PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann
Song to Molly
The track, Song to Molly, is available via:
IMAGE CREDIT: Bobby Mandrup
EP 1 is available via:
20th August, 2018
THIS time around…
I want to cover a few things that seem to sum up The Oceans. I will look at one of their singles I was keen to highlight but, with EP 1 out; I have been compelled to investigate sides to them that stand out. I will look at Copenhagen and an area of the world that needs more attention; artists and that D.I.Y. ethic that means they do not follow the pack; setting up a record label and being able to release music on your own terms; music that represents the contrasts of a busy and varied city; E.P.s that forms part of a narrative and why the E.P. is favourable to the album; where the Danish band can go from here. I have not had the chance to look at Danish bands and artists and, for the most part, I am stuck in the U.K. with music. That is not a bad thing but it is always good to hop on a plane and go somewhere new. Maybe we think of German music when it comes to Europe but I wonder whether we consider Denmark and the music coming from there. Copenhagen, especially, is a great place for music. There is an eclectic population and artists are free to create as they see fit. Maybe there is not the same depth and opportunity as London but the mood is much more easy-going and the vibe is more chilled. In terms of venues; VEGA, Rust and Loppen show the variation that you can experience. There are the grubbier and earthier venues and the bigger, grander ones. I love the fact there is a great and tight-knit community in Copenhagen and there is that history. The Rumour Said Fire and Iceage are bands who hail from Copenhagen and have helped put the city on the map. Whilst the new generation are breaking through and will come to worldwide attention soon; I am seeing so many great and inventive artists that are worth checking out. The Oceans are vibing from the city and taking in all its colours and characteristics.
PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen
What strikes me about Danish music is the emotion and nuance you get from it. I have been listening to a lot of U.K. and U.S. music at the moment and, whilst it is good, what I find is it will hit you and some of it might not stick in the mind. Danish sounds, for the most part, are a lot more stirring and detailed. Even when playing Indie music (like The Oceans); you still get something epic, physical and gripping. With the riotous and striking guitars; the scents and sensations you get from every note – I am not sure what it is about Copenhagen but the city seems to breed artists who dig deeper and have a bit more magic about them. The Oceans are releasing vinyl and they are proud to share their new E.P. It is a great work that takes in so many different themes and transports you somewhere wonderful. I am not reviewing the entire E.P. but can tell how much work has been expended. I am looking more to other nations when it comes to musical inspiration. The Danish people are friendly and warm and that seems to reflect in the music. On the other hand; there is something hard to put your finger on. I have listened to Swedish and German music; stuff from Norway and other parts of Europe. Denmark is rising and will, in years to come, compete with the U.K. in terms of influence and talent. I feel the media needs to spend more time away from what is coming from Britain and London and adventure more. Copenhagen has the history and grace; there is a mixed population and, above all, some wonderful music emerging. The Oceans are an example of the sensational and memorable music coming from the Danish capital. Follow what they do and make sure you investigate their new E.P. It is a work they have spent a lot of time crafting and want as many people as possible to hear it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann
More and more artists are releasing their own work and not relying on labels. I am often curious whether signing with a big label is as advantageous as you’d imagine. There is money and networking chances but how much freedom does an artist have?! You might be dictated to and that label wants to market your music in a very particular way. Artists sign up with impressions of success and having some control over what they do. I would be tempted to sign with a label if I were a musician and see where that took me. So many musicians, mind, are taking another road and producing music themselves. The downside to this tact is the lack of money that will come their way. They have to shoulder everything and finance all their music. They might have a P.R. label helping them out but, by and large, they need to take care of everything. Being D.I.Y. and controlling every facet means the music gets where you need it to go but it might take longer to reach the mainstream. The Oceans are doing things how they want to and have a concept that a record label might squelch. I will explain more when I come to look at their new E.P. but, right now, I want to stay on this theme. A great duo who have a connection and understanding; I feel a record label might divide their ranks and spoil their music. I am not down on labels but I feel there are advantages to going your own way. If you record in your own time and spend more time cultivating the music; it allows more natural expression and personality. You can release when you want and put it out in whatever format you like. The fact the Internet is available and music does not need to be released on physical formats; it makes it easier for artists to get their material out when they like and not have to spend a lot of money doing so.
PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen
One of the biggest disadvantages of a label deal is the sound of what you produce. The guys of The Oceans have released their first E.P. and it is a more summer-time and upbeat feel. The second one, due next year, will be a more wintery and different-sounding one. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with and how they progress. The concept they have in mind is impressive and I feel the fact it can flourish and resonate is because of the freedom The Oceans has. Labels often have an idea of what they want to do with an artist and how they want to push the music. Maybe they will not say too much regarding sonic direction but they might not be able to market and promote the work. It is crucial artists have their say and some control but they need to compromise to an extent. It can be scary and brave refuting the label and taking a D.I.Y. direction but there is something freeing and liberation. Artists get to push themselves and break new ground; they are not forced into a particular mould and there is that opportunity for creative flexibility. Money is the big object and it can be a struggle having to self-find music. Social media means artists can promote their work widely and directly contact radio stations etc. It is always going to be tough but more rewarding when you know you have done all that work and made music that sounds right to you. I see more and more artists doing this and, whilst it can be expensive, there are downsides that need to be shouldered. Doing the D.I.Y. thing is bold and impressive but there are artists setting up their own labels and taking that extra step. If you can fund your own label and release music through that; you get the benefits of the record label and have more personal control. The Oceans have taken this approach and you can hear how determined they are.
Stripped Down Records is their venture and it is impressive indeed. There are artists who set their own label up and, by having it, they do not have to fear having their material compromised or taken away. Big names in modern music such as Kate Bush have set their own label up – always regretful when they sign with big labels and are forced to release music when they are told. That is a pressure many musicians have: labels want them to put something out instantly and keep strict timetables. It is a pressurised and tough market out there and labels are keen for their artists to remain busy and not lose ground. I can see where they are coming from and the fact they need to do the best for their artists but many musicians want to release when they want and take their time. Creating a label not only benefits what you do and how the music sounds but you can draw in other artists and set up your own camp. Recruiting others into the fold can give that label a sound and direction and, before long, other artists will be inspired to establish their own labels. Maybe, again, finance comes into it and you cannot set up a label without having a business plan and a knowledge of what you do. Having that business mind and being prepared for slow success – it may take a few releases before success comes – is all part of the process. If you can negate and negotiate that then you might well be prepared for something marvellous. The Oceans have their own product and label and are stirring the imagination. Since their inception in 2014; The Oceans have progressed and evolved. They have always wanted to make music on their own terms and not be held back. That is something we need to see from a lot of artists coming through.
I can understand the imperative to want the label and have that financial security; the backing and expertise and industry contacts. Maybe signing with a label to start is good but, when you have a fanbase and foundation; you can break away and form your own label. Doing that, you get to capitalise on that success and will have the following/finance to do your own thing. The Oceans have crafted sounds that seems to represent the diversity and dichotomy of the city. Copenhagen is like any other capital city and, whilst there is rush and pollution; history and a certain calm does come through. The Oceans want to reflect this through their music and, with EP 1, they are starting conversations. This warmer and more urgent E.P. looks at various sides of the city and personal experiences. You get the big notes and sounds but there are more refined and controlled expressions. What gets to me is the way the duo takes from the city and pulls it into their music. Rather than projecting a fantasy of a city or let the listener work too hard; you have the music that infuses the senses and gets right into the imagination. I am curious regarding Copenhagen and what is happening there right now. You can never say two cities are alike and, in many ways, music is a way of expressing that difference and unique edge. London is a more packed and populous city but, in terms of Copenhagen, one gets a real sense of the physical and spiritual, oddly, in EP 1. Dan Joe and Linus Valdemar project a sea of noise and chaos and splice that with a calm and degree of tenderness. It might be hard diluting Copenhagen into an E.P. but, for the most part, the general idea of the city is taken in. I have been following the songs on the E.P. and you can hear those compositions connect and inspire.
