Dinner is Served: A Conversation with Danish Pop Provocateur Anders Rhedin

Leading up to the release of his new album, we talked sex, sin, and AC/DC.

Written by Live Nation Staff • Photography by Ellie Pritts • March 29, 2016

When he first introduced himself as Dinner, Danish singer/songwriter Anders Rhedin was posing a simple question: "Do You Feel Like Going Out Tonight?" Since then, Rhedin has made it clear that he's not inviting you to any ordinary party. His latest album, Psychic Lovers, sounds like a sprint through the big city, with airy synths and dense vocals that seem meant for sticky dance floors and dodgy back alleys.

Rhedin is a charismatic leader with a taste for the absurd and the divine—if Depeche Mode were to start a cult, you'd better believe they'd recruit him—and his confidence welcomes listeners through even the darkest corners of his musical psyche, where AutoTune, hypnotic chants, and the spirit of the Psychedelic Furs mix and mingle. Daring, divine, and more than a bit strange, what Dinner's serving up is the kind of pop adventure that you either buy into completely or not at all.

When we meet up on the final day of South by Southwest, Rhedin is beat, the product of a long, late night out. He apologizes in slightly accented English for his state, but still finds the stamina to discuss bad sex, psychic love, and why, try as he might, he'll never be as cool as his one true hero.

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Why did you move to Los Angeles?
All I knew about L.A. was stuff from the media. When I was a kid, the Rodney King thing was big news in Europe, obviously—the riots and all that. I knew about the smog, movies like Blade Runner and Die Hard, and Beverly Hills, 90210. I imagined that there would be gangs and smog and plastic people with fake teeth and fake tans all over, so when I got there I was so surprised that I loved the vibe so much. I remember arriving at LAX and thinking, "People are so nice."

I stayed at this shitty motel in the worst part of Hollywood, and I woke up one morning and couldn't sleep, so I went for a walk and ended up in Beachwood Canyon. I felt like I belonged there, which didn't make any sense. At the time I felt so Scandinavian—all about sin.

Sin?
There's a lot of parallels between elements of Japanese and Scandinavian culture—the rigor, and the Protestant vibe of self-shame and guilt. Both cultures have a hard work ethic. The simplicity of Danish minimalism was inspired by Japanese aesthetics. It's so weird that I took an instant liking to Los Angeles. There are energies in the air, and lots of them are good and pleasant. I think that's why so many people move there.

Do you pick up on energies often?
I think so. I don't really think about it, because I perceive stuff and energy so much—but I know people who see auras and they're much more extreme. With me, it's a sixth sense that I don't even think about. I feel an energetic imprint of a person or a room. With L.A., I get the feeling that there's an undercurrent of evil. I don't believe in good and evil, but there's a dark, demonic undertow that's there. It's fascinating, and it holds some attraction.

What, exactly, is a "psychic lover"?
It's about this tartaric concept of deity yoga where you meditate on a certain deity whose qualities you would wish to embody—you visualize this entity a few meters in front of you and visualize how their presence permeates, and then the energy goes into your third eye. This is an advanced form of mediation, as well something that gurus wouldn't encourage you to do unless you have a high level of tartaric wisdom. It might be an esoteric practice but it's what we all do—we're all worshiping something. If we're judgmental, we're worshiping judgment. If we're pessimistic, we're worshiping pessimism. I ask what I'm placing on my altar all the time, and that's where lovemaking with the divine enters the picture. The communion with spirit is the essence of everything I do with music and my life. Making mental love, that's what it's all about.

Is there anything that you'd like to knock off your altar?
Absolutely. If people are interested in spiritual stuff, it's because they know they're fucked up on some level. If someone felt good about themselves, I'm assuming they wouldn't be drawn towards spiritual practice. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I feel great! Let me meditate for eight hours." Fuck that! They'd watch TV or hang out with their friends instead. No one in their right mind would work so hard at this if they didn't feel shitty to begin with.

Do you find that meditation works?
My mediation practice is quite eclectic these days. My own version of deity yoga is a part of it, but it's more like self-hypnosis. For more than six months, instead of meditating quietly, I'd speak out loud. "Feel your legs!" Oddly enough, it worked.

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Your live performance is very hypnotic, too.
I try to build performances based on the same elements you use in hypnosis—not in a completely literal way, but there are definitely parallels. If it's just me up there, I cannot be boring for one second. That's an unforgivable sin. Typically if I'm a spectator and I'm bored, I look at the bass player before looking at the singer—it's always entertaining to see a person playing an instrument—but I don't have that going for me. So if I were the spectator of my own shows, I would want there to be something going on for me to feel something. I I don't feel something, what's the purpose of going to the show?

For someone who's interested in sin, your album comes down pretty heavily on the idea of sex.
Sin is an interesting subject. I don't believe in sin—it's a strange, antiquated concept. If I do something I regret, it's my choice. I'm powerless over the past, and I can't change it, but I can make amends the best I can. From that point on, what's the point of feeling shame? Shame never liberated a single soul.

My song "Holy Fuck" is very much about the union with the divine. The element of communicating with the divine spirit. That's present in a sinful experience, too. If you're making love to someone you love. Ifyou're having a shitty one-night stand with someone—why should that be a bad thing? There's still the potential for experiencing the divine.

How did you decide music was the way to express all these heavy concepts?
I was just into AC/DC and I wanted to be as cool as Angus Young.

Have you succeeded?
No. It's impossible. But even now sometimes when I play guitar and concentrate, I find myself doing that weird duck face that Angus Young is famous for doing. Apparently it's still in my muscle memory.