simple"?

- Not really, but I learn something from every project I make. So I've learned from "Simple" and I've learned from "Dunka Dunka". I'm constantly improving my musical skills and the best way of doing this is to be as versatile as possible. The most impressive athletes are not the ones that only run 100 meters on less than 10 seconds but the ones that do decathlon, the ones that can run, jump, throw and do  everything really well. I want to be the techno decathlon master. That's why I've made almost every form of electronic music there is. I recently did a ballet, I've made music for the Eurovision Song Contest, I've made elecro-acustic music, I've made extreme minimal music and full vocal big house tracks. One day I might do an opera!


- You are back on some tracks from "Dunka Dunka" to oldskool rave sounds. Did you find inspiration in that form of dance music?

- Yes, I do. I find inspiration in every form of extreme music, old school rave being one of them. And contemporary stupid speed core and death metal and new punk and noise... Rave really developed the idea of making music out of as annoying sounds as possible and in that way  "Dunka Dunka" is inspired by this. Call it stupid music for intelligent  people.

- Hard beat, fat bass and distorted synths - do these elements make techno more dangerous and powerful - like in its early days?

- Techno might be powerful but it's never dangerous. Music is always good, never dangerous. It's only in our mind that we make up things like that. It's just like when we met a person with one hundred tatoos and piercing all over, we might think it's a dangerous person but it's not. It's probably just someone who is afraid to be him or herself. Loud and extreme music is always nice and friendly if you look and listen beyond the noise. But the technology makes it possible to make the bass fatter, the synhts more distorted and the beats harder. And there is no limit how hard it can be, that's what's so amazing about electronic music.

- How do people react on music from "Dunka Dunka" in clubs?

- I don't know yet, I will start my first gigs playing the "Dunka Dunka" music in early June. But I almost always get good reactions when I play out as I put a lot of energy into my live set, not only musically but also the way I perform. I'm like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I'm normally a rather calm guy but when the music starts banging and I'm behind the gear, something happens to me. I go crazy as the music gets crazy. And it's wonderful.

- What crazy ideas we expect from you after "Simple" and "Dunka Dunka"?

- Next thing I do is a compilation of tracks made by Swedish electronica artists, me being one of them, where we make music for national grief. The idea is that when something really bad happens that effects the whole nation; when our prime minister Olof Palme was murdured, when the Tsunami swept away 250.000 people and 1.000 of them were Swedish, when the ship "Estonia" went down and 800 Swedes drowned, then National Radio stops playing "normal" music and only play sad music that fits that moment. My idea is to make new music for moments like this, partly to investigate what is it in music that makes it good  for moments of sadness or grief, but also to prove that electronic music can be just as good and just as serious as the classic music they normally play when a big disaster strikes our nation. I want to call the album "When The King Dies" but the Swedish National Radio won't allow that, so the album will be called something like "Alternative Music Or National Grief".




+ Anthony Braxton - Sextet (Victoriaville) 2005 / Roscoe Mitchell - Compositions/Improvisations Nos. 1,2 & 3
+ Älgarnas Trädgard - Framtiden ar ett svavande skepp, forankrat i forntiden
+ Henry Kaiser/Charles K. Noyes/Sang Won Park - Invite the Spirit 2006
+ My Cat Is An Alien - Il Suono Venuto Dallo Spazio
+ V.A. - Jukebox Buddha
+ Casio Casino Vs. Neville Attree - AAcid Code 8
+ Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
+ Vladislav Delay - Whistblower
+ Brian Ellis - Free Way
+ Thomas Fehlmann - Honigpumpe
+ Filewile - Nassau Massage
+ Andreas Heiszenberger - Ah
+ Kiko - Tragolta
+ Lawrence - Lowlights From The Past And Future
+ Hakan Lidbo & Alex Van Heerden - Simple
+ Montag - Going Places
+ People Press Play - People Press Play
+ Phonique - Good Idea
+ Porn Sword Tobacco - New Exclusive Olympic Heights
+ Rancho Relaxo Allstars - The Answer Is Yes
+ Rother Vs. Beliayeva - Roses Remix/Don't Worry Remix
+ September Collective - All The Birds Were Anarchist
+ Throbbing Gristle - Endless Not
+ Tied & Tickled Trio - Aelita
+ Death Vessel - Stay Close
+ Apparat - Walls

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+ COR FUHLER - Stengam
+ MAD JUANA - Acoustic Voodoo
+ MARISSA NADLER - Songs III: Bird on the Water
+ AXEL DÖRNER/LUCIO CAPECE - Axel Dorner / Lucio Capece
+ SPOOKY - Open
+ DAVID S. WARE QUARTET - Renunciation
+ JUNE TABOR - Apples
+ BUFFALO AGE - Buffalo Age
+ RAN SLAVIN - The Wayward Regional Transmissions
+ ANTHONY BRAXTON & FRED FRITH - Duo (Victoriaville) 2005 / WOLF EYES & ANTHONY BRAXTON - Black Vomit
+ CHILDREN OF THE STONES - The Bright Day is Gone / JOHN BUTCHER / CHRISTOF KURZMANN - The Big Misunderstanding Between Hertz and MegaHertz / FELIX WERDER - The Tempest / Electronic Music / ARTANKER CONVOY - Cozy Endings CD/DVD / ROB BROWN TRIO - Sounds / THE CHROME CRANKS - Diabolical Boogie (Singles, Demos & Rarities: 1992 B.C. - 1998 A.D.) / MATHON - Muntsulej / FERGUS KELLY - Material Evidence / TAO G. VRHOVEC SAMBOLEC / TOMAZ GROM - Tilt / WALKING BICYCLES - Walking Bicycles / UNITED BIBLE STUDIES - The Shore that Fears the Sea
+ PRIVACY - Without Mercy
+ PURE SOUND - Submarine
+ YABBY YOU - Deliver Me From My Enemies
+ TEXT OF LIGHT - Rotterdam.1
+ ENT - Fuck Work / URKUMA - Rebuilding Pantaleone's Tree / (ETRE) - A Post-Fordist Parade in the Strike of Events
+ GUTEVOLK - Tiny People Singing Over The Rainbow
+ ENRICO RAVA QUINTET - The Words and the Days / JOHN ABERCROMBIE - The Third Quartet / PAUL MOTIAN - Time and Time Again / FRANCOIS COUTURIER - Nostalghia - Song for Tarkovsky
+ ZMF TRIO - Circle the Path
+ GIANLUCA BECUZZI & FABIO ORSI - The Stones Know Everything
+ OV - Noctilucent Valleys
+ ANTONY MILTON - The End of This Short Road
+ DAVID LIEBMAN / RICHIE BEIRACH / RON McCLURE / BILLY HART - Redemption - Quest Live in Europe
+ KLIMA - Klima
+ WILLIAM PARKER & HAMID DRAKE - First Communion & Piercing the Veil - Summer Snow
+ TILOMO - Soft Lunch / SECRET VOICES - No Time For Silence

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+ Techno dekathlon master - rozmowa z Hakan Lidbo