Copenhagen’s “Diamond in the Rough” has recently contributed to Innervisions’ Secret Weapons 12 compilation two weeks ago, released EPs on Sum Over Histories, Azzur, Scatcity and Exit Strategy, and remixed for Moblack, Rebirth and Azzur in 2019. And that’s not even half of what Nandu has produced in the past year. Through various productions across labels, from all ends and crannies of electronic music’s wide spectrum, Rasmus Vincent Jansen has executed grace, versatility and a sublime mastery of sound. His growing fan base, consisting of music enthusiasts, ravers, headphone dancers, artists, can only wonder what drives and inspires the man behind “When The Interlude Sounds Like Falling Rain”, “The Cost Of My Childish Dreams”, “Will the Shadows Haunt Me” or “Banned From The Real World”, but what is more intriguing is the method behind the madness, the process behind the art. Shortly after having breakfast at a local Danish cafe, Nandu sits with Torture the Artist, glances back and peeps forward as we talk about his exhilarating career, his future projects (live sets, Calypso Chili and many other things he cannot talk about) and most importantly, his best role yet. So much has changed in the young DJ/Producer’s life since he last spoke with us two years ago, but one aspect of his life has taken front seat, left and center ever since – fatherhood.
Torture the Artist: Hello Rasmus, welcome back to Torture the Artist! What have you done so far in the day?
Nandu: On this rainy Sunday in Copenhagen I’ve been out for breakfast at this little local place called Bista. Four young chefs opened this small place , it holds about 15 people, and their speciality is crepes. And let me tell you, it’s insanely good!
Some people work for months to finalize their tracks, to me that’s boring.
Torture the Artist: You’ve recently contributed to Innervisions’ Secret Weapons 12 compilation which came out 2 weeks ago, and last year you released EPs on Sum Over Histories, Azzur, Scatcity and Exit Strategy, and remixed for both Moblack, Rebirth and Azzur, do you ever catch a break? Were you able to spend some time off for the holidays?
Nandu: I make music almost every day, so actually the mentioned releases are only around 20% of what I produced last year. When I write and produce music I like to just get the tracks done. This also means that there is a lot of tracks, which are just moved to a hidden folder in my dropbox and will never be released. Some people work for months to finalize their tracks, to me that’s boring. I create a track in one day, and spend a day on arranging, mixing etc. From there it’s only small details in the mix and arrangement. If I work to long on a track, the magic disappears from it. I mean, when producing with modern technology you can go so much into all details that things become “over-produced” and what I often think creates the magic in music are the unpolished details. But this amount of studio-time combined with touring, family and working in a daytime job as a night manager in a club only leave you with very little time for vacations.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of which, how did you manage to finish all these within the same year? How much of 2019 was spent locked in the studio?
Nandu: As mentioned before, I’m in the studio almost every day. The term studio in this case is a synonym for me in my living room making music every day. I don’t have a “real” studio at the moment, which has economical reasons.Copenhagen is expensive, and if I wanted to have a studio I needed to work so much that I wouldn’t have time for working in the studio. So at the moment the music is just done at home. I have a few shelfs with gear on, and then just take what I need and bring it to the living room, and put it back after use.
Torture the Artist: As gratifying as it is, we’re sure you missed out on a lot of personal time as well as quality time with your family. Do you have any regrets with how you spent the past year?
Nandu: No, that is actually not the case. My touring schedule is still not super hectic, and during all studio days I have a lot of time with my family. In the morning I take my son to kindergarten, then I go to the gym, after that it is studio time for 3-4 hours, then I pick him up again and spend the afternoon and evening together with my wife and him. So, there are no regrets. Actually it’s the opposite. It’s been important for me to be able to be there for my family a lot from and especially at the beginning of my son’s life. He is three years old now, and that makes it easier for me now to be away on the weekend.
Torture the Artist: Last time we spoke, you had just recently become a dad. How’s that going for you? How much have you changed personally, artistically and professionally since your son was born?
