It’s extremely important to me not to repeat myself and therefore push myself harder every time I start on working on new songs.”
It’s not secret that we’ve been following Danish musician Brian Batz and his former bedroom project SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE for quite a while now. And it is a pleasure to see the man with the trademarking bunny mask getting more and more reputation with his melancholic dreampop. And the story isn’t over. After touring the whole planet – it seems – with his sophomore 2012 album We Were Drifting On A Sad Song, Brian is already quite busy working on the record’s follow up.
Perfect timing to take off the mask and have a lovely chat with the man from Copenhagen about his recent recording trip to San Francisco, the progress of the new record and why we will soon hear his voice without the famous vocoder effect. Read the little studio report from Brian with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION right here.
Greetings Brian. Please tell us where you are at the moment and what you’re up to?
Well, I’m sitting in my apartment in Copenhagen drinking coffee and listening to DAMIEN JURADO, while I’m working on pitching another band of mine (SCARLET CHIVES). A record I’m proud of and a record that’s sooo good, that no one dares to release it in Denmark. Maybe too alternative. Don’t know, but the most important thing is that I’m back in Copenhagen after spending a month in San Francisco and it all feels good. I’ve got hope and passion for all the music I’m a part of and believe that it all deserves a lot of attention and that someone out there finds the music just as intriguing as me. So I’m working on getting it out there. (laughs)
So, you are also in the middle of the recording process for a new record. When will we hear it?
I don’t have any release date yet, but we hope to release the third album in 2013. That’s for sure.
“I’ve chosen a more organic approach on this album”
How was the recording session in San Francisco?
I didn’t have that much song material before I left, so everything was pretty much written and recorded during my stay there. I’ve been working together with producers Jeff Saltzman (THE KILLERS, MORRISSEY) and Mikael Johnston (BLONDIE, THE SOUNDS) and this has been really new to me, because I’ve always been used to work on my own and do everything myself, but this time I had two amazing guys with me in the studio. They’ve guided me through the process, which has been very different, but in the best possible way though. I’ve played all the instruments myself, so the process has been extremely intense, but totally worth it. I worked all day long with Jeff and Mikael and I practically didn’t have any day off, which I chose myself. I only had one day off where I played tourist in the San Francisco area. I wanted to write and record this album during my stay there and that succeeded me and I’m head over heels in love with the new songs. The songs are being mixed by Mikael Johnston and me as we speak and I CAN’T wait to play the new stuff for all the SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE listeners out there.
With a change of location and production – can we also expect a change of sound?
Well, the sound is still SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE-ish, but I’ve chosen a more organic approach on this album than on the two earlier albums. There are more acoustic drums. In fact I think I’ve only used electronic beats on one or two songs on this album. I’ve also chosen to have my clean vocal in front on several songs as well and practically deleted the “bunny-vocal” on these songs. It’s been fun and the result is really appealing to me. I love the new organic and almost band-like sound. It’s different, like really different from the earlier albums, but still in a SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE -ish way, which is important.
Did the lot of touring around the world had a direct impact on the new material?
Maybe in the sense of wanting to create a more band-like-material. The third album sound like a band playing together in the studio, which was important to me. If I’ve had the live-band with me in San Francisco, they would’ve been playing on the album, but we couldn’t afford getting the whole bunch to US… These are the guys I’ve spend most time with and therefore I was very inspired to get the sound of a band playing together. Hopefully the fourth album will have the whole band on the recordings.
Despite the fact that SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE is a band on stage with these lovely guys you’ve mentioned, it’s still pretty much your idea and “child”. Any intentions to open up the concept?
I’ve always written all the songs myself and I often record all the instruments too. I love working on my own and it’s satisfying to take all the decisions without any interference from other parties. That’s how I work best. But on this third album I’ve been very open minded because I had two magnificent producers with me in the studio and I had to take their notes and critic seriously. It’s been enriching to work like this. From the very beginning of SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE I’ve wanted to develop the concept from album to album and on this third album a lot of things have changed and the concept of the SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE universe is way different, but that was my goal from the very start. It’s extremely important to me not to repeat myself and therefore push myself harder every time I start on working on new songs. It would be very boring if it sounded like the two other records.
“Removing the mask would be ruining the SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE trademark”
Were there any recent records where you thought “Damn it, that’s cool. I wanna do this” and which might have influenced the record. Or better said – that pushed you to get better?
I’ve been very fond of the two recent MOUNT EERIE albums and the new TAME IMPALA, but not in the sense that this album sound like that. Not at all. (laughs) But I’ve read that both Phil Elverum (MOUNT EERIE) and Kevin Parker (TAME IMPALA) record almost everything themselves and it still sounds like a band playing, so that was my inspiration on this album. But the songs and songwriting on this album is very simple and straight forward, but with sparkling stars appearing in the horizon. It’s still weird at some points, because I can’t help it. I’m a sucker when it comes to creating sounds and moods.
The career of SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE almost feels like a progress for your self-confidence – would you agree? The debut was pretty much you alone in your bedroom, the second one was more professional with a band and now you even tell you want to skip your trademark voice for this.
Yeah, you can say that. I’ve gained more self-confidence since the release of the first album. I’ve always known that I could sing and at one point I knew that the day where my ‘own’ voice would be in front of some SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE songs would come.
So, when do the bunny masks come off?
Removing the mask would be ruining the SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE trademark. Then it would be a different band and concept. That’s not gonna happen or at least I don’t think so… you have to see yourself next time we’re going on tour. I might decide to change the concept totally… exciting… huh?
What has been the weirdest moment on your last tour? Like a moment when you sat back and thought “What the hell is happening here?”
I think that playing in Taipei last year was one of the most weird experiences in my career. In a good way though. We were told that we sold 1100 in pre-sale when we arrived at the venue. And the place was totally packed when we played and people knew all the songs. All in all just one of those experiences where you go “What the hell is happening here?” and “Is this really happening?”. It was AMAZING and enriching.
We are all about hope and passion. What do these two mean to you?
You can’t really achieve anything without believing in these two words. I always try to hope for the best and I always say to myself, that if I loose my passion for music I should seek passion in something else. Without hope and passion it ain’t possible to achieve or reach your goal. That’s what I believe.