Adoro il nuovo 10" dei Northern Portrait: 4 canzoni che ancora una volta mettono in luce l'ispirazione e la raffinatezza guitar pop dei nostri eroi.
Ecco quindi la mia chiacchierata con Stefan, che dei NP è voce e chitarra.
E. ovviamente, speriamo di vederli prestissimo in Italia!
(Grazie a Jimmy della Matinee per la fondamentale collaborazione!)
- Hi guys, how are you? Where are you now?
Hi Riccardo, at the moment we are in slightly snow covered Copenhagen. We are all fine, and are delighted to finally have some new music out. Oh, and then we are sort of preparing for our upcoming gigs in Spain and Italy. Very exciting for us, and I'm sure the weather's gonna be better there too, so we're really looking forward to coming and to presenting the new songs live.
- Your debut album dates back to 2010, I must say I missed you a lot! I guess during these years you played a lot, wrote the new tracks and maybe also relaxed a bit…
Yes, time certainly flies, and you're quite right; we have spent the last couple of years relaxing, working, playing here and there, dreaming and traveling. We all have jobs and private obsessions and hobbies to occupy our days, but we quite often hang out in bars or other places together and talk about music and this and that.
- The new EP talks about Greetings from Paris, journeys,encounters….is there a concept linking the different songs?
I don't think it should be considered a concept EP as such. Since I write the lyrics, I guess what comes out is what's on my mind around the time we record the songs. It's normally quite random themes I write about, but for this particular EP, for some reason all songs have a bit of an escapist idea in the lyrics. But from very different points of view. My normal work method (if there ever was one) is that I always carry a notebook and a fountain pen, and then just write down whatever I see or hear or come to think of. But I guess that's what everyone does, so nothing special there. I seem to get the best ideas whilst cycling, and always stop to take notes, which sometimes makes my trip to work take forever. Some lines are quite straightforward, and some are quite abstract - not too long ago, I found that I'd written 'God takes no hostages' on a page, and I have no idea where that came from. I think I wrote it one (very) late night, and think it's kind of strange. Oh well..
- At a first listening the new Ep does not show big changes in your songwriting and musical style but the more you listen to it and the more changes you notice. Your guitar pop is simply overwhelming especially in songs like Happy Nice Day and in the dreamlike I Feel Even Better.
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoy it. I personally feel it sounds quite different from the other releases we have done, both in terms of songwriting and recording. As for recording it might be a bit technical, but one detail is that compared to our earlier stuff these new songs are generally recorded in a much simpler way, with less tracks, but then with more attention to each track. We still don't prepare much before hitting the record button, so that's the same as always. As for the songwriting one major difference is that the new songs are a little bit more focussed on a more traditional hook or chorus line - something we previously tried to avoid, but which we thought made good sense when writing the new songs. Obviously I cannot change my voice, and because of that our songs will always sound pretty much the same for better or worse.
- Your sound has been described in many ways but the right word to me is “familiar” because it evokes feelings, colors and sensations we experienced in the past and that make us feel good. We would never get tired of this kind of feelings. Do you agree with my description?
As Einstein once said: 'I agree.' We don't aim to produce avant-garde records or write brainteasingly odd songs. Basically our musical raison d'être is to write pop melodies and hopefully set some meaningful lyrics to them, and then record them in as nice a way as we possibly can, without falling into the traps that much of the current mainstream pop music have: An extreme use of passionless clichés. It seems utterly cynical, almost calculated. But then I also have to mention that many of my personal favourite groups of the Nineties ended up releasing what seems like uninspired mock art-pop/rock which doesn't sound any less calculated. What we want to do is something less sterile but still un-mistakingly pop.
- Greetings from Paris is my favourite song of the EP, a wonderful melody! I think it’s one of your best songs ever!
Oh, thanks! That's quite a simply song that I seem to remember was inspired by a Teenage Fanclub song. The connection was probably lost sometime during recording. The lyrics are sort of based on the typical situation where people go abroad to live in some exotic place for a while, but end up in a dull routine, and still try to fake it when they write or talk to people at home.
- Is this Ep a teaser for a new full length album coming out later this year?
It isn't really meant as such. We are planning a compilation CD with the songs from our two first sold out EPs and all the non-'Criminal Art Lovers' songs including this new EP. One quite exciting thing as far as I'm concerned is that we have completely remixed the tracks from the first two EPs to bring them up to the production standards of the new songs. When 'The Fallen Aristocracy' and 'Napoleon Sweetheart' EPs were produced we only had access to some very poor equipment, but we have now brought the songs to life anew. I feel they now sound the way they were supposed to sound, though still maintaining the original feel of the recordings. It's more of a revitalization than a remix. I'm really looking forward to this myself. It's gonna be a fifteen track CD, so I think there's value for money too, even though most of the songs have been available before on various formats. - But! We are indeed working on some brand new tracks too..
- You played in Rome in 2011, I think and hope that you have good memories about that gig. Will you come back to Italy during the Ep promotional tour?
We have extremely fond memories of that trip, even though we could only go as a trio. Rome is eternally beautiful and everything was so perfectly organized. (I don't know if it has already been published but) Yes, we are indeed coming back to Italy this Spring. This time a few more places and as a full line-up. We are very excited!
- I speak quite often with Jimmy from Matinée, I can tell you he was thrilled and happy like a child about your new record!
And believe me, so are we! I think Jimmy has done a superb job designing it and turning our little songs into this magnificent item of joy. We are ourselves quite happy with the recordings, but with this artwork and presentation as a whole, our happiness has been extended way beyond anything else.
- Thank you again guys, which song from the Ep would you choose to end our chat?
Thank you, it was a great pleasure! I guess we'd like to wish everybody a happy nice day with... Happy nice Day!