Interview: Den Fjerde Væg

For those who don’t know: Den Fjerde Væg is a beautiful art-pop act from Denmark that you just cannot miss. They just released their intensely touching fourth album “Jamais Vu” in February and followed up with the extended version “Jamais Vu (Unfolded)” on 27. March 2020. The album title is French for “never seen” and basically describes a kind of reversed déjà vu. The state of mind, when something you actually know suddenly appears strange and unfamiliar. I find it amazing how they put so much meaning in just the title of their work – and you should listen to their actual songs!

The band has undergone several constellations and most recently had to sadly see their drummer go. Den Fjerde Væg have learnt from these changes and have established a very unique process of composing. I am deeply thankful that the current members: Rune, Lasse and Andreas agreed to openly talk about their struggles and their learnings along the way. Something we can all learn from.

Good because Danish: Your drummer left the band. Do you want to explain what happened? How did you deal with that?

Den Fjerde Væg: It’s always sad losing a member of the tribe. Luckily Mikael is still in our lives. We often ask our trusted friends for their reaction to the music near the end of the recording process. Mikael is a trusted one and he knows exactly how we work. At the right moment, that could make him the bands most important band member.

So nothing really “happened” between us. Maybe we grew apart, maybe not even that, he just went for a different direction. The band requires enormous amounts of time and energy, so it’s natural to go through periods where that’s not possible.

Yes, he was the main drummer. But we’re not the kind of band with defined roles. We’re all producers, writers and multi-instrumentalists, etc. On “Jamais Vu”, there is not one of us, that hasn’t been the drummer, keyboard player, bass player, guitar shredder and so on. First, we deal with getting creative. Then, who plays what is not important. On “Jamais Vu”, the creative process was about going through all of our library of old recordings and samples to make a collage of sounds before we turned it into songs.

Are you looking for a new permanent drummer now? How are you handling this new situation as a band?

Our current situation is actually not that new… We also produced our first album, Drengekys, with this constellation. If we need a sound or a role, that we can’t make or fulfil ourselves, we invite some of our many extremely talented friends. So we are not actively looking for new members, but we will have to invite guest musicians to be able to perform Jamais Vu live. Naturally, that is how we have found new members before… but the band is more like a marriage than a career project. It can be a tough thing to become a part of fully. Emotional history can be messy for outsiders.

How do you – individually – deal with break-ups?

The one good thing about being over 30 years old, is that we now officially are masters of breakups. We would like to think that we have had our share of suffering, cynicism, egocentric periods and compromises, though the statistics show that we should have many more to come. We know that you can’t have it all… at least not all the time. Knowing that can lead to a lot of pretty good things! The art is to let go of them, so they can happen again in a new way.

What does Jamais Vu mean to you? Has it changed its meaning for you after all that happened?

For us, the feeling of “Jamais Vu” (the opposite of Deja Vu) is what our musical career has always been about: Seeing — or hearing! — something you know inside out as if it were for the first time ever. The musical ideas for this album have changed meaning and expression many times, as we have during the last 2 years. As Fred Madison in Lost Highway says: “I like to remember things my own way.” We believe it’s only natural that it changes all the time.

You’ve been making music together since a young age. Were there moments you felt lost (as I think most of us do from time to time) when your band as you knew it didn’t exist anymore – and if so, how did you overcome it?

We have probably felt that way — lost and like the band as we knew it didn’t exist — after every recording period. We feel empty, without energy and easily as it happened for no reason at all. On a bad day, we even feel fearful. But if you ask us again in a couple of months, we won’t be able to remember it. But please don’t ask again too soon. So far we have overcome it. Please don’t ask us how — but hanging out listening to other peoples music is never a bad thing!

What can we expect from the upcoming three works “Jamais Vu (Unfolded)”?

If you already like “Jamais Vu” as it is now, you can expect an experience as if your favourite movie got turned into 3 movies — no actually, like you found out that in fact it was always meant that way. It’s the same story, just with more scenes and more background stories for each character. If you don’t like Jamais Vu, you will probably just hear it as more songs. But we trust that people are used to experiencing shows in extended versions, directors cut and as a mini-series. After all, it’s just turning one ‘movie’ into ‘three episodes’. And the story was originally written that way. Each of the three “episodes” sees the story — the break up — from different perspectives: From the past, leading to the breakup; the present (the wisdom of hindsight) and last but not least the experience of the uncertain future.

Did your band name „Den Fjerde Væg“ come from you being four people? Do you still feel like the same band? How did you re-assemble?

The band has had many constellations. The name came up in 2007 when we were six people. So we were not each our own of four walls and none of us the fourth — altogether we are the ‘fourth wall’ — what established the connections between the music and the audience. We hope we are not the same band. We hope that our fans, though, can see the connection to who we used to be and that they are ready to hear us in a new way.

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