Music //

Interview | Trentemøller Shows His Dark Romantic Side

Danish composer opens up about re-invention, similarities to Nicolas Winding Refn and working with Savages Jenny Beth on new album.

Patrick Greenby Patrick Green

The perception of Trentemøller and the reality of Anders Trentemøller are two different things. One might expect the multi-instrumentalist, Grammy-Award nominated remix wizard and music producer (he prefers “composer”) to be dark and creepy, like the broodingly atmospheric music he makes, but the man himself is quite chatty and cheery as we conversed over Skype about his latest album, Fixion, his upcoming show at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and why Danish dudes are so into neon-lit new wave AND dark, moody shit.

Also: Interview | Nicolas Winding Refn on ‘The Act of Seeing’

Crave: You’ve been making music for a long time, where does Fixion fit into it all?

Anders Trentemøller: Every new album for me is quite different because I try to start all over again. I try not to look back. The biggest difference is that I tried not to get lost in the production of the sounds because it is very easy when you have all the possibilities in a modern studio to kind of get lost. You have to focus on just using the necessary parts of each song.

Not looking back is brave because there’s a thin line between what fans expect and what you as an artist want to try.

Actually, to be honest, I only think about my own expectations or it doesn’t work. I try to follow what feels right. Very often the songs dictate where they want to go.

So, with Fixion, the songs wanted to go to a more dark and romantic place?

It was not something I planned. I brought in these synthesizers from the seventies that the Cure and Joy Division used so when you use those that’s the sound you get, but I tried not to make it a nostalgic album. I used atmospheres and vibes that took out the dramatic and made it cold. I love the contrasts between analog and digital. Warm and cold. Something beautiful and creepy underneath.

I get that juxtaposition with “The River In Me.” It’s bouncy, but badass. Scary and sexy, kinda like Jenny Beth (Savages vocalist) herself.

I came up with a bass line and thought it could work very well with Jenny Beth so I called her because I had mixed the new Savages album (Adore Life). I wanted to take her out of that Savages rock ‘n roll sound and do something different. So we met up in studio in Copenhagen. We only had two days, but we recorded “The River in Me” in a day so we did another song “Complicated.” It was a very intense 48 hours which is maybe what you can hear (in the songs).

There’s a real cinematic quality to your music, are you influenced at all by films?

People ask me that all the time, but cinema isn’t really an inspiration for me. With instrumental music, you can create your own movie. Vocals very often dictate what the music is about, but with instrumentals, you can make your own thoughts about it and envision your own inner movie.

Okay, that ruins my next question —

Laughs (on his end). Gulp (on mine).

Not to dwell, but I just watched Nicolas Winding Refn’s Neon Demon and I could totally see Fixion being the soundtrack to itIf movies aren’t an influence, clearly new wave, ’80s pop culture are on both you and Refn. You’re both middle-aged Danish guys so what’s up with that? 

It’s funny how music you listened to as a kid stays with you. Maybe it’s because we’re the same age. And, of course we’re both from Denmark. A lot of Danish art and movies have that melancholic, dark vibe. If you listen to (Danish) folk music it’s always in minor and has that blue, melancholic vibe to it. I can definitely see what you’re talking about, but I think Drive has a really retro, ’80s sound. And I tried to take (Fixion) away from the ‘80s aesthetic.

One area where you stand out as an electronic artist is that you actually play live.

It’s necessary to play songs live. Playing live with a band is great because I can give the songs a new life. It’s important to me to not recapture the sounds on the album. It’s two different worlds for me. In the studio everything is possible, but playing with a band. Finding the human effect, those ‘happy accidents’ can change the path of each songs.

You’re playing two shows at the Hollywood Cemetery in Los Angeles which seems like the ideal setting for your music?

This is the first time I will be there. We’ve heard so many great things about it. I can’t wait.

I’ve read a quote from you that said, “music is fiction.” If so, what kind of story would Fixion be?

That’s a very good question because this album is all about feeling and for me it would be about being alone in the Danish forest, but being surrounded by nature. It sounds corny, but that was actually the vision I had. This feeling of being isolated, but being surrounded by the living. This emptiness is the creative force behind the album. Not in a desperate way, but being able to embrace the loneliness and not seeing it as a negative thing.

Fixion is out tomorrow on all streaming sites. For more information on Trentemøller go here and for tickets to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (here).