Trentemøller needs no introduction so we might get straight to it – with his masterfully crafted new album Lost, a great new music video staring Oscar Isaac, a European tour and an American tour, Trentemøller has a lot to be excited about. Recently URB caught up with the artist and here’s how it went down…BTW, you can catch Trentemøller and his band performing at The Fonda Theatre in LA on April 5th; the show is titled Trentemøller and Tom.
Below he opens up about his road to international success, criticism, raves, his upcoming show in LA and advice to aspiring artists….read on and rock on 🙂
URB: So you’ve just wrapped a European tour. How was it?
Trentemøller: It was really fantastic. It was the second part of our European tour, the first part we did at the end of November of last year and we played in Italy and Germany and Greece and Iceland, many different places. I really like playing with my band because it’s such a social thing to do and it also was our first time in Greece! We got a fantastic vibe from the crowd.
URB: Do you get nervous when playing for a new audience, or in a country for the first time?
Trentemøller : There’s always this kind of tension. But when you get on stage and you feel the energy from the crowd and the rest of the band members, everything is fine again. I’m always quite tense before I go onstage and I focus all my energy on the performance that is about to happen, and as much as I love that time of intense focus and preparation, it can also be a little scary.
URB: For the unlucky few who have never seen you perform or know about your music, can you tell us what does your band consist of and what hardware and software do you use during your performance?
Trentemøller: The challenging thing for me is that when I record an album, I play all the instruments totally isolated in my studio for twelve, fourteen months and then emerging from this stage and meeting with my band members and trying to show them my music and also explain to them what to play, when in fact they have a lot of say but I also have this very clear idea about the sound. I also don’t want to make the shows sound exactly like the album, and sometimes it is just impossible anyway because I might have been recording seven different guitar solos on a track but I cannot bring seven guitar players with me on tour! So we try to keep it basic- we are three guitar players, a base player, Marie Fisker who is also singing with me live and that’s the drummer and I am playing a lot of keyboards of various sorts and everything is actually live. We don’t use lots of laptops onstage but we do have some sounds, synth based, running on Ableton Live in the background too. So maybe to those who expect a typical DJ performance, our show would be a disapointment….(laughs)
URB: Oh no way.
Trentemøller: There are sometimes challenges on tour; for example Marie Fisker who sings all the songs on stage who are in fact performed by different vocalist on the album, not all of whom I can just bring along to tour of course. So she had to make all those songs hers in a way and find how she relates to them and perform them, so they are the songs from the album yet they are not! We rehearsed a lot and it was a lot like remixing the album really because when Mary sings them, she makes them her own.
URB: Do you have a playlist you perform every night that is rehearsed or do you do a lot of spur of the moment?
Trentemøller: It’s funny because just yesterday I was listening to a recording of one of earlier tours we did with Depeche Mode, and I hear how much different we sound now so every night we alter something and we get better and we experimenting with the sound. We have the possibility to do something special if the vide is there, so no, we are not constrained by a set playlist – we improvise a lot.
URB: What’s your experience with playing in LA and the States in general?
Trentemøller: We are so lucky that they wanted us back…(laugher) Two years ago it was such a pleasure for us to play a the Fonda and we are bringing our visual show as well! It’s not really just a visual show, it was designed by Henrik Vibskov and it’s a stage design show so the whole stage is filled with these analog machines that do many, many things along with the music….It’s really hard to explain in words! I think it(visual show setup) just got flown to LA yesterday actually! Our music has a certain cinematic quality to it and our visual have a soundtrack quality to them …
URB: You’ve worked on some amazing movies, do you have to like the movie to do the soundtrack?
Trentemøller: You know both Oliver Stone and Pedro Almod0var contacted me and I really just felt so lucky! It was a big honor for me. Of course, the movie or project has to be something that connects to my universe – I wouldn’t do a commercial for McDonalds or Shell Oil….so yeah, the challenge sometimes is to say no to some quite big things actually, even if there are big money involved. I am picky about the way my music is used.
URB: Would you get involved in making more movie soundtracks?
Trentemøller: My main focus is on my studio albums and I’ve been asked by American as well as Danish people to do more soundtracks, which I love and would love to do if I had all the time in the world but I really must focus on my albums, because that is where I have the total freedom to do whatever I want.
URB: When did you first get the feeling that you’ve “made it”?
Trentemøller: I had been making music for actually ten, if not fifteen years and I was quite insecure about my music because I didn’t think my music was unique enough. So I took nearly ten years to master my own sound and then suddenly one of my tracks ended up played at this media event in France and someone heard it and put it up on MySpace. And suddenly there were people from Egypt to Iceland to the US saying how much they liked it and that was the first time I realized I could reach people all over the world. So then I made a MySpace account and I got so many followers so quickly and I was really surprised because for a long time making music was something I did for pleasure and to realize that others want to listen to it was huge.
URB: Do you still get criticism and how do you deal with it?
Trentemøller: Of course I sometimes I get a bad review! If the review is coming out right after a studio album for me it’s really hard not to take it personally because the album is my baby! So usually I will dismiss it right then but I will go back to it an year after or so and read it and sometimes I can use some things from these bad reviews…sometimes there’s nothing but just a bad review that’s useless. I’ll really think a lot about them and it’s always hard to read when you have put so much effort into something. It’s important to learn to accept that not everybody is going to like what you do and also that there might be some truth to a bad review.
URB: What advice would you give somebody who’s an aspiring musician or artist now that you can look at the trajectory of your own success?
Trentemøller: The main reason to do your music should be not to become successful but that you cannot stop doing it and it’s your biggest passion. But don’t give up, yeah that would be my advice – don’t listen to what people are telling you or what is trendy or up to date, do what feels right to you. Which is very hard when you’re doing music for ten years like me and nothing happens because you start doubting and wondering if it ever will. So don’t doubt.
URB: So a lot of music has become disposable right now. Somebody decides that a certain sound is IT at the moment and then 3 million songs have that sound…
Trentemøller: …and then next year they are forgotten.
Trentemøller: I really hope to be making music that is going to stand through time and that people will like listening to in the future as well as now.
URB: What is your take on EDM and it’s current explosion?
Trentemøller: Maybe I’m not the right person to ask because it really was big here (Europe) two years ago and I don’t know that much about it. It seems to be a bit of an industry not rooted in music but rooted in making money.
URB: That’s funny…two years ago…
Trentemøller: Yeah, really. But it can happen to any genre, it blows up and then there is a reaction against it.
URB: So we won’t catch you at a rave then?
Trentemøller: (Laughs) No probably not and if you do it’s because I’m drunk.
URB: So what can we expect from you in the near future?
Trentemøller: Well actually just a few days ago my remix of Swedish artist Jenny Wilson came out, it’s called Pyramids. It’s on Soundcloud already. I’ll releasing a new single in a month too.
URB: Will check it out. (p.s. did check it out, sounds awesome!)
Trentemøller: Yeah and mostly we will be playing a lot of festivals around Europe and the States this summer.
URB: Cool, see you there. Take care.
Interview by Klementina Mellin
Marie Fisker http://mariefisker.com
Henrik Vibskov http://www.henrikvibskov.com