2015 Artist Survey: Sondre Lerche | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2015 Artist Survey: Sondre Lerche

Lerche on 2015's Best Music, Justin Bieber, Getting Fired, Breakups, and Misogyny in the Music Industry

Feb 29, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Photography by Marius Hauge Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Sondre Lerche. The Norwegian singer/songwriter’s last album, Please, was released in 2014 via Mona Records.

A shorter version of this interview ran in the Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is the full unedited version of the interview.

Top 11 Albums of 2015

1. Dornik: Dornik
2. Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
3. Jim O’Rourke: Simple Songs
4. Amason: Sky City
5. Max Richter: Sleep
6. Dungen: Allas Sak
7. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
8. Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrøm: Rundans
9. Tame Impala: Currents
10. Kamasi Washington: The Epic
11. Jenny Hval: Apocalypse, girl

Top 11 Songs of 2015

1. Tame Impala: “Eventually”
2. Julia Holter: “Feel You”
3. Band of Gold: “But in the Movie Baby”
4. Mitski: “Townie”
5. Dornik: “Strong”
6. Drake: “Hotline Bling”
7. Lana Del Rey: “Terrence Loves You”
8. Miguel: “Coffee”
9. Deerhunter: “Snakeskin”
10. Laura Marling: “Gurdjieff’s Daughter”
11. Panda Bear: “Tropic of Cancer”

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Personal highlight was finally going to Brazil, personal low point was injuring my left hand for a period, especially the couple of days I couldn’t play guitar. I am lucky.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

For the first time in my professional life I have a completely empty horizon. No places I have to be, no tours, no promises, no engagements. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Now that it’s real, it is quite terrifying, but that’s part of the experience. 2016. Anything could happen. The rest is mystery.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

I am thankful to any major artist who uses their considerable clout to push for much-needed progress to benefit all recording artists. I believe in the future and feel progress is slow but real. I think more streaming options is a good thing.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

I have no idea what it does to sales, but I do like a bit of change. It seems to have just happened sneakily and organically, as streaming has grown. I’m into it.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

I’ve always felt out of touch with the mainstream, so whenever the needs or excitements of the mainstream audience coincide with my own desires, it is something I celebrate and enjoy. It’s still a rare occasion. The mainstream has always interested me greatly, even when I don’t quite connect with it. I think it’s cool that music critics are taking the mainstream more seriously, although it sometimes leads good writers astray in trying to cover too much ground, understand too much. I do wish that Justin Bieber album was as good, inspired and confident as Justified. It would have been so cool. But no matter how many hi-brow writers try to frame it that way, it just isn’t. I appreciate that the music biz establishment is more open to independent talent and voices. In that sense, we live in a golden era of socio-musical fluidity. But there’s very little in the Top 40 that truly touches or engages me. Would be kinda creepy if it did.

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

Oh dear. I am not a citizen and can’t vote, so I’ll try to stay out of it. There are already so many things that baffle the mind and defy common decency and sense. I can only imagine how it feels to be an American of sound mind in this climate, this broken system. I am thankful that I get to live here, and for the unique spirit I have found and met in America, but when I look at some of these candidates I guess I am thankful that I also have an out.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist’s album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

The problem is that if I love an album, I wouldn’t really feel motivated to touch it. I’d wanna hear it again, not record a lesser version of it myself. Perhaps a song here or there, as a gesture of admiration, but an album? There’s not enough time or desire. I’ve too many songs and ideas of my own to tend to. Pop-culturally it was fun for a moment, but also revealing. Reading all these old-man pieces describing this as some generous, brave gesture on Adams’ part, bringing his tenure, flannel, and credibility to this young pop star’s hit songs, when in fact this was a most generous set of songs.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

I was fired for making salmon baguettes too slow when I was 14. After one day! They had no patience with me.

What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

The extended version of [a-ha’s] “Take On Me” (the 12” B-side) playing down that hall every night as I fell asleep at 4.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

Tending to these tour riders is somebody’s everyday job, so I’ve always just felt I’ll spare them the umpteenth joke attempt. It seems a little uninspired. And anyway, I’m not nearly big enough for them to take my rider-request jokes seriously. That joke is dead on arrival.

What’s the most disastrous date you’ve ever been on?

I haven’t really dated much. I sometimes wonder what disasters and pleasures I’ve missed out on.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

I’ve never seen Star Wars.

Where do you see yourself in five beers?

I don’t really drink beer.

What’s the lamest breakup excuse you’ve ever given or been given?

This one girl once told me at 12 that she didn’t really think we had been together anyway. It was news to me.

With Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Gilmore Girls, Full House, and other classic shows returning, what other TV show would you like to see come back with its original cast?

I’m happy just as long as VEEP, Nathan For You, The Affair, Empire, and Colbert is on the air. By the way, Master of None is as great as anyone says. What a gift.

CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, among others, has spoken out about misogyny in the music industry and the sexist, and sometimes sexually violent, Internet comments from male fans. What are your thoughts on the issue?

The behavior of men, both online and in real life, has always embarrassed me. I’ve always felt like I should be apologizing to all women I meet on behalf of all men, including myself. But that doesn’t work either. Men everywhere are a disappointment to all.

What song will most unite or amp up the tour bus or van (à la “Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous)? Which song do you love that the rest of the band or crew refuse to let you put on?

“Do It Again” by Robyn & Røyksopp unites all. There’s no song anyone in my entourage can refuse me to put on. I will turn it up either way.

Taylor Swift has been celebrated by indie rock fans and mainstream pop fans alike. Is she truly this generation’s pop genius or is she a talented, if overrated, songwriter?

Both. Anyone that famous and powerful is always overrated. They’re overexposed and too much is read into their every move; their game, really, is glorifying themselves as an entity. At the same time, they are also constantly underrated, especially female artists, because the overexposure leads to resentment and fatigue from part of the public. This saturation causes people who don’t listen to their music or appreciate their talents to have strong, uninformed opinions on their every move; no matter how good they are, they’ll be hated by these people. If you wanna be big, this famous, that’s what you’ll need to deal with, forever. And so I’d argue that major pop artists are neither one or the other. Or rather, both. The rules of their game are different from other artists. They are usually at once much more talented than you think, and not quite as brilliant as you are made to believe. And that, in my opinion, takes a lot of talent.

Which moment from your past most haunts you?

That time in 1988 when I threw a toy car made out of metal in my sister Bianca’s eye.



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