Efterklang Interviews - IMPALA and Wall Street Journal

Efterklang   IMPALA


Efterklang Interview with IMPALA
(for the interview with Wall Street Jounal article click here, for the interview with Efterklang's label 4AD click here)
Friday 4th March 2011

Efterklang are Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, Thomas Husmer, and Rasmus Stolberg. Rasmus spoke to IMPALA about the band and the award.

How would you describe your band and your music?
It’s a tricky question. To make things easy for people to understand, we usually describe ourselves as a band mixing orchestrated and experimental bits, but that we remain accessible and melodious. Efterklang is all about curiosity and experimentation. We are aiming at developing beauty in our music.
 How did you get started?
The band itself started ten years ago, but our story goes back as far as twenty years. Three of us are childhood friends, but we really started taking music more seriously when we met Casper at high school. We lived in the countrydisde then, but slowly became more ambitious and decided to move to Copenhagen together, to change schools, focus on our music etc. The only problem was that our bass player and our drummer never followed, meaning we had to start all over again in some ways. New people joining the band meant a new start, and after two years experimenting we started to move away from our original rock influences to the actual “Efterklang” sound we have nowadays.

What inspired this album?
Magic Chairs was developed to be played live. We really wanted to make a record with a live feeling to it, with more musicians involved in the recording. Our previous records focused mainly on instrumentations while, for Magic Chairs, everyone had a very defined role to play, giving the album a more symphonic aspect.

How does it feel to win the IMPALA Award for European Independent Album of the Year?
It’s brilliant, it really was a nice surprise. We are not often nominated for awards and certainly never expect to win, so winning this first ever IMPALA Award for European Independent Album of the Year is incredible. We know about the work of IMPALA and we certainly realise the European dimension of this ward, which makes it all the more important.

What is your relationship with your label?
Our relationship with 4AD is excellent, it’s very clear: there is a short list of people we work with and we know we can fully rely on them. We released our first two albums via our own record label and 4AD showed a lot of respect for that. The idea is for 4AD to help us to amplify and to develop what we have already done, while letting us have free rein to do the music we want to do. They realise that releasing a record is not simply focusing on the recording itself and on a release date, it’s a bigger project, built throughout its duration, and they are very good at supporting us although they don’t have an incredible marketing budget to do so.
Was it important for you to sign on an independent label?
It was absolutely key for us. We know quite a few people working at majors and based on what we’ve seen, there is such a roundabout of jobs and such a focus on profit instead of music that we would not feel comfortable with one of them. I would never exclude it of course, who knows what could happen in the future, but, for the time being, signing with an independent label was important to us. It is about identity, gaining a sense of “family” and developing ties with other people and other artists. In fact, it’s just about music.

What's next?
We are currently playing the final dates of our tour, and we will take a break after more than one year on the road promoting Magic Chairs. It’s about time we focus a little bit on some personal issues and get back to our family lives for a short while. Then, of course, we will start working on our next album. But there are no plans for more concerts or touring before the next album is fully finished. From a creative point of view, it’s going to be an exciting time though, there are so many ideas we would like to include in our next record!


Magical Musical Chairs (taken from The Wall Street Journal Friday March 4th) (available here).
By Craig Winneker

Gone are the days when all you needed to be a successful indie band was a guitar hook and an artfully ratty cardigan. In the digital era, you've got to combine creative vision and musical ability with business savvy and multimedia skill. You can't just rock out; you've got to disseminate.

Danish band Efterklang may have found the right mix. They record for their own label and distribute albums globally through one of the major independents, 4AD; they perform exuberant live shows with a shape-shifting collection of international musicians; they use innovative marketing to build their fan base. In addition to their three well-received full-length albums, they have recorded several EPs and singles, collaborated with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, created an educational program called Efterkids, and even produced a rockumentary.

After 10 years, the work is paying off. Efterklang's latest album, "Magic Chairs," this week received the European Independent Album of the Year Award, given out by the indie-label trade association Impala. Two weeks ago they released an experimental performance film, "An Island." Now everyone wants to know what the band—which takes its name from the Danish word for "reverberation"—will do next.

The four core members bring different strengths, making the band function almost as a single person. Frontman Casper Clausen is the heart, generating song ideas and projecting the group's effervescent stage persona; laptop-jock and co-composer Mads Brauer is the brain, giving the songs an intricate but insistent electronic groove and providing production expertise; drummer and trumpeter Thomas Husmer is the guts, adding musical virtuosity wherever needed; bassist Rasmus Stolberg is the muscle, the band's manager, marketing guru and tireless cheerleader.

It's a kind of "equilibrium," Mr. Stolberg says, that allows the band to work on several projects at once.

"We all have this big platform where we can do all these things," says Mr. Clausen. "All doors are open. That's really what excites us every day. It's only possible because we are organized in the way we are."

Mr. Stolberg, probably one of the few rock bassists who is also comfortable discussing such marketing phenomena as "the long tail," insists that Efterklang "is not just a band. We want to do something. With music at the center but it doesn't even have to be music, actually."

Efterklang's music combines influences ranging from classical to techno. Click-track beats skitter underneath lilting string arrangements; complex vocal harmonies soar high above deep bass lines; songs build from near silence to melodic catharsis. Their 2004 debut album, "Tripper," layered brass and strings over icy electronic beats. "Parades," from 2007, was a more orchestral and choral work, with 30 musicians working over 18 months in the studio. "Magic Chairs" is song-oriented and even hummable on pop gems like "Modern Drift" and "Scandinavian Love."

The music is especially powerful in live settings. From his lead-singer position Mr. Clausen plays a tom-tom, a crash cymbal and an electronic drum pad, and frequently wanders over to bang on a drum kit with Mr. Husmer. Mr. Brauer works his twin laptops and a bank of sampling machines while Mr. Stolberg roams the stage with his bass guitar.

Recently, Efterklang's concerts have included a screening of "An Island," their collaboration with French filmmaker Vincent Moon. For the film, the band traveled to an island off the Danish coast and recorded musical interactions with nature and with the local population, reshaping the songs from "Magic Chairs." The film is being released in an innovative series of public and public/private screenings—video Tupperware parties that enlist die-hard followers of the band to bring in new fans.

Even before they made "An Island," the band's music had been described as cinematic, its dramatic yet spare orchestral sweep inspiring plenty of freeze-dried Ingmar Bergman metaphors. Messrs. Stolberg and Clausen say Bergman's films and, even more, those of Werner Herzog are a major inspiration.

"It's so distinct the way Herzog does things," says Mr. Clausen. "Whenever you watch a movie directed by him, it has a signature."

And Herzog, adds Mr. Stolberg, is known for "having really crazy big ideas and going all the way to make them work."

What's Efterklang's next big idea? What do you do when you've already played with everyone from the Danish National Chamber Orchestra to New York City schoolchildren, and made music with everything from raindrops and barn doors to dueling MacBooks?

"We can't say too much about it," says Mr. Stolberg, "but we're waiting for permission from a Russian coal-mining company. "


The Efterklang album can be listened to here: Efterklang – Magic Chairs
The first single from the Album can be downloaded here: http://efterklang.net/home/downloads/

The full playlist of nominated albums can be seen here:

More on IMPALA Awards here