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- Posted on Jun 7th 2011 2:00PM by Eric R. Danton
"We recorded and mixed the album in three weeks, and it felt really good," Lerche tells Spinner.
Working that way was largely a reaction to his previous album, 2009's 'Heartbreak Radio,' which was a more elaborately produced -- and time-consuming -- affair. This time, Lerche recorded 10 new songs live in the studio, with the intent of finishing as quickly as possible.
Lerche tells us about the change in approach on 'Sondre Lerche,' out now on Mona Records, the unifying power of a really good pop song and why collaborating with hitmakers Stargate isn't out of the question.
Let's get to the question on everyone's mind: how excited were you about Lady Gaga's album?
[Laughs] Very excited. I thought I would let her get her album out of the way before I bring on the blockbuster album of the season, which would be my album.
That's very generous.
She hasn't said it to me, but I know she knows [laughs].
In all seriousness, do you listen to super-pop music?
A lot of that music is so exposed that you listen to it whether you like it or not. I think a lot of it is really interesting. It's the same as with any other genre or tendency: there's quality examples of it, and then there's stuff that just doesn't resonate. But I like a lot of the fast Beyonce songs, which are usually pretty cool. The ballads, I'm not so into that. The biggest pop-producing songwriting team nowadays is actually Norwegian, and one of those guys is a friend of mine. These guys called Stargate. They're on their seventh or eighth No. 1 in America. They do Rihanna and a lot of Katy Perry, they've done Beyonce hits. They're on a roll. It's really interesting to me to discuss music with people who come from a completely different reality. It's much more interesting than talking with someone who is on the same page as you, because then you're just reconfirming your own truths in a way.
When's the Lerche-Stargate collaboration happening?
I totally respect what they do, so maybe it needs to happen. Just sitting here, I don't picture it. I'm not sure which end we would begin with, but I think there's something really beautiful about music that reaches a big audience and brings people together. It sounds clichéd, but when I hear a song that I like and it's a song that's huge, I think it's a beautiful thing. That year when everybody was singing 'Single Ladies' or 'Crazy in Love' or these types of songs that just unite everybody, that's a wonderful thing.
Do you think your songs have that potential?
Obviously, I'm in a completely different world in making music that has a somewhat different mission, but I can definitely appreciate that I have certain songs in my repertoire that feel more inclusive and open than others. On the new record, there's a song called 'Private Caller,' and I loved feeling immediately that energy of a song that I know is going to include listeners beyond my core audience. As long as I think it's a good song and it's a cool feeling, that's a great thing. It's not my talent; it's not something I'm good at, and other people are, but once in a while when it happens, I totally embrace it.
What is the mission of your music?
I knew I was setting myself up for a very difficult question! Of course, it is up to whoever is on the receiving end of it, whoever is willing to listen to it and spend time with it. But to me, it's become a very profound way for me to express myself in a context that is at times extremely personal in relating to my life, but also at times it just relates to a sense of aesthetic or harmony or a sense of reverie even. It's this place where I can be extremely candid and also feel protected by the format. You can be extremely honest and extremely candid and at the same time, you can feel protected because it's this little world you've created.
How much has that world changed during your career?
My first record was so much like an escape, this idealized image of how you would want things to be when you got a little older, or even here and now, and through the years and albums since then, I've managed to arrive at this place with this new record that I felt it would be more interesting to investigate how real life is, in a way. To turn away from the idealized escape for a moment and keep your eyes open and address reality more.
Did that influence your decision to record live in the studio?
My instinct was immediately that I would not want to dress the songs up too much. I didn't want too much makeup and arrangement and production, just because the core of these songs had already communicated with my instinct, as they do behind my back [laughs]. Also, my last record was very much opposite in many ways, in that it was a big record with lots of arrangement, lots of production. It took a lot of time and we didn't really have a deadline, so I felt the need to have some limitations on this record. Maybe that's trying to get in touch with reality in a way. I wanted to find a studio in the neighborhood here in Williamsburg [Brooklyn], where I live, and go really fast so we could just go by instinct and pressure to just make it work somehow and not get lost in all these stylistic escapades. We did it.