It’s 2. May 2014 in Aarhus – the morning of day 1 of the official music part of SPOT Festival. We’re in front of Musikhuset, the air is fresh, the wind is bearable and the sky is pretty clear. As the look on Asbjørn’s face, who is very looking forward to the event. He’s not performing this year – but he is of course present and so nice to find the time to chat with us about Aarhus, his development since the debut album “Sunken Ships”, the new project “Pseudo Visions” and some exciting plans for the future.
Good because Danish: We’re in Aarhus, which is “your” city, during SPOT Festival. So we want to use the opportunity to hear from you about the new music coming from here. We are also fascinated by the work that Sound Of Aarhus is doing by promoting the local music. Did you miss a media like SOA when you started?
Asbjørn: Actually, I had a really good start. I had a lot of good will from people, also from outside of Denmark pretty quickly. The great thing for me, being an artist in Aarhus is that there aren’t that many – or at least there weren’t that many at that time I started – who put themselves on the map. I think that Aarhus is starting to really blossom. There is a lot of good music coming from here and a lot of good music coming from Denmark generally. Aarhus is a tough crowd, outside of SPOT Festival: it’s hard for an inspiring artist to build up an audience here.
Why do you think that is?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we are like the essence of “Danish” here in Aarhus, which can be a little bit sceptical. It’s probably like a mark for a Dane, that we are a little bit sceptical, that we don’t get carried away that easily. That’s why SPOT Festival is tough, too, because it sort of attracts almost everybody who is something but who’s also sceptical at the same time. But if you convince them, you can convince anybody. I think it’s a little bit like the whole feminism discussion going on right now – that there are too few women in the music industry and why Roskilde Festival doesn’t book an equal amount of men and women to play there. And I think that’s bullshit, that’s irrelevant. It’s about the good music, not about the gender or about the city. If the good music is coming from Copenhagen or from some other city, I don’t care. As long as it’s really, really good. And I know that as long as it’s really, really good, you can make it everywhere or anywhere. And every city has its struggles and every artist has his struggles, too.
You started with a great debut album – “Sunken Ships”, which got quite a lot of attention and good reviews, not only in Denmark. You started with some kind of idea of how you wanted to perform, an idea of the “Asbjørn image” in a way – you had at least an idea about it in mind, I think. Now you are kind of evolving with the new material and the “Pseudo Visions” project. Can you tell us a bit more about the new stuff, because it seems that you’re taking a new direction and that you want to share something more than just the music with us with “Pseudo Visions”.
Definitely! But it’s funny that you think that I was presenting myself that conceptually from the very beginning – because I was really “green” and I was just testing.
But I think, while listening to “Sunken Ships” you can see an artist who knows what he wants to do with his music.
Yeah, I actually listened to it for the first time after a very, very long time not so long ago – and it hit me that it is a really, really chaotic and intense record. I think I was a really worried teenager and a very, very serious one. When I went to making music, I was not very young in my actions and my thinking and I guess that’s why this record was quite heavy and melancholic, and chaotic. Because I was too serious.
You once said, in an interview we did in Berlin, that sometimes you can be sad on the dancefloor.
Yes, I think playing music and standing in front of the audience and being a part of a unity like that, has probably made me younger that I’ve ever been. I think that since we spoke the last time I sort of embraced being stupid and more reckless and I’ve stopped worrying about all kinds of things. That’s why I decided to make “Pseudo Visions” like this: I didn’t want to make an entire album where I thought everything out, because I do structure things a lot, that’s in my nature and “Pseudo Visions” is structured, too. But it’s also a recognition of the process you’re in as a musician and as a human being, you’re never done. That’s what I wanted to embrace with “Pseudo Visions”, that I got to just be in that process and let it be open, so everybody could see that I am open all the time and just testing stuff.
We really like the visual side of “Pseudo Visions”, the video clips are just beautiful. Can you tell more about the people behind it?
I make the videos with POWERCLAP, who also made the video clip to “Strange Ears”. They are two old friends of mine. I saw the video they made for Schultz & Forever to the song “Falling” – and I just fell in love with their expression. I think with “Pseudo Visions” chapter 1 I really wanted to sort of translate the confidence and the feeling of being on stage into a poetic and performance-minded visual side. Because I’ve really gotten comfortable on that stage now. But I wanted to tell a story at the same time. And that story obviously involves a lot around the masculine ideal, as I’ve been writing about a lot. I think it’s really, really important that the men step out now. We might be many, but we are really, really much the same. When the women are maybe a few, but they are really, really powerful and they are playing around with the stereotypes. So that was what I wanted to do and do that in a poetic and beautiful way.
Like the very colorful video clip to “Unfollow” – it’s stunning. But it also mixes a lot of feelings.
As the song does as well. It’s actually a quite sad song.
I think you do that often. That the music might sound uplifting and the beat is “shiny-happy”, but the lyrics are often not that joyful, they make you think more.
That’s true and probably exactly the embodiment of what you reminded me I said when we talked the last time – about being sad on the dancefloor. As long as the beat is driving me somewhere and there’s temper, you can actually cope with a lot of intense and big feelings, I think.
So now we know all songs from “Pseudo Visions” part 1.
Yes, the last one came out just yesterday, 1. May. That’s “Pseudo Visions” chapter 1.
And what’s coming next?
Well, chapter 2. And that’s going to start popping out after the summer.
And between now and after the summer? What are your plans?
In the summer I’m going to London to record with a guy called Andrew Bayer, who is really cool. We’re going to do some music together and I’m going to be in the studio pretty much all the time. Apart from that, here in Aarhus, because I’m moving to Berlin in September. So the entire “Pseudo Visions” album needs to be done by then. We are also playing at few selected shows in Germany and a couple of shows in Denmark, too. And then in fall we will be doing big tours and hopefully go to England and France and Poland… So I’m going to be a busy one until September.
Listen to “Pseudo Visions” Chapter 1 on Spotify: