Earlier this month Good Because Danish had the pleasure of premiering a single “Lesson Learned” – the first taste of Oh Lois‘ self-titled album. Here’s some great news: the album is packed with tracks just as surreal and dreamlike as the aforementioned. From the upbeat opener “Psych On The Beach (Or Life On Wheels & The Mysteries Of Drinking)” to the groovy “Underdogs” in the middle, with a full-on psychedelic closing track “Nowhere (Hello And Welcome)” the record takes you on a journey to another world.
If that isn’t exciting enough, it is accompanied by a comic strip “The Red Sun” in which the main characters Henry, Man and Lois struggle through their daily lives after a mysterious red sun suddenly appears in the sky. A new chapter will be added every month, and you can follow the story on ohlois.dk which will go live tomorrow.
We are thrilled to premiere the album for you today, as well as have Søren Manscher guide us through the bizarre universe he’s created on it in a little interview you can read below.
Good because Danish: Congratulations on the album release, Søren! Tell us more about the comic strip part – how did you come up with the idea and how was it like bringing it to life?
Oh Lois: Thanks so much! The idea for the comic strip came from an attempt to write lyrics for Oh Lois. I had made a lot of music on the computer and found that I needed to change my writing process, starting with lyrics. Often, when writing lyrics, I don’t have much to say at first, so I use different means to engage subconsciously: flow-writing, improvising nonsense and stuff like that. In this case I stole sentences from some Paul Auster novels to get the writing going, and instead of following a verse-chorus-ish structure, I went with a gut feeling and wrote a dialogue. I continued writing it for around 10 days and ended up with the “The Red Sun” manuscript. Having been making music for a long time and often with a very serious approach, I sometimes forget to play around with it. Writing dialogues and creating another world was definitely playful. At several points in the process, I was happier and more elated than I can remember ever being. I had no idea where the story was going, and I was excited beyond anything I’ve ever tried before. Currently, I’m realising the manuscript as a comic strip with two artists, Dagmar Grau Møller and Iris Bakker, and this is equally exciting. Being engaged in projects like this as well as playing music is all I really need in life.
Tell us more about the recording process too. What was the most exciting part, and what was the most challenging?
The most exciting parts of any process for me are the ones I don’t expect, nor can control. I had a wonderful time with South African artist Megan Ndale who plays almost every instrument on the outro of “Lesson Learned”. It’s wonderful working with Megan because she is so much in tune with herself that all her inputs feel genuine. I didn’t control anything she did, and only said something like, “I want this outro to sound like a carnival in Brazil“, and off she went with whistles, shouts of excitement and percussion. Also, sessions with drummer Rasmus Fredensborg and saxophonist Zeki Jindyll were very enjoyable. I love their musical personalities.
The most challenging work was, undoubtedly finishing the song “Am I Nowhere”. It was one of the last songs written, and I kept rejecting it because I found it too sentimental in its original arrangement. I became obsessed with stupid details, for instance saying to myself, “well, I obviously can’t rhyme ‘wonderful’ with ‘capsule‘” and spent way too much time doubting, until I realised that ‘capsule’ is actually a pretty cool word (and the only right word in the context) and not often used in songs. Now I’m very happy with the song.
We absolutely love the sound of Oh Lois! Let’s talk inspirations – where did you get the influence from?
Thank you! Musically, I’ve been very much inspired by one of The Flaming Lips’ darker albums, “The Terror”, as well as the Japanese artist Yasuaki Shimizu’s album, “Kakashi”. I like the dark mood in “The Terror”, and particularly I like the weirdness and lightness of “Kakashi” which is an album I’ll frequently turn to when I don’t know what to listen to, or if I need some exotic background music. But mostly I’m inspired by moods, and not so often by music. There is a particular scene in the first Superman movie from 1978 where baby-Superman flies through space in a capsule on his way to Earth. I paused the movie at that scene and made a sort of a soundtrack to it which I later developed to fit the album. I find this way of working extremely inspiring. Also, Superman’s longing after Lois Lane is to me so relatable and tears me apart, so I had to make a specific song about that too. It didn’t make it to the album though.
What are your plans for the future? Any other projects or releases on the horizon?
Well, the comic adventure goes on for the next year until all chapters are released on the website. Hopefully, I’ll write more music supporting that universe because it is a wonderful place to be. Also, I’m planning some live shows in autumn. Besides the Oh Lois project, I’m releasing an EP in October in my own name called “Mozambique” which includes some of my songs in Danish. Looking very much forward to this too!
Thank you so much! And finally, back to the subject of comic books – which one is the coolest superhero?
Superman is my absolute favourite. The fact that he isn’t human but trying to act like one makes me go ‘hooray’ and feel strangely human. I haven’t actually read that many comic books but I love some of the superhero movies. I do occasionally read Tintin who is also kind of a superhuman, but he is too perfect to really move me as a character. What I like the most about comics, and some novels for that matter, is the part of entering worlds different from the one we live in. No novels have yet topped Harry Potter in this sense, although Murakami’s 1Q84 came pretty close, but now I’m off topic.
Oh Lois by Oh Lois is available on all streaming services on 24. June, but you can check it out on SoundCloud right now.