Brian Batz started his solo project Sleep Party People in 2008 so that he could concentrate on his creative vision without the compromise that comes from playing in a band. However, the Copenhagen-based multi-instrumentalist found himself suffering from stage-fright at the thought of singing live and being the front man. To combat this, Batz found comfort performing behind a rabbit mask, something Sleep Party People's shows and album covers have since become synonymous with.

Since 2008, Batz has released four albums, his most recent being 2017’s Lingering. The album sees Batz approaching new themes and sonic explorations whilst still remaining in the previous three albums’ realm of dream-pop, shoegaze and slowcore.

We caught up with Batz in Gdańsk to talk masks, working with Air collaborator Beth Hirsch and a decade of Sleep Party People.

Sleep Party People turns ten this year, looking back what have been some of the highlights for you?

I think first of all for me it was really surprising to start touring with the band. At the beginning, I just started to make this project for myself and that was basically it. I got signed which was an even bigger surprise and then my label were telling me that I had to tour and I had to play because people wanted to hear it live. Then I started touring and that's been really fun. I've been touring almost all over the world and I never expected that to happen so I think that's the biggest achievement in the history of Sleep Party People.

Is there anywhere you played that really sticks out?

We played a gig in Hong Kong at Clockenflap Festival and that was insane. There were about 5,000 people going mad. It was so much fun, we'd just been on a two-week tour of China and it was a really tough tour. It was fun to play but our sound engineer lost his passport so after only two concerts he had to go to Shanghai and stay there for 5 days to get his passport done, also the tour manager went with him so he could translate everything.

We had to keep touring in China on our own talking into translation apps on our phones it was insane. We had a difficult time touring in China but when we arrived in Hong Kong it was amazing. It's very disciplined very polite but also very energetic. When you play people react very physically; dancing and having fun and when the song finished they stopped immediately and start clapping.

How have you learnt to overcome your stage freight?

I think the mask helped a lot. The first couple of years I was really nervous being the front man. Singing in front of an audience was difficult too. Now I feel really confident and comfortable being on stage. I'd always played on stage different instruments in different bands and I never had trouble or was never nervous being on stage it was totally different when I had to sing in front of people.

Did you ever have a bad experience that justified the fear and anxiety?

We had several times when the computer broke down on stage and I think one time we played a concert in Denmark and the computer broke down and all the backtracks didn't work and we had to stand on stage in front of a huge audience with the mask on for ten minutes and I didn't know what to say. It was terrifying, now I just take it with a smile if it happens it happens.

You've become synonymous with the rabbit mask, but I wanted to ask you about your favourite masks in popular culture?

I know it's obvious but Donnie Darko.

You had extremely different working conditions between the last two records. Floating you wrote in just a month in San Francisco but took two years for Lingering what effect did that have on the record?

With Lingering I just wanted to create a really well-produced album I really wanted to dive into the lyrics as well. I just wrote songs when I felt like writing songs; I needed to take the time to write the lyrics. I didn't want to have a dogma rule which I had on Floating, where I had one month to record everything now and mix it in two weeks when I returned to Copenhagen. On Lingering it was a completely different experience - a totally more peaceful experience. At the end I had twenty-two songs finished mastered and mixed and I just had to choose. I was aiming to have a bunch of songs, normally I only record like ten or eleven songs and that's the album. This time I also had friends participating, Anders, who's touring with me now played the drums on the new record. Normally I do everything myself but I wanted to incorporate a different feel and sound basically.

Did you prefer the slower approach?

I did for Lingering but I don't know what's going to happen for the next album. I hope to do it differently again, for me it's really important to think outside of the box and not over think the process too much, to do whatever feels right at the moment.

Can you tell me the idea behind the track 'Limitations'.

'Limitations' is the only track on the album that is electronic. I made a beat with one of my drum machines I wanted to cut it up and make a really weird rhythmic feel and it was just a jam in the studio basically I had a loop of the beat and started to jam with a new keyboard I'd bought at that time and it basically wrote itself. I was aiming for it to have a more hip-hop feel to it.

You collaborated with Beth Hirsch on 'We Are There Together', can you tell me how this came about?

Beth lives in Porto and was out eating at a restaurant, which was playing Floating. She was very intrigued by the sound so she wrote me an email. She told me how much she loved the album and if I ever wanted to collaborate, she would be up for it.

I was like 'this is insane!' I've been listening to Moon Safari since it was released, it's one of my favourite albums. I got really tongue-tied when replying and I told her I was in the middle of making my new album and if she wanted to collaborate then I think we should do it now and if she had any sketches to send them to me. She recorded a song on her telephone, which was beautiful and then I took the song into the studio and recorded everything myself I had her sketch underneath the mix all the time so I could A/B listen and I sent it to her and she recorded the vocals in Portugal.

Did you ever meet in person?

No never, which is really weird. I hope to play Portugal sometime soon and invite her onstage, which would be awesome.

Do you have any resolutions for 2018?

It's a cliché but I really want to work less, and spend more time with my girlfriend, friends and family. Maybe also exercise it's always the same for me to exercise and spend time with the people I like.