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Playing The Field At Meredith Music Festival

With summer just around the corner, Melbourne is getting ready to welcome some of the biggest names from around the world. Among the international techno draw-cards, none are gathering more excitement than Swedish-act, The Field, who will be one of the headlining acts at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in December.
 
This is the first time The Field have travelled down-under, and I was lucky enough to catch up with leading man Axel Willner while he was in Berlin. Over a bad phone-line and with two very distinct accents, most of the conversation consisted of “could you repeat that last part” or “you’ll have to excuse the accent” but in between, we manage to discuss life as an international DJ, the attraction of ‘70s pop music and his preparation for the Australian summer. “It could be a bit too hot, but Berlin is very grey and cold at the moment, so it will be nice to get some sun,” Axel grins. “I was actually hoping to stay for longer to check out the beaches. I’ve heard good things.
 
“We’re really looking forward to Meredith,” he adds. “I don’t know much about the festival, apart from the fact that IT’S MASSIVE! There are some other big names playing which should be fun”.
The Field will be touring Australia with the more-recently expanded group, including instrumental musicians to “really pump up the energy”. “The live instrumentals really add more power to the music,” Axel explains. “We now have a guitarist, bassist, drums. I think you Australians are going to love it”.
 
The Field began as a one-man show for Axel, who initially, didn’t have plans to conquer the techno-scene. “I didn’t start out making techno music. In Sweden, everyone is encouraged to get into music. They put a lot of money into the industry. I started out playing guitar and drums – I was really into punk,” he reminisces. “But then I started playing around with different programs and started remixing some tracks, and before I knew, I was signed with a label.”
 
The label he refers to is Kompakt, who are currently representing some of the biggest international techno acts, including Gui Boratto, Sascha Funke and Dominik Eulberg. “It’s good to have the support of your label, and they take really good care of their artists.”
 
Indeed, with his broad musical range, Axel is lucky to have a major label that allows him to experiment with different sounds. In addition to his many collaborations, which include !!! and John Stanier (drummer for US outfit Battles), he is also expanding several new solo projects.
 
In what could be classified as a minor split-personality disorder when it comes to music, Axel has been working under multiple stage names to represent different ventures. “I use different stage names to embody the different sounds. Unfortunately, since The Field has taken off, I haven’t had the time to explore music with my other monikers. I’m hoping to get back to guitar soon.”
 
The Field became an overnight sensation with the online release of his debut 12” and a catchy remix of Norwegian songstress Annie’s Heartbeat. This proved to be no fluke, as The Field began to gather a cult following with some handy-work remixing other big-named artists, Thom Yorke, Battles and 120 Days.
 
When asked how he chooses the music he samples, Axel insisted that there’s nothing better than rediscovering pop music from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. “I don’t really have a system for picking songs. If I hear something I like, I just think about how I can use it. I often remember old pop songs I heard as a kid and find them. Old pop songs have such good melodies and great production.”
 
So what’s next for Axel and The Field? “We’re working on a few things at the moment,” comes the answer. “I would like to get more done with some of my collaborative groups in the next year and hopefully find time to work on a new album with The Field. It’s just been too hard with all the touring”.
But with everything happening around him, Axel assures me that it’s not getting to his head. “I’m still the same guy on stage and in real-life... Well, I may nod my head a bit more on stage,” he laughs to himself. “But hopefully that’s something I don’t do in public.”
 
We finish with asking Axel how he expects to keep energy-levels high with the 2am set-time they’re puling at Meredith, which he shrugged-off casually. “[The late time] shouldn’t be a problem. In our genre, we get used to playing late shows. Our plan is to watch the other bands, have a few drinks before our set and have a good time with the crowd.
 
“Our set,” he adds, “is full of live instrumentals and unique sounds. This isn’t just standard techno with a laptop. We don’t use a laptop – this is different to everything else out there.”
 
THE FIELD will make their Australian debut at The East Brunswick Club with QuA and Kharkov on Thursday December 9 (tickets from The East, 9388 9794 or eastbrunswick.com) before playing at the Meredith Music Festival over December 10-12. THE FIELD’s latest album, Yesterday And Today is out now.