Breaking the Barriers
Sep 29, 2016
Photography by Stephani Estål Issue #58 - The Protest Issue
Virgin Suicide's moniker was fairly obviously inspired by the 2000-released Sofia Coppola directed film The Virgin Suicides. But somewhat surprisingly, film isn't an overt influence on the songwriting of the Danish act's sun-drenched pop numbers, according to their frontman Martin Grønne. It does manifest itself in the protracted process after the songs are written, however, which perhaps explains the compelling sonic appeal of their recombination of a pastiche of familiar '60s and '80s reference points on their self-titled debut album, co-produced and mixed by fellow Dane, The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner.
"I feel very inspired by a lot of graphic parts of sci-fi movies," the singer says. "They run through my head during the mixing process, but not the songwriting. That's not cinematic to me. It's more personal. But during the mixing, our clean and picky sound has a lot of connection to colors. It's abstract, but when I discussed it with Sune, it worked. It's an abstract language, but it made sense to us."
And indeed, there's a kaleidoscopic aural world conjured on the album, rather remarkably exclusively made trans-continentally via Skype and email sessions with Wagner based in Los Angeles (where he presently resides). Grønne, along with the rest of the band—rounded out by Terkel Røjle (guitar), Kristian Bønløkke (keyboards), Kristian Kyvsgaard (bass), and Simon Thoft Jensen (drums)—were in Copenhagen throughout the recording, where they've called home since 2012 after forming while in school together in the small western town of Silkeborg, Denmark.
Yet they managed to capture an alchemic intimacy on songs such as the bristling jangle reverie "2nd Wave," the coruscating "Marble Sky," redolent of The Wake, and the winnowing, gorgeously La's-esque "Sedate Me." The record also betrays a certain youthful yearning lyrically, which provides a fascinating dissonance that rewards frequent listens.
"I tried to write from my emotional state of mind and make it a simple outlet for my feelings," explains Grønne. "It's naive sounding at times. But I didn't want the subjects to be too overly emotional. They're about a loss of innocence. Things like a realization of death and the wonderment of life. I felt very vulnerable writing the songs, but once they were out there, I felt more confident in them, especially live," he beams, still riding high after a high profile performance at Denmark's Roskilde festival, their biggest to date.
While Virgin Suicide still hope to have their debut album released in the states (it was released overseas in May of 2015), Grønne is already hard at work preparing its follow-up which he's targeting for release in the spring of 2017, and hints it will drift in myriad stylistic directions, pointing to a rather unlikely template he's seeking to emulate to avoid a sophomore malaise—Roxy Music's eighth album Avalon and it's meticulously crafted sequencing, which he claims just dawned on him a day before our interview.
"I've been writing a lot this summer. Just a lot of songs for the group so we have many to choose from," he says. "The first [album] was like a bunch of songs I wrote that fitted together nicely, but we want to make a bigger development in the next one, seeing it more as the whole thing, the way I see Avalon. I'm trying to keep in mind that I can throw away great songs to make the album I want to make if they don't feel right for it. It won't be easy, but it's what we need to do."
[Note: This article originally appeared in the digital version (for tablets and smart phones) of Under the Radar's August/September/October 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]
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