Efterklang: Lost in the Afterthought

The term Euro Trash has been thrown around way too long and too often by misinformed hipsters here. But with most Scandinavian musical imports of past being questionable (some of us are still recovering from the Cheeky Girls), it’s no wonder a huge mass of Europe’s real talent – from countless avant garde electronic artists to minimalist deep house techno producers to nature-inspired shoegazers – only stay big in their own continent. So instead of paying unnecessary attention to some Brit EDM pundit or cocky Gallagher rocker-wannabe of the week, JUICE hits up one of our favourite European bands and speaks to Efterklang’s bassist Rasmus Stolberg.

How have you been? Are you ready for your show today?
I don’t know, I think we should’ve gotten here a bit earlier, ‘cause I want to go down and make sure my instruments work. In an hour and 30 minutes, we’re on.

Oh alright, we’ll make this quick!
Oh no, you have your moment, you should take it.

Could you tell us a bit more about the music scene in Denmark?
I really enjoy the music of Denmark. I’m proud to be part of the music scene. When we started out in 2003 I often had a difficult time to recommend local music to foreigners, but now I have so many names that I have to share.

Could you give us your Top 3?
I can’t do a Top 3 but I can list some names from the top of my head… there’s a band called the Late Great Fitzcarraldos, I really like them. There’s a band called When Saints Go Machine, also really nice… Choir of Long Believers, Sleep Party People, there’s a band called Fresk Frot, it means fresh fruit.

Interesting. How did you guys get into music?
We all had music classes after school when we were kids. That’s the only sort of training we had, musically.

Is music education big in Denmark?
Yeah it’s quite popular; many people just go to learn instruments like guitar or to sing in a choir. I started on drums and Casper also started on drums. Mes started on the guitar and also some piano. I started with that when I was about 14.

How did you guys turn from a high school cover band to Efferklang?
I had a very nice school teacher, and I was in the same class as Mes, and she encouraged us to actually play little concerts for the class, as well as write our own songs when we were 10 years old. So we were writing at a very young age then a few years later, Nirvana was there and they were very big. I was very inspired as a kid and it sort of made us into an electronic rock band. I’ve been playing music ever since then, so I can thank Nirvana. Haha!

So Efferklang is an electronic Nirvana?
Haha, well Nirvana’s when I was 12 years old. When I listened to Nirvana I was living in the country side and didn’t have much access to music, this was before the internet. We only moved to Copenhagen when we were 18 and that was an explosion of inspiration because we met so many new musicians and also many people who knew so much about music, they were all like “Oh you have to listen to this, you have to listen to that.” Back then the German electronic scene was very strong, and the Danish scene too. We had Future 3, Opiate, Dub Tractor, Mouse on Mars… many great names that were strong at that moment, and that inspired us to get into electronic music. We’ve sort of combined that with our interest for Radiohead and Björk, and bands like that.

What does Efterklang mean?
It’s Danish for reverberation, like echo, and it also means remembrance, so it has two meanings. I guess that’s why we liked it, because it’s not just about music, it’s also about memories.

A lot of your videos feature forest scenery? Were they all shot in Denmark and was it a conscious decision?
Haha no, it’s not something we thought about. In Denmark, we don’t really have mountains or big lakes, we have beaches and forests. So for me, Danish nature is very much the forests. We never really thought of it, but it is true, we have a lot of forest in the music videos.

What is your country’s main export?
It’s bacon to China. There are more pigs in Denmark than people.

Are Danes very environmentally conscious?
I would like to think we are, but I don’t think so. I think Denmark is a very rich country and it’s sad to see how desperately we try to hold on to our own richness, and keep other people away – we try to help out, we do help out, and there are lots of people in Denmark that try to do something good, but I have to say that overall, I think there are too many people in Denmark that are simply afraid that someone will come steal their cookies.

You’ve received a lot of praise for your 2007 studio album Parades. Was it worth it to have taken 2 years to record?
Yes absolutely but it doesn’t mean that people should usually take that long on an album. It was a difficult process to go through, and after you spend so much energy and time on it, only 10-12 songs go on it and you get a little nuts at the end. Haha.

You’re signed to the legendary 4AD label, how is that going so far?
It’s great for us, it’s a very free place for us to be, and you know we have the DIY background, making our own albums and releasing them ourselves. So when they picked us up, they sort of just asked us to continue doing that, and they would help us amplify our music to the world. We have total freedom, making albums, making films, and they help us get them out there.

Make films? What kind of films do you guys make?
We made one in 2011 with Vincent Moon called An Island. And now there’s a new one, it’s going to premier in Denmark tomorrow actually. It’s called The Ghost of Pirimida, it’s a new documentary by Andreas Koefoed. We’re in the film, we helped produce and contributed with the soundtrack of the film.

An Island sounds familiar…
It was screened in Malaysia. It was about how we went to this island where we grew up, it follows our return to the island and we play a lot of music with school kids from where we went to school, we play a song with our parents in an old barn, and… there’s a forest scene [laughs]!

What’s you’re favorite thing about Japan?
That’s a difficult one. I really like the weird folk scene over here… It’s really fascinating to get on an airplane and jump out, and have such a different energy here. When I walk on the streets I feel good, I feel safe and happy.

Sigur Rós is coming down to Kuala Lumpur this month to perform at Urbanscapes. Seeing as they have a lot of videos with nature as well, how do you think it’d sound like if you guys did a collaboration with them?
Umm… it would sound, different? But when we first started out, we were also really inspired by Sigur Rós. And I think in some of our former albums, you can hear inspiration from that band with many other inspirations. It may be a bit far away from the things Sigur Rós does today, but it still has a lot of similarities; but I don’t know how we’d collaborate. It’s difficult for bands to collaborate, it’s maybe easier for two composers to work together; but otherwise it’s just like “Who plays the drums? Who plays the bass?” You know, it’s not always easy.

We see you’re a beer drinker. If you could create your own beer brand, what would you name it?
That’s funny, we have a song on the album called ‘Sedna’ and just before this, in Denmark I drank a beer by the name of ‘Sedna’. Maybe I would call it E-Beer. Haha!

Or Efter-Beer? Haha, nevermind. What are your plans for the future?
We will be going on tour, when I get back from this Japan trip, we’ve got two shows that we’re playing with orchestras. And then we have a tiny break, then we get working on this 6-piece band. Today, we are playing for 50 minutes, when we get back we’ll work harder so we can play longer shows. We have about 120 shows around the world planned out, mostly in Europe and America.

When is the best time to record a new album?
When you feel like it, haha! Usually albums have this circle of life for us. Right now we started making this one a year and a half ago, and it takes about a year then it gets released. Then it takes time to promote it, then comes the shows; sometimes after 2 years, you’ll feel that you’ve had enough of that, and you’d want to play something new. And that’s the time to make a new album.

More on the band at efterklang.net/home. The Bee will be screening an Efterklang’s The Ghost of Piramida (dir. Andreas Koefoed)  documentary tomorrow, click here for details.