Denmark

Interview: Danish duo, ARES

Line Mortensen and Louise Andersen are based out of Copenhagen, a place in my opinion that is absolutely bursting at the seams with fresh musical talent. The duo releases their music under the name ARES and have slowly been releasing bits and pieces from their debut EP. We discussed their music, upcoming EP due out November 30th and much more in the interview below! Their excitement and passion for creating music is palpable!

 

MFL: Who is in ARES and when did you come together to form this project?

ARES: We are duo that consists of Line Mortensen and Louise Andersen. We met when we attended a music school some years back, where we lived in the rooms next to each other and quickly became friends. After we finished the courses at the school, we both moved to Copenhagen, and after some time of writing songs for fun, we decided that we wanted to start a band. After trying out some different things, writing a lot of songs and playing some concerts, we wanted to release our debut EP as ARES, and now it’s finally ready.

 

MFL: I know it can be difficult to pinpoint your “genre” of music but if you were to try, what genre would you call your music?

ARES: It seems that a lot of artist sometimes are afraid to be labelled as “pop artists”, but we most certainly are not. We love pop music, and we write pop music. Each song has its own specific sound, but overall we call it pop, and definitely with a big electronic influence.

 

MFL: You mentioned that “All I See” was showing a new side of ARES. What is it about “All I See” that feels or sounds different than your previous releases?

ARES: Before “All I See” we had already released the two singles “Strangers” and “Lost My Mind” which was both kind of dark and heavy. Both of those singles circled around the subjects of heartbreak and darkness, and with “All I See” we took a chance and released a light, catchy and romantic song about love. We don’t write a lot of “positive” songs, but we really had fun with this one, and wanted to show that ARES is not just about heartbreak and sadness, haha!

 

MFL: Where in Denmark are you based out of and how does your location/local music scene influence your sound?

ARES: None of us are from Copenhagen, but we both moved here about five years ago, and we love it here. There’s a big upcoming music scene with lots of opportunities for bands like us. Right now a lot of artists who are writing in Danish are becoming popular, but writing in Danish just does not come that easily to us (yet!), so we will stick to English for now. We try to stand out from the rest of the upcoming bands and do not have a fear of sounding too “pop”-ish.

 

MFL: What can we expect from your forthcoming EP?

ARES: You can expect an emotional ride in our lyrical universe and soundscape. We strive to be very honest in our songs and in our musical vision in general, and we hope our listeners can hear how much time and love we poured into this EP.

 

 

 

 

MFL: Who are some of the most influential Danish musicians out there for you right now?

ARES: Uh, there’s so many! Right now we’re very inspired by the crazy talented Kwamie Liv, who just released her debut-album. Her voice and songs always delivers so much nerve and her musical universe is so simple yet at the same time extremely powerful and we love that!

 

MFL: Who do you go to for recording/mixing and why did you choose them for your sound?

ARES: We are working with the amazing danish producer Frederik Falk, who not only loves the same music as we do, but also has a gift of translating the sounds we describe from inside our heads. He really just gets our sound universe and always listens to us even though we sometimes might be a bit hard to work with because we’re both extreme perfectionists.

 

MFL: Finally, what does 2019 hold for ARES?

ARES: Uhh, so many plans. we’re very excited about 2019. We are ready to work our asses off to share our music and project with as many as possible. We’re gonna play a lot of concerts and probably work on both visuals and more releases. We’re both filled with so many ambitious ideas for the project and we can’t wait to get started on creating more!

 

You can follow ARES on Facebook and Spotify.

PHOTO CREDIT: Louise Mortensen

Album Review: “Keep Your Batteries Warm” by Josa Barck

The space-time that Danish musician, Josa Barck, lives, breathes and creates within is one of vibrant sound and color. Thankfully for us, he is willing to share that universe and invites us to find a place for ourselves within it. Josa Barck is the anagram for musician/producer, Jacob Rask, who following nearly a decade of working with other Danish musicians like Alphabeat and The Broken Beats, has sought out a new niche. For him, creating music is not only his passion but a need/void he must fill.

