Interview: When Saints Go Machine
Published on September 19th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
June saw the release of Konkylie, the hypnotic and critically-acclaimed debut album by Copenhagen electro-pop troupe When Saints Go Machine, and now they are over on our shores for a UK tour supporting Apparat Band which begins and ends in London (at C.A.M.P. on September 28th and KOKO on October 20th – click on the links to buy tickets).
Their new single “Kelly” is out today, so Rocksucker caught up with singer Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild to discuss why Konkylie is the perfect album for space romantics, and why half the band were in the toilets when they were announced as winners of the Danish National Radio Talent Of The Year award…
Can you tell us a bit about each of your roles in the band?
It’s hard to say who really does what in the band sometimes, especially when it comes to composing and recording, but a lot of times I have made a simple sketch where I’ve recorded vocals and a couple of other instruments, and then we take it from there. Someone might add a strange sound or change the drums and sometimes even mess with the vocal bits. We don’t really have any rules when we are recording and we’re constantly trying to change the working progress to stay inspired and open to surprises.
Why did you decide to name your new album Konkylie?
It means ‘conch’ in Danish and we think it’s a beautiful word, if you put your ear to it you can hear the blood rushing around in your head and that’s something you never really listen to. Other than that this was the first album of ours released outside of Scandinavia and we wanted the title of the album to be ours for a bit.
How would you describe the album to those who haven’t heard it yet?
Oh no, that’s almost too hard a question to answer. We usually just say it’s pop music, but I guess there are a lot of details and both the sounds and lyrics are very personal to us, and some people have even called it weird. A lot of times it’s hard to figure out which instrument a specific sound is being played by and we like that a lot. It’s the perfect album to listen to if you’re a space romantic.
It is a very well-constructed album. Do you think it’s a shame that the art of the album is being replaced by iTunes shuffle mode and the like?
Sometimes, but you have to embrace change and progress, and really it’s just packaging. We didn’t kill music yet. We would of course love if everyone bought our album on vinyl and listened to it all the way through, but if they don’t, it’s not like they’ve missed out on one of the most important things in life. No matter how much time and devotion you put into making something that feels important to you, it might just be another album to a lot of people. So I guess the only thing we’re concerned about is doing whatever we feel for at the moment, I think that keeps you grounded and makes you appreciate when people really listen .
Do you encounter a lot of scepticism from people just because you happened to win the Danish National Radio Talent Of The Year award?
No, and never really did. And it was just when we had started out as a band so it came as a total surprise to us when we won. Two of us were even in the toilet when they announced it. So they had a camera filming two extremely nervous guys and two empty chairs on national television.
A lot of good dance music seems to come out of Copenhagen. Why do you think this is? Which other Danish artists do you admire?
Having a lot of time on your hands makes for great music. I think people here have always been making good music, it’s just easier getting it out there today and it seems there’s some sort of focus on the music coming from Denmark and it’s not just dance music.These are people we really admire for different reasons: Bjorn Svin, Taragana Pyjarama, Thulebasen, Choir of Young Believers, Goodiepal and Treefight for Sunlight.
Are you looking forward to coming to the UK? Have you played here before?
We’re always looking forward to playing the UK. Pop or music culture in general is so different compared to Denmark – we like it when people really don’t think that much of us, it gives us a chance to really surprise them. I think the first show on this small tour will be our sixth gig in the UK maybe, but we’ve almost only played London. Latitude was great this year though. For a band from Denmark, playing all the UK festivals is one of the things you dream about.
If I asked you right now to name your top three albums of all time, off the top of your head, which would you name?
Today it’s Deerhoof – Apple O’, Roxy Music – Avalon and Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians. Tomorrow it might be something else.
Konkylie, the debut album from When Saints Go Machine, is out now on !K7 Records. They begin their UK tour in support of Apparat Band at London’s C.A.M.P. on September 28th. For more information and a list of tour dates, please visit myspace.com/whensaintsgomachine or the band’s blog at whensaintsgomachine.blogspot.com