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One guy in the universe

Interview with Todd Terje

One guy in the universe

28-04-2013 | 12.15

Pitchfork called him ‘the space-disco whiz’, Beatport referred to him as ‘The Cosmic Kid’. Space seems to be a recurring theme in the life of Todd Terje, so I decided to ask him some questions of intergalactic importance.

Did you ever secretly want to become an astronaut?
‘No. I never really wanted to go to space. It seems very lonely in space. And how do you go to the toilet? I wonder if they have a suction device. When I was young I wanted to become a policeman for a while, because I had this computer game called Police Quest. It’s about an officer who walks around and solves crime. And arrests prostitutes. I’ve been a huge pc gaming nerd since I was 8 years old.’
 
Did you have to lie about your age to be able to play Police Quest, as with Leisure Suit Larry?
‘It’s from the same company actually. But no need to lie because there was no sex in it. The prostitutes weren’t doing anything nasty while I was arresting them. They were just being prostitute-ish.’
 
Did you ever eat space cake?
‘Space cake? I don’t know what that is.’
 
It’s a cake with weed inside.
‘I am probably one of the most boring DJs on the planet. I never tried any drugs, not even weed.’
           
Do you have a principle issue against it?
‘No, it’s just something I learned from Police Quest. Never do drugs. Stay in school. I think it’s more fun to be able to say I never smoked weed than the sensation of actually smoking weed. It doesn’t seem that big of a thing.’
 
You’ve named an album Remaster of the Universe and two songs Sing Star. Can I see this as a joke towards space disco?
‘I am fascinated by space but I’m much more fascinated by popular culture. As I said I’m really into video games. A lot of music from the old video games has inspired the music I make today. Like the Street Fighter tune. Many people think that popular culture is a bad thing because you have to make cheesy music. That’s not true. I think popular culture just means that you have to relate to an audience. And that’s a very healthy thing to do in every kind of art, especially music. There should be a receiver. That’s just something to have in mind when the art is being created. It doesn’t have to have a numerical value of how many people like it, it doesn’t have to be immensely popular like Swedish House Mafia. But you need to have someone out there, one guy in the universe, that can receive it.’
 
But can’t you make if for yourself and then later find out that actually more people like it?
‘I think the most healthy way is to consider a receiver that’s not yourself. I mean, this is not masturbation, is it? You do it for other people.’
 
It’s prostitution?
‘Naahh... Ok, it’s prostitution. All art is prostitution.’
 
Which Wes Anderson movie did you like better: Moonrise Kingdom or Bottle Rocket?
‘I liked Moonrise Kingdom better, it felt more like a complete movie. And it had more ‘ha ha’ points than Bottle Rocket. Plus-point for Bottle Rocket is the really good soundtrack though. And I liked seeing Owen Wilson at an early stage, becoming Owen Wilson.’
 
What is your star-sign?
‘It’s the taurus. The bull.’
           
Taurus is an Earth sign, reliable and materialistic. Can you personally connect to the traits that I mentioned?
‘Materialistic yes, that is very easy to see. I buy a lot of synthesizers and studio gear. Reliable... yeah probably. I don’t cheat on my girlfriend, I’m a steady guy. And I always show up on time and I get really annoyed when people come 10 minutes late without saying why.’
 
You studied astrophysics for a short while, which is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe. What was it that interested you in this study?
‘I don’t want to admit it, but it sounded cool and it sounded really hard. I studied music before and that was just a brain dead nonsense study. I quit astrophysics because my DJing got busier than expected, my grades were going down and I lost my interest after a while. Music is never a safe choice but I don’t think I would be a very happy physicist. I’m actually thinking of starting a study again. Maybe not university subjects but more things like growing vegetables, painting walls, making furniture. You know, normal hipster dreams.’
 
Text: Tessa Velthuis