TRAKKTOR. Just Making Songs And Having Fun…..
After releasing two of the most refreshing EBM albums of the last two years, we felt it was high time we had a chat with those fun-loving Swedes Trakktor. Always up for a good chin wag they were only too happy to agree so Jens Lagnekvist took the time to answer a few questions
Q. So let’s get the ball rolling, could you give us a brief introduction to the members of Trakktor & how the band originally came into being?
TraKKtor was started in 2001 by Pierre Maier and Tobias Jansson. Jens Lagnekvist joined the band in 2009 on keys and backing vocal. Around the same time that we released Force Majeure (2011), Tobias left the band to focus on his 8-bit project ACC:Xess. Early 2012, Robert Lundgren joined the band on keys, guitar and backing vocals.
Q. Trakktor seems to be one of those bands who have appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, at least on the international front, but I’m guessing it’s likely that getting even this far has taken so blood, sweat & tears from all of you?
Yes, for sure, since the band was started already 2001. Meaning that we have worked long and hard to become what we are today. We have had our share of haters and bad-mouthers through the years, but I think we have showed them now ;). Thankfully there has been a growing number of supporters as well.
Q. Most people will probably assume you took your band name from the Combichrist song of the same name (aside from a slight spelling change) but seeing as your formation predated that song by two years or so that’s not possible, so what prompted you to choose such an, on the face of it, un-EBM band name?
It was on a whim, we never really expected to do more than write some dorky old-school songs but the name stuck. Then again, EBM band names are always dorky, just because you put some numbers in it or make the band name glorify drug-use does not make it cool. Sh1tf4c3d 80 might sell some CDs, we should deliberate that...Jokes aside we actually like TraKKtor as our name, it’s blunt and hints at something that fucking moves the ground, just like us ;)
Q. Did you find that the relative (compared to the UK) popularity of electronic music in Sweden meant there was a good network of clubs, gig promoters to assist you in making your name known?
The scene in Sweden is and has been an ok scene, but it is a more club-oriented scene, making it hard to get gigs as a band. I would say that it is easier to get gigs in Sweden as a synthpop or old -school influenced band than it has been for us. But we have had some great opportunities through the years nonetheless, both in Sweden and in Norway, which is like a second home for TraKKtor. But it also helps that Jens is promoter of Tech-Noir, Stockholm’s major Synth/EBM club.
Q. Your first release ‘Force Majeure’ saw the light of day in the summer of 2011. What were your aims when you set out to make the album & how do you think you achieved these aims?
Our aims then and now are pretty much the same. We have said to ourselves even from the start that we will never release an album that aren’t 100% complete and that we have given our best, both in the music and the graphics etc. which is one of the reasons it took us 3 years to finish Force Majeure. We actually remade the album 3 times during the process.
F.M is actually like a brief history of TraKKtor, since many of the tracks were written years before they were released, but of course with very much different sound than when they were originally created.
Q. One noteworthy title was ‘Spitfire’ which actually used a sample of that aircraft (aircraft enthusiasts notice these things!!). Now EBM artists are usually inspired by the Stuka or V2 or something similar, are you deliberately trying to break all the rules of industrial music? ;)
We are of course a troublesome bunch that loves to break rules ;)
Actually one of the things you can always find in TraKKtor song will be humour, but also some of us have an interest in the history of war even if we do not approve of war itself. Actually it is often said that the Spitfire fighter and the Bofors gun saved Britain during WW2 and TraKKtor started out in the town where the Bofors gun where invented, nuff said.
Q. The list of fictional serial killers on ‘Reaper’ means you must all be big horror movie fans, right? Are there any that are particular favourites of yours or any that have inspired certain songs?
Yes, we love movies of many kinds, but horror and sci-fi movies are among our favourites, that should be apparent from most of our songs ;). ‘Drag Me To Hell’ is of course a dead give-away since we named a track after it. Among my (Jens) personal favourite horror movies is for example ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Prince of Darkness’. Horror movies are of course a very good source for cool and funny samples for many of our songs.
Q. So how was the album received? Any comments you particularly liked?
The album was very well received by most reviewers and fans, which made us very happy.
One of the Swedish reviewers actually began by apologizing to his neighbors for tormenting them with our devilish pumping rhythms for such a long time, that was pretty damn funny.
Another review said “The album is really good and it pretty much kicks the shit out of many other bands in this genre today.” Which of course makes us very proud.
Q. Your most recent album ‘Halo Of Lies’ seemed to be evolving your sound to new dramatic & epic heights, was this your aim when you started work on it?
Absolutely. We actually started working on the album more than half a year before Force Majeure was released. We took all the knowledge we had gained during the making of F.M and added some new equipment and synthesizers and of course a new guitar player coming from the black metal scene. We love great soundtracks, always have been part of our influence. Some tracks from Halo Of Lies were originally written for F.M but we did not have the skills to make them as epic as we wanted at that time, so they were left to mature until we were skilled enough to give them life in the manner we intended for them.
Q. I thought the new album had an almost soundtrack-like appeal, were you keen to emphasise this side of your music when you started work on it?
