We had a talk with the electronic heavyweights – see them Saturday at VoxHall!
If you are a person, a Danish one, and passionate about Danish music and like to keep yourself updated, it would seem almost impossible NOT to know Den Sorte Skole. This Copenhagen DJ-collective has delivered some of the best electronic music this nation has to offer, and time and time again they deliver live performances you’ll never forget. Their Roskilde’10 anniversary concert is somewhat legendary, and their ‘Lektion III’- Spot performance took my breath away. Saturday they’ll be performing at VoxHall – and we are warming up with an interview.
SOA: You have existed in quite a long time now. In what ways have you developed since you started in 2003?
In many many ways! We started out doing mash-up mixtapes now we are struggling with full-scale sample based productions. We also went from a relative narrow focus on hiphop to looking for loops and sounds from basically every kind of recorded music out there. We also grew older and now try to do this for living. Back in the day it was a creative moment of free space. Now it is our everyday! For good and bad.
SOA: Does it ever get boring to be s musician, or how do you guys keep your spirits up?
Hmm. Everything gets boring once in a while, but basically we just feel lucky when we can put our time into making music and not all the other stuff that has to be taken care of. We run a small corporation with accounting, press handling, website, distribution, merchandise, signing of contracts, show-productions, planning, fundraising etc. A lot of stuff that goes on in a band that people don’t think about, but it takes a lot of time. And we are working with a small close family without a label. The good thing is that we keep grounded, make our own decisions and feel lucky when we finally have time to do music. And this is probably also one of the reasons why we don’t get bored with it. Another reason is that we try to move ourselves quite far for each new project – change the game field and challenge ourselves to do something different.
SOA: How was it performing Roskilde Festival’s 2010 anniversary concert celebrating the festivals 40-year history?
It was two hours that had no resemblances with our ordinary lives at all. We put a lot of effort into preparing the set, stepped on stage and transformed into mediums for something that was far greater than ourselves. We hadn’t played that many concerts at that time, so everything was very new for us and we were like WOW – this is how it is to play Arena stage with 30.000 people. But it is not – the occasion brought something more into the picture. The history running behind that one concert and the energy that was brought together was truly unique. And we were the lucky ones to be on stage executing the transition from Faitless “We Come One” to Jeff Buckley “Halleluja” with 30.000 people singing along at 3.30 am in the morning.
SOA: What is your most memorable concert, and what defines the best live experience for you?
That’s difficult! At least a handful stands out as something very special. With Lektion III our concerts in Skuespilhuset has been exceptional for us. Last year, when the record came, it was quite a surprise for many of our fans, and some thought our concerts were boring. But in Skuespilhuset – at the end of our tour in may – it all came together in Skuespilhuset and a lot people had that extra-ordinary experience that was our plan from the beginning. The project kind of settled for us.
Going back in time, one of the biggest was definitely our concert at Cosmopol at Roskilde in 2009 with Lektion II. It was super super hot, so insanely many people came out and everybody there knew the tracks. From the year before, where we played the Skate-scene, we knew that Lektion II had spread all across Denmark, but now it was like this wave that had swelled the country and thousands of thousands of young people from Herning to Hellerup were at Cosmopol singing Turkish liberation anthems. It was surreal and very very overwhelming. And we know now that it was one of those experiences you only get very few times as a band – just when you go through the surface from being underground and reach the broader circles of attention. It was like everybody there had been part of a movement growing from the bottom up. This was also a point where we didn’t do interviews at all, so nobody read that we were the new thing out there. It simply spread from mouth to mouth through a couple of years and this was the climax!
SOA: What do you think of the whole buzz around vinyls these days? Why do you think vinyls are so popular again?
They sound better, they feel better, they travel with history and they are there. Just in front of your eyes, you can touch them and they can touch you (to be extra corny!). It is quite simple. Taking out a vinyl from the shelf, putting it on your turntable and sit down and listen in front of your speakers is a very different experience than turning on Itunes at the kitchen table with your laptop. It’s slower and more connected to the thing actually happening and that is not just some far out hippie bullshit. We all need to hit the brakes and connect with our surroundings to keep well. And listening to music on vinyl is a good way to do this.
SOA: Which of your own mixtapes are you most satisfied with or proud of, and why?
All of them, but in different ways. But of course Lektion III stands out as something special in the way that we made it from scratch with so many samples from so many sources. It is also the album of the three that moves those who get it the most. But Lektion II also stands very close to my heart.
SOA: You previously stated that Lektion III marks a change for Den Sorte Skole. From wild experiences to a more thoughtful trip. In your own words, why did you decide to make this change and how is Lektion III different from the other mixtapes? What state of mind is it preferred for, from a listeners perspective?
An open mind is needed. And I actually think Lektion III is more wild than Lektion I and II in the way that it is a very different and weird and a more challenging piece of music. It is though more mellow – and not so banging or in your face. We wanted to do it this way because we hadn’t done it before and because we wanted to challenge our audience. Try to move their interest into new spheres. And give them something where they could trip out a home. And most importantly we did it like this because this was the music that we ended up with after two years in the studio. Music in the making also takes its own routes and you have to flow with them.
However we still love beats and bangers and our live concerts this weekend has both ends of the spectrum represented. And this works a lot better for live concerts. Those who were disappointed when Lektion III came out, should come to the shows this weekend – it is now a really intense journey through all kinds of moods – also the more banging ones!
SOA: March will be a rather hectic month for you guys – what can people expect from your forthcoming shows?
As said before, a very new experience compared to our Lektion III tour last year. And a mindblowing visual production by Dark Matters. We worked a lot with them to make the combination between sound and visuals more intense and we have come very far I think. We are grateful to have them on our team.