The childhood game of musical chairs is much like the career of the Danish group Efterklang. With each album they’ve shifted chairs, finding themselves in a more comfortable musical style. Having begun as an electronic group that developed an avant-garde sound, their latest album Magic Chairs is the most accessible to date. Like their friends Grizzly Bear, the album is described as orchestra pop and is drastically different from their previous album Parades, which featured some songs with over 250 layers. Efterklang performs tonight (September 20th) at The Bottom of The Hill. SFCritic spoke with lead singer Casper Clausen while the group was on the road out West.
Efterklang: “Modern Drift”
SFCritic (SFC): With this album you’ve tried to do less, which often is harder than doing more. What was your experience?
Casper Clausen (CC): The way we would be working most of the time, without sounding pretentious, was like a sculpture. We would add a lot of layers on top of each other, maybe add too much, and then step away, and take a little away. This type of movements we would be doing for a long time.
The song structure is a bit simpler. We took inspiration from pop songs. The way for us to make easier songs, or an easier process for us, was to take those small sketches and start out with them. Then you’d have the song, rather than working with a lot of little pieces.
SFC: Your song structure has definitely changed towards a pop song, whereas many bands start with pop songs and move towards more avant/experimental styles. Do you look back and wish you’d ever done things differently?
CC: I like that observation, but at the same time I know that the next time we make something else it will be different. Magic Chairs had to be done. It was something we wanted to do.
SFC: It feels like there have been movements in your music. First, it was just electronic with Trippers. Later, it was an over embellishment of layered electronic with Parade. Now, it’s a stripped down live and orchestrated sound with Magic Chairs. Is it possible the next album will be an over embellished orchestrated sound?
CC: That is also how we picture the next move. We have some ideas of location, and creating music from that which can go in a lot of different directions. I like idea of really stripped down just rhythm and bass, and we opened up a little to that on Magic Chairs but I don’t think we’ve completed that yet. Basically, we would be creating songs from rhythms as the base.
SFC: How did you artistically come to the conclusion that creating a live sound was the direction you wanted to go in?
CC: The whole thing contextually was a reaction to what we had done before. When we were making Magic Chairs because we had played a lot of concerts after Parades, we got a lot of inspiration from playing live, and this concert feel.
SFC: How many people are you touring with currently?
CC: There are seven of us.
SFC: What do you do to replicate your sound live?
CC: Basically, we try not to make sound too much like the record because that would be boring. When we play live we tend to focus more on the physical element of the space, trying to make the music livelier, and pay less attention to detail and layers. When you’re listening to a record the only thing is coming out are the sounds, there aren’t any distractions.
SFC: How do you keep performing interesting for yourself?
CC: That’s a big question for any touring musician. For us, doing a few new songs once a while, or rearranging songs. Also a lot of the songs are opening up a lot of the time as we experience them more.
SFC: Do you have any crazy stories from being on the road?
CC: Peter from the band had a dream last night that when he woke up his great grandfather said to him “My great uncle lives in Acapulco!”