Wednesday, 25 June 2008

TD Interviews… PRINS THOMAS

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates of late - things have been super-hectic in Tricky Disco land. The good news is that we're back with a bang! Yesterday we had a wee chat with Norwegian disco daddy Prins Thomas about his forthcoming Full Pupp label compilation, future plans, forthcoming projects and life in Oslo. We were going to stick it up in a few weeks time, but since Thomas told us some interesting stuff about his plans for a solo album - and what his next album with old pal Hans-Peter Lindstrom sounds like - we thought we'd share it with you. So here's the interview in full...

TD: So how are you Thomas? You seem to be very busy these days…

PT: “Yes and no. I can decide whether I want to be busy or not. I only need two factors to satisfy me – to make music and spend time with my family.”

You seem to be out DJing so much these days though…

“Yes. I can’t really take any more gigs though. It seems like my career is going well [laughs]. I would never have guessed it. Everyone knows you normally get a year or two if you weren’t established in the 90s or something, but the gigs are still there and people keep inviting me back, so I can’t be shit [laughs].”

When we get out and about we hear so many good things about your DJing. We visited Make Up in Ghent a couple of months back and Dirk - who’s also your boss at Eskimo - had a lot of nice things to say. You’re off back there next week aren’t you?

“Usually I never know where I’m going - I know where I’m going this week, but if I try and remember where I’m going in two weeks I mix them all up and I think I’m going there this week. With the gigs I try and think just a week at a time - like I know I’m going to Berlin and Ukraine this weekend. For most people that’s more than enough, travelling to two countries. I don’t know where I’m going the weekend after, but I think it’s Belgium!”

Things seem to be going well with the label [Full Pupp] - or should we say labels now, as there’s Internasjonal too…

“Yes. I never talk about figures when I talk about success. For me, I think it’s going well because I’m allowed to put out the music I like and there are always some people who are into it and buy it. But it’s not big numbers or anything.”

Yes, but selling any records at all in this day and age is very good…

“Of course. I’ve been thinking long term from the first 12” – I don’t think ‘this record must sell this number’. I don’ really mind putting out stuff I know that people won’t get. Like I just put out this Discodomo 12 that I really love, but it’s really hard for people to get into. Even people who are into the same stuff as me might not like it, but it doesn’t really matter. Long term it has to make sense when you look at the whole back catalogue.”

One of the things we love about Full Pupp and Internasjonal is that there’s always plenty of variety to the releases. Some releases you can play to a wide variety of dancefloors, while some of the others are brilliantly strange and specialist. Is that a fair appraisal?

“I think that’s up to the listener or buyer to decide - I never really think about it. Almost everything I make now - or have been making the last couple of years - I don’t sit down and say “right I’m going to make a dancefloor track”. I may have a vague idea, but in the end I often can’t make up my mind. I might put out some 12” tracks that 99% of people might think ‘you can’t put this out as a 12” track’, but I don’t care. It’s up to the listener. Maybe some of the tracks I pick as personal favourites that work, and maybe some are personal favourites that don’t work, but it doesn’t really matter.”

Internasjonal was set up to put out non-Norwegian stuff wasn’t it?

“Yes…generally. I’m not saying there’s never going to be Norwegian stuff on there as well - I’m already getting some remixes from friends here of Internasjonal stuff - but the plan was not to fuck up the one good idea I had for Full Pupp, which was to release my friends’ stuff and keep it in the family.”

That’s what gives Full Pupp a unique identity. Because the releases are all from Norwegian artists it gives people a focal point for what’s happening in Oslo…

“It’s our one selling point, besides the fact that I think the music is great. Like you said, although there is lots of different stuff coming out it tricks you into thinking that there’s a unity to what’s happening. At the time when I started my first label Tamburin, which was 2001 I think, I was just fed up with everyone complaining that there wasn’t anything happening in Norway. Everybody was working on there own and everybody sent out demos to English labels and Americna labels. They wanted to be identified with, say, Paper Recordings or whatever, but in the long term that doesn’t give anything back to you as a producer or the Norwegian ‘scene’, if you can call it that. The only thing you’re contributing to is another catalogue number on Paper or whatever. So one of my ideas was to hopefully in time build up something that would make people look to Norway for exciting stuff and maybe get more excited about making stuff here, which I guess it has, together with what Hans Peter [Lindstrom] has been doing. Obviously there’s been stuff before in Bergen, but that had very little to do with what was happening in Oslo. It was inspiration wise - people like Erot and Bjorn Torske meant a lot to me personally and inspirationally, but what was happening in Bergen was very hyped. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to be part of it. At the same time people started like slowly making music here in Oslo, but there was never any hype surrounding it.”

Until we came over and hyped it up in iDJ magazine last year…

“Yeah. The press have managed to hype it up a bit, but at the same time it isn’t dead yet!”

Well, we tried to be realistic about it, be enthusiastic but say that it is a relatively small bunch of people and only a few clubs. One of the things yourself, Per Martinsen and Strangefruit were saying last year was that it may look from the outside like there’s a lot going on, it’s only a relatively small thing. However many people there are, it’s still exciting…

“I know there’s a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened or been noticed if it hadn’t been for me, Terje and Lindstrom having more success. A lot of people who gave up a long time ago and said ‘I’m not going to put out 12”s any more, there’s no point in doing it’ have got back into it. I’m not saying we were the first to do it, but what we did was show people that it is possible to get your music out and get gigs if you work hard at it. With most hype, people can sit in their studio, make a single and become part of a wave in some city somewhere. Here, people actually work - most people at least - hard. For me, it’s a 9 to 5 job now. I still enjoy it as much as before, but I’m going to the studio 10 till 3 or 4 Monday to Thursday. If I’m going somewhere on Friday then obviously I’m not going to the studio, but then traveling at weekends, back on Sunday or Monday and straight back to the studio again.”

