Pop With a Twist: An Exclusive Interview with Henrik Linder of Dirty Loops

Dirty Loops, with Henrik Linder

How do you make pop music cool again? One way is to have Dirty Loops cover it.

Since posting their cover of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” on YouTube, the Swedish trio has caught the attention of fans across the world.

Their latest cover of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” has gotten over 1.3 million views in about a month’s time.

A key element to Dirty Loops’ success is the incredible bass playing of Henrik Linder, whose tight grooves and over-the-top solos have sparked cover videos of their own. Influenced by virtuosic players from early on, Linder’s impressive technique and feel have been keeping the bass community talking.

We reached out to Linder to get the scoop on Dirty Loops, his technique, and his secret to great tone.

How did you get your start playing bass?

Because the girl I was interested at that time said it was the sexiest instrument; she was my first girlfriend.

Who are your biggest bass influences?

My biggest influence is Gary Willis of Tribal Tech, and my first childhood idol was Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Dirty Loops

How did Dirty Loops come about?

While studying, [Dirty Loops drummer] Aaron and I were practicing together almost everyday. [Vocalist] Jonah was also a fellow study partner at an early age. Aaron got an idea for a jam where Jonah would sing and play the keys. Jonah came to the first jam session with a reharmonized chorus of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop The Music.” We completed the arrangement and had a blast doing so. Then we continued to reharmonize and rearrange more covers. Those jam sessions were also amazing, and gave us a chance to really do all kinds of stuff you’d get fired up for in a regular session. It went from there.

One of the really cool things about your pop covers are the chord substitutions and interesting use of harmony. What’s your writing and arranging process like?

Every tune is a bit different. Some of them have started with a programmed idea from Jonah, some have come from Aaron or me, and some we arranged during a jam session. It’s not the same procedure all the time, however the programming from Jonah has been the skeleton for about half the covers.

What’s your approach to writing bass parts and developing those funk grooves?

Again, it’s different on each song. On some songs like “Just Dance” I had been playing around with some slap idea, while on others like “Prude Girl” I play the same bass line as the keys. For some of the grooves, we’ve tried to orchestrate the 16 patterns between the instrument so that I won’t play the same hits as the kick or the keys.

To what degree do you pre-compose and write out your lines and solos, and how much room do you leave for improvisation?

I’ve pre-composed lots of lines for those solos. I like to do that in a recording situation, especially when the solos are as short as they are here.

What kind of a practice routine do you have?

It varies. Right now we’re writing our debut album and most of our time goes into writing music. Much of my practice time focuses on being able to play everything Aaron and Jonah want me to play. In practicing improvisation, I focus a lot on trying to play through the changes instead of static box playing, working on establishing motives and melodies.

Additionally, I constantly work on expanding my harmonic knowledge. Another one of Aaron’s and my practice routines are to do two bars loops of grooves and tempos that we feel aren’t “in the pocket”, and play them for say three and a half minutes. When we studied, we used to sit with two of those loops for three and a half minutes a day for a week and then move on to another groove we didn’t play well. Practicing with him in this format has created a special bond between us playing-wise.

My bass teacher Robert Sundin has also helped out tremendously with my practicing routines; making me practice on the worst [aspects] of my playing. In doing so, all of the other stuff I am good at started sounding much better.

What advice do you have up-and-coming bassists?

Go your own way, and if you get a teacher, get one that helps you develop the way you want to play instead of teaching you how to play like everybody else.

Can you give us a rundown of your gear?

Henrik LinderCurrently, I play 2 Mattissonbasses: one 6 string and one 5 string for slap. I also have my old Yamaha TRB6P.

I play an EBS Fafner or EBS TD 660 and 2 EBS Proline 4x10s for extra tweeter action compared to a 8X10.

My pedal board now has EBS Octabass, reverb, compressor and chorus effects.

I have a Line 6 delay and a Source Audio distortion with three presets that I use as an EQ for finger slap and solo boost.

I play some strings I get from Mattissonbass and Elixir strings on my Yamaha.

So many fans want to know what you do to get your incredible tone. What’s your secret?

One of the reasons I sound the way I do is that the Yamaha that I have played for eight years has a broken bridge pickup with a very low output. While adjusting to that, I had to come up with new ways to get the notes punchy. I also have a very soft touch on the strings, and I’m often turning up the amp; I guess that’s a way to play more dynamically. I also use a lot of legato playing, making the left hand do the work.

Dirty Loops has been in the studio working on original material… When will that be released, and when will we see the trio on tour?

That is yet to be determined, however, about half of the record is finished. We’re working on it constantly, yet we don’t want to rush anything. As soon as the record is released in 2012, then we’ll go on tour!

Special thanks to our Facebook friends who contributed questions for this interview: Jordan Newman, Thomas Greenway, Lasse Winther Wehner, Paddy Donnelly, Jared Spear, Christian Schenk, Adam Castle, Matthew Scott Wyckoff, Neil Bertrand, Andreas Ehret, Flemming Dørken, Martin Hodgson, and Matt Devonshire.

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Share your thoughts

  1. It’s good to see that “No Treble” is hip, to what’s hip…pun intended! lol

  2. Thanks Henrik and notreble!

  3. Keep it up Henrik. I love your playing, man!

  4. wow , what bass playing – great. An inspiration

  5. FFS? Is this a joke? I know the guy can play, but come on! This band symbolizes everything that WRONG with music. Wishy washy covers band jazzing/fusion-ing up crappy pop songs?
    I really like this website, but man you lot fell off.
    Now excuse me while I get back to listen to some REAL music…Jamie Culum.