 

Jacob Rask: “To me, it is about taking responsibility to create the world I demand to live in, and taking control over the culture. I make the music that I feel is missing and that I wish to hear. It wasn’t there before, so I had to make it myself.”

 

The classically trained musician spent five of his 15-year career with his saxophone at the Royal Danish Academy of music and in 2015, Rask released his debut record, Eurkea, in which he swapped out his saxophone for a guitar. Eureka is a collection of eight subdued and thoughtfully created tracks with gentle vocals and introspective lyrics. Race forward to 2018 where we all anxiously await the release of his sophomore full length, Keep Your Batteries Warm. This record is built from the same scaffolding of Eureka but is reinforced, decorated and draped in new rich, exciting and decadent colors that celebrate this life we live within despite the trying times we all face. When Rask was asked about the title of this new record, he gave both a short and a long answer. The short answer was simple, he liked the way those words fit and flowed together. On the contrary, the title also goes below the surface.

 

Jacob Rask: “’Keep Your Batteries Warm’ is really just my own little 2018 updated version of the old saying ‘Keep Your Powder Dry’. To be prepared for battles ahead. But to me it’s a bit more two sided. I definitely believe there is battles ahead of us, if we hope to create a better world. Not necessarily fighting in the street and such, but one way or the other…At the same time, ‘Keep Your Batteries Warm’ is about optimism and hope. And that something good is on its way. Like: ‘Hang in there, everything will be all right.’”

 

Earlier this year, he released the second single off the album, “Everybody Everywhere.” It’s a fast-paced rolling track that features a completely different vocal quality from Rask compared to Eureka. His voice demands your attention not only to the sounds he’s creating but also the lyrics and the message he is conveying to you. Over and over again he says:

“That’s what everybody wants,

That’s what everybody hunts.”

 

 

The single is the second track on the record, following “Pattern Pageantry”, a pulsing instrumental introduction. It is about the lifelong search we all endure for love and how we all feel that we need to be everywhere at once, experiencing everything all at once in order to succeed. In the words of Rask, “I recognize the search for love as a driving force behind everything I do, but I am beginning to learn, that the search of love, is not so much about chasing something I lack in my life, as it is about perceiving the love that I am slowly realizing, is everywhere all the time too.”

 

Following “Everybody Everywhere” is “Salute”, which was the first single Rask released after Eureka. These two tracks give listeners who know Josa Barck’s music something familiar to suck them into the record before he launches them unforgivingly into the rest of the album. “Clandestine” is a celebratory and trilling track, while “Everywhere at Once” is a nod back to the single, “Everyone Everywhere.” It has overlap in mood, lyricism and concept but it is a slightly more restrained iteration. It is a reminder to the listeners of the message Josa Barck is trying to convey: keep looking for love, everywhere and you will find it because it is already there.

Other tracks like “Neverhours” and “Bantam” are adventurous, dream-like works of art that pull you deep into this effervescent universe that Rask has created on Keeping Your Batteries Warm. Repetitive lyrics, chants sung in harmonies and rounds, and whimsical sound effects bring a childlike sense of joy and revel to the record. Rask really taps into that sense of wonder on “People Reflect the Weather.” The track builds slowly to a most glorious place where it hovers, and gently returns to where it started.

Keep Your Batteries Warm is due out October 19th through Tangleville Records in cooperation with Wonderwhy Music Company and Pop-Up Records. You can follow Josa Barck on Facebook, Spotify, and his official website.

A delicate piece from Another Juggle: “Shield”

“Shield” was actually born quite some time ago, back when Danish dream-poppers, Another Juggle, were working on their previous album. However, the band being the musical perfectionists they are, found patience with the track and decided that they needed to spend more time with it since unlike their other tracks, it was written in 6/8 time. Band member, Thomas Haar, told me this about how the track came to be one of the first nights in their new recording studio:

“I brought a cheesy vintage piano with me which I had just picked up (I have a habit of collecting old keyboards and synths). To begin with we used its rhythm box as a starting point for the song which helped the 6/8 to make sense without being cheesy.”

