The Night Land: John Talabot and Axel Boman discuss their upcoming Talaboman collaboration

The creative mix of Scandinavian and Catalan is a world of bleeping things, delays, synths, crazy samples. It’s a lot of fun... just don’t mention the work ethic clash

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The Independent Culture

“Everything started when I was doing the DJ-Kicks, and we started these tracks with my favourite people in the world. And Axel was on that list.”

Spanish producer John Talabot is explaining his upcoming album The Night Land with Swedish artist Axel Boman, released under their moniker “Talaboman’’.

The pair met at a festival years ago and became friends after performing a back-to-back DJ set (10 hours long). Remixing one another’s work led to their first proper track together.

“Axel came here for some days in Barcelona and we thought we should do another EP, and that turned into two EPs, and that became an album...” Talabot explains. 

It took two years to get to the point where they felt ready to release the full album, partly because they travelled between Stockholm and Barcelona to record, rather than sending one another music over the internet.

Listening to the new record, you can tell that they were in the same room while they were working, The Night Land has a warm, coherent sound that is full of colour, and with a sense of fun that shines through.

“We have a similar sense of humour, we laugh a lot, we can be completely silly,” Boman says.

“Even the name, ‘Talaboman’ sounds a bit stupid,” Talabot adds. “We were really having fun in the studio together. It was so easy, I really enjoy working with him and not on my own… it felt like a proper thing we wanted to do, not for any particular reason.”

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Boman (left) and Talabot learnt to trust one another’s instinct (supplied)

Scheisse.” Boman utters the Swedish expletive before his end of the Skype conversation cuts out.

“I think we lost him,” Talabot says mournfully, then continues. “It’s always that funny, with us. It’s cool to travel with him. At least it’s more exciting than just going on your own, this pair of geeks.

“It was a really important part of the process also. We have fun playing together and we wanted to continue doing that. It’s a way to escape from the routine. And things get more relaxed when you’re not on your own because not everything is under your control. You can’t have everything your way... you have to find the place where both are comfortable.”

Boman returns to the conversation. “Well, that wasn’t frustrating at all. What did I miss?”

“The interview’s finished,” Talabot jokes, and they both laugh.

“Usually when you’re in a band situation there’s a hierarchy,” Boman picks up. “‘You take care of the drums, you’re on the synths’, etc.

“But with us it’s always been a very floating process. We have good and bad qualities on everything, and we can switch roles as soon as someone gets a little bit bored of it. The more barriers there are to break in the studio, the better music it makes.”

Both of them sound pretty devoid of ego – Talabot says they learned how to trust one another’s instinct so there were few, if any, tantrums in the studio.

“It’s like an exercise for us, sort of therapy,” Talabot says. “It’s really funny because you get to places you wouldn’t get to on your own.”

While some of each artist’s solo work brings in a lo-fi, “outdoors” kind of sound – Boman’s in particular uses noises from nature – The Night Land is more introspective, exploring a universe that still maintains these multiple layers and tempos, but somehow that has more of an “indoors” feel.

“I think Axel is really good with the samples he picked for his tracks,” Talabot says. “We both like this emotional side to sampling, things that remind you of a tiny moment, where you can totally tell in Axel’s album [Family Vacation], the way he samples is super emotional.

“The way we use this material on Talaboman, we didn’t sample so much as when we work on our own, we recorded way more. It was a really exciting process for our nerdy side, having all the gear to play with.”

“I like that some music can sound ‘outdoors’ and ‘indoors’,” Boman adds. “I can understand how someone could feel that. John has always worked in a more introspective way. A lot of music you can close your eyes and drift away...”

“I like to cry,” Talabot chips in.

“You can cry to pop songs also though,” Axel says laughing. “The tears are accessed both ways. This record was more inwards-turned than most of the music that I usually do.”

“You define the sound palate of the project quite early,” Talabot says. “So somehow it was easier. ‘Taloboman’ is this world of bleeping things, delays, synths, crazy samples… it was fun.

“The cool thing is that everything was recorded audio. Every time I was travelling to Axel’s studio I didn’t want to travel with plug-ins and stuff. So at the end, using this process made every track different, but it has some workflow that unifies it. If you take everything it sounds coherent. It’s strange, it just happened.”

Boman reminds Talabot that not all of the recording process was smooth-sailing.

“Trying to get a Scandinavian work ethic with a Catalan work ethic...” He breathes out dramatically. “There’s a big difference.

“I want to get to the studio at 10 in the morning and work until 8pm, then have a beer and get drunk until midnight. John wants to sleep until 10, check his mail until midday, have a sandwich, check his mail again. Then at 2 o’clock he’ll have a Catalan lunch, and that lasts for around two hours...”

“That’s totally exaggerated,” Talabot interrupts in protest.

“It’s not,” Boman says. “Then he’ll come to the studio around 5. Then he wants to sit until 3 or 4 in the morning. It f**ks up my beer routine.”

This is where all the tension and unspoken grudges from the great working relationship come out, then?

“I think Axel loved these nice breakfasts that we were having, he was pushing me to go,” Talabot insists.

“I did... but I also enjoy those days where you get up early, do a full day in the studio, and then look back and watch a movie and not feel guilty about anything,” Boman says playfully.

“That’s some Christian morality, it doesn’t work here in Barcelona.”

 “I love it,” Boman reassures him. ”I loved that freedom of not having schedules.”

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The duo’s album is released next month

Both artists have done well to get their music heard outside of their respective countries, perhaps more so for Talabot, who still feels that Spain has a problem with getting artists to find international success.

“Maybe because we’re not so good with English,” he muses, then: “But we have Julio Iglesias, so it’s not so bad.”

“Not as good as Enrique [Iglesias], my friend,” Axel says.

“Sometimes where you try to bring things up from Spain, people don’t pay attention... sometimes you need people from outside countries,” Talabot says.

He’s speaking from experience. “Sunshine”, a sort of space-disco track that effortlessly fused house, Krautrock, and Spiritualized influences, was picked up by the likes of The Guardian and Pitchfork, the latter of whom rather famously named it among their “Top 100 Tracks” in 2009. 

“That was a really weird situation,” Talabot says. “It was just a sample thing, and then it went big, and I thought… maybe it shouldn’t have been so big. But you don’t get to choose that kind of thing. If I’d have planned it, it wouldn’t have happened. And I’m pretty sure my album was some kind of response to ‘Sunshine’, to show that my music was more than that one track.”

“I really hope that this album can create the same expectation musically as what the recording represents,” Talabot says. “So we could play even weirder and slower and trippier music to what you’d expect in a club night. It could be a nice gateway to experience something different.”

“I kind of hate myself for agreeing to be called Talaboman,” Boman says suddenly. “Because some bands can be called ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor’… and we’re called ‘Talaboman’. But I think anything you say a thousand times will stick. It’s fine.”

‘The Night Land’, the album by Talaboman (John Talabot and Axel Boman) is released on 3 March 2017 via R&S Records – pre-order here

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