Hi Pepe, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Not bad at all! I just returned from Tallinn Music Week and it was both great and weird; after showing your COVID pass, you could enter a club, enjoy a gig – and no one was wearing a mask. I never knew “normal” could feel that strange!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “General Deluxé“?
I’d love to! It’s quite something, isn’t it?
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
It actually started out as a blues tune, but soon evolved into this multi-part composition that travels through about five decades of music styles and sounds. That’s quite typical for us: we never really write songs but it’s more like a process building short musical films.
Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?
Most definitely! Unfortunately, our lovely animator Maria Candia got Covid just when we started that adventure so things got a bit delayed, but now we are working on it furiously. It’s gonna be crazy!
The single comes off your new album Phantom Cabinet Volume 1 – what’s the story behind the title?
The album features the most ridiculous collection of unusual instruments anywhere. It’s not a physical cabinet of curiosities, but a collection of the instruments’ phantoms – their sounds. And “Vol. 1” is a subtle clue to something that will come later…
How was the recording and writing process?
In two words? VERY long! We collaborated with museums, universities, and private collectors from all over the world. Lovely and very inspiring people, guarding all these incredible hidden musical gems. Everything from the largest cowbell in the world to a drum machine designed by da Vinci, from the oldest synth in the world to a synth designed for group sex… even God’s own Trumpet, captured with an occult Soviet machine – that you can actually hear on General Deluxé!
What role does Finland and NYC play in your music?
Of course, those are the places where I and Paul (the captains of Pepe) live and work. But Paul’s originally from Finland’s neighbor country Sweden, so we share the same cultural background. And then again the first-ever Pepe tune was “Call Me Goldfinger” on Return of the DJ II: a big part of the Pepe attitude and approach to creating music and art comes from old-school hip-hop – scratch DJ culture to be precise.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I’ve been a music collector since the mid-’90s, and because of having worked on samples-based music in the past, I’ve always had an appetite for the unusual. I’m constantly looking for obscure music and sounds, building experimental studio toys, and researching all kinds of weird things. When you combine that with Paul who is a frustratingly talented multi-instrumentalist and a composer, our large group of wonderful musician friends, and all those stories that go with the unusual instruments, you have the basic ingredients of the new album.
What else is happening next in Pepe Deluxe’s world?
Everything that carries the Deluxé name is created either by us or in collaboration with our friends and other artists. Right now we’re constructing an online 3D virtual Phantom Cabinet that you can visit, and that expands the stories told by the album’s music and artwork.