The great Dane, Anders Trentemøller, is on a roll in 2011. After a hiatus from 2006’s debut The Last Resort, the 37 year-old is back this year with Into The Great Wide Yonder under his belt, and a collection of impeccably-produced remixes and reimagined tracks on a new double-disc aptly named Reworked/Remixed, out this month.
A mainstay in the realm of electronic music, Trentemøller took his catalogue on the road this year throughout much of the great 48, stopping in San Francisco just before Halloween for a show filled with lights, curtains, and all the theatrics you’d expect at a circus or vaudeville production. But, it’s not entirely flashy; upon closer inspection, you can start to connect that Trentemøller’s live show is just as impeccable as the visuals. Every key, drum loop, and smashing of guitars perfectly syncs with a light beat, a projection still, and the experience is heightened that much more. It is obvious Trentemøller, who records and produces under his last name, spends wholly all his time perfecting his craft. We had a chance to sit down with him via phone for a quick chat on Morrissey, Twitter, and mix CDs. Not bad for a guy who first played San Francisco “after Coachella, hungover as shit, but we weren’t nervous because if it.”
What is your background, musically?
For me, it is funny that [anyone] thinks I am doing dance music. When you listen to my album, it’s not really danceable, but it is still electronic, with references to rock and synth and Krautrock. I started to do more danceable music when I started creating, 17 or 18 years ago. For me, it was a natural development from going from my bedroom, to the studio and on my own. For me, I really was missing instruments. I played in rock bands before I started doing electronic music, and it was a quiet, natural development, to go on the road and play live. It’s more of a hybrid thing of club music and rock influences, the ’60s, and trying to put that together.
Did growing up in Denmark have anything to do with your influence?
When I was a young teenager, my family wasn’t that musically-oriented, so I just listened to what was national radio, which was mainstream pop music. When I was a teenager, [I discovered] bands like The Smiths and Joy Division, and later on, ’60s groups like the Velvet Underground and punk like the Clash. For me, it was really fun that I actually listened to music that was not like the music I first created. I was from the country, and my friends were listening to Bruce Springsteen, so I had to find my own musical taste.
What, you weren’t into The Boss?
[Laughs.] Not too much. Where I grew up, the town was pretty much far away from the city [Copenhagen]. When I was 17 I had to move to Copenhagen to meet people and I started playing live right away. If I stayed, you could either play football or get into a fight at the local pub in my hometown, so I really needed to get away and meet other people.
A lot of your first influences were radio bands; did you use them to imitate their sound at first?
Back then we used to use a lot of time to sound like our idols, like The Cure. Then we tried hard to sound like Morrissey. When you’re that old, you’re just trying to learn from others, and learn how to achieve different sounds, and playing in bands was a big learning experience. And it helped because now I know how to play the drums, bass, and keys.
What’s the full list of instruments that you know how to play?
Oh, the simple stuff, enough to use on the albums (laughs). Keys, drums, live percussions, and the glockenspiel. We actually use that live. It’s really nice, a great loud sound.
Did you feel prepared making your first album (debut The Last Resort)?
It was my first studio album, so it was a bit scary. Before I had done a lot of 12-inches and EPs and music oriented to the club-y side. I wanted to make my debut album doing something that was worth listening to from the first track to the last track, and somehow go on a journey. I was very interested in making an album that had those qualities. It was all done in my small bedroom in Copenhagen, and it was also when I was trying to incorporate live bass and drum in my shows, but I couldn’t record it at home because of my neighbors, so I had friends help me. It took me about a year, I really wanted to be satisfied, something I was proud of.
Right now, you have your second album out (Into The Great Wild Yonder), and just had Reworked/Remixed released this month on your own record label, In My Room. Was it difficult focusing on two projects in the same year? Do people ask you for remixes all the time?
The remix double album was a long time coming. When artists I really admire ask me to do remixes, I do it. Depeche Mode, The Knife? Yes. You learn about the remix process and the different parts from the artists: the drums solo, the keyboard alone, and you can how the original artist put together. That part Is very inspiring. I am also always looking for some sort of hook line – what is the basic part of this track? Often I am only using part of the lead vocals and maybe the guitar, and then I create something new, with the melody and the bassline, and try to make it into my own track.
I bet you make a killer mix CD too. Do people ever ask for those as well?
Remixes are definitely what people ask for versus mix CDs. I did a mix CD about three months ago, with MGMT. It’s very different putting together tracks that inspire you and that you want to share with people, but it is a quicker, great way to get tunes in a cool way.
How did your band come together?
My friends from Copenhagen and I have worked together in so many musical ways. I knew those people were capable of inputting in their own musical inspiration. On albums it’s mostly me playing all the parts, but I can’t do it live, so with these people I know them, and I trust them. I lose control over the creative process, but I get so much feedback about the live process and maybe something I would have never thought of. It’s putting all the emotions and work into the music, and that is important to me. The bottom line is that it’s not me with a backing band, but it’s as a band playing together.
We noticed you have an abandoned Twitter account. Do you hate the little tweet bird that much?
I’m really bad at the Internet! I had only posted one thing in two years, and on this tour I lost the password. But I am on Facebook, so I’m more active there. And I’m trying to get better at Twitter, but I accidentally opened two accounts, so I don’t know.
As 2011 is winding down, how are you planning to move forward musically?
I decided to not DJ and not do any remixes for the next eight months so I can concentrate on making music for the next album. While we are touring, it is really hard for me compose new music, and on the road we’re playing every night, and then we party a little bit after playing, so It can be hard to make. For me, I need a little of quietness around me. I can be in the studio, and not worry about soundcheck and other things of touring, in my own peace. I built a big studio in Copenhagen.
How did In My Room come to be on top of your musical endeavors?
It was important to me to have my own platform to release my own music. One of my dreams is to sign one or two more bands, and to release new music in three to four months – so people are welcome to send demos to the label! It is something I am looking forward to and that I want to do with the label.