Some kind of biography
I have wanted to write a Biography for some time, but since I find most biographies bloated and annoying it is hard to get started. Maybe this shouldn’t a biography then, but just a bit of information on what got me started and why I make the music I make. I am not really sure I know, but maybe I’ll figure it out while writing.
Where it started
I grew up with music all around. My father was an avid Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Beatles fan and my older siblings were competing for the single record player in the house. I remember there were strict rules for changing music. You couldn’t just stop music that were already playing but you would have to fade it out really gradually. I became good at turning the volume knob really really slowly. There was pride in a good slow fade-out.
I think I started making music when I was 16. I was using the Noisetracker program on my Amiga 500 and it could play instruments that could be stripped from games. I couldn’t record anything. Later on I inherited my older brothers guitar and started taking lessons, mainly because a friend found it odd that I wasn’t playing an instrument (considering how much I was listening to music).
I recall that I started composing my first songs just after finishing high school in 1993. I wrote one-hundred terrible songs within that first year. I can still remember some of them – the thought is sending chills down my spine.
I’ve thought about inspiration a lot. There’s a few artists and albums that I think paved the way for the music I make today. This inspiration was centred around a few years in my late teens and early 20’ties. I have included songs you can stream on Spotify and notes on where I think the inspiration shines through in my music.
Maybe it actually is a little surprising that I can’t mention much from the past 25 years that truly inspired me. But here it comes
Ennio Morricone – The good, The Bad & The Ugly
As a child I heard the famous theme from The good, the bad and the ugly in a tv-movie about the disastrous 1897 Balloon trip to the Northpole lead by S.A. Andrée. I can’t remember much from the movie apart from the theme. Later on, I watched “Once upon a time in the west” with its gut-wrenching music. I am sucker for melancholic yet dramatic and catchy tunes and Ennio Morricones famous western tunes are just that.
How did it inspire me: I like to include what I call Ennio Morricone elements, most notable on “Last Day of Sanity”, “Pieces of Nothing”, “Unfairytale” and “Above the Sea”.
Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn
When I was around 10, I started listening to Mike Oldfield. I think my sister found his music annoying with no edge at all. What spoke to me was the cathcy yet untraditional instrumental pieces. They get a bid boring in his later years, but on the album Ommadawn from 1975 he is still fresh and young and filled with original ideas.
How did it inspire me: I can’t point to specific songs, but there is cleary something in the way he makes melodies that has inspired me a lot. I use a lot of the same uncomplicated tonality in my music while still being complex.
Listen to: Crime of Passion
Pixies – Doolittle
I first heard this album in 1990 or 1991, well before the Grunge wave hit Denmark. Just a few seconds into the first song Debaser I was hooked. This was something totally new. The mix of catchy refrains and explosive choruses was mind blowing. The album had a twist of western to it which gave it a great genre bending qualities I hadn’t really heard before.
How did it inspire me:
It is not so apparent in any songs I have released but when I first started recording music I had a strong focus on the the quiet verse and explosive chorus that you also find with Pixies.. and well, all other bands following them in the Grunge wave. But I listened to Pixies years before the Grunge wave broke.
Debaser is not the best example of what I mentioned above, but it was the first song I heard and I my head exploded. I had to listen to that song over and over that night.
Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span
My older sister married a guy from Scotland. He pointed me towards Scottish and English folk music from the 70’ties. I started listening all sorts of Folk rock from the wave of new british folk from the 70’ties that was mostly based on rehashing old traditional songs. The two bands were by far the best and had a melancholic and muddy sound with stories about elves, madness, infidelity and a lot of death by blades that really talked to me as a teenager dreaming about a different world (probably not so much the sword fighting).
How did it inspire me: I think there is very clear dose of british folk tradition in almost everything I do. For many years I was displeased if people labeled my music as Folk, but it is likely the most apt description.
Adrew Lloyd Weber – Jesus Christ Superstar
At some unknown point in my early childhood I heard this master piece. I even faintly remember seeing the terrible movie version. I can’t have been very old at that time. I rediscovered the album around 1994. I am not a big fan of musicals, but this one is just awesome.
How did it inspire me: I am not sure, but I think the more theatrical songs like The Nightcrawler, Last Chance to See, Trivial Decay, Carbon Traders and The Rabbit Hole are inspired by this album.
(Listen from 1:10 – the beginning is rather boring)
Listen from 1:45, again the beginning is annyoing):
The Auteurs – New Wave (1993)
When I listened to New Wave in 1994 I was elated and disappointed at the same time. This was the music I wanted to make, and yet someone else had already made it. The Auteurs was never a highly successful band and as far as I know they didn’t do much touring and quickly faded into oblivion.
How did it inspire me: On many of my early unreleased songs I tried to recreate the sound of the Auteurs with thin acoustic guitars and glockenspiel/music box. I think I also tried to copy how Luke Haines was singing.
Eels – Beautiful Freak (1996)
Eels had a minor hit in Denmark with Novocaine For The Soul. It was in the end of the year of 1996 and I was working as a cleaner at the local library and my girlfriend had moved to Norway to do what, I am not sure? I waited for her in the dark for 6 months and when she got back she left me. Would have been great if she did that before she left, I am just saying! Eels filled that pretty dark hole with their own dark and moody indie pop/rock. It felt it had a relation to Pixies but still it was something that I had never heard before.
How did it inspire me: Like with The Auteurs I really tried to sound like Eels for a number of years. In my early mix tapes there is a lot of inspiration that comes directly from the Beautiful Freak album.
Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (2000)
My friend Toke introduced me to Aimee Man in 1996 og 1997, but I didn’t really take it in. I had only really listened to her big hit That’s Just What You Are and for a number of years it never went further than that. I am unsure how I came across Bachelor No. 2. I am pretty sure it was before I watched Magnolia.
How did it inspire me: I love many of her songs, but where she inspired me the most was her songs were produced. A good example is Save Me. Even though it is a simple song there is a lot going on in the arrangement without disturbing the core of the song. Maybe I tend to overdo it, because when I listen to the song now is it a lot less complex than my songs.
On a holiday in Italy we listened to the first Beirut album almost non-stop. It was not my first meeting with what I would call Balcan music, but it had it’s on clear and very cinematic twist to the genre. This music is great for going on adventures and for day dreaming. There is not one song that sticks out, rather it is the whole style and the way he works with blending genres.
How did it inspire me: I think it inspired to work more with bending genres and adding weird instruments to my music.