“It’s kind of like we just realized that our food is actually quite good,” jokes Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, a Norwegian DJ and producer known for eclectic mixes that range from prog rock to bombastic 4/4 techno. He’s also big on the remix circuit, having worked with all sorts of talent, including LCD Soundsystem, Franz Ferdinand and Best Coast.
His latest album, the slim and toe-tapping gem Smalhans, has landed on many year-end lists with standout songs like “Rà-àkõ-st” (raw vegetables) and “Lamm-el-aar“ (dried salted lamb meat) inspired by the culinary world, a subject the soft-spoken producer holds near and dear, as I found out during our chat.
I first ask him about what he’s eaten during the day, which in my experience talking to DJs in the early afternoon usually involves ibuprofen and eight balls. “I’ve been eating my own bread rolls with ham and a local Norwegian cheese, some tomatoes and also three or four cups of the best coffee in the world, here in Oslo.” This is clearly one farm-to-turntable kind of cat.
The fact that you just did this record based around Norwegian dishes is so fucking cool.
Yeah, it’s exactly what you need for your website! [laughs]
Why did you decide to base each of songs from Smalhans on a Norwegian dish?
I work on the tracks in the studio and when I come home, I usually make food. I found that making food and making music is more or less the same thing. Making something from scratch and trying out different combinations in the kitchen and seeing what happens is basically what I do in the studio. I know it is kind of silly, but it made sense to me.
No, makes sense. So you cook a lot at home?
I’ll make different things. The most important thing is that I make everything from scratch and don’t buy any retail products or things that are already made in-store. I make my own bread. I make my own apple jam. Everything has to be homemade because it’s a big difference. I like to make food out of cheap and easy-to-get ingredients.
Do you ever go out to restaurants?
I dine at home mostly. I have a family and really like to make things that are good for my kids, my wife and myself. Of course, a few times a year I try to pick the best restaurants in Oslo and go. You probably know Noma in Copenhagen?
I was there in August.
I haven’t been there, but I want to. There is this restaurant in Oslo called Maaemo. They base everything on local ingredients and as far as I know, it is similar to the Noma thing. It’s definitely based on Norwegian food. I haven’t been there because it just opened a year ago or something but it got two Michelin stars. I really want to go next time [laughs].
Scandinavian cuisine has become so widely known and popular throughout the world. Do you realize that?
I guess if you live in the United States, you probably see that happen. But I am here in Oslo and I don’t really read too many magazines or know anything that is happening. I know that Norwegians feel confident about food getting much bigger and growing over there.
Can you tell me some of your favorite classic Norwegian dishes?
One of the most traditional dishes is one of the tracks on my album – fårikål – it translates to “sheep and cabbage.” It is basically lamb meat put into a pot with green cabbage, placed in layers, and left to boil in water for two or three hours. It’s really good! I don’t know if you have anything similar to it, but it’s really simple and basic. Many times, the simpler something is, the better!
I bet it smells really good in your house when you make it.
It does smell really good. I usually make it in a pressure cooker to reduce the time.
Do you have a favorite food city to visit when you are touring?
It’s always good in Rome and in Barcelona. All cities have something. Maybe the food in Tokyo is very good and I really love that. Also, there is really good food in Shanghai and in Beijing. It’s hard to say, and I don’t have a particular favorite.
As a DJ, it must be so great to go from country to country and not have to slog around all that gear. Do you feel fortunate?
Yeah, of course. That’s one of the things I am looking most forward to, going to eat. It’s almost more important than the gig [laughs]. I don’t really enjoy traveling and spending hours and hours in airports, but I do appreciate the fact that I get a huge amount of good food!
What are the staples in your refrigerator right now?
At the moment there are tons of apples, which my mom brought over a few days ago. The apples are getting good here; I make things like jam and I have apple juice as well. I also keep bread dough in my house. I have been making bread for about three years. I have the dough in the refrigerator and it can stay there for three weeks. In the morning, I wake up, put it in the oven and make fresh rolls.
Do you listen to music when you are cooking?
Yeah, I do. It’s a good opportunity to listen to music. I have it on in the background. I have a pair of good speakers in my kitchen.
What do you listen to?
I listen to all kinds of stuff. Pop music from the ’70s [laughs].
Well, not necessarily disco. ’70s and ’80s pop music – something that I’ll sing along to [laughs].
What are some foods that you require on your tour rider?
That’s something I need to work on. For the moment, it’s just a few beers and that’s it [laughs]. I’ve been thinking that it’s something I need to talk to my booking agent about because I think I should opt for some local food from every city that I play in since that is important to me. It shouldn’t be so hard for them to provide me with some local gourmet food from whatever city I’m in. That’s in the pipeline! For the moment, I trust promoters to bring me to restaurants.
That’s probably disappointing sometimes?
Well, sometimes it is. The worst is actually backstage catering. That’s really, really bad.
Do you drink alcohol?
Yeah, I drink beer. Of course, I prefer local beer.
What about coffee?
I use an AeroPress. I am really picky when it comes to coffee. When you have an AeroPress and freshly ground coffee, you can’t go wrong!
How Scandinavian of you. Do you take your AeroPress on the road when you tour?
I used to do it more, but I really need to get as much sleep as possible. I realized if I bring too much coffee I can’t sleep, so I stopped doing it. We all do it when on vacation, though.
So what are you going to make for dinner tonight?
We are actually having a Norwegian sausage called Vōssākōrv. That’s also one of the tracks on my album. It’s a traditional Norwegian sausage with more actual meat than just like a usual hot dog.