Rough Days For Diamond Trade

Making music and film without passion doesn’t make sense. Making music and film without hope makes totally sense.

„The sound of broken hearts on a dance floor.“ – This is the sound of ROUGH DAYS FOR DIAMOND TRADE. With his solo project, the award winning filmmaker and musician from Copenhagen, Frederik Sølberg, creates his own impressive kind of art – a felicitous symbiosis of heartbreaking, dreamy sounds, great visual impacts and a lot of magic. On March 1st you can see ROUGH DAYS FOR DIAMOND TRADE supporting RANGLEKLODS in his second hometown Berlin. We had a chat with him about his love to Berlin, his music and the special meaning of visual art-work.

Rough Days For Diamond Trade

What was the reason for doing a solo-project after being part of GHOST SOCIETY and LAKE PLACID?
I have never wanted to do a solo project, so that’s a good question. While I was playing in GHOST SOCIETY I was also working on some electronic music together with a girl I know and that felt like the right thing to do. But I missed playing guitar and although I have never dreamt about being a singer and I don’t really like my voice, I somehow started to write songs. And for some reason it felt right. At the same time I was dealing with alot of strong emotions. Nothing dramatic but a lot of thoughts about love, solitude and life in general. I guess these thoughts needed an output.

Was there some kind of triggering incident which made you become “ROUGH DAYS FOR DIAMOND TRADE”?
It was a combination of things. First of all I wrote a song called “Forgotten” which really surprised me. It was much better than I had expected. Then I played it for some friends and they were very impressed. Then I wrote a few more and thought a lot about it. At one point I got the idea for the name and went for a walk with a friend, who liked the name. I guess it was somewhere around that time ROUGH DAYS FOR DIAMOND TRADE was born.

How did you come up with your stage-name?
My former girlfriend worked for a Danish artist for some time. This artist makes these huge pieces with fabric, paint, photography, and different materials. In one of her pieces there was a headline cut from a newspaper. The headline was ROUGH DAYS FOR DIAMOND TRADE and it caught me instantly.

You describe your music as “The sound of broken hearts on a dance floor. Like dreams marching in time.” What inspires you to create this kind of music?
I have been listening to a lot of indie, and in indie it’s cool to be sad. I have also been listening to a lot of electronic music and most of it has a beat which makes you want to dance. So I’m combining the best of two worlds. Put in a less stupid way I have always been inspired by and attracted to melancholy – both in art, film and music. My dreams are often very strong and they seem related to the feelings I get when I make music or watch a film. At the same time I have a lot of energy and I like to channel this energy into beats and dancing and good times. I guess these contradictions reflect me and my music and that’s the reason for the description.

You’re an award winning filmmaker, but the music-video to your first single “Doubtful mind” was directed by Anders Malmberg. Why did you choose him?
Because Anders is a very talented artist. Anders has an ability to create a very special atmosphere, and to focus on his visions in a way no one is able to nowadays. He takes his time and the results are marvelous.

How great is your impact during the process of producing moving images to your own sounds?

It depends but in general I decide who I want to work with and I have a lot of confidence in the people I ask. With Anders and the “Doubtful Mind” video we met several times over a long period to talk about the expression of the video. Working with Simon (who makes the visuals and the video for “Okay“) is something completely else. Simon is more spontaneous and comes up with ideas which I’m sometimes not sure if I really get. But the result is always spectacular.

Every song of your EP got an impressive music video, the vinyl got a special diamond cover, which was available in two unique handmade samples – what special meaning has visual art-work as an addition to your music?
Well. It’s important. I have directed a lot of music videos and made live visuals for bands, so I have a trained eye for things like that and I put alot of effort into it. At the same time music is not only the songs. Music is a complex form of expression and I think it’s very natural to equate it with other art forms like photography, video art and film.

Not just your artwork is extraordinary. While writing about your music, reviewers also use words like “unique” or “special”, like they’ve found a diamond within renowned Skadinavian musicscene. What would you say is so special about your sound?
I don’t think I’m the right to answer that question. But my guess would be that my music has a certain combination of being comprehensive and naive. Honest without being lame. But that’s just a guess.

You’re based in Berlin and Copenhagen. How do these two places influence your creative work?
Coming from the cold, introvert, and self-centered Copenhagen, Berlin is like paradise. The mess, the diversity, the history and all the people from all over the world is very inspiring. In Copenhagen everyone (including me) look the same and read the same Facebook updates. Most of my EP is recorded in Berlin at the same time I met my girlfriend, so that is of course also a strong connection.

Are there any differences between these two domains regarding the response to your solo-project?
In Denmark they prefer indie folk that sounds like it’s been made by newborn Christians. We also have a dance hall/reggae revival every third year. I love Christians and dance hall, but my own music is much better received in other countries.

What comes next this year? A full-length record, touring, something we would never expect?
We are playing a show in Berlin on March 1st. My EP will be out in the UK on March 18th and we’ll go on a European tour in May. Later a remix EP will follow.

What do the words “hope” and “passion” mean to you?
Making music and film without passion doesn’t make sense. Making music and film without hope makes totally sense.