 

And what they created is anything but cheesy. This track is oozing with everything soothing that I love about Another Juggle: delicious melody, beautiful lyrics, perfect musical layering, and an overall dizzy-ingly dreamy track. “Shield” is the latest single off of Another Juggle’s upcoming record. Check it out and keep up with Another Juggle via their Facebook and Soundcloud pages.

 

 

 

Decadent electronic from Denmark: New record and single from SAVEUS

“Greatness or Madness” is one of those songs that you have to listen to all of the way through…several times. There is so much going on this track. It’s aggressive, thick, and in your face all the while Martin Hedegaard still delivers some pretty gorgeous vocals in there. Hedegaard performs under the name SAVEUS, a name that has been gathering attention in Denmark for his rich electronic sound that can be both dark and magnificent.

 

 

His debut record, Neuro, is out now on all your favorite streaming/purchasing platforms.

 

Delicious synth pop from Another Juggle: “Fuzzy”

Danish synth poppers, Another Juggle, are at it again. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing these fellows over Skype a couple of years ago (check it out here) and reviewed their previous release, Dance Sunshine, Dance (check out the review here). What I learned about these musicians is that they are perfectionists in the most beautiful way. Every note has a purpose, every strum of the guitar expertly timed. If you listen to their music with this in mind, you will understand. To give themselves a true challenge, they chose to reinterpret Grant Lee Buffalo’s 1993 track, “Fuzzy.” The original track lays the ground perfectly for Another Juggle’s gorgeous synth wave. Their interpretation adds new punctuation to the track but does not make it unfamiliar. To add to the excitement, esteemed recording engineer, Nicolas Vernhes (The War on Drugs, Deerhunter, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective among others), mixed the track.

Another Juggle had this to say about the new track:

“Fuzzy is an indie gem that has been lying well hidden since the band Grant Lee Buffalo released it 25 years ago in 1993. It has not been forgotten, but it´s certainly not everyone who knows this song. We think the song is just perfect and ready for a new interpretation. As a follow up on our previous album, ‘Dance Sunshine, Dance’, we wanted to raise our ambition even higher and made a list of the producers and mixers which we would most like to work with. Nicholas was on top of that list. We are very pleased and proud to present the first single and are looking forward to presenting more songs towards the full album release by the end of 2018.”

Check it out:

 

 

If you’re curious about the original track, here it is:

 

Stream Yung’s debut record, “A Youthful Dream”, now!

Danish dream punk band, Yung, has already received a great deal of attention since the release of their EP, Alter, last year on Tough Love. Since then, the Aarhus-original four piece has been cooking up a wild and woolly collection of musical centerpieces. With only a few moments to breath on the record, Youthful Dream, is not a bedtime record. Growling vocals and fuzzy guitars encrust what are “youthful dreams.”

The album is streaming on Stereogum right now, will be out officially June 10th on Fat Possum and the band begins their tour in Brussels tomorrow!

June 7th: Brussels, BE @ Atelier
June 8th: Paris, FR @ Mecanique Ondalatoire
June 9th: Guildford, Boileroom
June 10th: Bristol, UK @ Start The Bus
June 11th Manchester, UK @ Fallow Cafe
June 12th: Glasgow, UK @ Nice’n’Sleazy
June 13th: Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
June 14th: London, UK @ Shacklewell Arms
June 16th: Brighton, UK @ Prince Albert
June 17th: Amsterdam, NL @ Black Eye Club (Oedipus Brewery)
July 1st: Toulon, FR  @ Rockorama Festival
July 16th: Haarlem, NL @ Kliko Fest,
July 17th: Leeuwarden, NL @ Welcome To The Village Festival

Pre-order Youthful Dreams from Fat Possum now.

