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Be specific: Dungen talks new album, hip-hop, DJ moves

dungenDungen - more into Madlib than "Madcap Laughs." (Karl Max)

By Aaron Leitko

For the past nine years Dungen, the brainchild of Swedish producer/multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes, has cranked out blissful, free-flowing, retro rock. The band's fifth record, "Skit I Allt," is its grooviest product to date, pairing lilting folk melodies and mellow flute solos over a choogling, prog-rock rhythm section. It's the best psychedelic record of the '60s, even if it's arriving 30 years behind schedule. But when it comes to his listening habits, Ejstes isn't thinking so much about Pink Floyd vs. Soft Machine as he is Biggie vs. Tupac.

Ejstes recently chatted with Click Track about his DJ skills, his love of old-school hip-hop, and the easy-going sentiments behind the expletive-heavy title of his new record.

The quartet will perform tonight at Baltimore's Ottobar.

The title of your new record translates to “[Expletive] It All,” but the songs are very groovy and mellow. Why did you pick such an aggressive title?

It’s an expression, a saying in Sweden. It means, “Forget about your hang ups.” If you’re at a party, forget about tomorrow and just stay around for another four hours. It also means, “Do not take it so seriously.” It’s not, like, “Give everything up.”

I’ve read that the studio can get pretty stressful for Dungen. Was this a tough record to make?

Um…no, the studio work, it’s been like this all the time. It’s my songs and my recordings. I record, produce and mix the record. I write and arrange it. The new thing for this album, and the last album, is that I don’t play all the instruments myself anymore. I write songs and try to let them grow for a while, and then I bring in the guys in the studio. Maybe it’s more conventional, more like other groups work.

I have heard that you’re a huge hip-hop fan, is that true?

Yes, I am. It’s a funny thing. I brought my mixer on this tour; I’m a huge scratch fan.

You scratch records?

I do scratch a lot. Our tour manager, he fixed it for us to have a turntable on the bus; I’m going to use it after sound-checks perhaps, so I can practice. [Hip-hop] is a major influence, but it doesn’t come through on the sounds of the records or the songs.

What kind of hip-hop records are you into

I’m listening to early-’90s and late-'80s stuff. I just found this Low Profile album, that’s a big one. Then Ultramagnetic MCs and MC Lyte. And Madlib is still one of my biggest idols in current music.

Do you listen to much psych-rock - music that’s more like the stuff you write?

Not right now, actually. I mean, most of the time - 80 to 90 percent of the time - I listen to hip-hop and scratching. I don’t want to hear too much music that is similar to what I do. [If I did] there would be no meaning for me to do it, there is so much already.

So, are you any good at scratching or DJing? Are you going to start popping up in DJ battles?

I don’t know. I’ve been doing it quite often for five years. I was doing it when I was a teenager as well, but ever since five years ago I’ve been doing it every day. I suppose it depends on where you put the level. I’m definitely not a champion.

Do you think any hip-hop artists like your music, do rappers ever show up at Dungen shows?

We have visited by members of The Roots and RZA’s cousin came to the show in Brooklyn. On this tour we are going to play All Tomorrows Parties and DJ Kool Herc is going to be there. I’m thinking about how I’m going to get an autograph from him.

By The Reliable Source  |  September 8, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Dungen  
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