Copenhagen Rising

LA-based producer Dinner on music, Mac DeMarco… and meditation tapes for dogs
By Clementine Zawadzki | Music | 9 June 2017

Top image: Dinner by Paley Fairman

Turn your ears towards Denmark, something is bubbling. The Scandinavian country may be more known for its design credentials than for its musical contributions, however a new wave of musicians are proving that Denmark as a hotbed of exciting new talent. Stretching a broad range of genres and sounds, COPENHAGEN RISING is our portfolio of those musicians standing at the vanguard of Denmark’s rising scene. 

He’s worked with artists as diverse as Kid Cudi and Josh Groban, he’s toured with friend, collaborator and Captured Tracks label-mate Mac DeMarco, and he’s recently made a meditation tape for dogs (yes, really). An eclectic list such as this can only be affiliated with Anders Rhedin – aka Dinner – for it to make sense.

The Danish producer and singer divides his time between Los Angeles, Berlin and Copenhagen, but he finds LA most conducive to his musical imprint, perhaps even more so on his imminent material. A meditative soul in even the most trying circumstances, he even deems being struck with a debilitating flu during recording as a blessing in disguise.

Anders admits he still doesn’t feel comfortable with his discerning, booming vocals, but he likes imperfections and elements of difference. This voice was instrumental to the delivery of Dinner’s dark, 80s synth-pop infused debut album Psychic Lovers last year. His love for The Velvet Underground is evident on early tracks such as Dawn Is Here and Girl, progressing onto the more stark, danceable ‘John Cale meets Europop’ sound of Cool As Ice and Going Out. Visually captivating and sometimes unnerving, Dinner’s upcoming body of work is set to take a softer aesthetic and sonic turn, and he’s very excited about it.

Clementine: How does the scene in Denmark differ to being in LA?
Anders: When I moved, the whole thing that’s happening now with Posh Isolation and the whole scene around Mayhem [a venue in Copenhagen], it hadn’t happened yet. In terms of music, Denmark was a cultural backwater. Almost all bands kind of sounded like a mix between Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Radiohead. I guess today that would be a pretty radical sound, but back then in the late 90s, it wasn’t. So, when I go back I’m very impressed by the level that all these bands are on and so much cool stuff is going on, but it’s not something I really feel part of.

Clementine: What is it about LA that’s good for you in an artistic sense?
Anders: I think first of all it’s an energy thing. With the risk of sounding a bit New Age… well, that’s ok, because I am pretty New Age… you know, the energy you walk into here is unlike any other experience anywhere. There’s all this prettiness on the surface; the palm trees, the blue sky, the nice weather, but then underneath all that, there’s this weird undercurrent; this strange, demonic force, and for me that creates a very interesting dynamic. I feel when you look at local artists such as Geneva Jacuzzi or Ariel Pink or someone like that, I think they’re very good at depicting that energy. I find that to be very inspiring, that whole vibe that’s in the air, that electricity.

Clementine: The interplay of those two worlds is very interesting and also quite present in your own music. Are you comfortable in your own skin?
Anders: I still feel weird singing, to be honest with you. I don’t know if that will ever necessarily change.

Clementine: Is that a good thing? Does it lend itself to your art?
Anders: Yeah, I think it is. For instance, before getting signed to Captured Tracks, I was going back to Copenhagen for Christmas and we had to record a Dinner EP, and we had this studio time in a shitty studio that was super cheap and it was freezing cold. The weather was just horrific. I had the flu and had a really high fever, but I had to go to the studio because we paid for it. We were all fighting and there was a really bad vibe in the studio and it was so uncomfortable, and I was so sick I couldn’t even handle a two-minute walk. The point is, all the stuff that came out of it was so beautiful – some of the best stuff that I feel I’ve ever done – so every time there’s a little resistance for me, personally, I think it adds something, because you can hear that tension. Who would want something where there’s no tension? Imagine a movie where the hero… everything works out for them and there’s no obstacles and they’re just having fun? Who would want to look at that movie, right? You want the tension. It’s interesting when someone sings and they’re not really a singer. I think that’s fun.

“It’s interesting when someone sings and they’re not really a singer. I think that’s fun.”

Clementine: Well, your voice is something that has gained a lot of traction of its own accord…
Anders: The weirdest thing is when the record came out… I try not to read reviews and things, but I had a look at a few because I was curious, and whether they were positive or negative, they would all talk about my voice as if it was super weird. I’m aware I don’t sound like Josh Groban or Mariah Carey or something, but I also don’t think it’s that weird. I was surprised that it was so incredibly interesting to some and so offensive to others. I remember doing a video wearing makeup or something like that, which for me, I don’t think of that any differently than putting on a hat or shoes or whatever, and I remember being so surprised that some people took that as offensive. I think indie rock is different to what it was ten or twenty years ago. I just think it’s so conservative. When I was a kid, I thought this was really countercultural music, but now it seems to me that maybe it isn’t to the same extent.

