Whether you’re a long-time familiar with Techno or an enthusiastic new-comer to the field, the name of Pär Grindvik rings a bell for sure. The Swedish DJ and producer has been exploring the world of electronic music for two decades and granted the scene with a serious contribution through his own Stockholm LTD imprint. Time has come for Pär to crystallize his story in a full length format, the first of his prolific career. Isle of real will be out on the 24th of May on his own label. In anticipation of this great release, the Swedish techno chef sat down with Paradox to offer his thoughts on the album genesis, his label and his current and future plans.
- Hi Pär! You’re one of the electronic music producers that we respect the most. As you’re in the scene since the 90’s what would you say have changed in electronics in this period of time?
Happy to hear that! Yeah the world is a quite a different place than it was 20 years ago. Even though we’re supposed to be learning from our mistakes, there is so much that is going backwards. I think people are more calculating and cynical today compared to then. We’re in wonderland in technological terms and it’s never been more fun to buy musical equipment. However I think that we’re missing the playfulness and the naivety we had when the technology was new. We just keep polishing things and making them “better”, while in the meantime it loses its edge.
- Creating an album seems like a pretty complex exercise especially when it comes to electronics. Was Isle Of Real part of a spontaneous process or were you planning to create an LP long time before and waiting for the right moment?
The process was playful, fun and spontaneous but still complex. The only plan I had was that I wanted to write, record, arrange, mix and master it all in separate sessions. I wrote most of the material during a two month period. I sketched melodies and ideas without really working on them too much. Then I went to Stockholm to record them, while the arranging, mixing and mastering all took place in Berlin. That’s probably be the short version. You could compare it to when a band brings written material to some famous studio somewhere and records it all during a short period of time. That kind of creativity is really hard to recreate if you’re working alone on something for too long. Something special happens if you limit yourself.
- The album and track titles give this piece a philosophical aspect. Does the title refer to your quest of truth?
They all have different meanings to me, the opening track for example refers to a family member who left us. She was such a strong soul and she didn’t leave without a fight! But there is also quite a bit of politics and romance in there.
- The eponymous track is fascinatingly beautiful! Do you remember in which context you’ve started to shape this one?
That was one of the few that I wrote later in the process, I was already arranging some of the others and this chorus came to my head. I had Peder Mannerfelt as recording assistant in Stockholm and I had this idea to have him and Malcolm Pardon (who Peder has the Roll the Dice project with) record some overlays to the song. I think it was around this time that I started to see the shape of the record for real.
- We guess the track Tide Us Apart is a reference to your Do Us Apart cut released 10 years ago. That was one of our favorites back in the days! That made us think of something you said on a Colombian webzine a couple of years ago: “…what comes out is a mixture of past and the present, and there is where I find the future.” Does the new track title have a special meaning to you?
Those words are still present in how I write music and find inspiration. When I wrote most of the material for this record I went back to music and experience from my youth. It’s kind of an homage to electronic music as I know it. I also wanted to revisit and glue the years of making music together. “Tide Us Part” is part of that process.
- The album was recorded with the assistance of your Swedish producer friend Peder Mannerfelt. Was this collaboration purely technical or was it also helpful on the musical side?
Peder’s feedback has been great throughout the whole process. It’s been quite a while since I had someone there to give me constructive feedback, I mostly work alone. Peder and I have known and been working together for over 10 years, he’s part of the roster of the management/booking agency that I run together with Nina Tillberg here in Berlin. He’s released on my labels and these days we provide admin for his own recently-founded label Peder Mannerfelt Produktion. It was actually during work on Peder’s new album “Controlling Body” that I felt that Peder is someone with whom I feel comfortable having around my music. He’s always valued my input to his work with great enthusiasm and has always been honest about it. So I asked him if he would be up for doing the same for me.
The session we did for Isle of Real was actually the first time we ever worked on any of my material together. I wanted to record it in a different studio than I normally work in and Peder has an amazing place and knowledge. So we scheduled some recording days in Stockholm. Basically we sat down and talked through the material first, then we recorded it with machines we thought would be cool and which would give the record the right flavour. It was really nice to have a second opinion and instant feedback on my ideas. Then I took all the material with me to my Berlin studio, where I worked on the arrangements, mixed it and finally mastered it myself. I would say that for both of us it’s more about having someone to talk through ideas and issues with, rather than musical input.
- Any remixes planned for the album tracks?
I think I’m more eager to use the inspiration I’ve got out of it to write new material instead.
- Your own Stockholm LTD imprint is turning 14 this year… Congrats! What would be for you the most exciting element in managing a label?
It’s always a thrill to work with other artists and to be able to harness their talent. It’s something which I’ve loved doing for as long as I can remember. Hearing others do what they love and having the chance to help them release it – I love that!
- The Swedish scene is one of the most prolific ones when it comes to the so-called “Ambient /Drone Techno” with labels like Hypnus and Northern Electronics. How far are you interacting with this “sub-genre”?
I think it’s exciting that there’s so much great music coming from Sweden and I’m buying and playing a lot from Swedish labels and artists, no matter the genre.