Face 2 face

Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 9: “Remixes don’t say anything to me”

  • Keys, keys, keys…

K: Clarence himself told us he is not happy with quite a few songs that he has made in his career.
C: Yeah? Hehehe.
K: I’m wondering how a producer of a song can say this. Because he in the end gives the sound to the song.
C: This is actually a very good question!!
K: Yeah, so how could it happen. Is it about not having enough time?

C: Actually, me and Clarence are different in that respect because I very rarely leave something behind that I don’t think is great. Of course, it has happened, I have songs I’m unhappy with, too. But not like that, not too many. And not catastrophically bad. So we function a little bit differently. I would ask him the same question, I don’t understand that either. If you produce a record, you can’t say “Oh I hate this.” Then something is strange. But it’s a different way of working method, what I mean.
K: Hmm, you are more or less three producers, you, Clarence and Per, having basically two different roots. You and Clarence are into progressive rock, Per dislikes this. Then again, you and Clarence have different personalities, you are more the acoustic guy, Clarence is more the synth guy. Do you all have to make a lot of compromises then?
C: Actually, it’s not at all like that. Because that’s how you think about music when you see it. That’s also how I think about other peoples’ music when I see the record. “Okay, this guy represents this and this guy represents something else” and it’s not at all that I am the acoustic guy and Clarence is the synth guy. Divisions like that don’t exist. Any three of us can just as well suggest any style, any
idea, any direction. So the creative process is actually not compromising, it’s not one guy wanting to do this and one guy wanting to do something else and then you find a common… it’s  much more that you help each other out with what you are doing at the moment. So there is very rarely… I cannot even remember a situation where one guy feels that everything is really wrong and two guys want to do it. It never becomes like that. We do it pretty much like one person, I think, even though we have different roles. I don’t know if I can describe it better, if it makes sense what I’m saying.
K: Maybe we can see it by a real example. Let’s say, Per is sitting here, says he has a new idea for a song, grabs the guitar, plays a tune…
C: Yes, sometimes he makes simple acoustic demos and plays those, sometimes he plays it for the first time in the sofa, sometimes he has an idea “Oh, I want it to be maybe like this, I was inspired by this, so maybe this sound or this style“, sometimes it’s one of us who says “Oh, this could be… let’s do it like mang mang mang, in this direction“ and then we start.
K: Is this the moment when you start playing all your instruments here and there trying out some different sounds, and Per grabs the LPs and plays a few tunes of a specific song?
C: Yeah, a little bit like this. We grab instruments and try to find an idea how to proceed. Then we get going and sometimes that idea survives throughout the whole process and sometimes it gets replaced in the first five minutes. Sometimes we work a lot on a song and then we say, “No, this is not good enough, scrap it, start from zero, new approach.“
J: When you work on one song, do you stay with this song all the time or are you switching between the songs when you’re stuck?
C: I think we always have many songs going but we always feel that if we spend more than one day on the same song, we get stuck and get bored. so maybe half a day is good. First half of the day on one song, and then we work on a different one after dinner or something like that. Since it’s kind of fast, everything we do is spontaneous, we also forget. So if we work on three songs for three days, and they come back ten days later, no one knows what we’re going to hear. So we put it on and say “Oh yeah this is great let’s do this!“ because it’s like the first time we hear it. And of course sometimes it happens that we press play and say “Huuuuh, not good, let’s do something else“.
K: Is there the risk to overproduce songs when too many people work together?
C: Yes, I think so. And when it comes to that question, we have more different approaches. We are all into production, I think. We like details. But Clarence and I try to stop Per from wanting to add more details. That’s often the situation. We say, this is finished now, let it be simple, let it be open, let there be space, there doesn’t need to happen anything, there can just be transport for two seconds and then the next phrase comes. But Per has a drive, he always had that “There is a hole, let’s fill it with something interesting, some hook or so“. And that, in my mind, can go too far sometimes, too much of that. So sometimes I try to stop him, and so does Clarence.
J: …instead of having it too messy.
C: Certainly. And too messy music for me is not nice to listen to. Too much information. But at the same time you can have a lot of instruments and a lot of stuff going on without it being messy. You can have a hundred instruments and it still sounds like one harmonic thing in balance and it’s really nice. And some other time, you have a lot fewer things and “Nah, it’s too messy“ because they are
competing with each other instead of helping each other out.
J: I think Joyride was a great example. It has many instrumental tracks and all together sounded perfect.
C: Yeah. It’s a great balance. The only exception on joyride I think is “Physical Fascination” which I think is really bad to be honest, really bad.
J: It’s more like a demo.
C: Yeah, stupid song. There are other songs that they recorded for the Joyride album that are great and should have been on CD. But otherwise, I agree that record really is in harmony. There is not one thing too many or too few, it’s just right.
J: Yes, when you listen to it, you still hear every single instrument, every single track.
C: Exactly, yes. But also, for me it’s great when you hear every single thing but sometimes it’s great when you don’t hear anything, when it’s just one sound and you can’t pick out even a guitar or it’s just “brrrmmmmm“. If that makes you feel good, then it’s good. Anything can be good, yeah.
K: Do you sometimes wish you had produced songs differently afterwards?
C: Well, it happens that I think “No, that didn’t turn out so well.” But I tend to… When something is finished, I leave it behind. It’s interesting the way now. It’s interesting all the way when you do it. But after that, I don’t care too much. Then it’s done, next thing.
J: It was like this with the song “Charm School”, right?
C: Yes, this was a really hard song to record. One of the hardest we have ever done. When you hear it on Travelling, I think it sounds really natural and easy.
J: It’s one of my favorites.
K: Interesting that the solution was to keep it easy, just leave the voice and the basic idea…
C: But actually in this case it’s not like that at all because the production is very much the song. That song isn’t so strong in itself, to be honest. But the song didn’t carry… A really good song you can record any way. “It Must have been Love” you can do like a country song or like anything. The melody and the identity is so strong, it will always go through. But with a slightly weaker song, it is not like that. So that’s why I think maybe “Charm School” didn’t work in the earlier versions. There were maybe “okay” productions but it needed something else, the little details, the little lines in-between the vocal phrases and the right rhythm feel and everything.
K: How do you feel about remixes of your songs?
C: Well, the ones that are released… You know, they make more than those that are released, and then everyone listens and says what they think. The ones that are released are the ones that everyone liked basically. So I like them. But I like them in a kind of a distant way. Because I think they are good but I don’t care for them. So I don’t want to listen to them. They don’t say anything to me. But I think they are good. They are really well made, they fit the song and if they don’t fit the song, I say “Don’t release this, it’s wrong!” It has to be musical for me. I can’t say that the Bassflow remixes, which are by far the best ones that have been made, I think, still I don’t want to listen to them. But they are good. Sort of. You see what I mean?
K: They’re surely made for a different target group.
C: I think there’s a little bit of that thinking involved in it. And I’m not interested in that way of thinking at all.
J: I’m not a fan of the more recent Roxette remixes as for example “The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye”. I know that many people like them but I don’t. I’m an old fashioned Roxette fan maybe.
C: I think it’s good, it’s really really good.
J: But it’s not my style. I like the old version because of the feelings.
C: I agree, actually. “Speak to Me“ which was also one of the very good remixes and I know lot of fans like that a lot but I think for me the album version is so much better.
J+K: Yes!
C: But it’s a good remix, the guy is great and he’s musical and it holds together and everything.

Tomorrow on TDR: Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 10: “The audience should feel that it’s not entirely safe”

Christoffer: “The Bassflow remixes are by far the best ones that have been made”


  • Impressive guitar collection, part 3
This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
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December 20th, 2012

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