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Inbox: Flunk

For this week's Inbox, XLR8R catches up with Ulf Nygaard (pictured above, center), producer for Norwegian trip-hop group Flunk, while he sails on a fjord outside of Oslo (no, seriously). Nygaard reveals his Regina Spektor and Nespresso addictions, the pitfalls of touring rural Scandinavia, and his penchant for headier things, such as Dostoyevsky and Sartre. Flunk’s latest album, This is What You Get, is out now on Beatservice.

XLR8R: What are you listening to right now?

Ulf Nygaard: Regina Spektor’s “Laughing With"—many times a day, disturbingly. It’s this year’s finest tune by miles!

What's the weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?

I never quite got over a critic who once slagged off a little story about the inner sleeve of one of my first albums more than 10 years ago. He found it shallow and poor, and, in his opinion, it seemed like it was written by a teenager. It was, in fact, a passage from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

What band did you want to be in when you were 15?

Probably, I wanted to replace Suggs as the singer in Madness. Or to play guitar in The Clash.

Worst live show experience?

There have been some… Touring in rural Norway more or less sucks. Once I was almost beaten up when this drunk redneck guy came right in front of the stage during a song called “Sweet.” I looked straight at him while singing quite inviting words, and he almost totally snapped. And once the PA broke down during the first song in a concert. It was packed and we were quite new to the game. It wasn’t Flunk, though. I can’t remember having any bad experiences with Flunk, actually!

Favorite city to play in?

Seattle, our hometown—in spirit!

You have covered The Kinks, New Order, and Radiohead. Who’s next on your list?

We would have liked to do “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, but we feel it has been done by too many. We’ll come up with something. Maybe “Cowgirl in the Sand” by Neil Young. I’d like to do “Dream Attack” by New Order, as well, but we’ve already done two by them. And Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” has also been done. It’s a tough world!

What is your favorite thing you own?

I try to own as little as possible. I guess it has to be my Mac. And my girlfriend bought me a Nespresso last year—I’m quite addicted. They must be putting something in their coffee things, I suspect.

Name one item of clothing you can't live without.

There’s none. I used to have a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, but it sort of just imploded after a few years. I like used things, so I take whatever—as long as it’s soft and doesn’t smell too bad.

If you could reduce your music to a single word, what would it be?

Melancholic.

What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?

Having a big mouth—with a scandalous timing.

What other artist would you most like to work with?

Burial, Cat Power… right now Regina Spektor.

What's the last thing you read?

A bio on Jean Paul Sartre. I like bios a lot. And I love Sartre. He’s not all brilliant, but when he’s brilliant, he’s probably one of the best.

Complete this sentence: In the future...

I’ll make the perfect song, know it before it’s out, and die from the excitement.

Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?

Missing a reunion gig with The Specials in London. But I will see Madness in August, which, if I can prevent being too drunk, will make it good.

What's next?

Right now I’m off sailing the fjord outside Oslo. We have summer! Musically, I’ve started working on the next album with my other band project, called Folk & Rovere [translated as “People & Robbers”]. It’s the ninth album (I think). Then I guess we’ll be doing some Flunk tracks over the summer. If all goes as we hope, we might return with a Flunk album next year and get our act together to tour the U.S. again.

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