July 14, 2012

Interview: Dråpe

Recently, I've felt sort of bored of new music that I see tagged with "shoegaze". With a few notable exceptions, it seems that a lot of what hits my ear from the genre these days are effects-laden ennui jams from dark places. This introspective music is fine for certain days and seasons, but damn, few current bands in the scene seem to authentically soundtrack the happier times. That certain infectious brand of off-kilter energy that channels the feelings of teenage love and summer? You just don't see it that much in well-done form these days (although Brooklyn can keep trying). What happened to the manic drive that the forefathers of the genre used to stomp their scotch-taped pedals with? Naturally because of all this, I was very excited when, one day last month (via our friends at the wonderful shoegaze blog When The Sun Hits), I found the sunny music of Dråpe. After hearing the joyously blissed-out melodies on the Norwegian shoegaze act's debut self-titled EP, I posted about them on the site and have had them on repeat everywhere I've gone since. Their milkshake of ecstatic, soaring dreampop harmonies and sirenlike guitars shine through on each of the five tracks on the release; the single "By Heart" in particular sparkles with fuzzy walls of cacophonous guitar and the beautiful male/female harmonies of vocalists Ketil Myhre and Hanne Olsen Solem. As bassist Lars Boquist describes it, the band (which FYI for English speakers is most easily written and searched as Draape) make upbeat, emotional music made to inspire summer on both the brightest of days and the darkest ones.

On the strength of the recent hype they've been getting, the band is preparing to re-release Dråpe in August with Pad and Pen Records, and I recently got to talk to Lars from the band about making music that fits Wes Anderson's aesthetic, about their upcoming beef with the Classical Symphony Orchestra, and other things.

How did Dråpe come together, and what is the significance of the name?
Ketil (guitar/vocals) and Eirik (drums) met each other at a kindergarten where they worked for a week. They realized quickly they had exactly the same taste of music and planned to jam together along with Ketil's friend. Lars knew Eirik from school so he got invited to play the bass. They played for a year under the name "Takk" when Ketils friend (Eirik Fidjeland) decided to move up north to Trondheim. Peter (guitar), a friend of Ketil and Hanne (vocals) started playing with us and in like one day or so we were Dråpe, Hanne didn't join us until we needed perfect vocals when we recorded our EP. This year Peter left the band and Even Hafnor shortly took over as a guitarist.

The word Dråpe is Norwegian for a drop of water. There's little deep meaning around it at all, it looks nice on paper and there's not many bands with that name. It's short and easy to remember so we went for it!

Pop on over past the jump to read the full interview with Dråpe.

When you guys started, what inspired you to start a shoegaze/dream-pop band? Were there other shoegaze bands in your area, or did you all just grow up listening to a lot of the stuff?
Well our sound come from all different places, Ketil, who wrote the songs came from a noise pop past with a lot of Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine influences. Lars on bass came from playing guitar in a sludge metal band. Took his guitar playing over to bass which gave a big dirty sound. Eirik on the drums could play every genre and enjoyed playing shoegaze and pop. Ketils demo recordings was very clean and quiet. Why we ended up with shoegaze was just because that was how our songs sounded when we played together.

What cultural items influenced you? (books, historical events, films, people, etc)
We are influenced by different movies and photos that show a calm and warm mood. Colourful photos that give us a nostalgic summer mood makes us want to play music that fits those nice moments. Think movies with worlds like Wes Anderson's, or "A Good Year" and "Lost in Translation".

Your sound stands out from the crowd of recent shoegaze acts as being especially refined. As someone who listens to a lot of dream pop, it's pretty safe for me to point out that not many bands in the genre sound as sonically pleasing as you guys; what gear (guitars, pedals, etc etc) goes into this?
Oh the old Jazzmaster, Mexican Telecaster and a Fender Jaguar bass helps a lot. The safe Vox AC30 and Fender TwinReverb which luckily is the most used amp at venues so we don't always have to drag our heavy amps with us and been borrowing a huge Orange bass stack as big as me. (switched to Tiny Terror to save our lives and arms.) We use reverb and delay pedals from TC-Electronics, Line6, Electro-Harmonix and Boss.

How did you all record your S/T EP?
We have a lot of friends living in Trondheim, some of them run a studio called Greener Productions. There we recorded the EP over 4 days there but after that we made Silver Spoon and thought, shit, we should have that song on the EP as well, so we went up again to record that a separate time. This was still very early for the band and we didn't feel ready to release it yet.

It took about a year before we released the EP. At that point we had a label behind us, had already played at the biggest festivals in Norway with good reviews, had snapped a cozy shot with a disposable camera for the cover, and got financial support to release the EP physical to stores. With a lot of help from our much loved label Riot Factory we managed to do this right.

You all are slowly starting to play more shows and develop a fanbase. How have the shows been so far?
All the gigs have been fantastic and we love to play regardless of whether it is in front of a large or small crowd / big or small stage. We get really surprised when we play for a packed room, its such a great feeling. We love to have fun on stage and watch how people move when they enjoy it.

Do you see yourselves as being part of the current shoegaze revivalist movement at all?
We didn't really try to be a shoegaze band at all. It fits a lot of our sounds and songs to put us in that genre. When we make music we don't plan ahead that we need that sound and that part to make a shoegaze song after the rules, it just happens to become either shoegaze or dreamy pop. But we really feel accepted in the shoegaze scene, people taking their time to write about us and to us, share our songs on shoegaze forums and groups. We feel really honoured.

Dråpe have some amazing photography and artwork associated with the music. Is the visual aspect of your band as important to you as the musical?
We like to show a happy, colourful and warm mood with our music because that's the mood we all want to be in, endless summers. Here the summer is pretty short so we cant take that for granted. We see people describe our music as a nice summer day so if we manage to give people a sense of summer on a shitty day then our job is done.

Who are some of your favorite contemporaries in the shoegaze/dreampop scene lately?
There's so much that can be put into those genres but the ones we listen to a lot and love are bands like Beach House, Tame Impala, Lightfoils, Ringo Deathstarr, Blonde Redhead, Scarlet Chives, Deerhunter, Maribel and Real Estate.

Who in the music scene do you want to start beef with?
Would be funny to have gangster ass beef with the Classical Symphony Orchestra. In Norway, there's very little competition amongst the bands, people are so supportive and help each other all they can, bands work together to get each other up with social media, tours and arranging shows. An example of that could be when we had arranged a tour together with the rest of Sad Songs For Happy People Records, which is our sublabel on Riot Factory together with Angelicas Elegy and Snøskred.

What art are you currently into? (books, films, music, paintings, etc etc)
We enjoy the shows Trailer Park Boys and Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia, our singer Ketil's dream is to become as white trash as Ricky from Trailer Park Boys or Charlie from It's Always. We all enjoy some good old school hip hop, soul and funk next to new interesting bands. Movies from Woody Allen, Todd Solondz, Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke as well as porn of course.

What are Dråpe's goals for 2012?
Our main goal for 2012 is to record, mix and finish our debut album which we will release early 2013. We also have plans to do some shows outside of Norway. We signed a record deal with the Danish label Pad & Pen Records. We really want to play with some bands there.

Finally, any shout-outs?
Gotta look out for the Angelica´s Elegy EP coming out in August and Snøskreds album in October. Its gonna be sick! And we really hope people would check out Stina Stjern's album from last year, it deserves so much more attention that it did and of course rest of the awesome family that is Riot Factory, check out all the bands!

Stream: Dråpe - Dråpe

Dråpe will be re-released 8/27 on Pad and Pen Records.

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