End of Septemeber, Trentemøller released his new album “Obverse”, just in time for rainy and foggy dark days. This studio album, his fifth, offers all of Trentemøller’s melancholic and dark elements well-known to indie-electronic enthusiasts. But there is far more to discover, beyond the melancholic sound space, sometimes dramatic beats, and synths.
It is flowing composition par excellence in which instrumental and electronic tunes melt together with emotional lyrics into a perfect entity.
We caught up with Trentemøller to talk about his new album “Obverse”, his creative process, and his collaborations.
Good because Danish: Congratulations, you recently became a dad. Did it influence the music on your new album, “Obverse”?
Trentemøller: I started working on this album before my girlfriend, and I knew that we would-be parents. It did not reflect in my music so far, but you might hear it on my next album. It is tough to tell. I am curious to see how my working process changes. I usually go to the studio and sit there all day if I want to. Now I have to plan everything a bit more, which can also be an advantage. When you only have limited time to spend at the studio, you try to use the time in the best way possible.
Despite your enthusiasm for touring, you decided to not go on a big world tour with “Obverse”.
When I knew I would be a dad, I did not want to go on a big world tour. Not touring gave me the possibility to go even crazier in the studio. I had the freedom to use all the options, layering, and putting a lot of effects. I did not have to think about how to recreate the melodies live on stage; how can my band and I play these songs. If I wanted to have seventeen synthesizers on top of each other, I could do that without having to bring seventeen synthesizers on stage. It gave me a new way of making music.
You had a creative block after your big world tour.
It lasted 6 or 8 months. It was hard! I was quite exhausted after touring and not satisfied with the sound that I created during these months. I went to the studio nearly every day to work on new music. Just after 6 or 7 months, I was in doubt if a new album would happen at all. I needed a break! Together with my girlfriend, we went to a little cabin in the woods in Sweden. And this is where I suddenly had a breakthrough. I wrote two, three, or four songs in three weeks. It is tough not to panic when you go into the studio months after months, and nothing happens. As soon as you do not pressure yourself, the significant process suddenly happens.
What inspired the album “Obverse”?
What inspired me was the new freedom in the studio – the freedom to make a song that starts at one point and then develops into something different in the end. I like to work with the dynamic; sometimes, pure sounds explode into something wild. With each song, I can take the listener on a journey. On the album, you can find experimental instrumental songs next to electronic melodies. I did not want the sound to be cold and digital but to be alive and vibrating.
What was the most surprising now looking back?
That I was able to bring together two worlds; instrumental and semantic songs combined with classical songwriting. “In the Garden”, for example, has a verse, chorus, and a bridge typical in traditional songwriting. As it happened, every second song on the album is instrumental; the other half has vocals. I believe it melts well together. Hopefully, the listener is not too confused that the album is both; instrumental and with vocals.
Who writes the lyrics to your songs?
For the first time, I wrote the lyrics to one of the songs, “One last kiss to remember”. But when the different vocalists write their lines, it leads to the best result. Then the words come out of their mouth. Of course, in advance, we discuss the theme. I am a bit afraid of traditional lyrics, telling a story from A to B, boy meets girl. So I always ask my vocalists to write the text abstractly. Then the listener can imagine their own stories. I like that openness.
How is it to collaborate with so many different people?
I always have been fortunate to work with wonderful people. They also have been inspired by my music. When you are inspired, the music writes itself. I felt it was an easy process. The song “Cold Comfort” is a good example. I have been a big fan of Slow Dive for many years. I wanted Rachel Goswell to sing the first song “Cold Comfort”. I felt that her voice was perfect. So I was a little bit afraid of writing her. I could not imagine her working with me. One evening, I was a bit drunk; I asked her if she would be up for doing something together. Three minutes later, she replied that she was a big fan of my music. I was totally in heaven. Rachel’s vocals just fit well to the dreamy sound of the track.
One last question, anything you have not done but really would like to do?
A lot of things! I want to keep on making a lot of albums. Also, one day, I would like to work with a philharmonic orchestra. It could be great to see a big orchestra playing my songs. Trying to incorporate that into my music would be fun. That could be something that I like to do in the future.