IPMM Exclusive Interview – Rasmus Stolberg of Efterklang
“An Island” + IPMM Exclusive Interview : Rasmus Stolberg of Efterklang
Efterklang is a chamelonic Danish band whose sound really doesn’t fit into any of the genres we’re hearing bantied about, which is a growing testament to this truly unique grouping of musicians. At one point an 8-piece and currently a stripped down trio, Efterklang certainly isn’t timid about what they want to do next, nor do they adhere to pop modicums or trendy turns. On another creative whim, the band teamed up with Canadian born, Paris-based filmmaker Vincent Moon to create what seems to be a first. “An Island” was shot over the course of 4 days on the Danish Island of Als, and the band collaborated with over 200 children and performers in conjunction with all 8 band members. The film is a series of performances and experiments recreating the music from their album “Magic Chairs,” and the results are spellbinding. As far as we can tell, nothing quite like this has ever been done before, as the film IS the album, in fact. Ahead, IPMM talks to Rasmus Stolberg of Efterklang about the filming of the project, the inspiration, and working with Vincent Moon.
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EL: How did the idea for doing a record that was also a film come about? We’re very intrigued.
RS: When we made our album “Magic Chairs” we had no idea that a lot of the songs would form as a base for a film as well. We had talked with Vincent Moon about making a longer film together for quite some time, but we didn’t start planning the film until before the summer of 2010 – just a few months before we started filming. In the beginning, all we knew was that we would meet up with him on the Danish Island of Als (where three of us grew up). Then we decided on what songs we wanted to perform, and presented this to Vincent, along with a list of other ideas to scenes and locations. He then picked the scenes he liked the most and created the story using our input. When we started filming he had a clear idea of the story, but we hadn’t at all. We were only focused on making the musical performances great.
EL: What immediately drew us to this project was that it seemed to be treading on new ground, from the aspect that the record was also a film. There have of course been filmed concerts and documentaries about bands, but An Island is truly a new idea. It seems like organizing everything, from a cohesive relationship with the filmmaker, to selecting collaborators on the island must have been a huge undertaking….
RS: Yea, we did indeed put a lot of hours into producing this. Organizing scenes with 100 kids for example is not easy. In total we filmed 20 scenes on 20 different locations in just 3 days. We spent a lot of time planning and calling people beforehand, and we were lucky that we chose to film on Als in that regard. No matter who we called, people wanted to help us out. It was beautiful and heartwarming. In general, people on Als are very friendly, but it helped of course that we were contacting people and places that knew who we were. Mads and I for example used to attend the same school as those 100 kids singing Me Me Me the Brick House.
EL: That’s awesome man. How did you meet Vincent Moon? Did you have the idea for the film before you met him?
RS: We met him at SXSW in 2009 and this is the fourth project/film we’ve done with him. When we helped him produce www.TemporaryCopenhagen.com in May 2009, we started talking about making a longer film together. We have a great understanding and work great together.
EL: That shines thorugh in the film, for sure. It’s really enchanting in a great way, where the landscape, the music, and the character of the band is evident. I particularly love the scene where you’re all in the back of the truck playing the song… How did the flow and actual scenes of the film come together?
RS: The flow and story in the film is the magic of Vincent Moon – that is his vision and talent. We can mostly only take credit for the music performed live in the film.
EL: The island of Als seems like an incredible place too, what was it like to come back?
RS: Right, the three of us grew up there, but we left the island when we were 18. We wanted to move to Copenhagen (the capital) to form a new band, which turned into Efterklang. Coming back with the band after having toured most of the world was a special feeling.
EL: You guys morph often, as far as band lineups. Do you ever wish there were 20 of you? 🙂
RS: These days we are only three in the band. For many years we were 4 but our live bands have always been 7 or 8-piece bands, except for the orchestra projects we do. On those occasions we have been more than 50 people on stage. Our latest orchestra project was Efterklang+Daniel Bjarnason & Their Messing Orchestra. It was a 17-piece band including a sax quartet, brass quartet, 1 percussionist, Daniel Bjarnason and then our 7-piece live band.
EL: Awesome. It must have also been cool to collaborate with the people and kids who live on the island. What was a special personal moment you might have had during the filming?
RS: The scene where we perform Alike with our parents was magic. They were so eager to learn the parts and it felt like the roles (kid/parent) had turned around completely. None of them are musicians or anything close to it, but they did great 🙂
EL: Wow man, that sounds like a really unique experience indeed! Tell us a bit about the way you guys have gone about promoting the film, as well as the deluxe packaging that’s part of the DVD release. The packaging for the DVD is really well done by the way…
RS: Thanks! Well, we knew that we didn’t want to release the film online or on DVD directly. We had tried that before with some other projects and without success. We wanted the film to be screened before it was “released”. At events and film festivals and so on. First we decided to take the film with us on tour. So instead of having a support band we screened the film. Then after that I got the idea of the Private-Public Screenings. Something I’m very proud of I have to admit 🙂 The idea is that any private person can host an official screening. They just need to find a venue that holds minimum 5 people (their living room, local café, library, etc). The screenings must have FREE entrance. People could sign up on the films’ website, and in February and March 2011 when this project ran, we had more than 1200 of these screenings. It was unbelievable. Vincent Moon has later adapted the system so all is films are now available for Private-Public Screenings.
After the many screenings we released, the film was made available digitally via a Pay-What-You-Want model, and then we did the Deluxe Numbered DVD Edition, which we’re all very proud of.
You can read more about all this at www.anisland.cc/home.
EL: What’s Efterklang’s plans for 2012? Coming to Chicago at all? 🙂
RS: Not in 2012 – but I’m absolutely sure we’ll get there in 2013… we have quite a lot of plans for 2012. I can’t reveal them here – but we’re working on new music … and a film 🙂
EL: Name one band or musician IPMM readers should check out. We love finding out what the people we like are listening to…
RS: Einstürzende Neubauten might be known to a lot of your readers but to those who don’t, check out records like Silence is Sexy and Ende Neu. It could change your life.