Danish singer/songwriter/storyteller, Jeppe Gade, has been sharing his music with anyone who will listen since 2015. This desire to share music began on the streets of Rio, Sydney, London and New York and his musical project, Favor, is now catching ears across the globe. Below, Jeppe opens up about why his music sounds the way it does, the motivation behind his art and what it’s like to be vulnerable as an artist and musician.
MFL: You’ve only officially started releasing music over the last couple of years but I imagine songwriting began much before we started hearing you! Tell me how Favor started and what the impetus was for beginning your own project.
Jeppe Gade – Favor (JG): I still remember the chords for the first song I wrote and if I try really hard I think I can remember the first couple of lines as well. It’s kind of crazy, cause I think I was like 11 or 12 when I wrote my first song. Needless to say, it’s something I’ve been doing almost my entire life. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been doing it well all the way through though. I took a lot of detours along the way, moving through different genres and expressions before ending up with Favor. I think I took a long time to figure out how I wanted Favor to sound because I simply like a lot of genres. Sometimes I still waver when I need to describe what Favor sounds like. It’s hard when you’ve taken everything you like from your past and put it in the mix to sound what you sound like. What really made a difference was something that happened during a self-proclaimed world tour in 2014-2016. I always feel really inspired when I travel. Not really because of where I am going, but more what I am travelling away from. It has always felt easier to look at the life I am living in Copenhagen, when I’m not in Copenhagen. So this time I was playing in New York City at something called The Bitter End and I was playing on a Sunday, I remember. I’d long been wanting to write songs that was more for me than they were for everybody else. I’d found a 1985 Phil Collins album “No Jacket Required” a few months earlier and that kind of changed something in the way I wrote songs. I started going back to where it all started, which was the music I’d been brought up with. My mum loves the 1980s and all the really pompous popstars from that period and my dad is 1970s kind of folkrock guy. And that Phil Collins record just reminded me of that. So I’d started writing songs that had those two decades as inspiration and because I love well oiled pop-tunes, it became this special little thing. A kind of alternative throwback pop project. Back to New York. This was the first place where I started playing these songs and I just felt how it resonated so well with a live audience, which was interesting, cause really it was just something that I made for my own. I needed to explore this and that’s how Favor initially started.
MFL: Your music makes me want to move, ha! What is the drive behind creating music with such dance-able feel and do you foresee yourself exploring other less dance-able tracks?
JP: Before I started Favor I’d been travelling around playing tons of gigs where it was just me and an acoustic guitar. This is still something that I love to do. I was almost two years on the road – playing streets, bars, small venues, big venues, warm-up-and cool-down shows. Going through Copenhagen, Rome, Istanbul, New York, Rio, Hamburg and a lot of other places. Something that you learn when you are just you and an acoustic guitar is how to make a groove with very limited means. But I was always trying to really get people to dance, even though I only had this guitar and my voice. But I just really wanted, and still want, people to move to my music. So when we went into the studio to record the first Favor EP, I knew that this was something that I wanted to make even clearer with the Favor songs. So every time I start working on a new song, I instantly think; “okay, so how is going to translate in to a concert setting, what is going make people want to groove, move, scream and dance.” That being said, we are working on tracks that is less dancey than my previous stuff and if you go back and listen to my first EP a song like “Cold Summer Love” is also much more mellow than my other stuff. So it’s definitely something that I explore.
MFL: List three to five of the most influential albums or artists for you. They can be from the past or present.
Phil Collins / No Jacket Required:
My mum played this records to death when I was growing up, so they are kind of a soundtrack to my childhood. I bloody love these albums.
Blood Orange / Cupid Deluxe.
Dev Hynes is wizard and I think this album was the best case of taking retro-sounds from 80s and 90s and just making killer popsongs out of them. Saw him live last year and he’s extremely captivating on stage.
Wham! / Fantastic. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Neil Young / Harvest
I know the lyrics to this entire album
Kanye West / 808s & Heartbreak
He’s a mad dog but this is still one of the best concept albums of the past 20 years. I love a consistent expression in visuals and in concept for artists and it’s something that I really try to do with Favor. I think this is one of the purest examples of exactly that.
MFL: Who else is behind Favor in terms of instrumentals, recording, mixing/mastering and how did you find them/bring them on board?