 

Album Review: “Dance Sunshine, Dance” by Another Juggle

Another Juggle is an indie electronic band made up of four insanely talented and dedicated musicians, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Last year MFL had the chance to Skype interview the band and they were gracious enough to sacrifice a bit of their rehearsal time for me. The conversation started with Emil Eggert Scherrebeck (drums, synths) and Anders Cederblad Knudsen (percussion, additional vocals, guitars) but about halfway through, Thomas Haahr (guitars) joined in and finally near the end of our conversation, Nikolaj Dalsgård (vocals) showed up. We covered a lot of ground and if you’re interested in hearing/reading what we talked about, check it out here! It’s fully equipped with both text and sound bites of the interview.

 Since the release of Another Juggle’s tracks “Dance Sunshine, Dance” and “Not Now” and now the release of their full length, they’ve gained great momentum in Scandinavia and worldwide. They’ve been recognized both on the radio and the track “Not Now” found itself a spot on the “Best Songs of April 2016” Spotify playlist for Indie Underground. The band seeks inspiration for their sound from contemporary 80’s-inspired bands like Wild Nothing and Twin Shadow and bands that strike closer to home like Danish bands, The Kissaway Trail and Mew. Another Juggle’s music is doused in a reinvented 80’s sound that is truly unique to them.

This record comes from a group of musicians who care deeply about the process of writing the lyrics and music. They work painstakingly to achieve the best possible sound, rhythm and overall mood for each and every track. I could hear this drive during our interview and you can hear it in all of their songs. From start to finish, each track is carefully crafted, layered and produced in a way to give the listener the utmost joy in the experience of listening and to communicate the message and emotion of the track as purely as possible.

The record opens with my personal favorite, “Not Now.” It’s the perfect example of the flawless layering complexity between vocals and instrumentals. Everything feels right. The guitar, the synthesizers, the rise and fall in volume and the lyrics all come together to create a what I would call the perfect electronic/dream pop bit of ear candy.

 

 

Following is the title track, “Dance Sunshine, Dance”, which is equally as drenched in synthesizers in their finest form but is a bit more danceable than “Not Now.” In fact, it’s next to impossible to not dance to this track given the fact that the lyrics are begging you to dance. One aspect of this record and of the band themselves is their love of and ability with the English language. They take lyricism seriously. The poetry within their lyrics is equally as important as the instrumental aspect. They created a stunning music video for the track in collaboration with Emil’s cousin, Peter Scherrebeck Hansen.

 

The album is an amalgamation of tracks about love in all it’s beautiful and not-so-beautiful forms. The band pulls from personal experiences, wrapping their stories in synth and guitar-driven melodies. Within the track “Faceless/Demon” lies one of my favorite lyrics.

Leave me carefully, I’m someone’s son.

 This is a perspective that is difficult to have or realize when you love someone.

 “Faceless/Demon” is less of a dance-inducing track compared to others on the record but it and the previous track, “All Your Charms”, allow the listener to catch their breath and drown in the 80’s goodness.

The pace of the record picks up again with the infectious track, “Cities Crash”, and then gently brings you back down with “Climb”, a truly gorgeous piece. It’s clear the order in which tracks were put on this record is important to the band. Each track compliments the one before and after and highlights the bands’ ability to generate a record with ten truly unique tracks that still are part of something coherent and beautiful.

I congratulate Another Juggle on their debut record and can hardly wait to hear what’s next. You can find Dance Sunshine, Dance on Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes now.

New band out of Denmark: LISS

Ever heard of Nordic soul? Liss is a group of four teenage boys based out of Aarhus, Denmark who will gladly introduce you to this style. Liss is composed of Søren Holm (vocals), Vilhelm Strange (guitar), Villads Tyrrestrup (bass), and Tobias Hansen (drums). They’ll release their debut singles “Always” and “Try”  that were produced by Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule and others) on the Copenhagen label ESCHO November 27th.