Nandu: Everything has changed, and only for the better. Now I spend more time on the important stuff, the real stuff. No more afterparties, and a lot less nights out – unless it’s for work of course. Daddy life rules! Of course, I give up something while touring, but what I lose there I get back in the everyday life, with the mentioned amount of family time.
Torture the Artist: Can you share some of your most cherished experience in fatherhood? Is there a particular track/s of yours which was inspired by this particular part of your life?
Nandu: My entire life is just amazing ever since he was born, but I mostly cherish to be able to see him grow up and with that his comes a lot of love that he’s got to give to us, his parents, too. And also it is the most amazing thing to be able to be a parent together with my wife. Your relationship, at least ours, gets a deeper and different meaning since a new relationship level is added. So besides being lovers, friends and spending life and quality time together we’ve become a work team, whose job is it to make a good life for our son, and it is truly a blessing. My recently released track “Stjerneskud” (meaning shooting star) is a song dedicated to my son, and the feelings in this track kind of sums up fatherhood for me.
Torture the Artist: Two years ago, we also talked about your techniques and ongoing projects, but we skipped some basics which we were always curious about. What exactly is the meaning behind your Nandu moniker?
Nandu: <laughs> There is no deeper meaning behind it really. I was looking for a name for my solo project, and some of the criteria were that it had to be easy to pronounced and spelled in as many languages as possible. And then I stumbled across the name and I liked it. That’s it.
People sometimes tend to forget that you need to spend time doing things if you want to be good at it or being good at something.
Torture the Artist: It seems like music is part of your DNA, it comes so naturally to you. When did you realize your love for music? How did you decide to pursue it as a full-time/lifelong commitment?
Nandu: I’ve always loved music, and been playing since I was a kid. And at around the age of 16 I knew that I wanted to work with or at least around music. About the DNA, it’s actually funny, because people often assume that music comes easy to me. This is not true. After making music more or less every day in ten years it now comes easy. But practice is key here, and in the digital age – which is amazing and I love the possibilities it offers – people sometimes tend to forget that you need to spend time doing things if you want to be good at it or being good at something. I mean, everyone can start making music, and you can easily make a track with loops and make it sound like a work of yours or take it into a direction that it makes it sound close to what you enjoy, and with that create something good that is made from your ideas. This is super motivating compared to start playing the piano for example, because it will take years before you can do something that sounds and feels good – but that doesn’t make you a good musician or producer then, it just sets the basis for the next steps to take and this takes a lot of time. So, when you have made your first track, just keep on working. Be curious, and keep on working then you will improve fast.
Torture the Artist: You grew up in Copenhagen? How was it like being young Rasmus trying to make it into the electronic music scene? What were memorable moments you had during the time you were just starting out? Did anyone in particular inspire you to go through this road?
Nandu: I did actually not grow up in Copenhagen, I moved here in 2010 when I was 19. But before moving here I had already been on the “path”. I had been DJing in the small city I’m from with my best buddy Thomas, who some of you might know as Radeckt. We played at high-school parties, in small bars etc. So when we came to Copenhagen the world kind of opened up. We started going to Culture Box, the best club in town, and listened to more underground stuff. We started playing in CPH together under the moniker Leman & Dieckmann, and did something like 10 EPs and a LP and a long line of singles and remixes together. And these years were the practising years that I mentioned earlier. Those were the years we learned to DJ, to produce and to behave in this weird world of electronic music. There were so many highlights in those years, but one of the biggest was the first time we got to play at Culture Box. It was for the Danish DJ, and now booker and co-owner of the club, Tim Andresen’s monthly party called What Happens and Aki Bergen was headlining. We were huge fans of Aki at that time. Actually, we didn’t play at Culture Box directly but at their small bar next to the club, but we were so honoured and happy about it back then in 2011.
Torture the Artist: Aside from being a track-slinging machine, your sound is also so versatile it fits within the musical direction of multiple labels, even around the same time. How do you keep focused between various projects? How do you channel the right sound through the proper tunnel (label)? Was it ever too difficult juggling so many productions at once, that you had to give up a particular project to carry on with another?
Nandu: When I make music, I have an idea of the direction I want to go with within the music. But from there the sound is created in whatever way I feel. This means that I make a lot of music that sounds different. I never really thought of not doing it this way, and it has never been a problem. I mean there are labels for everything.
I am a talking machine and love words.
Torture the Artist: “When The Interlude Sounds Like Falling Rain”, “The Cost Of My Childish Dreams”, “Will the Shadows Haunt Me”, “Banned From The Real World”, these are just some of the expressive titles of your tracks. This tells us you may also be a skilled writer, are we right? How do you come up with the ideas or more of ‘stories’ behind these tracks?
Nandu: When creating music with vocals, it’s easy to express yourself through the lyrics. But when it’s all melody, it’s another story. When I create music, it has feelings and a meaning to me, but the sound is so individual, so the song title is a great way of expressing what the track means to me – and it can help to create a context for the listener, in which the track can be listened to. So that’s why most of my titles are so expressive. I’m not a skilled writer though. <laughs> But I am a talking machine and love words, and to just write down a few words doesn’t take much.
The process of creating music is like meditation.
Torture the Artist: They also seem laden with complex emotions; how do you get there? Did you have to isolate yourself and face some of your deeper feelings while making your music?
Nandu: I think that too, the process of creating music is like meditation. It’s a space where you forget the world around you, and in this space I am automatically close to my feelings. You can actually say that the tracks sometimes are an extract of these feelings. But sometimes my tracks are also just beats and rhythm without any complex feelings, just made to dance to.
Torture the Artist: On the subject of words, you have such a unique way of incorporating vocals into your productions. Do you seek out opportunities to include them into your tracks? Do you usually build off of particular samples or the other way around?
Nandu: To me sampling of vocals is an instrument. Looping, cutting and mixing vocals is just a very nice way to create a certain feeling in the melody. Vocals are so dynamic and unique so it’s easy to cut them into something truly outstanding. I’m searching for samples in a lot of different places, but I cannot reveal my sources. <laughs>
If stuff is too, steady I get bored.
Torture the Artist: We can’t quite imagine how you find the time, but you are a skilled, and demanded DJ as well. Do you enjoy playing gigs as much as isolation in the studio? How has DJ’ing affected your style and techniques as a producer?
Nandu: I love DJing as much as I love making music, which is good, because if stuff is too steady, I get bored. When I make music that is meant for dancing I’m using my knowledge as a DJ to arrange the tracks so that they are as effective as possible. Just small adjustments can change the whole way a track for a dance floor, and these details would often not have had any influence if the tracks were just for listening.
Torture the Artist: We heard through the grapevine, you’re focusing on your live sets, can you tell us more? Will dancers see a different angle and dance to a varying perspective of Nandu through these sets?
Nandu: I’ve created a new live-set this year. And I love playing live, equally to being a DJ, but it is so different. When you DJ, you play for the floor, you adjust and create the party. When playing live the performance is like a concert, and not as dynamically as a DJ set. This means that the focus is on performing your music and you don’t spend time on thinking of what do next. I play a lot of different instruments and use them in the live-set, and to be able to create something on the spot that can never be re-created is a huge motivation. Besides that, it does feel so good to give new life to own productions, meaning that tracks I maybe don’t play anymore can be re reinterpreted in the live-set. Last Friday I published an one hour recording of the live-set on the Keinemusik’s channel. It gives you an idea of the vibes of the live-act, but as it is a live-set it will be different every time.
Torture the Artist: You started a label back in 2017, but it had been quiet since your first release. Do you ever plan on reviving Calypso Chili in the near or far future?
Nandu: Calypso Chili has been sleeping, but some stuff is boiling. Can’t really say anything else at this point.
Torture the Artist: Lastly, what can we expect from you this 2020?
Nandu: Release wise the next thing from me is a remix I did for EdOne on Selador which comes at the end March. From there I have 5 EPs planned for 2020, but I can’t really say more at this point. Besides that my touring schedule is filling up for both, the DJing and for the live thing.
Interview by Marie J Floro