Put a ‘B’ in front of Danish band Liss’ name and you have the perfect description of their unique, blissed out sound. Comprised of four teenagers from Aarhus (which is a little bit like the New Orleans of Denmark), Liss sounds like an amalgam of Arthur Russell angst and 90s R&B. Currently, Liss – who are on the Escho label (known for introducing Iceage and KLoAK to the world) – is making waves on the international music scene, and it is only a matter of time before they blow up in the States. In the following interview, Søren Holm, Vilhelm Strange, Villads Tyrrestrup, and Tobias Hansen chat with Autre about musical upbringing, their unique sound and their new single, which will be released at the end of this month. Also, listen to their incredible track, Always, at the end of the interview.
Autre: How did all of you guys meet each other and did you know right away that you wanted to make music together?
Tobias: Villads and I met each other at a music school we went to. Since that we've been playing a lot together. I knew Vilhelm a bit and had heard some music he had made with Søren which I really liked and we agreed to meet in me and Villads' rehearsal space to try something out. So I guess so.
Autre: Growing up in Denmark, how did you gain access to music and what music were you listening to that inspired you the most?
Søren: By my older siblings, who introduced me to, for example Björk, Massive Attack and Prince - All the classics… And I guess that those are the ones who still inspire me the most musically today, but there is a lot of new music that also inspires me… I like all sorts of music.
Tobias: My dad is a music teacher and he always played me a lot of music, so I think mostly through him. Also when I was little one of my dad’s good friends who lived in our neighborhood used to burn CDs for me with all kinds of music I should hear. It was music like Beastie Boys, Sex Pistols and Daft Punk - I remember listening a lot to that stuff.
Vilhelm: My father was a big jazz fan back in the day, but he kind of gave up on listening to records when he got kids I think. I learned to play guitar through my brothers, and when I was around 13 I bought my brother's Stratocaster. I think the biggest musical influence I've had was when I discovered Radiohead and Portishead years ago. It kind of introduced me to pop music in some way...
Villads: Pretty similar for me. My dad is a music teacher and he played me a lot of his records.
Autre: Do any of you have musical backgrounds….I know that in some countries, musical training is required in the curriculum?
Villads: I had quite a lot to do with music in school.
Søren: No, I started playing piano a few months before I met the other guys.
Autre: Your sound has been described as “Nordic soul” – what is Nordic soul in your own words and would you use any other descriptions to define your sound?
Tobias: I don't really think we are Nordic soul. It's difficult to put a stamp on your own music but I guess we make pop in a way.
Vilhelm: I think it’s always pretty hard to define your own music, it’s always easier for the observers of course. I usually tell other people we play pop music if they ask. Pop is such a broad concept - in my opinion it has no limits.
Autre: Are your parents supportive of what you are doing – it seems like they would be with all the attention you have been getting?
Søren: Yes, they are very proud, and they have been supportive from the start.
Villads: My parents have always been supporting me musically
Autre: Most of your lyrics are in English…was their a conscious decision to sing in English versus Danish?
Søren: I've mostly been listening to music with English lyrics, so it just felt natural.
Autre: What are some of your favorite things to do in Aarhus?
Søren: Aarhus is great because when I’m in town I get to visit my friends and girlfriend.
Villads: I like to cycle.
Vilhelm: Hanging around the parks in the summer. Aarhus has some really great parks.
Autre: What do you want American fans to know most about your band?
Villads: That we really want to play for you all, and we hope it’s gonna happen sometime. I guess for all musicians in Denmark playing in America is a really big thing.
Autre: Where do you see yourselves in ten years?
Villads: I see myself in a bigger city but I don’t know if it’s Copenhagen or somewhere else. And I hope and think Liss will still exist at that point.
Søren: Hopefully still evolving musically.
Autre: What’s next?
Tobias: We are working on an EP right now, which will be out soon, hopefully. And then continue to write songs and do concerts.
Vilhelm: We’ve been using a lot of time finishing songs for the last few weeks, so I can’t wait to get back to writing new stuff.