It's morning in Oslo, Norway, and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm wakes ups, climbs out of bed, drags himself to the coffee pot in the kitchen, pours a cup, takes a sip, and closes his eyes for a moment before silently admitting it will soon be noon and he better get to the studio.
But it's summertime. At the 60th parallel north, that means 12 hours more daylight than he'd get in winter. Understandably, Norwegians feel a kind of obligation to be outdoors this time of year. Lindstrøm doesn't understand how musicians can possibly be productive in places like Miami and Ibiza, where there's more or less sunshine every day. "There's an indoor weather season and an outdoor weather season," he tells New Times over the phone. With sunlight comes countless reasons not to work.
The outdoor season has done a number on the producer's productivity. It doesn't help that he's lost interest in the music that once inspired his career. "I'm fed up with it," he says with a laugh and unexpected lightness. "I find no inspiration from listening to it anymore." He actively avoids electronic music. Disco has lost its effect on him, and he's done with the '70s and '80s hits with which he was once obsessed. The few new inspirations he's found are in classical music, film, and walking in the woods.
With the opening notes of Henry Purcell's "Trumpet Tune" in his ears, Lindstrøm grabs a homemade whole-grain bun from the freezer and smears it with some of yesterday's strawberry jam from the fridge. Sunlight isn't the only gift summer presents Norway — there are also strawberries. Out in the country, where Lindstrøm and his wife have a little summer house, wild strawberries sprout from the ground like red gems. "They are so delicious," he beams. He and his kids gather handfuls into baskets to take back to the city.
The half-hour walk from his apartment to the studio develops an appetite, so Lindstrøm has a snack. He pours another cup of coffee and reads a bit of news. "I'm very, very disappointed with myself in the morning," he admits. "It takes two or three hours for me to get into work mode." And even then, it's a kind of half-assed effort to finish a project he's already begun.
But you don't establish space disco — one of the more intriguing electronic music styles to emerge in recent years — get featured in the New Yorker, and collaborate with the likes of Todd Rundgren by being half-assed and disappointing. Sure, it took Lindstrøm four years to release a new solo EP, Windings, but something suggests he's either hard on himself, humble, or a bit of both.
In his studio, Lindstrøm plays around with a new synth and plug-in he just downloaded and, rather than return to yesterday's track, starts a new one — a habit of his. He begins with a simple beat, some hand claps and kick drums, adds high-hats, shakers, a synth melody, and some spacey progressions about a minute in. None of these is especially elaborate on its own, but the combination of a dozen — or even dozens — of elements is nothing short of over-the-top.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Lindstrøm's musical maximalism matches the clutter in his studio, a sharp contrast to Scandinavian design's minimalism and the minimalist approach many of his peers take. "I'm not good at getting rid of things," he explains. "When I create a song, if it doesn't sound right, I just keep adding things until I think it does." He adds and he adds until the track is practically bursting at its seams. "I never think to get rid of things like a lot of other people do. But maybe I should."
Lindstrøm doesn't do typical, he doesn't listen to his peers, and he often does what he wants rather than what he knows he should. And that's what makes his music so distinct. "That's the good thing about being your own boss — nobody can really tell me what to do." He adds after a pause, "Maybe I could be a bit more self-disciplined, though."