IMAGE CREDIT: Bobby Mandrup
It is hard to explain but, when listening to The Oceans, there is so much going on and a lot to digest. You listen back to the music time and time again and fresh stuff comes to the fore. Their first E.P. – I am not a fan of the title and feel they could have added a bit more to it – is the more light and edgy work whereas their second E.P. – you can guess the title of it! – is going to be, perhaps, more glacial and dark. It is a concept that, let’s hope, may translate into a third work. Previous singles like My Copenhagen Love and You & Me show you what they are creating right now. The major chords and sense of happiness that emerges through the E.P. is indicative of what I associate with nations like Denmark and Sweden. We often think their Pop and Indie scenes are a lot more refreshing and sunny than it is here. The minor chords and winter skin of their EP II is going to be a shift in a new direction and will be interesting to see. Working forward and I feel the Danish duo will produce an album and put more work out into the world. We often associate modern music with singles and E.P.s rather than albums. How often do you see big artists release E.P.s? Maybe that is the label coming in: the need for something fuller and more expansive. Given the fact few of us have the patience to listen to albums and we are cherry-picking songs; how much fuel and sustainability can we get from the album? I maintain the album is precious and worthy but, with streaming services available, we can take songs from records and not have to listen to the whole thing. New and underground musicians do release albums but it can be a more expensive process. E.P.s are a way of bringing music out and not having to wait until they can afford an album.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann
A lot of times; artists have ideas for a few songs and they need to put them into the world pretty quickly. Most mainstream artists will release singles and then, after they have been ingested, they will bring out the album and that will be flogged to death. That is not quite the case when you look at newer artists. They have a different dynamic and the competition is a lot fiercer. The E.P. is that great and accessible way of putting together a few singles but not having to invest in an album or waiting that long. I would like to see more mainstream artists putting out E.P.s into the world. The Oceans have their new E.P. out and they already know what their second one sounds like. You could say they could put out an album that has two distinct sides. The problem with that is we would have to wait until the end of this year and it might be a bit strange having summery and light songs released in the winter. Rather than wait and have a disjointed album; they can split them in half and create a bigger impact. It is a good thing to have (the E.P.) and I always love to see them come through. The Oceans are determined to create a story and narrative when it comes to their E.P.s. Their new one is all light and has that relaxed and spritzing sound whereas, next year, we will get something a little more chilled and cold (in terms of the weather). I know the duo will release an album at some point but they can keep in the mind and ensure they have a consistent stream of music if they put out E.P.s. I am looking forward to seeing where they go and whether they continue the theme of concepts. I always love artists who can put imagination into music and do not stay with the same tired and predictable themes.
Song to Molly is a beauty that starts with frantic beats and chaos. You get something akin to rushing through the city and darting between cars. Whilst there are no sound effects and beeps; the racing drums and tough pulse gets you in mind of an urgency and need to be with someone. Maybe the hero is running to his girl or there is a chase ensuing. Guitars and a lighter mood come in that fuse with the beats. The soundscape envelopes you and one gets a sensation of sunshine and rain all at once. It is an intoxicating brew that filters through the nostrils and makes you smile. Before a word has been spoken; you have a real sense of what the song is about and its intentions. Luckily, I was sent a lyrics sheet when the guys pitched a review because decipherability is an issue. The sound is gorgeous and big but one of the problems is understanding the words and what is being sung. Maybe that is (because of the) accent and the heat of the music buries a lot of the words but it doesn’t matter too much – you are invested in the song because of the composition and all the other elements. The hero has jumped out of bed and lit a cigarette. He is putting clothes on and there seems to be a memory obsessing his head. Maybe a relationship has broken up and the heroine, Molly, has broken his heart. I have said how the music of The Oceans represents the city and what it is all about. I get a sensation of the traffic outside and someone who is in an apartment in the capital, Copenhagen. There is an oblique quality to the lyrics where you get contrasts and contradictions. The opening words suggest Molly has left and things have taken a tumble. The song goes on and pays tribute to the girl; how things are better and the hero has his girl by his side. You are always drawn to the mood and composition that keeps that energy going and slams around the head.
