By: Matthew Vega
Wristbands littering the streets? Check. Lines in front of bars you normally wouldn’t go to? Yup. Free booze and superstar DJ sets? Double check. Well, it can only mean one thing here in NY- CMJ was upon us. If you were in New York this past week, chances are you caught a glimpse of, or had tickets to, a CMJ related event. This year brought a plethora of up and coming talent to New York City, all hoping to catch the attention of fans and record labels alike.
One standout show in particular was a personal favorite, Copenhagen natives, Choir Of Young Believers (Ghostly International.) Their last LP, Rhine Gold, was an exquisite work- a combination of visceral lyrics, cinematic soundscapes, and orchestrated indie rock (check out the Spotify stream at the bottom.) After a week of shows in New York, I was able to check in with lead singer/guitarist Jannis Makrigiannis and bassist Jakub Millung at Spike Hill in Williamsburg.
You’ve toured all over the world and you’re originally from Copenhagen. After touring the US, do you find there is a distinguishable difference between the audiences that come to your shows overseas vs. here in the US?
Actually yes, you know I think one of the main things is that overseas the crowds are a bit more stiff, a bit more self-concious. Everyone sort of stands around, arms crossed, but here you find that audiences get into the music more, let themselves go. You can see visually that they’re having a good time. We definitely enjoy the audiences here for that reason.
As soon as you listen to the first track on your latest LP, Rhine Gold, you’re brought somewhere exotic and cinematic. Has traveling to so many countries affected some of the production choices you have made?
Jannis as a songwriter has so many influences and instead of like trying to like go in one direction in order to try please (anyone) or keep some kind of focus….it’s just a question of like gathering all the stuff you love. Maybe sometimes we’d whatever, listen to some middle eastern music, and you might hear that. The other important thing to say is that we worked with two different production teams from the first album to the second album, and actually they both played quite a part in the creation of that sound. Once we started working with Aske from Oh No Ono and Nis from Thulebasen on Rhine Gold, we would listen to older stuff, 70s vibey stuff like Fleetwood Mac and 10cc. They sort of threw themselves into it, and I think they have a lot of marks on the sound.
Jannis, is songwriting something that comes easy and often for you, or do you need to take yourself to a place mentally in order for the juices to flow?
Songwriting used to come easy to me, until about half a year ago. I’m having a writers block at the moment, so maybe I should…and I’m getting kind of nervous about it…I should go somewhere. I mean I feel very inspired but nothing is coming. I hope it comes again soon!
Do you find that you’re able to write while on the road?
We played one new song today that wich we haven’t recorded and that song is one that we’ve been working on for a very long time. We’ve been working on it while on tour in the the way that weve been practicing it at soundchecks and trying it out and changing things. So I don’t write on tour, but I arrange and kind of work on songs that I’ve written at home. While you’re on tour you want to change the set every night and want something new to happen every night.
What’s next, anything in the pipeline?
We want to go home and record I think- we want to record an EP soon-ish when we’re off tour. So probably around November/December.
Album stream below