There's a moment on 'Somewhere Else' which seems to typify Indians.
Approaching the first chorus of 'I Am Haunted' Søren Løkke Juul seems to pause, caught in partial reflection before driving the song forward. It's subtle – and could easily pass you by – but it seems to sum up the organic, entirely natural way the Danish songwriter's output has evolved.
A fixture in Copenhagen's close knit music for a decade now, Søren Løkke Juul only decided to take the plunge as a solo artist at the end of 2011. Passing mp3s around friends, those initial tracks soon spiralled out of his grasp – a viral success, what began as a carefree exercise soon gathered an identity of its own.
Tied to esteemed British independent 4AD, debut album 'Somewhere Else' is full of subtle moments – graceful highs, gently wrought lows which only reveal themselves on successive listens.
At times quite moving, 'Somewhere Else' reveals Indians to be a project of rare depth – matching undeniable potential with exquisite execution, it's an intriguing, bewitching debut album.
Stream the album below, then check out our quick interview with Søren Løkke Juul.
How did this project start?
Actually, I started the Indians project one year ago. Before that, I’ve been in different bands in Denmark for the last ten years. I have always been playing in a few bands, almost like one band at a time. During the past ten years I’ve been in three different bands. I decided last year to start my own stuff and start writing music on my own. It’s pretty new.
Why the name Indians?
I think it’s about humans and nature. In a way we’re all natives. I think music is like a human basic need and I think the word 'Indian's is very close to humans and nature and things like that. It’s about being human and being part of nature. I think music is that too.
Do you find songwriting a very natural process?
I think so because I’ve been playing music for so many years. In the other bands I was a keyboard player and sang backing vocals. I think I’ve been working with music for ten years so it seems pretty natural. Writing songs, producing your own songs is just a need I have, really.
Did you feel under pressure when you began focussing on your solo material?
Yeah, for sure. That was actually part of my decision, too, because being in bands, being in the background I started to feel safe. It came to a point where I felt too safe going onstage so I didn’t want to do that. What I wanted was the pressure, the nervousness of going onstage again. I think the only way I could get my love of music back, that excitement back was by writing my own stuff – being the lead singer for the first time. I was very nervous going onstage when we played our first show in February last year. I was really, really nervous but in a good way. It was nice to have those feelings again and they’re still there. It’s different because it’s totally your own stuff, your own material and your own songs. It feels very good.
Did you write it with an audience in mind?
I never start recording or writing songs with an audience in mind, I think that is very dangerous to do. Actually I think the process of writing songs and being in the studio is very selfish – you just look inside yourself and play around. I didn’t have an audience in mind at all, it’s just like a process on my own, really. I was really nervous about sharing my music and at the start I had this song on my own Facebook page to see what my friends think about it. Suddenly my friends started sharing the song and it actually went on a little adventure by itself on the internet with music blogs picking it up. It was very exciting.
What was it like to sit at the centre of that viral process?
It’s actually within the last three weeks that I’ve been thinking about that because I’ve been doing a lot of interviews and suddenly I started to realise that the record is out of my hands now. Now people can use it and enjoy it at home and I can’t do anything about it anymore. It has its own life. I get emails from people.. not a long time ago I got an email from a girl who had lost her granddad and she said that she’s been listening to Indians a lot and that it has helped her through the loss of her granddad. That makes me really happy that people actually can use it for something and that’s what I want from the music, live and on the record.
It’s amazing the role that music can play in people’s lives.
Yeah. Exactly. It’s not up to me it’s up to the people who are listening to it. I like that idea.
Did you conceive of this as an album, or did this take shape over time?
Actually, I didn’t have an album in mind I just started writing songs. When 4AD contacted me I actually only had two songs. It was like, well we like the songs so far could you consider more? I was like: yeah, for sure! If you’re interested in working together and putting a record out later then I’ll do my best to make a record. Then I realised that I had to focus on making that record. I basically just made one song at a time.
Who produced the album?
I played all the instruments and recorded, produced and mixed it myself.
How have you recruited your live band?
Actually the two guys that are with me in the band were the lead singers of the last band I was in. I quit the band then hired the guys – they used to be the boss, but I’m the boss now! (laughs)
Is the Copenhagen music scene quite close knit?
Yeah, for sure. Copenhagen is different. It’s like a small city and the community of musicians are small too and I guess we know each other, all of us. I like the vibe in Denmark because the band’s who really do well can play around Europe and the States and stuff. We’re not jealous of each other, we’re proud of each other and we can help each other out. I know a lot of good bands in Denmark and they are my friends. It’s very nice.
How did it feel when 4AD got in touch?
It was crazy. I was busy for three days and we decided that we couldn’t tell anyone. We wanted to keep it secret and I had to keep that secret for almost half a year or something. Getting that phone call was really, really exciting. I knew the label before that and all the artists. At the start I couldn’t see myself in that kind of company – it’s weird. It comes with an immense pedigree.
Indians are now becoming a live group, has this been an easy transition to make?
I think it was quite natural to take all the songs in to the rehearsal space instead of the studio. We’ve been working really well on it. Of course we spend a lot of time practising the songs, make the right sounds and expressions. I don’t think it’s that far from the recordings, at all. What I really want is to play as many shows as possible because I really want to share the music with people.
How have those shows been going?
I think this year I’ve played almost 90 concerts without even having put out a record. I’ve done a lot of support of other bands in Europe. I’ve just done a support tour where I played about forty shows in two and a half months. Of course, it’s new to me to travel that much but I really enjoy it, I really enjoy it. It’s nice to meet different people all around the world in different cities.. I feel really, really lucky that I’m able to do that at the moment.
The word play on the record is extremely interesting.. do you have a lot of literary influences?
No, not at all. I haven’t really seen myself as a good lyric writer. I take it very seriously and whenever I’m in the studio writing the lyrics it’s usually in the end, the last thing I do. Normally, I will have a melody but while some words make sense others don’t make sense at all. It’s a different process. You take ages recording music then suddenly you have to be in the right mood. A lot of my ideas come from just sitting down and writing lyrics. I think that’s what takes most time to tell the stories and use the right words.
Does the melody come first?
Your plans for the next while involve touring, is that daunting?
For the next two months.. We start our tour in late January and then we have four shows in the UK, then we go back to Europe. We have about a month in Europe and then straight after that I have a month of touring in the States. That’s what I know so far but I think and I know that we’re going to be busy this year.
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'Somewhere Else' is out on January 28th. Indians are set to play the following UK shows:
30 Brighton Prince Albert
31 Bristol Louisiana
1 London The Lexington
2 Manchester Trof Fallowfield