It is not only Efterklang’s music that is beautiful, but also their personalities and their behaviour towards strangers. When talking to band and seeing them live on stage, you can feel their appreciation for being able to share their music and ideas with others. During the band’s concerts, the musicians interact with the audience and try to integrate them as much as possible. When having a chat about their music with them, the loveable guys pay attention to your own opinions and want to know what you – as the listener and fan – think about their art. Efterklang is not only about sharing and presenting music to an audience, but rather about creating a community which lives on exchange and cooperation. So, meeting these guys again after a few years felt like quite a rewarding experience.
A new form of interactivity
For their new album Windflowers, Casper, Mads and Rasmus came up with a new form of interactivity. The three launched a cooperative platform called Efterklang Developed. Using the platform, users get early access to songs of the new record and are invited to take photos which will be used in the band’s music videos afterwards. One of those cooperative videos already arrived, Hold Me Close While You Can.
“We launched the platform with the very first song from the new album which was exclusively released there. Whilst listening to it, you could take pictures on your phone. So, we asked people to listen to a track and then respond with pictures to it. And that is going to be put together in a video release soon. (Hold Me Close While You Can). It was the first experiment with this tool, and we like to develop it further. Maybe next time we can get more interaction than just pictures, for example words or videos. Use an input-output sort of interaction. Realise the idea of: if I give you something then you give me something back,” tells me Mads in our conversation.
An open invitation
Shortly after our little get together, the band already elaborated their idea: a second event took place on the Efterklang Developed platform. This time, people should take photos (and Android users could even take videos) with a little task over a short period of time. For example, one day they were invited to photograph what they are currently seeing, the other day the task was to take photos of different shapes and colours. Of course, the whole project is about inviting people to take part in Efterklang’s creative process rather than an obligation for anyone. And one thing is also special about the whole project: to evoke the feeling of using an analogue camera, the participants who take the photos can’t see them right afterwards. Originally, the Danes had the idea to send analogue cameras out in the world, let people take pictures and send it back to them. But that would have been too complicated “logistically and for the planet”, as Mads says.
Mads: “We like the idea that you take a picture, but you don’t get to see it. One thing is the aesthetics of how it looks but also that you can’t evaluate it yourself right away.”
Casper: “And there is also some kind of randomness that you would normally have erased with a digital device. Something about the framing that gets interesting when you stop thinking about it.”
Apart from Efterklang Developed, there are many other examples of how Efterklang integrate the community into their art. One example for it is An Island, a documentary about the band which was filmed a few years back. Accompanying the release of the documentary, the three set up a project called Private Public Screenings.
“The project was about inviting people around the world to host a screening of An Island. We sent them the film and people could invite strangers and friends to join their screening. At the end of it, they would send us a picture of themselves. It’s nice as a band to see that people meet around our art. It’s the idea of playing with people instead of only for people.” (Casper)
A musical playground
Efterklang’s approach of being experimental and trying out new things with their community is also reflected in the creative process of putting together their new album Windflowers. For the Danish band, the new record felt “a little bit like a playground” (Casper) where everyone could contribute ideas and suggestions.
Casper: It was about playfulness and having fun. Not to overthink what we are doing too much. We didn’t have any concept behind. Mads and I started writing music when I was in Lisbon and he in Copenhagen. We just opened a dropbox, the pandemic was there, and we thought: let’s use the time to make some music.”
Mads: “It was like an open book.”
Casper: “Compared to our last albums – which followed a frame – Windflowers is only about seeing what happens when we make music together.”
Mads: “And about using music as sort of a fixed point in a strange time.”
Due to Covid, Efterklang couldn’t travel around as much as they did whilst creating songs for former releases. They collected over 70 sketches in their dropbox and finally met up in person again in June in a studio on the Danish Island Møn. It took them two days to get through all sketches and to decide which ones will finally be a song on the new album.
Mads: “It was actually quite epic. We met up for the first time in a long time in physical and then started listening to everything together. We were making notes on papers and trying not to talk because then it would have taken four weeks. So, we just listened to the sketches, wrote down our thoughts about it and put on the next. It had been two intense days like that.”
Casper: “It was the first time that we listened to those sketches together. Before, we all had individual processes of listening to them and in the end, it was quite exiting to do it together. Efterklang is a lot about this collective effort.”
Mads: ”And you listen to it differently…
Casper: “…when there’s other people in the room. With being in a room together you can immediately feel when something is exiting for everyone. By listening collectively, it was quite easy to scale it down to around 30 sketches. Now, we have around 22 finished songs. And around 5 that are fully mixed.”
Music as a TV series
Asking the two about what will happen to these other finished tracks which couldn’t make it onto their new record, they admitted that they were thinking about making a double album. Actually, Efterklang were discussing it a lot – also with their label – but in the end weren’t sure whether people would listen to two hours of music by them. Casper explains: “In our mind the ideal, dream scenario was that we send out this Efterklang double album and then people would listen to it like watching a Netflix series. You listen to five songs and then you put it aside for a while and listen the next five songs another time. But it’s not like that anymore. I feel like people expect a focus. We ended up with the conclusion that it’s better to make an exact and concentrated form of what we think works utterly the best and don’t try to spread it out.”
The studio Efterklang chose to record their new work had been the perfect place for them to concentrate on their songs. Møn is a small island in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea with only around 9.000 inhabitants. Just the right place to escape the city and get lost into music. And at clear days, it’s almost even possible to see Germany from the island’s coast.
“Møn belongs to the poorer part of Denmark. In the 60s and 70s a lot of hippies went there and it still has this special kind of hippie vibe. The place we were in also comes a little bit out of that flair. It’s a farm which includes a little studio. Nothing is fancy but it’s a nice studio with multi-tracking which allowed us to use to use microphones and our synths. I think the key for us was the space we had over there. Inside and outside.” (Casper)
A fragile symbol of life
On the island Møn, and everywhere else in Denmark, there is a special flower blooming at the beginning of spring, like a harbinger of the next season: the windflower. A flower that comes in many different shapes and colours and which now is the eponym of Efterklang’s new album. It stands for a record which is full of varied and colourful songs which were created in the here and now.
“It’s the beginning of the year, it’s the first colours in the forest grounds and it sort of a promising but also very fragile symbol of life. We tried to find something that would combine the songs that didn’t have any frame. I started to think about flowers and then stumbled across the windflowers. Like an abstract bouquet of songs that comes from very much the same time and that’s the only reason they are packed together. I think the album lyrically also carries more pictures of nature than our other releases. I always liked to use those references but this time I have been a little more aware of it. Sometimes, it was difficult for me to take the human out of it.” (Casper)
There is one other aspect all nine songs of Windflowers have in common: they are fully created by Casper, Mads and Rasmus without any influence from the outside. No producer or other musician, just the three of them like they used to make music in the early days of Efterklang. Nothing more than three friends meeting up after a long time and having fun together.
“With Efterklang, we actually never really produced so much. It was mainly mixing the songs with others. Normally, the three of us would record the tracks and afterwards Mads would meet up with another person – that would come in with fresh eyes – and they mix the tracks together. But this time – and that’s probably also connected to the situation of Covid – it was like getting a little bit more back to this root of DIY and doing it yourself. We wanted to find out what would happen if we crafted this thing by ourselves. It was kind of like going back to the beginning.” (Casper)
After having listened fully to Efterklang’s new album Windflowers, you can easily determine that something great happened due to the three crafting the songs by themselves. The nine tracks consist of beautiful melodies, intimate moments, and radiate the spirit of three friends having fun together and being grateful for the moments they can share together.
Windflowers is out on the 8th October via City Slang.