Interview/Review: Efterklang

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I traveled to Cleveland this past Thursday to catch Danish band Efterklang at the Beachland Tavern. This was my third time seeing them, but my first outside of a festival setting. Though I’ve seen them in Austin and Wales, this Cleveland show took the cake. I can honestly say there was no where else I would have rather been after being treated like I was that night.

Though the room was just over half full and the Tavern is the smaller of the two Beachland venues, these guys may as well have been playing to thousands in their homeland. There was no pretentiousness, not a stitch of awkwardness, just an overwhelming sense of appreciation from the musicians and the crowd. Singer Casper Clausen and bassist Rasmus Stolberg animated the stage throughout the entire set and seemed to never tire of smiling. While they somehow fit seven people (and their equipment) on stage, the richness of the music made it sound like a dozen more were behind them. There is such a difference in seeing a band that truly loves playing music for people and one that does nothing to connect with their audience. (The crowd was even asked to start up a spontaneous “Happy Birthday” for Rasmus half way through the set.)

Efterklang is the real deal. They’re technical, they’re melodic… There’s something for everyone. I was able to sit down with Casper after the show and pick his brain a bit.

You began your own label (Rumraket) in 2000 and released your music from it in the beginning. Is this something you felt you had to do or is it how you wanted to go about distributing your music?
We just really liked the feeling of doing everything. We recorded it and then were able to put this Rumraket label on it and it made us feel good to know we had done it all.

You first released Grizzly Bear’s Horn of Plenty on Rumraket in 2004 and have continued to sign other acts, but has your work at the label taken a back seat due to the success of Efterklang?
For now it kind of has. Rasmus is the one who really runs the label (It’s his birthday you know!) and while there are always ideas brewing about projects we’d like to work on, being in Efterklang now is a full-time pursuit. None of us are in other projects, this is what we’re concentrating on.

How did you come about releasing music for Grizzly Bear?
We did a remix for one of their songs a few years back and had been left with a copy of Horn of Plenty. We listened to it and it was such a beautiful record. We just knew it had to be released, so we did it through Rumraket.

The musical transitions from Tripper to Parades to Magic Chairs is incredible. Did that happen organically, or were they intended to be so different?
It was more of a personal transition. You feel one way when you’re making a record and you feel another way when you’re making the next. It was just a normal transition for us.

How difficult is it to translate the fullness of your layered music when performing it live?
It can be very difficult with the older material. Songs from Parades are always a challenge to play and we seem to feel out different ways of playing them each time. They were recorded in the studio and are very layered. With songs from the new record it’s much easier because those songs were born on the road. We wrote them when touring and would practice them on stage so they’re much easier than our older material.

What inspires you to make your music?
Everything can really. Sometimes it’s a book you’re reading and sometimes it can be an amazing art installation you’ve seen. Other music also, but sometimes just something small you see can inspire you to go immediately create.

How would you describe the music you make to people just learning about you for the first time?
It is a little difficult. I think I’ve recently stolen part of what a reporter used and have called it orchestral post-rock.

What does Efterklang mean exactly?
Efterklang means two things, both “reverberation” and “remembrance”. Efter means after and klang means sound.

Efterklang’s album artwork is some of my all time favorite. How did the partnership with Hvass&Hannibal come about?
Well it came about because Rasmus was dating one of the artists, Na Na Hvass. He kind of nervously presented some of her work to us and recommended her as someone we might want to use to make our artwork. Now she has contributed to each one.

Yea, it’s easy for me to not pick up records with terrible artwork but these really stand out.
Thanks! I know what you mean though. It is nice that when I go to a record shop and flip through records, I’m really proud of ours.

I read that in the beginning, you all had aspirations of being “rock stars.” What would it take to make you feel like a rock star now?
Well I remember being a kid playing drums for the first time. I started out playing drums and remember a time where I was learning “Paradise City” and I remember thinking, we can do this too! It’s very different now. I think those dreams of being huge stars has changed. We’re the kind of band who does everything. We have a hand in it all. We sell the merch, we talk to people. We like being involved in every step of the night.