PHOTO CREDIT: Per Joe Hansen
The vocal has a combination of warmth and caution and, whilst there are some missed words, one understands the emotions and intentions coming through. Maybe the opening verse about putting clothing on is after a night of triumph. The rest of the song is more celebratory and open and the hero has his friends around him. His blood is pumping and there is energy in his veins. Whatever your views of the song; you will be captivated by the sheer pulsation and movement of the music. You get carried away and taken where the song goes. You can almost see the hero walking out the door and putting his clothes together. Things are complex in the world and the hero’s head is blurry. He confesses some things are dead inside him and I get the feeling it is not as obvious as you’d imagine. The song suggests something blissful and calm but I sense something anxious beneath the surface. Maybe the hero has some sense of lift and purpose but I can detect some pain in his heart. He is, for the most part, free and connecting with a positive mood but I feel there are some complicated stories and days regarding the boy and Molly. You seem to project an image of the girl and what she is all about. Maybe there is cuteness and innocence but someone who has spirit and a darker side. The city is a backdrop to all the events and dramas that take place. Beats come down and the rampant sway of the music dips a little. You get ups and downs; there is rush but The Oceans take things down and cool it for a second. Song to Molly is a heartfelt offering that seems to have a happiness and warmth at its heart but I cannot forget some of the lyrics – that suggest something painful is lurking and the hero has a few doubts. Regardless of how you see the song; you will be drawn to its fire and heat. It races and rushes; there is a big mood and smile that brings you in and the song is perfect for the summer days. Even though we are now into autumn; you will appreciate the brightness and intentions of the track and can appreciate it in any weather. I have listened to the track a few times and get something new each time I play it. One gets something personal and emotional in the song but you can take the words and sound and apply them to your own life. The Oceans are a force that can speak for everyone and create music that never alienates a listener. That is a hard trick to pull off but they do this with aplomb right through Song to Molly. It is an excellent song that shows what EP 1 is all about.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Houmann
I have loved listening to EP 1. Despite a bit of a crappy title; the music is anything but. I have been investigating all the threads and various ideas that are expressed throughout. You can follow the narrative and look at the songs on their own but they work best when taken as one piece. One gets a feel of the city and all the contrasts available within. Copenhagen, to me, seems to define what the guys are doing right now. They show the dynamics and contrasts of the capital but, in many ways, seem to talk about the city as a general concept. We all know how cold the city can feel but there is that buzz and electricity that is hard to resist. I think we all need to follow The Oceans and get behind what they are doing right now. The Danish guys are creating great music and, with their own label and D.I.Y. approach, they are taking bold steps and inspiring others. I would love to see other artists putting their own labels together and taking more control. I am not against labels but know there are advantages when it comes to setting your own label up. It is a brave and expensive step – and you need clout and knowledge – but the risk is worth it. I recommend people listen to The Oceans and follow what they do next. It is clear the guys have plans for next year and I wonder whether they will tour and bring their music around the world. Maybe they will come to the U.K. and it would be good to see them play over here. In any case; I feel artists and the media need to look to nations like Denmark and see what is coming from the country. We often get too hooked on America and Britain and forget there is a lot happening in other parts of the world. What strikes me about Denmark is the fact the music sound familiar but it has its own personality. Something unique and fascinating can be discovered and, listening to The Oceans, you get a sense of what is happening in the country right now. EP 1 is a good sign of what to expect from the country and a Danish way of working. Song to Molly is a great song and a wonderful side to an E.P. that is so busy and fascinating. You cannot listen to the music without being sucked in and following every note. Take a listen to The Oceans’ new material and, before long, you will fall in love…
WITH their gorgeous sounds.
Follow The Oceans