Interview: Leodoris

by Ulrik


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Electronic duo, Leodoris, are Copenhagen's best kept, dirty little secret. We like them for multiple reasons - one of them being that they gave us a few exclusive tracks for you to stream and download.

Kristian Rix and Erikka Bahnsen from Copenhagen are two rather exceptional human beings who make music together in the warped, electronic duo known as Leodoris. Big-bearded, grungy-haired Kristian takes care of the timelessly haunting, synthetic soundscapes and curly, charismatic Erikka supplies the soulfully frail, broken diva vocals to the house-y equation.

Leodoris - 'Run'

The Leodoris story is an interesting one: Kristian was on the brink of making it big with his former band Rio back in the the mid-2000s, but they disbanded just when they’d gained the support of Soulwax and BBC Radio 1. Erikka, on the other hand, has a past in the glossy world of high fashion where she worked within the inner circles of the Galliano Empire. As the dark mistress of house music fate would have it, the two creatives met a party where Erikka’s tipsy singing enthralled Kristian and made him want to provide the right dramatic setting for her off-kilter vocals. They quickly joined forces and released the single, ‘Run’, which became Guardian’s single of the week, made Copenhagen’s more with-it dance floors take notice and paved the way for a high-profile remix of avant-popsters Metronomy.

Metronomy - 'Corinne' (Leodoris Remix)

The duo are currently considering their next move amidst heated label interest and kicking out the jams, and if it all pans out 2012 should be the year where you hear a lot more of Leodoris.

We caught up with Kristian in his home studio for a chat about irony-free expression, the state of house music and Kurt Cobain’s hair.

AIAIAI: How did you first get into music?

KR: I actually have a pretty concrete memory of that. It was when I got a Kurt Cobain poster and saw his hair. That’s when I immediately told my dad that I wanted a guitar and he was kind enough to buy me one. And actually a few years later I brought a VHS tape with Stone Temple Pilots MTV unplugged to my hairdresser paused it and pointed on the tv and said “I want that!”. It was hugely expensive as it took three different hair colors. I shaved it all of a month later... but it was Kurt Cobain and his hair that first made me pick up the guitar. And then I played in high school bands – we played a lot of hard rock like Faith No More, Helmet, Pantera or whatever it took to get people stage diving.

A: And when did you start getting interested in other genres than hard rock?

KR: I’ve always listened to everything irrespective of genre tags, and a lot of pop music too, but I guess it was Roni Size’s ‘Brown Paper Bag’ that really opened my ears to the powers of repetitive music. Drum’n’Bass really clicked for me and that’s what got me further into electronic music and house. I would spend a lot of time in Loud (Copenhagen vinyl record store –ed.). And ever since I’ve been really focused on house and techno in all its many forms. 5 years ago I was in a group called Rio and we got released on a small Berlin-based indie label. We actually played at the legendary Berlin club also named Rio. That place was packed and had an amazing atmosphere, I was told it was because people were just drunk instead of being on drugs. Anyways, our track got support from Soulwax, it was played on the Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 - and it was also featured on a few Ministry of Sound Compilations.

A: Wow, I had no idea.

KR: That’s probably because we broke up a month after we got aired on the radio etc. One guy moved to London and everyone except me had become dads, which made the logistics difficult. We just drifted apart because of practicalities, I think…

A: Yeah, it sounds like you split up just when it was time to go for broke.

KR: That was definitely the case. It was insanely stupid to call it quits at that time (laughs). But after we split up I did a lot of remix work for various artists kept dj’ing now and then and around a year ago I started Leodoris. Leodoris just sort of happened because we were sitting at a friends place, getting drunk and singing. I suddenly heard Erikka’s voice, which is by no means a schooled, traditional singing voice but it just had a certain something that made me excited enough to go:’wow, if those we can get to a point where a complete song is made out of all those beautiful fragments that were hidden between all the tipsy jamming errors we could really have something special’

A: So you’ve essentially built Leodoris around Erikka’s vocals?

KR: I guess you could say that, yes. I’ve always been interested in off-kilter vocals. A voice that’s teetering on the edge of falling over and hurting itself is interesting to me, and that probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve always veered towards the dramatic and the cinematic.

A: Have you always been dramatically inclined?

KR: I guess so. Even when I try not to! I mean Pantera is also pretty dramatic (laughs). But I think what it comes down to is that I’m seeking a form of expression, which is pure and above all honest. And that is very much what Leodoris is about; being honest in a sense that we want to make music out of what sounds good to us. To write songs that are heartfelt and build on sounds that we’ve picked because of their character rather than what genre they might originate from or what sort of referencing they make.

A: What sort of equipment do you use?

KR: Well, everything comes together in Ableton Live. My latest acquisition is this iPad dock, which I’m really into at the moment (plays a few synth notes). You get all these great apps that cost next to nothing and a lot of them sound great.

A: Cool. So you’re not an analogue purist then?

KR: To be honest, I don’t really care what kind of equipment I’m using as long as it sounds good to me. But as with this iPad dock and the apps on it, it kind of takes me back to the Reason and Rebirth programmes which really had limited options as well. It works for me creativity-wise.

A: Having limited options seems to be en vogue at the moment. Could you talk a bit about your creative process – do you have a set idea of how a track is built or does it come organically?

KR: It’s funny you say that because for a long time, every time I’ve sat down to make music, I’ve gone into it saying: ‘right, I really want to make some minimal techno – let’s do this’. And then it becomes something completely different. So in answer to your question, I don’t really have a set method of doing things. But I have to say that I work really well when I’m traveling, laptop in hand. There’s just something about sitting on a train or in someone’s apartment in a foreign country that makes you incredibly productive. Battery is dying, hurry up damnit!

A: Machinedrum said something similar about his creative process.

KR: Right. I think a lot of it comes back to what I was saying about limitations. When you have a limited amount of time to make something, you tend to focus on the essentials and see through all the bullshit. Maybe, I should invest in an all-zones train card for our album (laughs).

A: That would make for an interesting promo text. What are you listening to at the moment?

KR: The last months my ears listening quotas have been filled by own material, but I still listen to a lot of more subdued, quiet stuff... Interestingly, I’m DJing tomorrow at Bakken (Copenhagen Bar – ed.) and I have to say that finding new party-inducing, dance floor material is a bit of challenge at the moment because of my interest in more subtle sounds.

A: Upcoming projects?

KR: As for Leodoris we have a release coming up on the London and L.A. based label This Is Music. We’re really exited about that. You’ve already heard the Metronomy remix - we are about to work on another remix for another UK act and we have a colab going on, but it’s all early days and would be silly to talk about now if it turned into a huge disaster.

A:Kristian, thanks for talking to us.

KR: Don’t mention it.

Free Download: furthering his interest in eccentric, diva vocals Kristian made this spaced out edit of Asha Puthli's 'Space Talk'. Check it:

Leodoris getting down at Dunkel Bar