Malcolm Pardon’s music career goes back to his days in bands like Girlsmen and Kinky Machine in the ’90s. Since 2007 he’s been best known as half of Swedish electronic duo Roll the Dice with Peder Mannerfelt, and for his soundtrack work on TV shows like The Last Panthers.
This month, Pardon debuts Hello Death his first album as a solo artist. Pairing somber piano and sparse electronic touches, the record is a meditation on loss and mortality. Staying with this theme, his guest mix covers some dark subject matter, while remaining diverse in terms of genre and overall mood. Read on for our interview with Malcolm, and check out the mix featuring tracks by Notorious B.I.G., Tom Waits, Serge Gainsbourg, Shackleton, and more.
Name: Malcolm Pardon
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden.
Where you live now: Stockholm.
Home away from home: Athens, Greece.
Last great thing you read: I’m working my way through Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. It’s pretty miserable, so I have to take pauses..but it’s fantastic.
My dad’s family are from Aberdeen, but I have always had a soft spot for Glasgow since I first went there in the early nineties doing gigs .The first time I got in a cab at the airport to go to the city centre I noticed that the glass window between the driver and passenger was replaced with chicken wire.”Welcome to Glasgee, pal” said the cabbie.
I guess that’s when my crush on the city where everybody is so friendly started. But at the same time you might get a bottle over your head when leaving the pub.
What instruments or hardware do you use most often?
I would say Piano and I Phone. All the time. All my ideas start on the piano we have in the studio. And since I don’t read or write music, I record the ideas with the camera on the phone. I have made the mistake a few times where I only record on the voice memo, but then I’ve spent ages actually trying to figure out what kind of chords I´m using…
You’ve been a part of the music world for so long; is Hello, Death your first release as a solo artist?
Yes it is. I Don’t know why it’s taken so long to be honest. I guess I’ve always preferred the collaborative side of making music, but as I’m getting older, I’m getting less and less willing to compromise. Or it could be fact that I never had the courage to front something by myself until now.
While many artists would make a death-themed work after the loss of a loved one, is it true that you’re approaching it from a bit more of a distance? What influenced you to make an album that confronts mortality?
I think it’s the age thing coming into play once again. I don’t think I could have made this kind of album, say, 25 years ago. It’s of course a bit of a cliché, but I’m more than halfway through life, so there is time for reflection. I think often with the ”guy-at-piano” album, it can easily get too sentimental, and I was curious to see if I could explore the same space but treading carefully between the melancholy and the inquisitive. Also the losses I address are not only the big ones like death and so, but also the small ones that occur on a daily basis like seeing your kids grow up too fast or not being able to do 25 push ups in a row anymore..
Where might we hear your music on film and television these days?
I´m collaborating on a score for a Netflix production at the moment..Not allowed to say which one though. Boring answer, I know.
Could you pick two tracks from your mix and say a little bit about them?
-“Hate it or Love it “by the Game.
There is something breezy and sunny Los Angeles about this track, which gives you this summery vibe, but at the same time the lyrics gives you a sense that it is also a city that has a rawness to it, which can be hard to overcome .Although the sun always shines life can be pretty dark for a lot of people in that place, which I think is captured perfectly here.
-“Can the Circle be Unbroken” by the Carter Family.
I think this is the first recording of this song from 1927 by the Carter Family which has been covered by many from the Staple Singers to Spacemen 3.
It has just continued to be recorded over and over through generations .It obviously resonates through its simplicity and directness.I guess this is the definition of a true great song that can just continue to live over time, long after it was written.There is something very sad about the lyrics ,but still there is hope in the midst of all the hard times. I guess that’s worth reminding yourself once in a while.
1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
2. Ø – Syvyydessä Kimallus
3. Serge Gainsbourg – Bonnie And Clyde
4. Roll the Dice -Aridity
5. Junior Murvin – Police & Thieves
6. William Basinski -Disintegration Loops (1.1 Excerpt I)
7. Shackleton – Death Is Not Final
8. Metal Preyers – Snake Sacrifice
9. Tom Waits – Murder in the Red Barn
10. The Game – Hate It Or Love It (feat. 50 Cent)
11. Tim Hecker – Studio Suicide, 1980
12. LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great
13. Death Grips – Guillotine
14. Elvis -Don’t Cry Daddy
15. Low – Dancing and Blood
16. Radiohead – Videotape
17. The Carter Family – Can the Circle be Unbroken
photo by Marcus Palmquist.Image artwork by Miguel Angel Regalado