Despite his Norse last name and his label Scandinavia, heavyweight producer Neil Landstrumm insists he’s 100% Scottish born and bred. Metropolis tracked the man down in Berlin ahead of his gig at the fifth anniversary of the Tokyo edition of Fiercesounds, London’s leading hard techno event and self-styled “secret sonic underbelly.”
Tell us some tales from your early dance music years.
I was lucky enough to fall slap bang on the ’88 acid house explosion, through the summer of love in ’89 and into the early ’90s rave years. At 16 I went to my first real warehouse party in Glasgow which was a Happy Mondays gig. Heady times for sure, but I was still at school so it wasn’t till after 1992 that I started going proper raving. I’m from Edinburgh and we enjoyed one of the best educations in quality rave music with the Pure and Wave weekly club nights run by Twitch, Brainstorm and The Dribbler. They brought acts to Edinburgh like Aphex Twin, LFO, Orbital and Jeff Mills before they made it big. Very forward thinking for the time.
Describe the Scandinavian scene out of which you emerged, and how your later experiences in New York and Scotland shaped your sound.
I’m Scottish born and bread and never actually lived in Scandinavia. I have Viking blood though! It’s just the name of my company and the artist tag I place on every music or graphics project I work on. I’ve been to all of the Scandinavian countries and just love the idea and look of the place. Quality design. I spent five years living in New York from 1997-2002, a city which I have a special place in my heart for. It never disappoints. I try to use the mood of a city to shape my sound and work it in somehow. Environment affecting creative output for sure.
What is right and what is wrong with clubbing today?
Right: More music freely available than ever before so nights can be rich experiences. The fact that people can still afford to go to gigs and clubs during this austerity age!
Wrong: Too much safe and bland music going on. Wake up everyone, you don’t HAVE to like what everyone else tells you to like or you think you should like. Be brave. Go on.
Tell us about some ups and downs.
The worst gigs are when you just get in a bad frame of mind and it’s all going wrong inside your head. Big gigs don’t always mean good gigs. I’ve had amazing but very small gigs also. It’s an internal thing. I love Japan though. I’ve had a few cracking gigs there. Ireland and Scotland are always good. It’s the Celtic party mentality. The best gigs recently have been Rotterdam, Berlin, Dublin and London.
Tell us about a new track and how it is an evolution in your sound.
I’m always evolving. I’ve been in the game since 1994 and have travelled right through techno, acid, hip-hop and UK bass styles. You do lose fans but when you get to that next level and bring new fans to the table it’s very satisfying. The “Doubleheart” project with J D Twich I released recently on the UK’s Nonplus records was a pleasing 12″ called Salsa Apocalypso. A real mixture of salsa beats, bass textures and sirens. I’ve always tried to be different than the herd. I still use old Japanese hardware mainly from the ’80s. Classic Roland Jupiter 8 and 6′s, Tr-808 and Sequential Circuits Pro One but mixed with the UK OSCar synth and modern Elektron pieces. It’s an analogue graveyard married to a 2012 Apple Mac system.
Tell us about your upcoming Japan tour. How did you hook up with DJ Mayuri and what do you have planned?
I met Mayuri a few years ago in Tokyo, and her friend Tomoka from Fiercesounds hooked up the gig after meeting in London. It was Phil Wells from Subheads’ memorial event. RIP Phil. I’m play Fiercesounds in Tokyo on Saturday, Dommune Thursday and Osaka with De De Mouse on Friday. Other than the gigs just eating loads of amazing sushi and hanging out.
Vinyl, CDs or laptop: Which and why?
I’m a live artist only so I just use hardware: Elektron Machinedrum and Monomachine, an old Korg ESX-1 sampler of the analog kit at home, a Yamaha DX-200, Space Echo and a 12″ Powerbook. I just love the sound and impact of the machines. It’s straight to the PA live and direct.