Real Name: Lars Sandberg
Monikers: Francois Dubois
Genre: Electronic Soul
“I am Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk/I have always been devoid of funk/I shall continue to be devoid of funk,” sang Parliament main man George Clinton on 1977’s seminal ‘Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome’. An album with a wild concept, it tells the LSD-inspired story of the conflict between the not-much-fun Sir D'Voidoffunk and his laugh-a-minute nemesis Starchild (aka Clinton, who eventually triumphs in getting the old misery guts to feel that funk and shake his booty).
It’s no coincidence that Lars Sandberg has flipped Sir Nose’s handle around for his Funk D’Void alias, because he’s most definitely got the funk. Much in demand as a DJ around the world, he’s a critically acclaimed producer as well, with two albums to date – ‘1997’s ‘Technoir’ and 2001’s ‘Dos’(both on Soma) – not to mention a string of killer singles and remixes.
Now Lars has his third long-player, ‘Volume Freak’, ready to go; and it’s a beauty that sees Lars up his game, not to mention the decibel level. “I’m known to listen and produce music at abnormally loud levels, so I thought the title was fitting,” says the 32-year old. Picking up where it predecessors left off, ‘Volume Freak’ is grounded in techno: the majestic opener ‘Emotional Content’ distills 15 years of Detroit’s machine music legacy into eight minutes; the sublime mood music of ‘All That Matters’, ‘Sueno For Somebody’ and ‘Electrix 313’ lap at your ears like rose-scented surf; and the massive Heavenly Mix of ‘Diabla’, with its gut-butting bass and swirling, euphoric keys, provides a healthy dose of contemporary club oomph. The decision to include ‘Diabla’ a brave move: in its Heavenly form (different from that included on 2001’s ‘Dos’) it was one of the biggest tunes of tunes on 2001; and none less than The Chemical Brothers used to close their DJ sets with it. “I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to figure out how to follow a record that successful,” says Lars, who nonetheless appreciates its role in propelling him to the top of the dance music pile. “It’s always fantastic to get great feedback about your music, especially so with ‘Diabla’, because I really put a lot of work into that track. It also helped my DJ career when it became successful and opened my sound to a wider audience.” (Lars’ new found profile has also had its amusing side: with heavy irony, the origins of his nom de plume came back to haunt him this year at a festival in Belgium, where he was announced as ‘Funk Avoid’.) But ‘Volume Freak’ sees Lars move his sound on with vocal tracks like ‘Can’t Get Enough Of A Bad Thing’ and ‘Way Up High’ (a move that’s sure to make a Lars a festival favourite next year – he’s working on a kick-ass live show). “It’s still a very electronically-based album with the usual melodies and strings, but there’s more depth and the vocals,” he says. The result is like a good time, sun-kissed Underworld, and a world away from the soulless techno scene in which Lars cut his teeth. “Techno ended up becoming extremely lazy and soulless for me,” says Lars. “It became very rhythm-based, too cold and abrasive for my liking. I’ve always been into the more emotional, melodic side of techno anyway, and I think it’s coming to the fore again. The deep and musical sound has more longevity and substance than loop-based percussive tracks. The whole experience was extremely enlightening, having words put to your music. Everybody loves a song, and I felt as if I needed to take the next step with my sound.” The emphasis on melody and vocals has got to be something to do with the fact that Glaswegian-born Lars now lives in Barcelona. ”It was a case of ‘don’t think about it, just do it’, and I haven’t regretted it,” he says of the move. “What are the plus points?” he continues. “The climate; the beach; palm tree; bars; clubs; architecture; girls in the summer; tapas; San Miguel on draft; Sonar; siestas; the laid back attitude; cheaper, bigger apartments; and a hundred parks.” Indeed, it seems the only thing he misses about his home town is the great clubs and cheese & onion pasties. Another plus point of Barcelona almost turned out to be a certain type of gentleman’s nightspot. The hot climate inflamed Lars’ blood – he almost ended up opening a lap dancing club. “I investigated it,” he says, “but the Spanish mafia wanted an enormous pay-off, and the whole situation was becoming really seedy. I was going to call it ‘Flaps In Your Lap’.” Spanish lap dancing’s loss is your gain. ‘Volume Freak’ is a panacea for the winter blues; a ray of Mediterranean sunshine brightening up both your stereo and the dancefloor; an antidote to insubstantial excesses of electroclash (“It’s just not my thing: zero funk factor,” says Lars); one in the eye for the dance-music’s-dead brigade; synth music concerned with the future as well as the past; a record that sounds dead good if you crank it up to ten; eleven tracks that make you happy. Funk D’Void is going to make you freak.