“Always” is a velvety track that rolls effortlessly over your ears:

and “Try” is equally as easy listening:

Featured Image by Alex Sturrock, courtesy of Pitch Perfect.

Stay tuned for more from this new young group!

Interview: In depth with the Danish dreampoppers, Another Juggle

It was 11am Mountain Standard Time in Bozeman, Montana and 7pm in Copenhagen where Danish-originating dreampop group, Another Juggle lives, when I had the opportunity to Skype with all four of the band members. As both our days in either location are getting longer and longer, Copenhagen days have Bozeman days beat as the sun doesn’t really go down there right now. Ideal conditions for letting band practice go deep into the night, without even knowing it. I was sipping coffee and they were sipping on some brews. I was in the comfort of my home at my dining room table and they were in the comfort of their cozy studio space, surrounded by synthesizers. There was much laughter going on in both locations throughout the interview. It was a very delightful conversation and I hope it’s not our last!

The conversation started with Emil Eggert Scherrebeck (drums, synths) and Anders Cederblad Knudsen (percussion, additional vocals, guitars) but about halfway through, Thomas Haahr (guitars) joined in and finally near the end of our conversation, Nikolaj Dalsgård (vocals) showed up. Emil, Nikolaj and Thomas are all from Jutland but Anders is from a city near Copenhagen. After nearly 10 years in Copenhagen they now call it their home. It is THE place in Denmark to be a musician. Emil and Anders both trained as drummers since their childhood. Thomas learned many instruments including cornet in a brass band and choir but had a true moment of musical realization when he picked up his father’s Spanish guitar. Nikolaj came from a musical family and has been playing the drums for 15 years including time at a musical conservatory, until Anders heard him sing. Now Nikolaj is a singer!

Read and listen below for more:

MFL: How long have you guys been playing together?

AJ: Well, this band has existed for almost 3 years but before that, the four (Another Juggle: Nikolaj, Anders, Thomas and Emil) of us and two other guys had another band called, and don’t get it wrong, From the Foxhole. Yeah foxhole not F#*K hole.

MFL: I heard Foxhole, don’t worry.

AJ: I spoke to another American who thought it was “f#*khole” and he was like you can’t call your band “f*#Khole!” The old band split up after recording an EP and then two of the guys left the band and the four of us just continued in the new band.

MFL: Do you have a similar sound?

AJ: No, not at all! The old sound was quite dark. Really dark. Kind of The National. But we wanted to take it in a different direction.

MFL: Do you miss that all or do you like what you do now better?

AJ: I think we do like the new sound better. It appeals more to us and also to more people in general I think.

Listen below to our chat about the origin of their band name, Another Juggle:

MFL: You told me that From the Foxhole was a little bit darker like The National sound. Where did the inspiration come from for the more electronic sound that Another Juggle has?

AJ: I think we started listening to a lot of bands from the 80s inspired phase like Wild Nothing and Twin Shadow.

Below is a playlist of musicians who are a source of Another Juggle’s musical inspiration:

MFL: Any actual 80s bands?

AJ: Talking Heads, The Smiths, Kate Bush. And also we listen to a lot of new indie music like Youth Lagoon and Cut Copy, Australian band and also Grizzly Bear and Beach house. Also a band like Blood Orange actually. We kind of like the mix of the 80s sound and the indie song writing.  And the special sound from Scandinavia. The melancholic sound from the place we grew up from the dark weather.

MFL: Do you think that actually has an influence?

AJ: Yes, we think so! I guess it’s like the northern part of the US produces a lot of bands with a darker sound and more melancholic and CA produces a lot of bands with light beats and a lighter touch.  Also our song writing has always been very melancholic and dark so we kind of wanted to sort of contrast that against the sound of the music.

AJ (Thomas): Deep down inside somewhere I had been listening to electronic music before I started playing guitar for the band.  Sort of going back to the roots of what I did before I even joined the band

Listen below to hear about working on their new album.

MFL: Is this your practice studio only or where you record, too?

