MY international curiosity takes me out of America…
and to the untapped market of Denmark. The Copenhagen duo PBSM discuss their formation and the story behind the new single, Dance Floor. I ask whether we can see some more material later down the year; why the video for their new track included dancer Adrianne Haslet; what the music scene is like in Denmark – and whether they’ll come and play over here.
The guys talk about treasured musical memories and the artists they are inspired by; how they have come on and matured as a songwriting unit; why 1980s Pop plays a big part of their musical lives – they recommend some new artists to get your ears around.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Apart from freezing - all good! We've actually been fooling around in the studio with a new drum machine and synths as well as trying out some new ideas and staying sharp! Seems as if some new songs are starting to form…
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Sure. We are an Alt-Rock two-piece from Copenhagen - or actually, rather, a ‘power duo’! Lauritz sings and plays the guitar; David plays the bass - and there’s a German drum machine taking care of the beats. This may or may not be the reason why we sometimes are referred to as a Danish/German duo - apart from the fact that we used to live in Berlin at different times; which was when PBSM started as bouncing ideas back and forth.
Also, we like pointy shoes, up-tempo Rock songs and 1980s aesthetics.
Dance Floor is the new single. What is the story behind that one?
Well. Much of our music is inspired by the nighttime and the city - alienation and how you can be anonymous and blend in. Dance Floor is kinda the essence of this and how you should ignore and challenge your comfort zone - and don't let insecurities take charge on how you live your life. It's sort of about coming to terms with who you are and accepting what you are capable of...
Here it is, finding peace on the dancefloor: forget about time and place being sucked into the music, the rhythm - being present - and how this translates to something genuine; regardless of your skills on a dancefloor...as well as becoming a happy place just because you are able to let go.
Adrianne Haslet features in the video - she lost a leg during the Boston bombing. What was the reason for approaching her?
We think that music is so much more than just something you listen to on the radio or while doing something else: it is communication of human emotions and something you connect to. We really wanted to underpin the theme of the song as well as adding something to it - instead of just have something visual synced up to the song. It should be something special. So, we teamed up with Copenhagen-based production company Mellow CPH and started brainstorming how to translate this to moving pictures. Obviously, we wanted to use a dancer and we came across Adrianne and decided to reach out to her - since she is the perfect example of both overcoming the odds but also accepting the situation you are in.
In her case, we think it is even worse because she has been used to be able to do things with both legs and then has to adjust - she must be the most mentally strong and determined person we've ever met! Inspirational! We thought it was too much to ask for but did it anyway - and were surprised when she told us (strangers) she loved the song and was more than happy to fly out and participate.
Was it emotional watching the video back – accompanying a track that, I imagine, you did not envisage behind visualized that way?!
That was a pretty special feeling! From the first frame to the last, it just seems right: a perfect match. It is hard to explain. Of course; you have your ideas on how it will turn out but seeing how Adrianne acts, dances and moves to the music adds to the total experience of the songs - especially the lyrics. We are really grateful that she wanted to let us be part of her story as well as her being part of the song. It turned out better than we ever hoped for and we are really proud of the result.
You recently released your second E.P., Dance Floor. What themes and ideas influenced the songs? Do you think it differs a lot from your debut?
As we already sort of mentioned; the E.P. revolves around the city and the night: going out, blending in; being incognito and anonymous - like a shadow that dives in and out of bars. (It’s about) Being social without being social and never be able to get under the skin of this massive organism the city is. It provides you with a bunch of opportunities but it can also consume you in its chaos and in random meetings and situations. Having spent a lot of time abroad - living and traveling - these themes seem to be always popping up when we make music. This and love.
The first E.P. was more gritty Rock and Roll and the Dance Floor E.P. more dark and cold.
1980s Pop and synth. music seems to be a big love of yours. What is it about that decade/style that appeals?
It is hard to coin exactly what it is since we think it is many things. One of the reason is the analogue approach to music – so, the sound of the music of the 1980s is different from today: more dynamic and more skill was required rather than plugins and copy/pasting on a computer. So, the process of making music is something we have copied from that period and, also, why we have a build an analogue studio in Copenhagen.
