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Mar 2, 2016

Peder Mannerfelt: Music Decompositions

video from URSSS.

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If Alessandro Cortini writes epic stories, if Ancient Methods constructs concrete structures, Peder Mannerfelt
decomposes. True music explorer, Peder pursues his quest, this time in the territory of the human voice, with his new LP Controlling Body. Always very abstract, the sounds he creates speak mysterious languages transmitted by the feminine voice of Glasser. We met the colorful sheep of electronic music in an attempt to define his fascinating and unique character. 

With contemporary art, the description text makes the piece talk; in you case, would it be the whole performance that helps us understand your message?

It’s part of it, but the performance fits into a bigger picture I would say. I don’t feel the need to have a description text. There is one for Controlling Body, it’s really abstract. It doesn’t really explain anything, but paradoxically it explains everything. I wanted it to remain ambiguous and still open to interpretation, but with a strong meaning. Like what I do with music basically; taking away the framework. With music, I would say that I’m trying to say as much as possible with as little as possible. I’m trying to decompose in a way. I don’t know if my music conveys that, but that’s what I’m aiming for. The performance is for me where you inject life into the music, where it becomes three dimensional.  

What role does the blonde wig play in your performance?

Its purpose is to obtain a disconnection from myself. However I’m not hiding who I am, I still go by my own name. I’m simply trying to be something else on stage, I’m trying to be one with the music. Going on stage with a character helps me to be focused and incarnate the music. I just couldn’t be the same person as when I go grocery shopping. A lot of electronic musicians are just standing there with a synth and a laptop, I feel we need to push the idea of the performance and bring new ideas to the table. The blonde wig is also a way to play with gender roles, it’s a subject that I feel is important to discuss. I try to act upon that in my everyday life. This scene is extremely male dominated and I try to do something about it. You see, I’m a white male middle-aged artist and I’m here talking about myself. I have the voice right now.

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Controlling Body will be out on April 6 on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion

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Is there any form of concept behind Controlling Body that could be described in words?

The concept is control. It remains very abstract, but I tried to look at it from different angles. It’s also how I had the idea to use the human voice. Isn’t it the mean by which we control people? Isn’t words what you use to control people? When you start thinking about this subject, you start feeling that everything around you is controlled. The human voice is really direct, you don’t have to say or sing anything, just a simple sound says so much more than a lot of sound design. Again, it was a way to reduction.

Regarding your performance at Atonal, we left with the idea that it was a sort of a critique towards pop culture – without even knowing your implications with Fever Ray or Blonde Redhead. What are you feelings about pop culture?

It is funny because it wasn’t a critique towards pop culture but a critique of the electronic music scene! It was just a really easy trick to do that at Atonal: a very colorful performance putting myself spinning around looking kind of everydayish. Being there, with my wig, so not really being there. It was a bit tongue in cheek, but it stood out.

What I learned working with pop artists and seeing them perform live, is that quite small means and quite simple efforts can translate into something much bigger. You don’t need to have very expensive stage production to transmit something that will look good and attract people’s attention. I learned so much working with pop artists and I wouldn’t say that what I do is different from them. If I like something, why would I waste my energy thinking about where to categorize it?
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You explored techno, pop music and more. Theses movements between the genres, is it the reflection of something you were looking for and never found, or was it something you needed to move forward?

I would love to have a very specific and simple aesthetic, but I’m having trouble staying in the same place. I’m looking for something new all the time; it is maybe why I gave up on doing proper techno music. I tried to do that for a long time, and failed. When I stopped trying, I could finally finish something and it was a lot more interesting. It’s always a work in progress. I also have a short attention span, I can lose interest in something really quickly. I find it difficult to finish something, that is why I’ve learned to like leaving things unfinished (laugh). At the end, I just trust my gut feeling because it’s a really intuitive process. I’m trying not to overthink stuff, I just do it. 

But finally, your aesthetic does not belong to any specific genre. In which scene would you place yourself and who are the members of your music family? Do you think it is necessary for an artist to belong to a group of people?

I don’t try to fit into a genre. I always try to go beyond my close circle of friends. I prefer digging because there is so much that we are not aware of. I would find very uninteresting to only work with people I’m with all the time and just pat ourselves on the back. I don’t think it’s necessary to belong to a group of people, on the contrary, I think it’s good to be independent. I see a lot of musicians having their own little exclusive cliques. I think it’s important to meet new people and include them in your world. It’s certain that I have a group of people that I feel close too, but I don’t want it to be defined, I want it to stay as open as possible. 

Last and sociological question. Why do you think Sweden has such an important and influent music scene whether in Techno, Pop or Dark Ambient, etc.?

Simply because we are one of the richest countries in the world. We are very stable. Kids like me get the chance to fool around for a really long time. Moreover, in Sweden, we are also extremely good at taking something existing and perfecting it. Dubstep would never have come from Stockholm. Abba could take disco and pop and make the best disco pop! Klara Lewis is perhaps one of the few Swedish artists that I felt was doing something completely different from what I would hear from Sweden. I got really excited when I heard her music for the first time and this is probably the reason why I released it (smile).

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