In Norway, size matters. “The big clubs don’t do well. They try to bring ‘BIG’ names there and it doesn’t really work,” says Rune Lindbæk from his part-time flat in Berlin. “Most of the popular DJ’s on the scene – Todd Terje, Lindstrom, etc – are the dubby DJ’s and we all prefer the small clubs.” How small is small? “150 people or so. We just came back from the Ukraine, places you wouldn’t think of, but people are dedicated.”
Lindbæk, once part of Those Norwegians with pre-Royksopp Torbjorn Brundtland, is presently a third of Meanderthals, along with UK’s disco-not-disco dons Idjut Boys (Dan Tyler & Conrad McDonnel). While Meanderthals’ new record, Desire Lines, was recorded between Oslo and London, it sounds like something out of a Malibu slumber party. After the jump, we chat with Lindbæk about disco dalliances, the impossibility of taking studio albums on the road, and the aesthetics of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Lindbæk had very specific ideas about the new album. “When we started on this project, I said, ‘This record should be like the Pacific Coast Highway – something very California.’ It became a cliche in the studio – our hot crowded studio with the tiny window,”
The trio’s unglamorous confines could have been a set up for failure, considering their working styles. “As a team, we sort of prefer to play alone, DJ alone. I need to go into a zone. Doing a back to back DJ thing, I lose some concentration,” he confesses. While they managed to work things out in the studio, don’t expect Meanderthals to go globe-trotting any time soon. “We’re talking about touring; if we were going to do it, we’d need to bring out a whole studio, a massive amount of gear. What we have in mind would be like a rock setup, and I don’t think it would work in dingy basement clubs.”
With a tour uncertain and the album done, what’s an idle primitive to do? “A remix album is possible; Conrad (of Idjut Boys) is making dub versions of all the tracks on Desire Lines. I’m doing some remixes for Annie, a minimalist/Italo guy on Kompakt called Skateboard, and Dominique Leon from San Francisco. Lindstrom discovered Leon and set up StromLand records to put his stuff out. I’m going back to Oslo on the 14th to work on my next 12 inch ‘Odessa'”.
Reflecting on his homes away from home, the wayward Rune adds, “The area where I live in Berlin, I would be better off learning Turkish, I really love it. I also lived in NY. My heart is there – can you please kiss the pavement for me?” When I ask him what pavement, he says “I used to stay at Danny Wang’s apartment, next to my favorite East Village café, 7A.” By coincidence, I tell him I used to stay at Danny’s as well, and that it was going through Wang’s record collection that I realized Lindbæk had sampled Bill Withers’ “The Stuff” for “Junta Jaegar.” “It’s a great bass line, and when I heard it, I knew I wanted to use it. On the B-side of Junta, I used a sample from a 70’s rock band called Zoo.”
That single, and the album it came from, Sondag, was released by Repap, a left-field sister label to Paper Recordings, the now-defunct deep disco imprint out of Manchester, UK. Paper also released Kaminksy Park, by Those Norwegians. The album’s cover features a pile of melting vinyl, a reference to the Comiskey Park “Disco Sucks” bonfire of the late 70’s often cited as the unofficial birth of House music. “When I was living in London I spent a lot of time in record shops. And one of my best friends used to live in Manchester. So we knew about Paper and decided to send them a demo, just to see. When they called us up, we were like FUCK, YEAH!”
London is also where Rune first met Idjut Boys. “They were on to something with their underground sound long ago. I was always a fan.” But how did this Nordic nomad wind up a disco purist in the first place? “My mom liked Disco and when I heard the rhythm, I liked it too. People my age, we were the first rhythm generation of Norway, I was like a sponge – this was before Paradise Garage and NY radio. We had a radio station, state owned, they had one program for pop music and there was no club scene at all, just really shit discoteques.”
Fortunately for Oslo, those days are over. Kings of Convenience, Erlend Oye, Lindbæk and company have put their homeland on the global music map. “It’s not like we have one place that we all hang out in Oslo – it’s a slow burning scene, and discos come and go. People have been doing their thing for many years. The rest of the world is just catching up now…”