As part of our Trondheim Calling Week we are viewing, reviewing and interviewing (that’s a lot of “views”) some of the exciting new/emerging acts playing this renowned festival, held annually in the snowy climes of northern Norway.
We’re kicking off proceedings with newbie trio Antler who took time out of their busy schedule to give us the skinny on the whys, the whats, and the whens!
PERSONNEL: NATALI GARNER (VOCALS), AXEL SKALSTAD (DRUMS), JOHAN LINVALL (SYNTHS)
LABEL: NO FOREVERS
DISCOGRAPHY: 2015 (DEBUT) ANIMAL (OCT), THE DIP (NOV)
TC SETS: THURSDAY – MOSKUS – 21.00, FRIDAY – ROCKHEIM RESTAURANT – 22.30
No need for bios, intros or otherwise – it’s all here – so let’s get down to it …
So guys, why music? What drew you to it? How does it make you feel? and How does it inspire you?
“I guess we´ve all always been playing music in some way shape or form and have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to make it our profession. When your friends and acquaintances all come from the same field, it would seem very unnatural to ignore that fact. It’s as simple as that.
We love making music, we love listening to it, we love playing our own songs again and again. There is something never ending with the work as well. We can be extremely happy with a concert or a recording, but there will always be things we can do better, or differently which gives a reason to continue. The ‘musical road’ extends as you go along it, which creates a kind of tension and curiosity, cos you never know what your next song will sound like. You have to make it to know.”
Okay, so music has always been a part of your life. Let’s go back to the beginning – how/when and with what instruments did it begin?
(Johan) “I was six when I got my first Casio keyboard, (which I still have and we sometimes use). I started playing piano and jazz at the age of twelve and then it just escalated from there.”
(Natali) “In Norway/Sweden high (secondary) school is the first place during the educational process where you get to make curricular choices. In addition to the more academic subjects, you can choose music, drama, social science, etc. All three of us did music at high school, which just enhanced an interest that had already been developing.”
(Johan) “After high school Axel and I did a FolkHighSchool year, which is a gap year where you do something fun, or interesting, but without having grades and exams. Some people do music, or drama, even Third World studies. We both studied jazz,and after that we both studied at the Norwegian Music Academy, Oslo, where I did a degree. I am currently finishing my Masters specialising in jazz and improvised music. Axel undertook the “youth musician” program and is now currently studying at NTNU in Trondheim, in the jazz department there.”
(Natali) “I started playing the cello when I was four through to nineteen. During that period, I played with several orchestras and quartets. I started singing just before turning sixteen. I never wanted to be a musician, and was just doing it for fun. But I also ended up doing the “young musicians” program at NTNU. At one point I wanted to quit music completely and even went to a theatre-school, but after 2 months I really missed it and applied at the Norwegian MA department for jazz and improvised music, and got in. And the rest, as they say is history!”
How did you get to the point where you were signed by No Forevers – how did that come about?
(Natali) “I met Jonny from No Forevers at a festival, and we just got talking. Axel had talked to him earlier about maybe being able to sign at NF, so he was familiar with our music. From there it was just a walk on the beach really, everything coming together smoothly :)”
Who are your influences and why did they attract your attention over others?
“We don’t really have a common influence. But we all “originate” from the jazz and the improv scene, and are very influenced by a lot of different music, eras and genres. Since the music scene in Norway is so small, there are a lot of musicians working within different genres, which might be the reason that there is so much music from Norway that is really hard to define.
Radiohead is probably the best known band that work that way, and who we would cite as an influence. They are defiantly within the pop genre, but they still seem to go about it a lot more like creating art, not creating mainstream pop, which maybe is a growing norm nowadays. They are an influence purely because they do just that. We also try to let different music styles influence us: be it chords, form, melodies or the way we build our layers, and since we play a lot of different music, the different genres influence both the way we make music, and what we make.”
You completed your album last year. How did you approach the writing and recording process?
“When we compose/make music we do it all together in the rehearsal room. That is in many ways the clue to our music; all of our different musicalities coming together. The texts either come together part by part whilst making the melodies, but usually that’s the last element to fall into place!
We are not a band who meets up in the studio not knowing what to record. We had an idea regarding all our songs, and all of them were songs we had been playing live for some time. But there were two songs we re-wrote in the studio. Both our second single, The Dip, and Features (a song not yet released) were totally different when they started out. We had recorded The Dip a year earlier as a demo – it still kind of worked, but not totally, especially when we performed it live, so we decided to re-write it. So when we hit the studio we started with the groove, improvised new parts, keeping what we liked and in the end landed on some ideas. Within twenty minutes we had a new groove, new synth sound and a new melody. After having recorded the drums, and whilst Johan was recording the synth, Natali changed the lyrics. So it all came together quite nicely. It’s actually ended up being one of our favourite songs.
Working like this, and managing to keep calm, is one of the amazing things about being in the studio. It is so easy to see and sense that all we are actually doing is moulding out and creating our own way, without knowing the outcome.”
Can you give us some more background to the album – what should we expect, who produced it, how many tracks, what are the themes, etc?
“The album contains eight tracks. When we went in we had some more songs, but as we had stopped playing some of them live, we didn’t a reason to record them. We recorded in Greener studios,Trondheim. A lot of really good Norwegian bands have done their recordings there. Our album was actually the last full-length album to be recorded there. Karl, the guy who recorded us has moved to a bigger studio, where we mixed our album. We didn’t really have a producer as such, but Karl and Natali had most ideas in the studio and Karl mixed it with Natali as a creative-over-shoulder-person. We haven’t decided on a title yet.
The themes are all a mix of being from an observers perspective and a very physical perspective. A lot of them also have to do with slowing down, or going back to nature, or back to our roots. Finding our instincts. Giving up on this world where there are so many choices and so much chaos. Its funny, cos the first song we felt we really managed to pin down, was called “heavy air” and was all about escaping from town and going back to nature, feeling the grass beneath our feet and all those things. That theme hasn’t really changed, just expanded and evolved!”
So, what’s the plan for the coming year?
“Well, we’ve just played Phonofestivalen in Bergen and of course, we are playing Trondheim Calling – we have two sets on the Thursday and Friday. We also have a few more concerts planned during spring. We’re also hoping to play some cool Norwegian festivals during summer.
Our debut album is scheduled for release in April, as well as another single, probably before that. At the moment we are trying to organise a ‘delayed’ release tour in Norway in the Autumn when the album will also be released internationally (Europe and America). We’ll follow that with a tour of the countries where the album has been released!
We just really want to play as many concerts as we can, for as many people as possible, and to spread the sound of our music as far and wide as we can.”
Their debut album is scheduled for release via NO FOREVERS records in April date tbc