Norwegian disco house band TÔG just released their new album Feiring. Shortly before their show at Berlin’s club Prince Charles last month NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION met singer Lars Christian Olsen to talk about disco music, funk from the 1970s, Feiring, and hope and passion.
You sing in Norwegian. Is it hard to go international when having Norwegian lyrics?
Well, I guess we have to see what people think. We just want to give it a try. We had the chance to come to Germany and we just felt like doing it, and of course we hope it will work and people will like it. In Norway it works really well and people discovered our new album, ‘Feiring’, as ‘the coolest thing in disco music’ (laughs).
Your lyrics are very important for you. What are they about?
Yes. I played in a pop band before and sang in English, but with TÔG I found out that I can express myself way better in my own language. First I wanted to tell my own stories, but then I thought ‘no that sucks, that’s just not interesting’ (laughs). So I decided to tell other people’s stories. Like being in our twenties and asking what we should do with our lives and how to fulfill our dreams. ‘Feiring’ means partying and it’s a celebration of where we are now in life, a celebration of the very moment. Another topic for example is partying every weekend. Is it because you are celebrating or because you are bored? Or because you wanna run away from your own life? Our point is that we are here for a couple of reasons and we all should make the best out of it and hope for a better tomorrow.
How did you come to disco music?
I was living with a guy who wrote songs and I was writing lyrics. I had old 60s organs and I started using that. So it became some kind of house music. Then I said ‘we need a band and we need a name’. We came up with the name TÔG which means ‘jerk’. We were trying to find the roots of the music we were making and then we touched the New York scene, the 80s, and then also 70s disco music. But it was in the process, I didn’t really listen to music like this before. It just developed.
What do you think about the disco music scene?
I think it can be a bit strange when you have – speaking culturally – middle class white people being inspired by African American cultural music. It´s music written in a culture I only know what I’ve seen on TV and barely seen when I´m in New York. On the other hand when making modern dance music, you can’t escape the rich heritage of house music, and you can’t escape disco. But still everyone is inspired by house music and it can’t really be compared with ‘real’ disco music as it was in ´79, because back in that time they had no click and everything was different. We try to focus on the real disco roots, but of course we are also a product of our time and have listened to a lot of house music too.
And how do you see the disco music crowd?
The people I know that listen to disco music they listen to it in the dance floor context. Most people come to a show say ‘ok I’m ready to be entertained’. We go on stage and try to break things up with the first two songs to tell the crowd what’s going to happen and that we will dance now.
What do you celebrate on ‘Feiring’?
People’s stories and life itself. And what I want people to celebrate – the very moment for example, because we are here together now and can have a good time together, and celebrate together.
What do ‘hope’ and ‘passion’ mean to you?
Hope. I think all people have a hope of a better life. I don’t think it’s not necessarily this world that people are hoping for. You have all the different people’s utopias. I think there’s heaven somewhere and I’m very passionate about people finding hope. I’m very passionate about the stories of ‘uncool’ people, people without cool jobs for example, who are just happy if they have a job. I’m passionate about people who are finding hope and – yeah – finding god.
TÔG on NBHAP