It’s hard to believe that a keyboard, an acoustic guitar, and a drum machine are all Brian Batz needs to create the ethereal and dizzyingly dreamy sound that is Sleep Party People. The Danish producer has received wild acclaim throughout Europe as much for his dark melodic lullabies as for his performance style — backed by four fellow musicians, Sleep Party People wear bunny masks when performing live. They have shared the stage with big names in the electronic world such as Trentemøller, and have wooed audiences at festivals like Roskilde, Eurosonic and by:Larm.
Eighteen months after their formation, Sleep Party People has just released their second album, We Were Drifting On a Sad Song.
Below, preview “A Dark God Heart”, a single from the new album.
Tell me about your music.
When I write songs and when I produce its only me, but when I play live it’s a band.
Do you prefer producing or performing?
I love production. I love performing too, but I love making the songs and writing the songs more, I think.
Can you walk me through the process?
It all depends on what kind of day it is. Sometimes I wake up around 9 o’clock in the morning, I have some breakfast and some coffee and then I start to record at home. My studio is in my apartment in Copenhagen. So I start recording on the piano, or maybe on the acoustic guitar, and then I create the atmosphere around it with keyboards and drums and stuff.
What kind of software do you use for production?
Pro Tools 9. I don’t know how to use Ableton or Cubase. When I started in 2008 I started creating music in Pro Tools; I didn’t have a clue how it worked and I still don’t. I don’t know what to do when I open a session and I’m not a nerdy kind of guy.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s very dreamy and mellow…melancholic as well. Uplifting, in a way, it’s really hard to explain sometimes. Its dark.
What kind of audiences do you usually draw to your shows?
In Copenhagen we call my kind of audience “hipsters”m and I think it’s the same when I play in England or around Europe.
Have you collaborated with any other artists?
Not really collaborations but The Antlers’ Peter Silberman did a remix. Trentemøller as well. But I’ve never worked with anyone else.
Have you played any shows in the U.S.?
Never. I hope to do so. I really hope to tour the U.S. and Canada this year.
How about festivals?
Yeah, I’ve played Roskilde, the festival. It’s in Denmark, one of the biggest festivals in the world actually.
Can you describe your favorite show?
I played at Lexington, a small venue in London last year. That was crazy fun. It was totally packed and I really enjoyed it. I hadn’t played in London before, so I was really surprised. So many [people] came to the show.
What kind of feeling do you get when you are making music as opposed to when you are performing live?
It’s two different emotions. When I perform live, sometimes it’s just a job, you know? That’s too bad, but that’s really the truth. When I sit at home, I really lay all my heart into it. I create songs. So its two different worlds to me.
What are your main sources for inspiration?
A lot of different music. I’m into a lot of noisy stuff, but also a lot of classic music…like Erik Satie, if you know him…Boards of Canada, Cartel Twins, Shoegazer…
When you’re performing, how much of your job is crowd reading?
We don’t do that because we play with bunny masks on. It’s really like a theatrical show. We just have a set and that’s really it and how it works best for us.
Does that make it easier to perform in front of an audience?
Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely easier to play live.
Are you on any labels?
I’m signed with Blood and Biscuits in London and Speed of Sound in Denmark, and its offshoot in New York.
How long have you been doing music?
Since I was 13 years old. I started with an acoustic guitar. My dad showed me some chords and I started with some Donovan and Bob Dylan and that was it.
How did you make the transition to production?
I played in a lot of different bands when I was younger. But when I got older I just wanted to create the whole thing myself just throw myself into it.
What’s the story behind the name?
I was at my girlfriend’s apartment, and in the kitchen there were these refrigerator magnets with these different names, and I just put sleep party people together; I thought, ‘That’s a very cool band name. I have to use that sometime.’”
How did you promote your music?
Just by using the Internet. I used MySpace a lot in 2008 and I just promoted like that…and then Facebook came and got even bigger and I just used that.
Why do you continue to make music and what do you hope your audience takes away from it?
I do it because I love doing it and because it means a lot to me. But I’m really surprised that so many people out there love the music… [many of them] say that it’s really nice to have this dreamy universe, and when they bicycle home from a party they put it on and the night seems warm and nice and friendly. It’s really heartwarming to me to hear such things.
Is that how it sounds to you?
I really don’t listen to it now because I play live a lot and I just don’t want to do it. I don’t need it. Some of the songs have lost their magic, but that’s how it is. You create songs you’re in a very special state of mind, and sometimes it’s just that specific moment when…I don’t know how to explain it in English its difficult.