His new album Smalhans marks the return of Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm to his cosmic disco-heavy roots—but, perhaps even more intriguingly, it also presents him as a food lover. Since all tracks off the new Todd Terje-produced album have traditional Norwegian meals as names—something which may have escaped your notice if your Norwegian is a touch rusty—we’re going to introduce you to the record dish by dish. In this, the first of our multi-part interview series with Lindstrøm, we talk about the album’s opening track “Rà-àkõ-st”, using it as a jump-off point to explore the record’s genesis and his thoughts on the importance of food within his private life.
The initial thing that came to my mind when I first heard of the album is the German phrase “bei dem ist Schmalhans Küchenmeister”, which translates to “at this person’s place, Schmalhans is chef”—which means that this person is greedy or poor and can’t afford to pay for proper food. How does this refer to your album Smalhans?
First of all, Smalhans has a double meaning to me. My name is Hans, I’m a thin guy. In Norwegian “thin” is “smal”—this is kind of me I guess. So I’m Smalhans. Since I was a kid, people have been saying to me I had to gain weight because I’m so thin.
What was your response to that?
Basically I wanted to tell them to lose weight because they’re too fat. Why should people bother you because you’re thin? I’ve always been a food junkie, I just can’t gain weight. My philosophy in the kitchen is to make good food out of cheap and common ingredients, such as potatoes and vegetables. I don’t need fancy and rare ingridients. I’d rather buy Norwegian lamb instead of Argentinian beef.
What’s your daily routine when you’re at home with your family, when you’re not on tour or at the studio?
We always cook and have meals together. My children are five and nine years old and they’ve slowly started getting interested in helping me. But then again: the more cooks, the bigger the mess. But I think it’s important to teach them to cook. My kids usually like clean tastes. As soon as they can choose they’d like to have only spaghetti or only sausages. My kids don’t mix that much. Every time I try a more advanced recipe, they don’t like it. So it’s very simple food at home.
How do your kids like “Raakost”—raw vegetables?
My mother used to make crudités salad out of shredded carrots. My kids don’t get it that often, but I think they like it, especially since there’s a little sugar in it so it’s a little bit sweet. But kids are weird anyway, often enough they go for the raw carrot, eating it as it is.
What’s your favorite vegetable?
I think broccoli is one of my favorites. You can get it everywhere, it’s healthy and it looks good. Most importantly you can use everything from broccoli and make a salad from it, fry it in a pan with some garlic, you can use it in a pie. It’s very versatile.
“Smalhans is chef” continues: the second episode of our kitchen-centred interview series with Lindstrøm will be following on Monday.