AJ: Both. Every now and then vocals are recorded at Nikolaj’s place but usually everything is done here. A lot of the song writing is done in our different bedrooms where we cry our hearts out onto the paper. The paper is all wet from the tears!

We chatted for awhile about the infamous Morten Bue. A well known producer and mix master who lives in Copenhagen Denmark. Click here to check out his website. Morten Bue mixes for some of Another Juggle’s favorite Danish bands like Mew and Kissaway Trail, both of which were represented in the “In Between Another Juggle’s Ears” playlist. They found Morten through a friend in a band called The Rumor Said Fire, who also had Morten mix their music. The rest is history!

MFL: Do you play live a lot?

AJ: Not together in this project. We’ve been focusing quite a lot on writing and recording. We hope to play a lot more live when we release the album. Before this project, the old band played a lot. Like A LOT. Almost every venue in Copenhagen that I can think of. We’re hoping to visit a lot of Danish festivals next summer and maybe get to do some warm up gigs for Danish bands around Denmark. Maybe this fall as well. Very much depends on if our songs make it to the radio. If you can manage that, it will be very possible. You never know, though.

For a moment, I got to be interviewed! Thomas was very curious about how I found their music. I admitted it was random chance as I was home alone on a Saturday night, creating my weekly playlist. Listen below to our conversation about what they think of Soundcloud and how they find out their music is making it out into the world.

We next discussed what they all do outside of music. All of them, besides Emil who goes to school for comparative literature and writes for a Danish newspaper, are teachers. Anders teaches Danish, history and religion, Thomas teaches mathematics and music and Nikolaj just finished his education to teach gym class, music and mathematics.

I asked them what their game plan was for practice that night and we also talked about how they go about writing songs. This song features a track of theirs called “Cuddle Guy.”

Emil then described the creative process for their new music video for “Dance Sunshine, Dance.”

AJ (Emil): We made the video because we wanted to do something special when we released our first single. My cousin Peter (Scherrebeck Hansen) is a video artist. I’ve known him for my whole life but as we are getting older and are getting more dedicated to making our different kinds of art we started talking a lot and I just figured he would be perfect for the job. So we played the song for him and he came up with a beautiful and intense video.

MFL: How do you incorporate your personal experiences into the lyrics collectively, though since you have different experiences?

AJ (Emil and Anders): We don’t do it collectively actually. It’s mostly me and Anders who are writing songs right now. We just write the lyrics and the melodies. Then we bring it to the studio and we all collectively record the song but the songwriting is individually done. In our different bedrooms! We try to make the sketches or the things we come with as simple as possible. The melody and the text and maybe some guitar chords. Not a lot of things going on so there’s a lot of room to interpret so it can be made into a songs that is ours. That way you’re not already stuck with an arrangement or a way of thinking of that song when the other guys join in. It can be turned into anything.

After speaking for over an hour and a half we realized I needed to get back to work and they needed to rehearse. It was difficult to end the conversation. I felt like I was saying good bye to old friends. They were so endearing and genuine. We chatted about Carlsberg beer for a few minutes before parted ways as they promised that next time I visit Copenhagen, we’ll have to get a beer together. Thank you Nikolaj, Anders, Thomas and Emil for your time and for putting your music on this earth.

 

The Curse

This was the last song that came on my iPod this morning while I was out for a run and today, it really resonated with me. I proceeded to listen to it on repeat on my way to work and it completely re awakened my curiosity regarding the lovely Agnes Obel’s music. There is something so absolutely pure and beautiful about her music. It oozes with haunting strings, most often the cello which drives her songs straight to my soul, her breathy vocals that become powerful with the lyrics they carry and the piano that trickles in the background of many of her tracks.

Agnes Obel was born in Denmark but currently resides Berlin, Germany. She released her first album, ‘Philharmonics’, was released in 2010 and ‘Aventine’, which houses the song “The Curse” and many other beautiful tracks, was released just this year.