With Malaysia’s longest running all day creative arts festival, Urbanscapes, happening in about a month from now, we managed to catch Rasmus Stolberg of Copenhagen based indie rock outfit, Efterklang, for a couple of questions.
Starting from the album Magic Chairs and onwards, the band minimized from about 8 or more recording members to currently just a trio. Has the ethos of the band’s music altered since then?
This is a misunderstanding. The core of Efterklang was from the beginning (which is more than ten years ago) five friends: Rune, Thomas, Mads, Casper and me (Rasmus).
When we made Tripper in 2004, we were 5.
When we made Parades in 2007, we were 4.5.
When we made Magic Chairs in 2010, we were 4.
When we made Piramida in 2012, we were 3 – Mads, Casper and Rasmus.
Rune was the first to leave the band, but he has since been co-writing with us. For example, songs like Modern Drift and Sedna have been written with him.
We have always invited loads of guest musicians to join us for recordings and for live shows. This is probably the reason for the misunderstanding.
And the ethos of the band’s music has not been altered, but we have changed the way we make music many times. We want to make music that moves us and that we feel has an edge or something new in it. Maybe you could say that is our ethos and I’m sure most artists would say it is their ethos too. So the important thing is not the ethos; the important thing is to live up to the ethos. That’s the hard part and that’s an ongoing process. Another ethos for us is that we don’t want to repeat ourselves. So for each album, we come up with a new idea for how Efterklang can sound or how we can write and record music in a new way.
Speaking of your latest album Piramida, the process and inspiration behind this album is incredible! How did you guys initially find out about this abandoned mining town? Was all of this planned out much earlier or did it happen to be something spontaneous?
We had decided to make an album that somehow was site-specific. We have always worked a lot with field-recordings, and we had this idea that we could put more focus on this field and start the songwriting process from here.
We were talking about different ideas for locations and then, out of the blue, we get this e-mail from a film director who introduces us to the ghost town of Piramida (Pyramiden). We got instantly hooked on going there. We spent a year getting permission and planning the trip before we made it up there.
The trip is documented in the film The Ghost of Piramida by Andreas Koefoed.
In regards to the field recordings, what kind of sounds distinctly stood out to you guys from such a hollow setting?
In the first few days, we collected many percussive sounds. They are great for making beats and other rhythmic elements. After some time, however, we got tired of all these metal sounds. They all started to sound the same. So we added more focus on sounds with a timbre or a tone. Because we knew we could then create instruments back home in the studio with these. Instruments that weren’t just percussive, but instruments that you could play chords and melodies on. We also started focusing more on playing actual patterns in the ghost town. Instead of sampling things one by one, we started finding, for example, three elements that had a nice timbre together, and then we would play on them and record this.
Speaking of your Malaysian debut at the upcoming Urbanscapes 2013 festival, what can we expect from the live setting of the band compared to the band’s ongoing large-scale initiative with an orchestra?
We will be visiting with our six-piece band, which we have played more than 100 concerts with this year alone. We love playing together and we promise to do our very best! Besides the three of us, the band consists of Tatu Rönkkö on drums; Martyn Heyne on guitar, piano, choir; and Katinka Fogh Vindelev on vocal and keys.
Catch Efterklang at this year’s Urbanscapes Festival, happening on the 23rd and 24th of November 2013. More info on Urbanscapes here.
Interviewed by Hazlinda Elina