    • Tell us how you really feel Aaron! We interviewed Henrik because he’s an incredible bassist who generates a huge amount of buzz, the videos we’ve featured by Dirty Loops have had both tremendous reactions and views, plus readers asked us to. All of that, and Henrik’s playing, was good enough for us.

    • Hi Corey, thanks for your reply, I’m a fan of No Treble and think you guys do a great job- a far better one than any Bass magazine going. I think it’s great that bass players have a site where we can find out what’s going on all around the world-and for free.

      I know this guy and this band are quite popular at the moment, I think they are all very good players, they’re is no doubt about their ability. But there is no accounting for a lack of taste. They are essentially a boy band with instruments, each member crafted to appeal to a different corner of the market.
      When I’ve watched their video’s, I have the same reaction as I did when I first saw the “2 girls one cup” video. A child-like feeling of fear, horror and dread that makes me want to press ‘stop’ But also a sense of wonderment that there are people in the world willing to go THAT far that keeps me going to the end of the clip.

    • Aaron Fleming – What an incredibly jaded and ill-informed opinion about what’s going on here. Who made you the arbiter of good taste? Read the article for starters. It’s obvious that they used the tunes as a great way to extend their music range and creativity by working within a set framework, i.e. the melody. Forget that they’re doing it completely tongue-in-cheek. But look at their faces. They’re happy. They made those videos with no profit motive whatsoever. None. So watch who you’re painting as a boy band. Sure they’re young and incredibly accomplished. But they also make music in the spirit with which it’s intended – to be happy and pass it along. You need an attitude check. Take a long, hard look at how much happiness you’re passing along to the rest of the world.

    • Said like a real NON player. It’s true, guys like me who don’t have half the chops can still work. But these arrangements are incredible. You couldn’t play them if your life depended on it, if you ever did play, but we all know you don’t. 99 per cent of all working musicians couldn’t play this stuff. This dude is the state of the art bass player, will be writing and recording for everybody in Europe, not to mention the States, while your sorry ass swill still be flipping burgers at Mc Donalds. Fuck you. GO HENRIK.

    • Be Bop used to be pretty cutting edge stuff and it is still challenging to many of us who are musicians and are interested in that kind of music.A lot of the be bop tunes were reharmonized pop tunes of the day (back home in indiana/donna lee for example) Aaron you probably are not a musician and if you are,probably not a very good one. Insulting these guys who are doing something different very well and are having fun doing it, does not elevate you in any way,it just shows your ignorance.

    • Aaron Fleming Wow! At first I thought your reply was a joke then, I saw your 2nd comment…They’re clearly having fun doing what they love and doing it better than most of us! It’s funny that as musicians we have such a closed mind to being creative.And to compare it to 2 Girls One Cup is really disturbing and so far off base! I’m glad I don’t have to play in a band with someone like you because that would be a bummer for our creative spirits.Why not just give them credit for being what they are….EXCELLENT MUSICIANS!

      ANY music is good music as long as it’s played with passion and conviction,not to mention,technical artistry…all while having innocent fun!

      I’d like to see your response once they’ve released their album.These guys are virtuosos on their respective instruments and for you to blast them was kinda short-sighted in my opinion but hey,you’re entitled to your opinion just as much as anyone else.

    • “We’re on to so much knowledge and the music industry wont let us use it in a creative way.”

    • Aaron Fleming – I think that people here have voiced quite a bit of retort (some of which ad hominem and not really helpful) but whilst I respect your tastes, I have to stress how amazing it is to know of dirty loops: it is a genuine panacea to having shit pop in my head. I can hear Gaga, Britney, Bieber on the radio (which is pretty unescapable being a student), and after the initial pain of the original is over I’m treated to the memory of sophisticated re-workings with remarkable harmonies, a blistering rhythm section, and a voice that is rivalled only by the likes of Raul Midon, Esperanza Spalding and other current Jazz titans. Sorry, but this is a good thing.

    • rich

      im amazed at your comments, ” everything thats wrong:” respectfully i do no agree.

    • Thomas

      Wow…you are beyond help…. these 3 lads are mind blowing, talented and pushing boundaries…… Henrik is an incredible player, I wish I had 10% of that lads skill…..all the best to him and the guys.

  6. henrik Linder is my favorite bass player of all times! you rock bro…

  7. Where can one buy Mattisson 6 string Basses?

  8. Henrik shows us what the new generation of bassplayers should sound like! If you think you’ve heard it all along comes Henrik…

  9. I’m not surprised he lists Gary Willis as his first influence… that very light touch style of playing reminds me of Gary. It’s really very efficient and when Henrik plays it looks effortless. Really enjoying his work thus far.

  10. Just when I thought I had seen it all! I haven’t stopped listening to these cats since I first ran across the Justin Bieber ‘Baby’ cover! I looked for everything these guys had to offer and downloaded all that I could. I write and record country music but the talent within these three guys is absolutely mind destroying! Thank you Henrik, Aaron and Jonah for doing what you guys are doing and obviously having a great time doing it! Please make Dallas, Texas a stop on your tour and don’t forget my backstage passes! lol Seriously though, thank you. I can’t wait for the debut cd. ;)

  11. You sound great! You seem to have re-invented the bass with your harmonizing style – as a double bassist, you have incouraged me to play more electric.