What do you do after you’ve attained most of your career goals before you’re 40? If you’re Danish DJ/producer Anders Trentemøller, you dream up new ones for yourself.
From the mid ’90s through the mid ’00s, Trentemøller dominated global dance floors with his sound comprised of shards of minimal and tech-house, forging sinewy club tracks for labels such as Audiomatique, Tic Tac Toe and Poker Flat and presenting a cavalcade of superb remixes (the Knife, Röyksopp, Moby). He played all the right clubs and high-profile festivals and was enjoying a successful career that many mixers would envy. However, instead of leveraging more opportunities for greater success behind the decks, Trentemøller’s vantage point near the top rung of the global DJ ladder allowed him to envision a new creative scenario for himself where he could expand his horizons and explore his other sonic passions which were rooted in rock music. His somber, utterly compelling self-produced 2006 album Into the Great Wide Yonder was a bold step in his evolution, with songs like “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” demonstrating that he could write distinctive, gorgeously textural tunes and produce a lavish live show that rocked. (Watch our 2010 interview with Trentemøller here.)
Trentemøller has been working hard to keep the momentum going, and he will present his as-yet untitled third album in September on his In My Room label. Talking from Copenhagen while taking a break from a mastering session for the new album, Trentemøller is trying to find the words to describe his latest work. He’s been toiling away in the studio on it for a year, so it’s understandable that summarizing the focus of your life’s work in a few sentences can be a bit tricky.
“It’s always hard for me to describe my own sound,” Trentemøller says. “There’s still some electronic elements but there are a lot of indie rock elements as well. There are live guitars, bass and drums on it, and I’ve worked together with some vocalists singing on the album. Some of the songs are with vocals and the others are instrumental and have more of a cinematic feel to it… [The music] is all done by me, and I played some instruments.”
At the end of May Trentemøller will release the album’s first single, “Never Stop Running” featuring Jonny Pierce from UK indie band The Drums. “We did a nice track together,” he offers. “I’m really looking forward to see how the single goes. It’s a really nice kind of a pop song [laughs].”
Interestingly, Trentemøller says he won’t be remixing the new single — at least not now. “I don’t think so. I’ve been thinking a lot about remixes, and I am tired that songs always need to be remixed. A single now can have five or seven remixes these days. I feel this song is so strong that it can stand alone. Maybe later in the process, two or three months, there could be a remix but I actually decided this time not to do remixes and keeping the focus on the song.”
While his band has performed at Glastonbury, Coachella and Roskilde, Trentemøller — the band — will be introduced to a wider audience beginning this month when they open for Depeche Mode on six of the legendary band’s “Delta Machine” shows in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.
“The DJ thing gave me time to not play and focus on the band and make new music…. It’s fun to DJ but heart lies in playing live with the band because the feedback is much more direct in a way.”
Trentemøller says that when he received news of the support slot he was pleased, but admits he was a little distracted at the time because he was in the studio multitasking on production, album artwork and planning his band’s upcoming European festival tour and live show. (His range of responsibilities go hand-in-hand with his DIY work ethic: “I have 100% freedom to do what I like… I like to be in control of my own music and how it sounds and is played.”)
When Trentemøller got home from the studio later that night, the news finally hit him and he was able to properly enjoy the big news.
“I was jumping around when the news sunk in,” he gushes. “When I was a teenager I listened to their music. I was very honored when I was asked to do support for them. It’s going to be fun to go out and play those big stadiums. We’re going to play for a lot of people. It’s going to be a little nerve-wracking because while we’ve played festivals for 50 or 60,000 people, but this is for one of my favorite bands and that means a lot to me.”
After “15 years of struggling, gigs and hours in the studio,” Trentemøller’s talent and confidence have given him a second act that aren’t usually afforded to DJs. As the cultural pendulum shifts and the world gravitates to DJ culture like moths to a flame once again, Trentemøller sees the irony in switching gears but says he has no regrets.
“Finally things are happening, people are going to our shows and buying our music. It’s really, really nice. I’m very grateful,” he says.
“For me my focus is definitely playing with a band. The DJ thing gave me time to not play and focus on the band and make new music,” he explains, noting that he hasn’t quit spinning altogether. “Last year I did music for a movie…. It’s fun to DJ but heart lies in playing live with the band because the feedback is much more direct in a way. When people go to a concert people are there for the music. Sometimes at a club it’s more about the party — that’s fun too but I prefer playing live.”
Opening for Depeche mode and touring his new album will present Anders Trentemøller with a lifetime’s worth of experiences. It will be interesting to see what he dreams up next.
Trentemøller will support Depeche Mode on their “Delta Machine” stadium tour in the UK, Germany and Switzerland beginning on May 13. His band’s European tour begins at Heaven in London on May 30. His third album will be released in September on In My Room.