With International, Lust For Youth have made a synth-pop record, but that wasn’t always the idea. The group’s background can be traced as easily to the worlds of noise and power electronics as it can to Joy Division, though their first LP as a trio is, by some margin, their most immediately accessible. Band members Hannes Norrvide, Malthe Fischer, and Loke Rahbek have brought their respective careers in experimental music to bear on the synth-pop form. Here, they detail some of the records that informed International, from hip-hop and noise to Swedish pop. Words by Josh Hall.
Kanye West – Yeezus/R. Kelly – Black Panties (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam, RCA)
Hannes Norrvide: I listened to a lot of the new Kanye West album, and R. Kelly’s new album. It’s so disturbing for being mainstream music, especially R. Kelly. It’s kind of like power electronics; kind of like Whitehouse, but mainstream music, and people just buy it.
Malthe Fischer: And made by someone who’s actually a creep, someone who pisses on teenagers.
HN: Whitehouse want to be creeps, but they’re not really. They’re old guys who collect records. It’s kind of weird in a way—someone whose behavior is disgusting, then people buy it because they like the music. It’s aggressive. It’s sexual, but it’s just very disturbing. It’s good pop songs as well—a nice mix of the dangerous and the cute.
Art Of Noise – “Moments In Love” (ZTT)
MF: We use quite a synthetic voice on a few of the songs, which was kind of inspired by this song. I really like how that song is mixed, as well. I downloaded the whole discography, but I don’t have it anymore. It was just that one song that I really like.
Håkan Hellström – Det Kommer Aldrig Va Över För Mig (Universal / Stranded)
Loke Rahbek: Swedish popular music is a big influence. It’s very different to Danish popular music, for some reason. It has this naive ring to it always. It’s playful, in a way. I like that. Maybe Swedish people are more like kids, more naive. Doing pop music is more accepted, or cool, to do in Sweden, I think.
MF: If you look into a lot of the Billboard hits, like Katy Perry and all that, it’s done by Swedish people.
LR: There’s something in the water. I think there are probably more good bands in Copenhagen than in anywhere else right now, but that will probably change – and I don’t know if it’s necessarily the bands that people are writing about. I think every place has rises and falls, these creative boosts. I can only really speak for our scene, the people we know, but something’s happened, definitely, over the last few years. It’s become a very strong community, and there are now a lot of people putting in the work because a lot of other people are. It’s a nice culture to be in.
Lower – Seek Warmer Climes (Matador)
LR: I think the new Lower record is one of the best records I’ve heard in years. It’s absolutely genius. I run a label in Copenhagen as well, so I’m dealing with underground Copenhagen and Swedish music. I feel like over the last few years, once you’re done listening to your friends’ records there’s not a lot of time to listen to any more. There’s a lot of “right around the corner” inspiration, and a lot of feeding back between the different projects, even if they’re as different as a power electronics band, and a synth-pop band, and a post-punk band. It all bleeds into different projects. At the end of the day, that’s a big inspiration for doing any project that I’ve been involved in.
Recording this album, we didn’t write the songs and then go into a studio. We just sat around in the studio for half a year, and people knew, so people would come in, and if they had an idea they would do it and then they would leave. Of course it’s the three of us that made it, but there’s a lot of influences from the people around. It’s like anything—the climate changes with whoever sits next to you, even if they’re not doing anything. If Elias of Iceage was sitting there, or if it’s Puce Mary sitting there, it changes it—even if they’re just mixing drinks.
Robert Hood – “Minus” (Tresor/Logic)
HN: When we first met we listened to a lot of Robert Hood, and we decided that we should change the drums. It doesn’t sound like Robert Hood, but I remember that we wanted an arpeggio, going in and out of the beat.
LR: I think that’s the best way of getting inspiration – taking something far away, and trying your best to copy it, because ultimately we would never be able to make a Robert Hood song.
Burial – Rival Dealer (Hyperdub)
LR: To me, a big inspiration was Burial. If we talk about Swedish pop music, it has this naive honesty to it, and I think that’s very much present in Burial’s work as well. It feels incredibly sincere, a sincere desire to make pop music. I suppose it is pop music now, isn’t it? But pop music that is saying something. To me there’s an overall story running through it.
Total Control – Flesh War (Iron Lung)
LR: If the record is thematically dealing with anything, it’s dealing with this scene that over the last few years has become international. There’s this international community that we have. There are the Total Control people in Australia, and when we were making this record they were making their new record. Daniel, the singer, would send me a song, and I would send him a song, and we would tell each other that it’s OK, we’re trying to make pop music. I think we both somewhat needed that, coming from not pop backgrounds. It’s appealing, but it’s also a dangerous place to explore.
Helm – “The Hollow Organ” (PAN)
LR: I think a lot of interesting things are happening at the moment within experimental music. It allows itself to be more than noise music now. I think we all needed that. You have a standard idea of noise, that it should be total freedom. But as with any microgenre, the walls are going to be built. I think there’s been a lot of tearing down of those over the last few years. Someone like Helm is doing that. Everyone is realising that there are no genres, and there are no limitations. You can do whatever you want. ~
For more editions of Covering Tracks, head here.