Anyone familiar with the Scandinavian music scene (let’s be serious, who isn’t?) knows Flunk. If you’re into electronic music, you probably know Flunk, too. The band has been making a name for themselves since 2000, and will continue pumping out their gorgeously chill music this autumn with their 8th studio album, Faculties.
ATYPICAL SOUNDS had the pleasure of chatting with producer Ulf Nygaard about the international music scene and staying productive for over more than a decade.
How is the winter in Norway treating you? Are you currently buried in snow?
UN: Not much snow this year, it only just arrived actually. The Norwegian winter is very dark, November is depressing and pitch black!
You released your album of remixes, Deconstruction Time Again, last year and are planning to release a Faculties, a new album, this fall. What made you interested in releasing an album of remixes? Do you think it’s helping you to create and prepare for the release of Faculties?
UN: We get a lot of remixes all the time, and when we have enough great ones, it feels natural to release them properly. Remixes keep old songs very much alive, and we get really excited about someone picking up a ten year old song to update it. But remixing does not really do anything to the process of making a new album, at all. However, it feels good to have something released – making albums takes a lot of time, and remixes keep us ’up there’ while we’re working.
Will you be touring in support of these albums? Are there any live shows planned in the United States?
UN: It’s not likely there will be a lot of touring, unfortunately. Simple reason: Almost all members of the band have small kids, and someone in the band is having another in early May. But this means we will all get pretty restless when autumn arrives, so there will be concerts when the album is out. So we will be working on it, and hopefully something will turn up in the U.S. We haven’t played New York, we should really play there!
Can you speak a little about the electronic music scene in Norway? Are there any artists from there you think deserve more recognition?
UN: We have a lot of female voices, and some of them get quite a lot of international attention. I think this is a very good thing happening in the last few years, I think female artists working without male producers tend to be more innovative than most,more interesting. The Norwegian scene is very good, still I feel it’s producing the really different stuff, like Icelandic artists tend to.
What are your favorite places in Norway to listen to music?
UN: No specific places, but Oslo is a fantastic city for going out. And you can hear world class DJs every weekend. We have some great ’veterans’, the best being DJ Strangefruit; he still plays every weekend.
You’ve done a few cover songs, most notably “Blue Monday” from New Order and “Karma Police” from Radiohead. How do you choose which songs to cover? Do “Blue Monday” and “Karma Police” have a special significance for you?
UN: They are both great songs. “Blue Monday” is the beginning of almost everything, I think, it’s a mind-blowing ’important’ track. When we find covers, we try to find more or less well known songs and do a twist to them. The obvious twist is to do ’male songs’ with female vocals. I like covers, it’s a bit like doing standards in the jazz world. And when we succeed, I think we show a different side to a song. I guess that is always our target.
You have many fans in Eastern Europe and Asia. Can you discuss what popular music is generally like in those places?
UN: Not at all! Sorry! The impression is that people in Eastern Europe and Asia have one thing in common: They like high pitched female voices and melancholic tunes. Which we do,so it would explain why they like us. Also they are not very concerned about ’hipness’. They’re into tunes and feelings. I like that.
You performed at SXSW in 2013. Was that your first time there? How was your experience with the music festival, and with your time in Texas?
UN: SXSW was amazing. I don’t think we did a great achievement getting through, though. We didn’t have a great backing, which is probably what you need to get through at SXSW. But we’re okay with that. We had a really great time, played two gigs and were having a great time just being there. We felt lucky!
Flunk has been together for about 15 years. Do you have any advice for bands who are just starting out? How can they work to stay together and keep making music?
UN: It depends what you want. If you want to be the greatest band on earth, you will be driven by this ambition, but you will almost certainly fall out even if you succeed. We never went after world domination. We wanted to make music which we enjoyed making. It surprised us when it worked and we never went for the “big time,” it would have destroyed us anyway. So the good advice, if you want to stay together, is to keep control of your creative process, say no to “players” in the business and follow your heart. Every night we play we’re the luckiest people in the world, because I think we chose music, not business.