It’s not often that a producer begins their musical trajectory as a European popstar, playing stadiums, supporting Beyonce and having the now-notorious Cashmere Cat as their touring DJ. Norwegian producer Lido can lay claim to all of those things. While these milestones may be difficult to top, Lido is still on the verge of becoming iconic, diverting his attention away from aspirations of stardom and shifting his focus onto the undeniable value of top-shelf songwriting.
You have a strong grasp of melody and arrangement from your pop days. Is this something that is advantageous for you now as you take the producer role and work with other vocalists?
I think every musical experience and skill comes into play when you are creating music. It’s hard define what specific experience effect the song from time to time, but I’d say, having been in the shoes of an artist and singer, that definitely helps me understand them in the studio.
Do you intend to incorporate your own vocal elements in your future production or is this something strictly for the studio these days?
I already am! Whenever you hear a Smurf or a chopped and screwed voice in my songs, it’s me.
You are a multi-instrumentalist. Did you receive formal training? Do you use these instruments in production now?
I did go to music high school with drums as my major, but my main instrument is piano which I never had formal training in. I record everything in my productions through a piano, so it’s absolutely essential. On occasion I do play drums in my tracks too.
Who have you been working with on the production end of things? I’ve seen your name pop up on a bunch of Australian credits of late. Tell us a bit about those collaborations.
I’ve been working a lot with Aussies lately! Wave Racer is a good friend of mine and an extremely talented dude. We have some tracks together coming out soon. I worked with AW – coolest chick ever – on her EP and we have more music coming out too. Maribelle is an incredibly talented songwriter and vocalist that I hope to work a lot more with. What we have so far is really cool.
You’re coming here in December on your debut tour? Is this your first time travelling outside of Norway as Lido?
Yes it is, I can’t wait!
You have had quite a bit of love on Triple J – do you anticipate a similar response from your live show?
I hope people will enjoy it, but I think it’s going to be pretty different than what a lot of electronic live shows are. It’s not about the big drops; it’s not about the amount of mysterious buttons being pushed; it’s about allowing musicianship to happen and having fun with the music.
Tell us about Pelican Fly. What’s it like working with DJ Slow? How did you come to know one another?
Slow is my brother, the coolest guy ever. We were introduced through a mutual friend a few years ago and he probably understood that I should be doing instrumental music way before I did myself.
What do you think is the most distinctive element of your song writing?
Probably my chords. Growing up I listened to a lot of gospel, RnB and jazz, so the harmonic side of a song is always very important to me.
Coming from a pop background, do you find song writing to be quite a formulaic process for you? Or do you like to be more experimental and push boundaries?
I think every song is different, so it’s impossible for me to follow a formula. I do think a good song should have an element of catchy or hooky, or at least something interesting that makes it stand out. Never write the same song twice.
I know that there are a lot of ‘creatives’ that are opposed to making intentionally radio-friendly music. But I personally don’t see this as a bad thing. It’s hard to push the boundaries and keep things under that three-and-a-half minute mark. What do you think? Do you think pop music is challenging to conquer?
The old hostile mentality against pop music, how “if a lot of people like it, it has to be bad,” has got to be dead soon. The biggest paradox in music criticism.
I would never judge a song based on genre or format. It’s all about if it speaks to me. I’ll get super hyped over a Balkan folk song or an Enrique Iglesias song on the radio and have no explanation why. That’s the beauty of music to me and what I try to do: bridge gaps for people who thought they weren’t into the genre I’m presenting. Radio music is a craft just like jazz music is and has its challenges just like every other type of music.
I’m looking at guys like Max Martin and Dr Luke who are immortalised with their succession of chart-dominating hits. Is this a direction that you aspire to follow?
I admire them for having such a huge impact on popular music and I will definitely strive to have a similar impact, but very different musically though.
Why do you think there is such hesitation for producers to be explicit about wanting to find success in the commercial ‘mainstream’?
I can only speculate as this is not something I’m feeling. But exposing yourself in a big league to a huge crowd is scary. Setting out to appeal to a lot of people is frightening because the failure would be much harder than if you put out a weird song on SoundCloud and no one ‘understood’ it.
Does selling out even exist anymore? Where do your limits lie? At what point would you just have to pull the plug and call it a day?
I think giving up exists. I think it’s losing focus on writing good music and falling into the temptation of putting out music that sounds like what is successful at the moment. It’s a reality for a lot of big artists with busy careers. It’s all about good songs.
Catch Lido live at the Future Classic BBE Xmas Weekender. Event here.