In Talks With: When Saints Go Machine
Danish quartet, When Saints Go Machine, are a superb example of and a testament to the forward thinking of Scandinavian electronic music at the moment. Always well ahead of the curve when it comes to blissfully weird electronica that manages to wilfully and seamlessly cross genre and boundary; sometimes dancefloor friendly, sometimes spaced out, but always leftfield and always a trip out that brings together influences as diverse as soul, techno, post punk and jazz. Their new single, Kelly, which we featured a couple of weeks ago and was out on the 19th September, managed to pack all of that into a tightly bound three and a half minutes of electronic genre bending perfection. In celebration of the beginning of their UK tour (dates below) and the release of Californian producer, Shlohmo’s, haunted remix of Kelly we caught up for a chat with frontman Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild.
There’s a real diversity of sounds on the new record – I can hear bits of Flying Lotus, Antony and the Johnsons, New Order, minimal – were there any touchstone albums or artists that were in your mind when you began writing the material for Konkylie?
We’ve never really been inspired by one album or any specific artist. All the songs are made from a process of trying to understand each other and I think we’re definitely getting better at it. We all come from very different musical backgrounds, which makes it fun working together. We get inspired by each other and learn something new every time and that is basically what it’s about for us. If I was to name a specific person that inspired the writing process and coloured the making of the album in almost every aspect, it would have to be my father who passed away just when we began writing for “Konkylie”.
Did you have any pivotal formative musical moments when growing up? Any epiphanies that we should know about or was it more of a gradual slide into making music for a living?
I remember starting my first band when I was twelve or thirteen with this guy I went to school with, it was just the two of us playing bass and drums. At the time we were living in the countryside and my parents decided that we move to Copenhagen.
We thought we would keep the band going and that it was probably a good thing that we moved to the capital because we needed some girls in tight clothes and short skirts in the band, and of course we thought that was how all the girls from the city looked. That wasn’t true and the band broke up. With When Saints Go Machine it just happened. I was laid off from work one day and a couple of months later I realised that we were all full time musicians. Funny how that worked out.
What records have you been digging recently? Is there anyone catching your ear at the moment that you want our readers to know about?
Just bought St. Vincent’s “Strange Mercy” and I think I love this record. I have it on vinyl in the kitchen and in my ears riding through the city. It’s been close to perfect for these past few days. And it’s an album I will be listening to for years to come, so many beautiful details.
I heard Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 written for the Kronos Quartet through Silas and of course it must be hard listening to the whole thing if you’re from New York and the tragedy of 9/11 affected you personally with all the sampled voices from the day of the attack being repeated, and it gives me sort of an eerie feeling, but I really like it.
What’s more fun: writing and recording or touring?
Writing and recording always, but that’s because we’re touring a lot right now, if you ask me a year from now I would probably say the opposite. I don’t know, feels like standing still when I’m not writing, so I try to do it every day. Coffee and cigarettes taste better that way.
Do you ever get sick of music?
All the time, but mostly my own. Inventing something new takes time sometimes.
How much time do you have to pursue other cultural interests?
We’ve got Sundays.
Sorry I stood you up…
When Saints Go Machine UK Tour dates/Supporting Apparat Band:
Wednesday 28th September – When Saints Go Machine @ C.A.M.P, London - Ticket link
Sunday October 16th – the Haunt, Brighton - Ticket link
Monday October 17th – the Wardrobe, Leeds - Ticket link
Tuesday October 18th – Ruby Lounge, Manchester - Ticket link
Wednesday October 19th – the Arches, Glasgow - Ticket link
Thursday October 20th – Koko, London - Ticket link
Shlohmo’s full length LP, Bad Vibes, is out now on Friends of Friends.
When Saints Go Machine’s second LP, Konkylie, is out now on !K7.