Interview: Indians

Interview with Indians



Signed on the strength of one song, Søren Løkke Juul’s repaid 4AD’s faith with his dreamy debut as Indians. We chatted to the man himself about writing under pressure, touring with Other Lives and why American audiences are the most fun.

Questions and answers

Hi Søren, where are you today?

I’m in Copenhagen, getting prepared for Eurosonic this weekend.

What’s the music scene like in Copenhagen?

It’s a pretty small city so we all know each other and hang out, and talk about our experiences on the road and in the studio. I like the attitude in Copenhagen amongst bands: we’re not jealous of each other; we’re proud of each others’ success and help each other out.

Are there any artists that we should be looking out for?

Yeah, definitely. There’s a band called Choir of Young Believers that just released a new album and it’s really, really good. One of my friends is in a band called Sleep Party People that’s very interesting. They’ve been playing in England a lot too. And then there’s Efterklang, whom I’ve met a couple of times.

Ok, for the benefit of those who don’t know much about you, could you tell us how Indians came to be please?

Well, I’ve been part of bands in Denmark for the past 10 years – co-writing with people in the band – and I just started writing my own stuff in late 2011. I only had one song when 4AD contacted me about a record deal, so I’ve been writing a lot this past year! I basically wrote all the songs on this album in 2012.

Why did you decide to go solo?

Because I really just wanted to try something different and be in charge of everything myself. I wrote the songs [on Somewhere Else] and I produced, recorded and mixed everything myself. I’ve never seen myself as a songwriter or a producer or a technician but it was just about challenging myself the most that I could, and just being in charge.

So what’s your earliest musical memory?

I come from a very musical family. My dad has a huge record collection: I think he has maybe about 4,000 or 5,000 records. So I was brought up with Neil Young, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Beatles... All the good stuff from the 60s and 70s.

Which were the key artists or records that made you want to become a musician?

I think when I heard Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon for the first time it really opened my eyes to how playful music could be. That period of music was so different to The Beatles’ pop songs.

How does the creative process work for you?

On this album I’ve been under an amount of pressure because I didn’t have that much time to finish the record. So when I started writing a song, I finished all the mixing and production at the same time. And whenever it was finished I had to start from scratch again, writing a new song. So there have been a lot of processes mixed together.

Every song comes to life in a different way, I think. Sometimes I’m inspired by a keyboard sound, and sometimes I have a little melody on my phone and I work a song out of that.

Did you have any specific goal for how you wanted the record to sound?

No, I didn’t have a specific idea but I decided from the start that I would use all the synthesisers and equipment I already had, and not buy new stuff. It was just a process of playing around a lot!

How would you describe your music to someone who’d never heard you before?

I would say it’s very dreamy. (Laughs) So if you want to go for a walk – or be on your bike – put on your headphones and dream a little bit, I think my music’s an opportunity to escape into this kind-of fantasy land.

Your sound’s been compared to The Flaming Lips and The Radio Dept. Would you say they’re fair comparisons?

I like The Flaming Lips a lot and Mercury Rev too. They both work with Dave Fridmann and I think he is one of the greatest producers, so maybe I did take inspiration in the way they sound.

I think when The Flaming Lips make music they don’t do it for a specific audience, they’re just very playful. Being in a recording situation is a selfish process: I don’t have any idea of the audience I’m going to reach with the music, it’s just about being satisfied myself.

Can you tell us about some of the themes on Somewhere Else please?

I think it’s just a lifetime’s experience. In a way, it’s very personal but I think everyone knows the feeling of being hurt or in love. Writing songs is a way of getting things out of your system.

Why did you choose to sing in English?

First of all, I really like the language. (Laughs) I think it’s obvious and simple. And secondly, I really enjoy travelling around the world and there’s definitely an opportunity to get out to a bigger audience if you sing in English. I want to share my music with as many people as possible, and if I chose to sing in Danish the music would be there but all the stories wouldn’t be told.

If you had to pick the track you’re proudest of, which would it be and why?

That’s a really difficult question because right now I’m in a phase where it’s difficult for me to hear the record. And every time I had to start on a new song, I was really scared about whether I could do it. I didn’t know if I had a whole record in me when 4AD contacted me, so I’m really proud of all the songs. And I think they’ve all come out differently.

I think a song like ‘Magic Kids’ is really nice because it’s so simple, but there’s some kind of magic in the way the whole feeling of the song is captured in a strong melody.

So what’s the plan for the rest of 2013? Touring?

Definitely. Last year I played about 90 concerts without having a record out so hopefully I’m going to play a lot more this year. Our European tour starts at the end of January and we’ll be playing there for a month, and then going to the States for a month. That’s all I know so far, but we have some festivals coming up. I think I’m going to be busy!

You did a massive tour with Other Lives last year too. How was that?

Yeah, I actually saw a show with them in London – I think in April or May 2012 – and it was amazing. So when the news came through that I was going to support them I was really happy. They’ve been touring for a long time so, being on the road with the guys, I learned a lot from them. And they were really nice people.

How did you find the audiences in the States? Did they differ from the audiences back home?

Definitely. (Laughs) You get an instant response. People scream at you,“I like your shirt!”, “I like your hair!” or “I like this song!”. They’re very outgoing compared to people in Scandinavia and I like that.

What would you like to achieve ultimately with your music?

I really enjoy playing concerts so what I would really like to achieve is to play more concerts. It’s not about big venues either, because I actually like to play for 200 or 300 people in the small venues.

I received an email from a girl who had just lost her Grandad and she wrote to tell me she’d been listening to ‘Magic Kids’ a lot and it had really helped her get over her loss. That really made a big impression on me. The record is out of my hands now and I really like the idea that people can buy it and get their own feelings out of it. My job is just to be out there playing concerts a lot and writing more songs.