Bio: Prins Thomas is now intrinsically linked to the eclectic and often termed ‘cosmic-disco’ sounds emanating from his homeland, Norway. Alongside Hans-Peter Lindstrøm their eponymous debut album and follow up ... (more)
Bio: Prins Thomas is now intrinsically linked to the eclectic and often termed ‘cosmic-disco’ sounds emanating from his homeland, Norway. Alongside Hans-Peter Lindstrøm their eponymous debut album and follow up II have opened up their tripped out sounds to a whole new audience of music lovers. Having already garnered international acclaim for his own DJing skills the world over and with a staggeringly impressive remix CV it comes as some surprise that after all that music and after all these years, what you now hold in your hands is Prins Thomas's debut solo album!
To him, it doesn't seem like such a long time to wait for his first full-length. “I haven't really thought about doing a proper solo album before, as just finding the time for my solo 12”s in-between has been hard enough,” he confesses. “And I can probably count 50 remixes for each new 12” I do!” In fact, rather than think about how long it took him to get to his debut, he instead perceives just the opposite. ”The album came together quite quickly,” he informs. “The week after HP and I finished mixing down II, I had a couple of ideas floating around and --having just had a good run in the studio-- I was feeling really inspired.”
In some ways, it's as if he was training for this album his whole life. “My stepfather used to play all kinds of music: the Cramps and the Clash but also Ry Cooder, John Martyn, jazz, classical music,” he recalls with fondness. “There were always music magazines and books lying around, which inspired me to learn English so I could read about more artists. I started saving my weekly allowance for records. I can't remember buying a toy or any candy, but loads of records.” With his young head filled with crucial albums by Bowie, Kiss, Abba, and The Beatles (the red one, the blue one still a few years on for young Thomas), he would spend many a long car ride through the Norwegian countryside to visit his father, “drumming on the dashboard or using the seat belt as a bass,” he recalls with a laugh.
Soon after, Thomas took to real instruments and the music he heard on breakdance records emanating from New York: “I started to DJ in my bedroom at ten years of age and then at the local youth club. At the same time, I was playing the flute and then the clarinet in a marching band.” Thankfully for us, the marching band didn't quite jibe with Hermansen's sensibilities. Instead, traveling to visit his father in the small town of Moss, Norway via train led to the next step in his musical pathway. “Changing trains from my home in Hamar to Moss, I used to stop off in Oslo and spend the one hour between trains at the nearest record store. On these trips I discovered crossover house stuff like Farley Jackmaster Funk and Todd Terry as well as Phuture and early Masters At Work.”
Despite a burgeoning appreciation for disco, house, and acid music, Thomas was soon playing drums, bass, singing in rock bands, skateboarding, and partying throughout most of his high school years. An encounter with Pål Nyhus (DJ Strangefruit from Mungolian Jetset) at the local Club Zenith got Thomas back into DJing music. After that club closed down, “there was really no place to do our thing. So together with a few friends we threw house parties, often starting on Friday evening and ending sometime on Saturday morning.” Through increased DJing, Thomas met Oslo's first wave of nu-disco purveyors like Bjorn Torske and Erol, as well as international guests like the UK's Idjut Boys and Maurice Fulton. From digging for records, he met up with fellow college students and disco-heads Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and “Todd” Terje Olsen.
Lindstrøm, already an accomplished musician, asked Hermansen to remix a track he had recently finished with female singer Christabelle called “Music (In My Mind).” Thomas's multi-part epic remix caught the ear of Harvey and the Idjuts and as he recalls, “gave me a flying start and from there, I've knocked out too many to mention.” Between Prins and his new friends Lindstrøm and Terje, they began to focus on their trade in earnest, be it disco edits, remixes, or banging out original music. “Instead of going out all the time we spent that time making music instead. There was no buzz for a long time, just a bunch of friends helping each other out trying to build something naturally.”
Soon, whiffs of what Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm were cooking up made it out beyond the borders of Norway and around the globe. “It had just been a project we did for fun, a possibility to collaborate and get new ideas,” Thomas says in retrospect. “We didn't really expect it to get the kind of broad reception that it got. What was supposed to be a little side project took over and after a couple of years with intense travelling and a ton of remixes we both felt the urge to step down a little bit. It got tiring focusing too much on one thing and we both felt the need to realise separate projects.”
Which brings us back around to the album at hand. Holed up in his Oslo studio, “with HP next door and Terje across the hall,” this album showcases Thomas's myriad musical gifts over seven sprawling, ever-evolving, head-nodding, navel-gazing, body-moving, mind-mushing tracks perfectly assembled for an hour-long trip, almost all of it played by the man himself. But much like Ringo sang, Thomas gets by with a little help from his friends: Lindstrøm lends keyboards to “Wendy Not Walter” and in conjunction with Terje (on trumpet!) a funky bit of clavinet on “Sauerkraut.”
From the shimmering Neu!-like guitar lines of opener “Ørkenvandring,” we know we're in for a kosmiche treat. Handclaps and a battery of percussion propel “Uggebugg” right into the groovy synth-slithers of “Slangemusikk,” which fittingly translates as “snake music.” More double-digit delights lie just beyond the opening tracks (including a shout-out to the mighty Wendy Carlos), but why ruin the funky and sumptuous space party that awaits your head with so many of these words?
Okay, so just a few more: was Thomas nervous to finally finish his album and put it out there? “I had a brief nerve-wrecking moment as I did the final mix, but I've always ended up going with my gut feeling. The scary thing now is how inspiring it is to finally put out a bunch of my own stuff. Now I've got tons of new stuff in the pipeline plus a couple of more dance singles lined up, too!” So, in the words of the Winners, get ready for the future. (less)