Clementine: Have your influences changed at all over the years?
Anders: I mean seriously, honestly, for twenty years I’ve just been listening to The Velvet Underground. That’s just what I always try. I just try to rip those guys off, but then of course no one can because they were so good. I’m still caught in that rabbit hole of desperate aspiration.

Dinner by Paley Fairman

“I want to start a web shop to where I sell Dinner merch and also crystals and guided meditations, like you can get a custom meditation by Dinner on a CD or something”

Clementine: You’re a producer as well. How does the process differ from that world compared to when you’re writing your own songs?
Anders: I think as a producer – and I don’t necessarily mean a musical producer – I don’t feel I think as a singer or a singer-songwriter, I just think as a person who wants to create a piece of art. The only thing that’s important for me is the end result. I don’t care whether I sing or if someone else sings, I don’t care if it’s this genre or that genre, the only thing I care about is making something with a high Chi, or a high energy that makes me feel something. Whether that’s writing music, or a book, or doing choreography or whatever I would like to do someday, so the only thing that matters is the creative product. I try to keep myself out of it as much as possible, and that of course is the challenge because sometimes I’m consumed with ego, consumed by being vein, and sometimes I can let go and it’s as if someone else is speaking through me and I’m allowed to create something that has nothing to do with the everyday Anders, and that is so wonderful when it happens. The spiritual producer…

Clementine: You’re very into meditation. How important is it to stay connected to your spiritual side while you’re creating? What’s it like when you’re on the road?
Anders: It is extremely difficult, but I do it still and I’ve meditated in the weirdest places at this point. It’s not really an option for me not to do my daily meditations, because if I do not do those I just go a little crazy. I bring my yoga mat and if I’m travelling in a car I bring my meditation cushion. I’ve done yoga in lobbies, green rooms, hotel rooms. This last tour, some people would want me to do guided meditations before the actual concert, so I did that on a few occasions. I’ve been doing these semi-monthly guided meditations here in LA and I want to start a web shop to where I sell Dinner merch and also crystals and guided meditations, like you can get a custom meditation by Dinner on a CD or something. It’ll be there soon on Etsy or some shit. I recently did a meditation tape for dogs. It’s not out yet.

Clementine: I imagine mediating while you were touring with Mac DeMarco was interesting…
Anders: Those guys are so sweet and so incredibly talented, and in their own way, extremely in some sense also spiritual role models for me, because I would see these guys incredibly grounded, even though there would be thousands of teenagers night after night kind of screaming their names and waving in the hundreds outside the backstage entrance. I saw them being treated like the Backstreet Boys or something, but at the same time, Mac and those guys back then were party monsters, like a different league to anyone I’ve ever met when it comes to going out, and I thought I was a pretty decent guy for going out. I even wrote a song about it.

Clementine: Is that up there with one of the best experiences you’ve had as a musician?
Anders: If I were on my deathbed right now looking back, it would just be holding hands with some girl outside a show in New York in winter and she’s wearing really, really bright lipstick, or four in the morning in the studio or going to the market getting some beers sharing a cigarette listening to the mix you just did. It’d be these tiny little moments, where it just feels so beautiful and connected. It’s those split second moments.

Clementine: You mentioned you’re working on a new record at the moment. How’s it shaping up?
Anders: Oh, I am so excited about it. I’m literally on my way now to pick up my good friend Jannis from Choir of Young Believers…

Clementine: You used to be in that band, didn’t you?
Anders: Yes, I was, and I mean that’s so good and I can honestly say – because I don’t in anyway do stuff with them anymore, so I feel I can say – their record last year was a masterpiece. I’m meeting with him, he’s visiting LA, and then we’re meeting a guy called Frank Maston who was in the Jacco Gardner’s band, who we toured with a year and a half ago, and he has a studio in California. We’re going there now to take all the finished mixes and record them to tape, so the record is almost done. Mac helped out on some of the tracks, and some of the other guys on the label like Charlie Hilton. They’re [Captured Tracks] like businessmen that care, which is rare – at least in my experience – people can be quite jaded because it is so tough to work in these creative industries. It’s going to be a very soft album. I was thinking of calling it Soft, but I don’t think that title’s going to work. It’s just very quiet songs; I wanted to do something that was pleasant. I wanted to take some of the energy from my meditation music and meditation tapes (the ones I did for people, not dogs) and let that translate into ‘rock’ music. I don’t know if that’s what it sounds like to other people, but that’s how it sounds to me. I just wanted to do something where you can lie in your bed with someone and relax, rather than something you can dance to.

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