The Danish band Efterklang have a special relationship with orchestras. Since the band’s first orchestral project in 2008, they have been on stage with no less than three different orchestras in 3 years in the Netherlands alone. First was the outstanding show with Dutch Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam in June 2010 as part of the Holland Festival, then came the Cross-linx festival shows in February 2011 with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason and the Messing Orchestra in Utrecht, Eindhoven, Groningen and Rotterdam. Now, in the lead-up to the two shows in November with Sinfonia Rotterdam and conductor Matthew Coorey, we at Nordic Vibes were very happy to get an interview with Rasmus from the band. We are very grateful to Rasmus for taking the time to talk to us despite being in the midst of a UK tour, with an impending trip to Japan! Here he talks about the band’s orchestral performances, Metallica and Miss Piggy – not the pink pig from the Muppet Show but a rusting old oil can that the band befriended and affectionately named whilst recording the band’s latest album Pirimada (see our luistertip here).
Nordic Vibes: How does the preparation for these performances differ from a non-orchestral show?
Rasmus Stolberg: It takes a lot more work, especially in pre-production. You have to make sure everything is working. – the technical side and the musical side – before you meet with the orchestra to rehearse. Because usually you have 1 day to rehearse with a new orchestra before a project like this, so we need to come in fully prepared and we need to be sure that the parts we ask them to play works and are interesting and so on. So yeah a lot of thought goes into this.
NV: Do you see it more as an integration than an ‘us’ and ‘them’ kind of musical relationship?
RS: Integration is always how we approach these projects. When we did our very first orchestral project back in 2008 we had just watched Metallica perform with the La Philharmonics and it was just a joke. There was no reason for them to have an orchestra – they did not use the opportunity to actually try and create a new take on their music. So we can thank Metallica for letting us know how not to do it! 🙂
NV: How do the arrangements work?
RS: The arrangements for the orchestra are very important when you want to integrate the orchestral parts as much as possible. Therefore we carefully invite arrangers and composers to work with us who we really trust and admire and who share our ambitions. In the Piramida Concerts we have on top of this also commissioned a piece to be played only by the orchestra. So they get the full attention in that piece.
NV: How do you go about translating the field-recording sounds from Piramida into a live set-up?
RS: We play all the sounds we created from our trip to Piramida on keyboards. We use a computer and MIDI keyboards and this makes it possible for us to actually play Miss Piggy live.
NV: The Eindhoven venue (Catherinakerk) is a beautiful church. Will there be anything special for that show inspired by the church with regards to lighting or projections, for instance?
RS: We hope so – it is an incredible space!
Miss Piggy can be heard as the very first sound on the very first song on the new album (‘Hollow Mountain’), which also features contributions from Earl Harvin (drums, Tindersticks), Nils Frahm (wurlitzer), Peter Broderick (strings) and the 60-piece South Denmark’s Girls Choir. Although most of these contributors won’t be at the upcoming shows in Eindhoven and Brussels, Peter Broderick will be the support act for both shows. Tickets are still available. These shows will be truly something special and I, for one, intend not to miss out!