he duo of Marcus Henriksson & Sebastian Mullaert have been releasing music together for more than six years now, but it wasn’t until 2006’s psy-house epic ”The Girl from Botany Bay” that the group began to garner much attention outside of the normal dance music channels. Since then, the two have been unstoppable: they released seven singles last year, have a Wagon Repair 12” scheduled for February, and a double disc full-length/DVD on the way. Stylus tracked down Mulleaert via e-mail recently to find out a little bit more about the trance resurgence.
Where did Minilogue meet?
Both of us went to high school in a small Swedish city called Hassleholm. Since the city wasn’t very big, we knew about each other for a long time, but it wasn’t until Marcus started to arrange techno parties that we became friends.
Tell me a little bit about your musical background.
I’ve been playing instruments since I was 8 years old; violin, piano, organ, vocals … and also went to special musical training for composition and music theory. This “classical” way included a lot of orchestra and ensemble playing and, for a long time, I was focused on trying to get in to the music conservatory. When I was 17, though, I got a new violin teacher that didn’t work very well for me. At the same time, I started to play with a pop group. Both of these things made me question what I was searching for in music—my conclusion was that to create something fresh and new was far more interesting than interpreting things that had already been written. At the same time, I was going to my first techno parties and it was quite natural for me to try out the electronic field as well.
Marcus has a classical DJ background. He’s been playing records since the early ‘90s. This combination of dj/musician was of great importance for our work, especially in the beginning. After almost 10 years together we’ve learned each other’s fields a lot and our roles in the studio aren’t as specific as they were in the beginning.
How do you work as a team on tracks?
We like different things, which gives us more or less motivation for different parts of the producing. Marcus can go on forever with a bass drum or high hat, while I prefer to get lost in the harmonies of a weird baseline or jamming on a Rhodes piano.
The last few years we’ve tried to record and produce live as much as possible in the studio, since the typical ”computer sequencer arranging” thing really kills our creativity. So, as often as we can, we’re trying to create all the elements for a track in a way that makes us record them live. After a couple of sessions we normally have an interesting sketch we can work from, and then make overdubs and move and rearrange things from there.
Where do you think these recent trance elements in house music have come from?
All music is developing all the time and one of the most natural (and easiest) ways of changing is to get inspiration from other music styles. As far as I can see, electronic music has always been very good at “borrowing” elements and ideas from other genres. Everything goes in cycles, so I guess it’s just been good timing for some trancy influences.
Both Marcus and I love the psychedelic side of dance music—and you’ve been able to find the most trippy stuff in house music the last few years (very rarely in the trance scene). Another reason is that many of today’s good house producers have their background in trance music. Sooner or later you get nostalgic and want to open the door to your roots.
Tell us about the album that you have finished. It's a double, correct?
We’ve had so much fun producing this album, we’ve really been doing whatever we want and feel for and I think that you can hear that on the album. A lot of stuff didn’t make it to the album, but that was simply because they didn’t fit into the story, which we believe is as important as the tracks themselves.
The album is a double. One is more rhythmic and dancefloor suitable, while the other is more electronica and ambient.
You recently had a hit on YouTube with the video for “Hitchhiker’s Choice.” How did you meet its director Kristoffer Strom?
He’s a very good friend of our press photographer. He is also a very good musician and has worked with us on two of the album tracks (the electronica / ambient cd).
Can you tell us about the DVD that you plan to release with your album?
The DVD is like a deep and psychedelic movie. The music is mainly a mix from the two album CDs. Each track on the DVD is made like a chapter on the movie, but all mixed together to create the story.
Rob Zohrab is the producer and director of the movie and has also made most of the animation and filming. It was a totally massive work that has taken him around a year to complete, but the result is stunning. It’s actually far better than we ever expected. We will get the full movie from Rob the second week of January and will be doing a surround mix of the music.
The work that I’ve seen from Rob has been amazing. How did you get together with him?
We met at festival in Japan called The Labyrinth (one of the absolute best festivals in the world). We were playing live and he was doing the visuals. After that he did a club gig with us in Auckland and things started to take off from there.