JP: After my self-proclaimed world tour I came back to Copenhagen. I’d been home a couple of weeks, when I got a message from two musicians – Daniel Brandt and Mark Laursen (Kill J) – that had some tracks that they thought would be fun to try and have me sing on. I knew Daniel from a previous project. We starting working on a few different things but never really made something that I could see myself in. Then one day I was sitting at Daniel’s place having a coffee and just chatting away. We started talking about music that in some way – at least at that time – really wasn’t cool or at least not seen as something you should reference when making contemporary songs. I mentioned some of my 80s influences, I think actually underlining the Phil Collins album, and Daniel asked me to sing along to one of the tracks on that record and so I did. After that he went “we should really do something as sticky and completely over the top as this.” After that I pulled out some of the stuff I’d written and played in New York. After a while we had 3 or 4 songs and we went to another producer called Søren Christensen (M.I.L.K, Nabiha, Fallulah) and he completely understood what I was trying to do with the project. So since the start of 2017 these guys have been musical playmates and we all share the passion for uncool pop, ha ha.
MFL: Your music has a deliciously 80s-inspired sound. What is it about this kind of music that appeals to you?
JP: Musically I draw a lot on the 70s and the 80s. In regards to the 70s I go there for groove and instrumentation. That’s both disco vibes but also kind of folk-rocky things. I go to the 80s for my sense of melodies and that sort of pompous pop-feel. I just really like how things can be very much in your face in the 80s era. It was just very much over the top.
MFL: I hear such incredible music coming out of Copenhagen these days. Describe the music scene there from your perspective and tell me what it’s like cultivating your own music among such a rich environment of musicians.
JP: I definitely feel some sort of vibrant thing going on in Copenhagen these years. There’s so much great stuff happening and tons of extremely talented artist and bands. Something probably happened after acts like MØ and Lukas Graham made it on the international scene and thereby “taking Copenhagen” with them out there. That has definitely made a lot of artist go “hey man, the world is watching, so let’s make the best music we possibly can and let’s try and be ourselves in it.” That’s what both MØ and Lukas did and therefore we don’t just have good artists in Copenhagen, we have artists that are also doing it in their own way. I think that’s really something that cultivates an amazing indie scene. Now, this is just my own assumption and completely subjective. But if you compare CPH to Stockholm for instance. In Stockholm they are brilliant at making effective, catchy and out of this world pop songs. That’s their focus. But in CPH the focus is more on creating a unique sound as an artist and try to find your own place to stand.
MFL: I’ve read that “Call My Name” was sort of a ‘confession box’ for you and an exploration with different instrumentation. How did writing and releasing this song feel different than writing/releasing your previous tracks both from an emotional AND stylistic standpoint?
JP: It felt terrifying! But the response has been crazy good. After I released my first EP and started playing more and more shows and getting more attention I also started comparing myself to other acts. And you can always find someone who has bigger crowds, more plays, more followers and so on. And I always ended up comparing myself to unrealistic standards, acts like Paul McCartney or Michael Jackson, which is just plain dumb. So I wanted do something drastic to change this. I took all my vain thoughts: “I can do this and this if you want to just recognize me.” I hate that I have these thoughts. So I took all of them, put them on paper and really didn’t want anyone to ever read them. I was working on this song that had a kind of indie-disco vibe and couldn’t really find the lyrics for it. Then one guy in the studio said something like; “well, let’s just write down every line that we never would put into a song.” That made me think; “well, how about an entire story that I never wanted to tell anyone?” And that’s how it came about. The funny thing is, that this song is what made me get a record deal and I never really wanted anyone to hear it in the first place.
MFL: I’m sure you have other activities besides music in your life. What are your other passions and how do they influence your music (if at all)?
JP: I’ve been telling stories all my life. I use to speak up at family parties and just tell stories, having people look at me, laughing and paying attention. I realized pretty early that it was something that I bloody loved and something that I was really good at. So I started writing stories, poetry, small essays and also began making small videos to support this. And this sounds kind of strange, but that’s also how I see for example my Instagram profile and especially the Instagram stories. I wanna tell a clear story there too. I think it’s also something that was supported by the years I spent as this kind of travelling troubadour. When you play in the streets of Rio you need to stand out. Everyone is playing well, so I also started telling a lot of stories between songs. And it’s rare that you see a guy just telling stories in the streets, so that made me stand out. And now I’m taking a lot of those stores into my music as well.