Unlikely as it may seem, Norway’s Casiokids are truly groundbreaking.
The group released the first-ever Norwegian language single in the UK last year, teaming up with Moshi Moshi to unleash their joyous vocals and child-like Scandinavian beats. They’ve subsequently returned, with ‘Fot I Hose’ claiming our Single of the Week not so long ago.
Taking their name from the beat-up old keyboards that inspired them, Casiokids have evolved to produce a heart-quickening, life-affirming racket. An exhilarating live act, the group’s recent performance at our Clash Live gig at London’s Hoxton Bar & Kitchen left us all gasping for breath.
Clash sat down with lead singer Ketil Kinden Endresen to talk about the Norwegian music scene, that Moshi Moshi team up and much more…
How did the group form?
We formed in Bergen in 2005, and we were involved in pop and rock bands. We wanted to make something different and formed Casiokids. The original idea where we got the name is that those were the only kind of synthesisers we had, and so that dictated the kind of music we made.
You seem to have a lot in common with the 8-bit scene, is this intentional?
Not really. We are more inspired by electro sounds, or African music like Nigerian afrobeat or music from Mali. That’s where we are basically. We like it more on the electro side, that’s what inspires us.
What equipment do you use?
Well, when we play live and in the studio we use guitars and drums. We have a few casios left; we use Korgs as that is important to our sound. We have expanded beyond casios.
How different are you from other Norwegian bands?
Well, it’s hard to generalise about how Norwegian bands sound. I wouldn’t say we’re similar to him, but we have other really good electronic acts that we really admire like Lindstrom. We’re inspired by him.
How did the link up with Moshi Moshi happen?
We met them during a festival in Oslo. It’s a festival where mostly unsigned bands play, and they had come over and saw us play a huge show, about a thousand people there – it was a big success. We met Stephen from Moshi Moshi and then after we toured England and then we got a deal. We both really spoke about our like for one another. We like a lot of the bands they have – or had – on their roster, some music that we really like.
Why did you stick to your guns and release a single in Norwegian?
It was just the right thing for us. We found out after playing shows outside of Norway that people didn’t mind. We played France, and no one cared. Then we recorded the single and we didn’t want to change it. It was just the right thing for us to do. I think because we make dance-based electronic music, and so maybe people listen to the music more so it’s not a big deal. It would be different if I was a singer-songwriter.
Were you surprised by how well received ‘Fot I Hose’ was in Europe?
Yeah, well, we weren’t sure what to expect, really. We’ve had a lot of attention and we’ve played there a lot. The single is released in Norway this week, but so far we’ve had more attention in the UK than Norway. We’ve played more in Norway of course, and had success as a live band. But it’s nice to see the single doing so well in the UK.
When you play live you use multimedia effects and a puppet show, is this right? How did this begin?
Yeah, whenever the setting is right we have our own visuals group. They come with us when the setting is right, and they visualize the stories in the music. They come with us in other countries when people are not familiar with the language. We have tried with subtitles, but we found it too distracting. We found we wanted to visualize the stories more. It sort of had the same thing where we have lighting below screens off-stage.
Do they have control over the visuals or do you have an input?
Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s us. We can help visualise it, sometimes we write with that in mind. We inspire each other.
What are your plans for the rest of 2009?
Well, we are doing a lot of touring, we have never done so much touring as we are doing now. Hopefully we don’t die because of it! Right after now we play for a month in France. Then we aim to rest, and then in May we’re touring the UK and hopefully doing a few festivals. We have a project that involves kindergartens in the Bergen area, and we are working on that with our visual group. So we will make music for their play. They have the story. We will go into different kindergartens and make a stage and then play for the kids. So we’re working on that. And then hopefully we’ll finish the album soon. We’ve only made singles up until now. I think that’s good now, with the whole release format. We’ve done quite a few single releases. We thought it was better to do it with singles than collecting the songs and then releasing it. We have our own studio in Bergen and so we can release things quite quickly after we record it. So when we go on tour we are more on the same wavelength as our audiences, as the songs are fresh – both for them and for us.
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‘Fot I Hose’ is out now on Moshi Moshi; find Casiokids online HERE.
Photo: Pavla Kopecna