You can also hear that a lot of effort and time has gone into making records in the 1980s - sort of craftmanship - and the guitar was ever-present in both the underground scene to big Pop records as well as guitar solos which can be heard on our track, Edge of Town, for example. It is especially dark and cold-sounding music that we are drawn to - and this sound/vibe can both be found in fun and happy songs as well as melancholic songs full of despair from that period.
How did you guys get together? I believe PBSM started as a long-distance collaboration…
Coming out of different bands; David moved to Berlin and, being childhood friends growing up in the same town in Denmark, we started to bounce ideas back and forth. It was a totally new way for us to work with music and really liberating to be set free from the four walls of the rehearsal room and just record something send it over - not knowing what would be returned some days or a week later. We instantly thought it was an amazing approach and we wrote a bunch of songs that way.
Since then, we've (luckily) also been able to work together as a short-distance collaboration as well and we often hang out in our studio in southern Copenhagen.
You are a Danish duo. What is the scene like in Denmark – Copenhagen, especially?
Well. Denmark is really small (really); still, a lot of people are involved in music even though it is hard to make it. That being the premise people are involved in a lot of projects and there's a lot of creativity and energy - and always new and excited bands and constellations popping up. Still, the overall music scene is dominated by chart-topping acts and international music is highly influential.
That being said; we are often more curious on what is going on in other countries, especially the U.K. and U.S. - since there is so much more Alternative and Indie music coming out of there.
IN THIS PHOTO: MATTIS/PHOTO CREDIT: Tue Blichfeldt
If you each had to choose the one albums that means the most you; which would they be and why?
F*ck! There are so many! Right now, the newly-debut album by British Punk band Shame is getting a lot of spin. Before that; Dopamine by Børns was on-repeat. It's a really hard questions and every time you think of one album, another one pops up – ‘What about this one, then?!’ We both listen to a lot of different music all the time and have especially a shared love on the British Post-Punk, New Wave era - with bands such as Gang of Four, The Sound; Wire, Joy Division; New Order, Tears for Fears (and many more)…
Then, there is something for different moods as well - it all comes in periods. But, I guess if I (David) had to choose one it would probably be In Utero by Nirvana: an album I recently revisited and haven't listened to for years. Still, I remember it was a really powerful experience to be introduced to as a kid - a feeling I can still recall when listening to it.
As a guitar player; I (Lauritz) can always return to Jimi Hendrix. I spent hours and hours in my teenage bedroom trying to figure out what he was doing. Total obsession. My favourite album is Electric Ladyland. It’s a bit of a strange mix of different styles of songs - but you find some many little gems along the way. One of my favourite passages is 9:00-9:45 of the very long and very psychedelic track, 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be).
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up? Will you come to the U.K. this year?
We are currently working on a showcase at the SPOT Festival held in Århus this spring - and are right now also looking into where 2018 might bring us.
Hopefully the U.K. as well!
What do you both hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
Connecting with more people with our music and release some new songs - and come to the U.K.! Playing a bunch of shows outside of Denmark is definitely a major goal for 2018.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
David: I think most of the memorable experiences come from concerts and what happens in and around that - and the people you meet and connect with. It can be the shows we play - which is just like a drug - or as a spectator. I guess my favourite memory would be crowd-surfing to a Garbage concert as a teenager. It's such a great feeling to be pushed around on a sea of hands!
Lauritz: I have a great memory from a late-night Grinderman concert at the Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival. We had had a good party all day, but arriving at the stage, I got lost from all my friends. In the love-spreading atmosphere of the festival, I met another guy/stranger who was in the same situation. We shared some good organic Danish space tobacco and watched Nick Cave and his buddies tear the night apart. Nothing crazy: just good music and in a great setting.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Well; first of all, we ourselves are quite new. But, that being said….write songs…a lot of songs. Then write some more. Record yourself all the time; experiment. Work with a lot of people and write songs with a lot of different people. Make sure you have something on your mind that you want to express through your music.
An honest message will, hopefully, always resonate with some people out there.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
David: Neu! - Hallogallo (it was always played in one of my favourite bars in Berlin)
Lauritz: Kellermensch - Bad Sign (just watched them live and got hooked on this track – poetic and hard-hitting)