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håkan lidbo - techno decathlon master
interview

With his album "Dunka Dunka" on Shitkatapult's Sublabel Musick, Håkan Lidbo once again outsmarts any genre rules and at the same time becomes nostalgic about the noisy heyday of good ol' rave. Listen, what the notoriously workaholic producer from Sweden has to say about stupid music for intelligent people, the musical decathlon and the big boom boom.


Right now, everybody is talking about New Rave. But "Dunka Dunka" sounds as if you'd rediscovered your love for OLD rave. Wanna show the fluo kids what real rave engergy is about?

Well, in one way it's cool that old school rave is coming back. But at the same time these retro movements makes me a bit tired. When the minimal hype finall is over (is it yet?) there must be some new hype coming up instead. There is something about electronic music when it's looking back that I don't like. The true quality of techno is that it never looks back. The quality is in the surprise to hear a sound or a beat that you've never heard before. That's why the history of electronic music is relatively boring. But at the same time, I know i'm not being very concequent here, I find inspiration in every form of extreme music, old school rave being one of them. And contemporary stupid speed core and death metal and new punk and noise... Rave really developed the idea of making music out of as annoying sounds as possible and in that way my Shitkatapult album "Dunka Dunka" is inspired by this. Stupid music for intelligent people. And also, the rave culture in itself is a bit silly, very 90s, very pointless, and anything that once has been considered really bad and silly for long enough time has the potential to resurrect and be absolutely brilliant. So maybe "We Are Raving", the rave cover version of Rod Stewart's terrible 70s ballad "We Are Sailing", may be the hippest track ever in six months or so.

You are famous for a very distinct style: not having one. How do you choose the sub-genre of electronic music you want to play with or even pervert, each time?

My theory is that if I learn how to make music in very different genres, stretching from commercial pop to very strange experimental stuff, I will learn from these different genres and I will also find a library of musical tricks that I can use to blend into genres that normally don't use these tricks. I can invent new, unpredictable things. I want to make accessable experimentalism and experimental pop. I learn something from every project I make. So I've learned from the cheesy stuff I did in the past and I've learned from "Dunka Dunka". I'm constantly improving my musical skills and the best way of doing this is to be as versatile as possible. The most impressive athletes are not the ones that only run 100 meters on less than 10 seconds but the ones that do decathlon, the ones that can run, jump, throw and do everything really well. I want to be the techno decathlon master. That's why I've made almost every form of electronic music there is. I recently did a ballet, I've made music for the Eurovision Song Contest, I've made elecro-acustic music, I've made extreme minimal music and slightly cheesy vocal big house tracks. One day I might do an opera, but as Karlheinz Stockhausen already is finishing his collossal piece of seven operas, I guess I have to do something even bigger!

Do you get bored easily, especially when listening to music or just with about any activity?

I got bored listening to myself. That's one of te reasons why i'm not releasing that many records any longer. I used to release about one record every second week but nowadays I'm more inveolved in projects that are on the borders to art and sometimes sience. Yes, I get bored easily and I constantly question myself and the music I make. It's not about doubt, because I think I'?m pretty good (!), but about a very strong will to change and to learn more. And to make music that has some sort of meaning. I can't tell you in a few words what meaning you can find in "Dunka Dunka" but to me it's meaningful. I think because underground electronic music is the most independent music, it has a unique possibility to be very political and to make a difference. I think it can express things about the time we're living in that can't be expressed in any other way. I easily get bored with pointless music, no matter how well-produced, and that has made me looking more and more into very experimental stuff. But at the same time the silliest pop-song can be absolutely brilliant, it all depends on when the music is released, with what purpose, and on who is consuming the music. I think about these things all the time and the developement of my music follows these thoughts.

I imagine you must be a workaholic. Do you think that fact can be heard in this album, and if so, how?

I am a bit of a workaholic, but nowadays I'm much more aware of this and I really try to share my time between work and life outside the studio. I think my hunger for finding new ways of making new music can be heard on the "Dunka Dunka" album but I put as much energy into obscure, totally un-dancable music projects. As I said earlier, I used to release tons of records, but I don't do that anymore. Nowadays, I'm more involved in bigger projects that often deal with some sort of question or problem regarding music, art, creativity, etc. Some of the recent projects I did (and all of them are made for the Swedish market) are: Fucking critics where I asked ten of the most famous music critics in Sweden to write one review each - and then ten artists (I was one of them) were asked to create a song from this review. I did the whole process backwards by starting where it normally ends, the review, and it ended with a compilation CD. The project investigated the relation between media and artists and who is dependent of whom.
The shift where eight established Swedish producers of electronica got togheter in my studio and worked collectively for exactly 8 hours. We took a 15 minutes coffee break before and after noon, and one hour lunch break, just like any industrial worker. We punched the clock even though what we did was creatively totally free. This project investigated the role of the independent musician versus the employed worker, what happens to creativity in this situation, etc.
Ström - the only radio show about electronica on Swedish National Radio. One of my partners in the show is Andreas Tilliander who releases records on Type, Cubic, Raster- Noton, Mille Plateaux, etc.
I did some sort of techno ballet called 60.01.60. It's totally built on mathematics and it's very very academic. Right now im involved in a few upcoming projects. One where classical intrumentalists from the contemporary chamber music scene are collaborating with computer musicians. One not yet named that deals with noise and disturbing sounds in the city and how these noises can be reduced or disarmed with music, one dealing with third world countries and the idea of presenting the computer as an instrument to people who yet don't even have electricity... So, this I what I've been up to mostly, but I'm still doing straight up tracks and there will be a few releases coming up, but again, not as many as in the old days.

What does "Dunka Dunka" mean and why did you call your album that?

"Dunka Dunka" is a Swedish expression that old people use for any loud music that they don't like. And I think it's a bit funny that the reason why they think the music sounds like dunka dunka (it can be translated to something like "boom-boom") is that they probably don't hear anything above 1500 Hz. The name is just something that sounds like a lot of energy. The music may sound a bit agressive from time to time, and the cover art suggest anger as well, but it's in fact happiness, or energy and enthusiasm over life in general. I've had a period where I haven't produced any straight up club tracks in a while. I got a bit fed up with myself and then it was time to do something different. But when I was travelling from a gig in Montreal in Canada, I had some spare time, and I was very inspired by the gigs in Canada, so I hung out in my hotel room and at a café with my laptop and my new headphones. And then some sort of new sound came to me, but even though it's quite rough, noisy and distorted, it's not about agression, to me it's happy music. The references of what's beautiful and what's ugly is pushed forward all the time. And I'm not very interested in traditionally beautiful music at all these days. I find beauty in quite noisy music. So again, this is a happy album with beautiful music. Dunka dunka!

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last updated: 2009.08.26, 12:29