Exclusive Interview with Pegboard Nerds
In this day and age, musicians need to demonstrate stylistic diversity in order to stay relevant for more than a month, which Pegboard Nerds have been doing quite successfully. Comprised of Michael Parsberg and Alex Odden, the Scandinavian dance duo constantly push themselves to go beyond the comfort of simply structured bass music and explore and combine styles like drum & bass, trap, moombahcore, glitch hop, electro house and dubstep. As they've risen in popularity over the past year, they've become something of a poster child for Monstercat, and will launch the Uncaged Tour this coming fall with support from the label as well as Thissongissick.com. Michael and Alex discuss the development of their relationship with Monstercat, the inspiration behind some of their music production choices, and their thoughts on American music festivals, all the while displaying their close relationship with each other by finishing each other's sentences.
So I’ve always wondered if there was any inspiration for the pixelated heart symbol?
Alex: Yeah, well, there’s a lot of inspiration in it, actually—from games where your health is displayed in hearts, you know? And there’s also, I guess love, for—
Michael: Love for music!
Alex: Love for music.
Michael: And the love for the 8 bit Mario.
Alex: Yeah, which is a huge part of our childhoods: low resolution games, Gameboys, Commandos, Nintendos.
Michael: It’s the universal nerd symbol.
So now you’ve become one of Monstercat’s featured artists. How did that relationship develop?
Michael: Well it started back in 2012. A friend from Australia knew the guys at Monstercat. He asked Alex if there was a track around for a compilation—they were in dire need of a track for one of their early compilations. And, yeah, we had a track lying around.
Alex: We had several tracks, actually, but in the works. And we gave them one of those, and after that, they wanted our next track the next month. So, that’s how it started and then we just kept releasing tracks every month for seven or eight months, I think, and that’s how we started building our relationship with Monstercat and their community, which is strong.
And they had a remix contest for “Hero.” Do you have a favorite remix that came out of that that you heard?
Michael: Yeah, there were several. We had, like, a thousand entries, which was pretty difficult to, first of all, listen to it a thousand times—listen to your own song a thousand times—in another version, that’s kinda hard.
Alex: Especially because we made—well, not a mistake, but we would do it differently next time.
Michael: We had two or three that we really liked the most, but it was really difficult to choose which one to win.
Alex: I really liked the Naysu one, and obviously the winner, Teminite.
So you picked the winner?
Alex: It was a joint—
Michael: Joint decision between label, management, us.
Alex: The RIOT remix, too, obviously was really good.
Michael: Those were the best sounding ones.
Alex: The thing that we got to regret while listening to the entries was actually giving away the parts for the track because 90% of the entries were just basically
Michael: They used 95% of our stuff and just rearranged it.
Alex: It was the same song, basically.
Michael: We should’ve just given a few parts away.
Alex: Because that would’ve been more challenging for the contestants, I think.
Yeah, I see what you’re saying. So, what kind of advice do you have for aspiring producers who are just working on these remix competitions?
Michael: Keep working. It takes a lot of time.
Alex: I would say try and take as many steps away from the original as you can, and make it your own. Try to own the track. Make it your own, and not just a rehash of the original. Because that’s just boring—in most cases it’s boring to listen to. So try different chord structures, if it’s a happy song, try making it a sad song—
Michael: If it’s dubstep, try to do it in electro house or glitch hop, or whatever. Do something that you like yourself, but is not just another version of the original. The most boring thing is the remix packages that come out with eight or nine versions—
Alex: Electro house—
Michael: Electro house versions of the same song.
Alex: Why would you do that?
Michael: What’s the purpose?