I have always loved Denmark – I remember once visiting Skagen and feeling very much that it was purely elemental. When you began thinking about the film An Island, was it to capture a sense of the elemental aspect of life? What drew you to that particular island, what do you feel makes it special?
That’s fantastic! An Island is set on the island “Als” in Denmark where Rasmus, Mads and I grew up. For this film we worked closely with the french film director Vincent Moon – most known for his famous “Take Away Show” on Blogotheque. We picked the locations, songs and people we wanted to perform with, and Vincent filmed, directed, and challenged the whole thing. It was like showing a friend around your hometown, just that friend was Vincent Moon! Usually we tend to control every part of the process. This way of collaborating was different and really inspiring for us. We suddenly had to let go of a lot of control, simply because the platform – a film – was so different from what we were normally doing. Now when thinking about it, this is also what makes these orchestra concerts exciting. For the Piramida concerts we worked closely with two brilliant classical composers/arrangers; Karsten Fundal & Missy Mazzoli, who really took us and our music somewhere new, we’d never been able to do concerts like these without their help and guidance, and that goes the other way around as well. That’s a wonderful feeling.
The film was so beautiful – and has a legacy, it felt like you approached it with a radiant, ethical sense and that you wanted to pass that on, encouraging free screenings of it and so forth- do you think in part it is a reaction to the overwhelming sense of consumerism that pervades peoples lives?
I would love to say yes to that question. But the idea of letting people screen the film at home for local friends and strangers rather grew out of a lack of knowledge in how to put out a film. We only knew about releasing music, so this was a completely new field. To us it seemed like the only tool available at the time was to cross our fingers and send it to film festivals or to simply stream the film online. With the “Private-Public Screenings” idea there was suddenly real people and an event connected to the actual screenings, that suddenly gave the whole experience more impact and involvement. It was a fantastic experience to see how people embraced this experiment and film itself, we had around 1300 screening around the globe within two months, and got in contact with so many fans we didn’t knew existed, and a lot of new people got to know about our band.
Do you think that the way you make music has changed a lot over the last few years, and if so, what do you think has inspired those changes?
Absolutely, or at least I’d love to think so. For every new project we’re getting involved with, that being albums or other things, we try to challenge ourselves and our output. I believe that a certain spirit will stay with us wherever we go. I think that’s a comfortable thought. We’re constantly looking for new places and angles to observe this spirit. During the last couple of year we’ve been vey focussed on condensing our sound to the absolute minimal. It’s exciting for us to see how simple we can go without losing magic. Traveling thousands of kilometers north, like we did for this album, to collect sounds, it just felt natural to put the focus on the material we found up there, and not fill the soundscape up with too many layers of sound, so the essential elements of the songs could shine even more. It might not sound logical but to us it does.
In terms of changes, you closed Rumraket last year. What have been some of the highlights of running your own label? It came about when you really needed to almost create the world and label you wanted to put things out on – one of my own highlights was when you signed Grizzly Bear in 2005.
We’ve learned a million things from running a label, and especially we got to meet and work with a lot of amazing artist that we can now call our friends, that is probably the most precious thing to take out of this.
Do you think you might still release some bits somehow? That it isn’t fully closed? I liked that you ran it with a nourishing hand – you understand the musicians and want to champion them – something that has been lost in some labels.
We’re still putting out the Efterklang records on Rumraket in Scandinavia, so it is still active yet in a much more enclosed circuit. I can totally imagine Rumraket being involved in other future releases or projects besides Efterklang though. The platform is still there, it just takes a lot of time, energy and focus to put out records, things we don’t have too much of these days, but times may change who knows…
What other plans do you have coming up over the next while?
First of all our new album Piramida is coming out in about a week, and there’s obviously a lot to do around that. For the next couple of months we’ll be busy with these Piramida concerts, playing around 15 Orchestra shows around Europe and the US untill November, and in December we’ll go on with more “regular” tours with our live band, consisting of 6 musicians, so we’ve got a lot of things to look forward to. We just can’t wait to play live again, it’s been a long time.
Efterklang play Dublin’s Meeting House Square as part of the ABSOLUT Dublin Fringe on September 14th, and The Cork Opera House on September 15th.