Yes, like we said in the last question, we love great soundtracks, and felt it appropriate to show this love on Halo Of Lies, especially Orbital Strike, which was intentionally left without vocals, as a tribute to soundtracks and great gaming music. We would love to be part of making a soundtrack or music for a computer game sometime in the future.
Q. What prompted you to include the extra CD of remixes & how did you go about selecting which artists would appear on it?
We really felt that we wanted to make this record all it could be, so we decided to add a CD with remixes, making sure there were 4 remix kits to choose from to ensure diversity. We asked bands we had gotten to know over the years, bands we ourselves like, and also some bands just really wanted to remix us and asked us for kits. When we had received all the remixes, we selected the ones that we liked best, but that would also fit best in the whole mix so to speak. And since we own Katyusha records we don't really have to ask for someone else’s blessing which is a nice perk when you want to do something extraordinary.
Q. What additional elements did Robert joining the band bring to the Trakktor sound when he joined the band? Was having a guitarist always important to you?
He comes from the black metal scene, so naturally he brought some of that feel with him to the band, even though we already had some of those influences since before. We are a pretty tight unit when it comes to music making though, so it’s a bit hard to know who brings which influence in the end. We actually had another guitar player for a short while (Kalle Weidt), while Tobias was in the band, so guitar was part of the plan for quite some time. Force Majeure worked very well without a guitar, but for Halo Of Lies it was really a necessity.
Q. What was this ‘competition’ you put on the site when you released the new album, how did that go?
Actually Robert is managing this and it's not done yet, It will be a contest of might and skill (most likely beer and guts) and from what we know he is still working on the price that he has promised to be awesome and one of a kind.
Q. You managed to get a slot at WGT 2012, a gig most bands would kill for, of course. So how did that weekend go from your personal viewpoint?
It was pretty awesome to get to play at WGT in 2012, huge crowd, and even though I guess many of them hardly knew us, we still got them moving, which is very good for our first German gig.
On that matter we have also been at Electrostat Festival serveral times, Tinitus Festival etc so larger crowds is not really unfamiliar to us but outside of scandinavia it was a singular experience. I think all in all that we made a good impression, let’s hope they decide to bring us back ;)
Q. How often, on average do you get to play live? Any other particularly satisfying gigs that stand out in your mind?
The day after WGT we went to Sarpsborg in Norway to headline Electrock festival, the crowd was like 120 persons including the bands, so a very intimate gig. The weather was superb and we spent most of the day hanging out with the festival visitors in the garden outside the venue, it is actually a fond memory of mine. As of numbers of gigs we do is about 6 to 12 gigs per year which is fairly decent since we all are working men who do this for kicks and have so far not set up a dedicated tour. It might not sound like much but on the other hand we rarely perform for under 300 people so when we do go live we tend to play at fairly large venues and our show is meant to be seen in such a place.
Q. You’ve set up your own label to deal solely with Trakktor releases but you don’t actually sell your own CDs. In many ways, this must be the best way for you to work as you get complete control over what you release & then let others do the hard work of actually selling them for you ;)
Yes, it gives us freedom to do as we please, which is good, but of course having our own label also makes it necessary to give 100% to TraKKtor, making sure the label survives economically.
We do however sell CD’s ourselves, if someone for example wants a signed copy, they can email us and order them, paying through paypal or similar. We will most likely be setting up a real webshop in the future as well ;) Anyways having partners who sell the main bulge of the CD's gives us the time to work on the music rather than shuffling papers. And we like to have our CD's bring business to local CD stores in as many countries as possible because the guys owning a record shop are true heroes that have to work really hard for very little. And any store selling our stuff is people we speak to personally and like. So ladies and gentlemen, go and buy an EBM CD from whatever record store closest to where you live and contribute to keeping our little corner of the music world alive and present in the shops.
Q. If time were to allow it in the future, might you sign other bands?
Yes, we have had that possibility in mind all along, but to this point, we just haven’t found the right opportunity or the time to do it. The rule of thumb is that, if people buy our CD's and we turn a profit, we will rather invest the money in some other band that we like than spend it on taxes.
Q. Just to confuse things a little further there is a ‘noiserock’ band from Sweden called Traktor, have either of you asked the other to change their name yet?
No, we operate in entirely different spheres, so no contact points, if someone gets confused, just pick the ones that are most handsome, that'll be us ;). There is also a group of filmmakers calling themselves Traktor, a DJ software and, as you said, a Combichrist song named after our band however they all got the spelling wrong ;O)
Q. So what is 2013 likely to bring for you? Any exciting projects in the pipeline?
We are hoping to get much more gigs this coming year, we also plan to make a bunch of remixes for some great bands, and also we are thinking of a few collaborations with bands. Too soon to give any details about that at this time though. There might even be plans of making another silly cover, since we had a bunch of fun making our cover of Günther’s “Ding Dong Song”.
We are having a very good feeling about the coming year. One inside hint is that we have bought a hell of a lot of new stuff and upgraded our Cubase Version to 7 so we have plenty of new toys to learn and remixes is a great way to get your head around the new stuff before embarking on writing a new album. Oh yeah, there will be a new album, that’s a promise ;)