After a decade away, Norwegian duo Xploding Plastix (aka Jens Petter Nilsen and Hallvard Hagen) return with their new LP ‘This Is Accurate’. Known for their idiosyncratic and subversive style, the new album continues to showcase their ear for off-grid beats, futuristic melodies and cinematic sounds. We sat down with the pair to discuss the new record and more…
Xploding Plastix - Interview
Hello Xploding Plastix and welcome to Minimal Mag. Where do we find you both currently and how is your year going?
Sipping the morning espresso in the rural parts of Norway; life in the countryside has its moments. It’s been a busy year. It’s hard work trying to do nothing.
Your first new album in over a decade, ‘This Is Accurate’, is set for release in late November via Beatservice Records. It’s great to hear fresh music from you guys again, what can you tell us about the record?
The record has been in process for quite a while. At one point, we were thinking of going acapella, doing a ‘vocals only’ set of songs. That would be a sure way of alienating absolutely everyone.
We have undergone several shifts of interests and styles along the way, before we ended up with something we could agree on. I think it’s our most electronic record so far. We still sample ourselves, and other musicians in sessions, but I think the synths have a more dominant role this time around. I also think some of the music harkens back to our earlier work, but maybe it’s a bit more rude?
Has the way you put together an album substantially changed since you released ‘The Donca Matic Singalongs Revisited’ in 2009? If so, how?
It’s more or less the same. We work on ideas and let them sit for a while. It’s a fermentation process.
We are experimenting with synths and beats and enjoy the excitement of exploration.
We have access to more equipment and new technology, and it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming; it can be a struggle to keep focus on the musical idea and not be distracted by all the possibilities. But, all in all, it’s very much the same, except we have become older and more grumpy. It’s still a sonic journey through the wonders of electronic music, with a touch of humor and a sprinkle of rural Norwegian magic (how’s that for a marketing blurb!)
Compared to your previous output, ‘This Is Accurate’ feels a bit more reflective and restrained while still very much sounding like Xploding Plastix. Was this a conscious choice or is it just how the album came out?
Maybe it’s a reflection on us getting older? Natural evolution? Over the years, we’ve found ourselves drawn to more contemplative and nuanced sonic landscapes. At the same time, we didn’t want to lose the playful and humorous spirit that’s always been a part of our music. So it’s a delicate balance.
The theatre director Keith Johnstone told his students “Don’t be original; be obvious”, arguing that originality is often what is obvious to you but no one else. Do you feel this rings true for Xploding Plastix?
I don’t know. There’s some truth to that perspective, especially in the context of music and art.
Our goal has never been to be deliberately original for the sake of it. In a way, our music is a reflection of what’s obvious to us, and that’s what makes it authentic I guess.
This is the third album you’ve released via Beatservice Records. At this stage of your relationship with the label, is there much back and forth over creative direction or do your visions basically align from the get go?
Vidar, the label boss, is a super nice guy, and he has impeccable taste! I guess there’s a mutual understanding and trust that has developed over the years. Our visions tend to align quite well from the get-go. Beatservice Records have been incredibly supportive of our music and they’ve given us the creative freedom to explore our sound and let us run wild with our creative impulses.
You’ve been working together as a duo for many years now. Do you need to be in the same room when creating or can you ‘work remotely’, sending bits and pieces back and forth?
We have our own studios and like to keep a distance…
We often start our creative process individually, generating ideas and experimenting with sounds on our own. Then we can send bits and pieces back and forth. It’s like playing a game – I’ll toss a synth melody your way, and you’ll bounce it back with a rhythm or texture.
How much does location and setting influence the music you create?
Hard to say. We like to work during the nighttime. And I guess living in Norway has had an influence; the serene natural landscapes, the changing seasons, and the sense of solitude all find their way into our compositions. It seep into our music, inspiring the textures, moods, and themes we explore.
Finally, what else can we expect from Xploding Plastix in the near future?
We are working on more new music. We have been procrastinating for some time now, so we have built up quite a backlog of music that we plan to release in the coming years.
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