The last few years have been pretty productive for you with solo stuff, remixes and the stuff with Hans-Peter. What are you doing studio wise at the moment? We know you’ve been doing another album with Hans-Peter…

“Yes. We’ve finished the album for Eskimo, but have no idea when it’s coming out yet because we have to wait until Hans Peter’s album is out. We made a point of not rushing anything. Eskimo heard the first tracks from the album three weeks ago - until then they’d not heard anything since the last track from the ‘Reinterpretations’ album.We made so many tracks - there’s probably 180 minutes of music. We’ve chosen roughly 76 minutes for the CD and then all the other stuff we’re trying to work out what to do with it. It might be two CDs coming after each other, we’re not sure yet. There’s also quite a lot that needs doing if we’re going to have a 12”, because the album is 95 per cent live - us playing live in the studio.”

So it’s a bit of a progression from the first album then…

“You could say it’s a progression or a regression! I don’t know!”

You’ve got back to your live roots then…

“In a way, but at the same time I feel it’s definitely going forward. With the last album we tried to make an album - now we’ve made an album. Nothing was planned, everything was based on what we played in the studio. It came naturally, although we tried to give each other some kind of limitations, like trying not to start working with MIDI stuff to early in the process. As little as possible syncronized stuff - most of it should be live. That’s one thing. I’m also working on my own - in the last few months I’ve more or less come up with an album of my own stuff, so there’s definitely going to be a couple of singles from myself on Full Pupp and most likely an album sometime next year. I’m also spending a lot of time co-producing stuff on both labels. A lot of the stuff I get sent now is demos. Instead of passing it back and forth, people ask me if I can mix it down, which suits me fine because I work really quickly when it comes to stuff like that. Some stuff I get sent completely finished. We’ve just mastered the full Windsurf album…:

I bet that’s good - the E.P was very good…

“I think the album is better. It’s probably easier to get the 12” the first time because it’s only four tracks to listen to. Now you get a bunch of other tracks and they’re all quite different to each other. To me, it’s just like when I’m listening to some of Hans Peter’s stuff - they use quite a lot of unusual chords and chord progressions. It’s not just major minor chords. If you listen to most of this cosmic stuff it’s basically just a groove, a few loops and some boring samples.”

Certainly, it could be argued that there’s a lot of stuff coming out in the cosmic/nu-disco sphere that’s getting very cheap and predictable…

“Yeah. It’s a really cool combination - some cool drums and some funky bass and some echo - but at the same time I hear all these tracks coming out which sound like a really bland version of what I’m getting bored of myself. At the same time it’s kind of strange, because for me naturally because personally I’ve gone on to do other stuff. There are always people who expect you to ‘flog the dead horse’ or whatever, otherwise you’ll turn your back on what you’ve created.”

That old thing of “I’d like a remix - can you make it like that one you 18 months ago which I liked’…

“Yeah! But hey, that’s life. I’m not in the music industry, I’m making music. It’s funny - the most positive feedback for the Windsurf stuff came from James Holden. I think that says a lot. You have all these nu-disco producers who were saying ‘I don’t like it - I can’t play it’. But then you have these people who you think are blind musically because they only play techno, they’re the guys who actually picked this up.”

If you expect that every release that Full Pupp or Internasjonal puts out will be a certain tempo and style, then you’ll be disappointed, but that was never what either label was about…

“Yes, but it would have been good if people actually listened to the music instead of talking about it. And I’m saying this to a journalist… [laughs]”

Coming back to the new compilation, how did you settle on which tracks to put on ‘Greatest Tits Vol 1’, because not everything you’ve released is on there…

“The criteria I used was that it had to show some of the variety of the label. I wanted to pick an interesting 80 minutes rather than a bland CD of samey sounding stuff, and not just play all the obvious stuff. None of the biggest sellers are on there - neither Todd Terje’s ‘Eurodans’ or my ‘Fehrara’ are there, for example.”

We were quite excited to see that there were quite a few unreleased tracks on there…

“I think you’ve got to do that or otherwise it’s just a cash in [laughs]. To me, it’s like I’ve been doing the label for quite a long time now. For me personally it feels longer than three or four years, because I did the other label and worked with some of the same people on that label. Full Pupp is a continuation with what I did with Tamburin. I felt it was just time to do a round up, because when we started the label we planned one release at a time and things went quite slow - it was always a few months between singles, and people were asking all the time ‘have you wrapped it up or is anything coming again?’ Now the schedule is pretty tight. Also, people have been asking to get the old tracks digitally, so this is a way of getting some new listeners…”

And reward the old listeners as well…

“I think it’s a pretty good package anyway if you’re into that sort of music, because there’s some stuff on there you won’t be able to get in other places. There are some unreleased tracks and also some older, really obscure tracks from the first label.”

‘Prins Thomas & Full Pupp present The Greatest Tits Volume 1’ will be released on July 21

4 comments:

will said...

it's greatest tits, not hits

will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sell By Dave said...

Yes, I know - I misread the press release!

Sega said...

if there are any question left for Thomas you can send them in here: http://www.whatpeopleplay.com/news_events/detail/2451