Danish musician Tobias Pederson, better known as Beastie Respond, will be releasing his new EP Back to the Future next month on RDG’s Circle Vision. Pederson explains the personal inspiration behind his melodic new track, how his taste in music has become less pretentious, and the roots of his reggae drummer past.
Firstly, where are you speaking to us from?
Hello! I’m speaking to you from a stressed out reading room at the University of Copenhagen, where I’m currently wrapping up my dissertation.
To those unfamiliar with your sound how would you describe it?
As any other artist I’ve been struggling with a fitting answer to this question for a while. My music is soulful and melodic but there is a good portion of attitude and swag thrown in as well. It’s bassy and it’s relatively fast and sometimes a bit hectic. Genre wise it’s a cocktail of drum’n’bass, slow jams and electro with a hint of footwork.
Your new EP ‘Back to the Future’ is out next month. Can you talk us through what inspired it?
The EP is a result of a long period of musical self-scrutiny. After my album I had a difficult period of time where I couldn’t really find out where to take my music. I wasn’t quite done with the whole 80’s thing and still wanted to look forward to something more contemporary and I am still completely in love with cheesy synths (which you can obviously hear on the EP). My inspiration mostly comes from situations I am in and the mood those situations put me in. Specific things such as movies or music do not inspire me – but instead I get inspired by the situations in which I experience the music for example. Since the album I have went through a series of (private) life changing experiences and situations, which has influenced me quite a lot.
What kind of atmosphere were you trying to create with ‘Back to the Future’?
The track is kind of mellow, but it also has a good portion of energy I think. I wanted it to be a pop song basically. Simple and catchy. The overall atmosphere on the EP is a quite emotive I think. There are moments of beauty and there are moments of ugliness, as well as love and aggression.
The EP also features collaboration with Alia Fresco. What was the creative dynamic like when working with her?
Yes! I can’t thank her enough. With both Wait for Me and Back to the Future I wrote the beat first and sent it to her. She would then write the lyrics, record the vocals and send it back to me. It’s kind of funny because we live in the same city and it would have been super easy to find a studio to work in together. But at the same time (for me at least) it created a bit of mystique around her as a person. Even though I knew who she was and the music she made it was all very elusive and exciting. We have met IRL now and worked on Back to the Future together and luckily the magic is still there. If you look at my back catalogue it becomes quite obvious that I’m not an overt collaborative kind of guy. It takes time for me to be comfortable around other artists. It took me 4 or 5 years to get in the studio with RDG for instance. So this creative dynamic where we send bits back and forth suits me very well. I guess I’m a bit of a musical hermit.
What are some key pieces of gear you have used for your work on ‘Back to the Future’?
I used my computer. A Juno-106, 1979 Korg MS-20, Roland JV-1010 and I think I used a crappy Yamaha DX-21 as well. I used the TC Hall of Fame pedal quite extensively as well as an older Lexicon reverb unit. You can never have enough good reverbs.
How has your sound changed since ‘Syncopy’?
Well obviously it has changed quite a bit. Maybe I was more low-key back then? Also now I have put some distance between myself and my past as a reggae drummer so now it’s less dubbed out. Just for the record – I still love reggae – I’m just not as influenced by it anymore. So my sound has changed into something a bit more polished and definitely also more maximalist instead of the relative minimal structure of ‘Syncopy’.
And what has determined the way your sound has transformed?
I made ‘Syncopy’ more than 6 years ago now so obviously I’m older and more cynical. That being said, I think my music has gained a sense of humor now. I just try to have as much fun making it as possible, even though sometimes the music I make stems from difficult personal situations. Earlier I was a bit more serious about it all. My taste in music has become less and less pretentious over the years. When I was 19 I hated all the mid-range nonsense in bass music. I just wanted it to be deep and heavy. Now I kind of come to love the absolute silliness of some of the EDM stuff for instance.
Who are you currently listening to?
Currently I’m listening to Amnesia Scanner a lot. I experienced them, or at least their music and visual show in Volksbühne, Berlin recently (I couldn’t see them anywhere) with a good friend of mine. Even though it felt like I had one foot in the grave from the night before the whole thing just blew me away. Besides Amnesia Scanner I listen to M.e.s.h., Egyptrixx, Richie Brains and a good portion of American hardcore. And of course Ozzy Osbourne!
What are the five albums of all time that have influenced you?
This question is kinda unfair, but I’ll try. Ask me again in six months and I’ll probably say something different.
No More Tears – Ozzy Osbourne
Heavy Weather – Weather Report
A Wandering Journal – Sabre
Splazsh – Actress
California – Mr. Bungle
What lies ahead for 2016?
My EP Back to the Future of course. Hopefully some cool gigs. A long bike-ride and unemployment.
By Hanna Duggal