Keeping an Open Mind, BLY interviews Tatu Rönkkö + Efterklang
By John Perye . August 30, 2014
Berlin-based Efterklang celebrated their new collaboration with Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö this past Thursday in Mitte. The group, billed as Tatu Rönkkö + Efterklang performed to a packed house of sweaty fans. Earlier this year in Sønderborg, Denmark, Efterklang, consisting of Mads Christian Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg, played a “Last Show” of sorts in the town they grew up around. This left many fans confused and wondering if the band was splitting up. Clearing up the confusion on the band’s website they stated the show was not a break-up and, “This is not the end of Efterklang. It is the end of Efterklang as we know it.
“It is the end of Efterklang as we know it,” and is this the new beginning?
Casper: I think it is. It’s definitely a peak into a new beginning in our little world. The three of us in Efterklang have not really been doing music as intimate as this collaboration with Tatu before, so it’s a way for us to try and experiment with a new form of Efterklang in a way.
The last couple of years Efterklang covered a lot of ground?
Casper: Yeah, for the last six, seven years we’ve been touring pretty much all over the world. Putting out four albums, two live albums, two EPs, two films, so a lot of activity with Efterklang. It has been really busy, we’ve been meeting a lot of good people, experiencing a lot things. Tatu we met two years ago, here in Berlin. We were looking for a new drummer, and Tatu joined the live band of Efterklang right away so we played 120 shows together around the world. And we just enjoyed playing with this guy, and thought it would be interesting to sort of create a project that would put us at equal terms. Not him playing our music, but us playing our music together.
Tatu: Yes definitely.
Casper: Yes so we had to cut off the limp of Efterklang in a way, take off the old songs and leave them aside.
Tatu: Sort of start from scratch.
Tatu: And start composing collectively and see what happens.
How’s it been?
Tatu: Its been really natural and easy, as easy as I think playing and touring together is, so it’s not something that’s completely different but it’s just that natural continuation to the feeling that we had. There’s something that, it would be nice to continue somehow, playing music together. So we’re definitely I would say, on the same wave.
Are you looking to make a record or just focusing on live shows?
Casper: Right now we’re kind of floating around in this in-between period of time where we can be free enough to play whatever. Every time we play a show we try to communicate to anyone being at the show that this is all new music, and all new sounds, and it’s an experiment. There’s no record to kind of relate the music to. People have to be open-minded in a way, as well as ourselves, try to go into each show and make it like a new thing. We’re not really sure how or when we’ll record the stuff at the moment we’re just playing shows like tonight here in Berlin.
Tatu: Experimenting with the two, seeing which form they take when we play live.
Casper: Try to keep it open a bit because there’s something about both Tatu and his former projects he’s been doing and projects we’ve been doing, we are used to defining projects like that. Usually what you do is put it down on an album and it’s defined. But what is exciting for us at the moment is to keep it a bit open, leave it to open-ended. Play some shows, go back into the rehearsal space and make some more music, and see what comes out of it. I think people can expect at some point this to be more defined but at the moment it’s like the title says, “Tatu Rönkkö + Efterklang.” It’s like two units meeting up and something comes out of that. You can probably hear references from both of our worlds.
Tatu: Things kind of naturally take their form and direction. I already feel with the existence of one month of this project, it started off really well, and all the time it’s on a journey. You start having this ya, okay, there’s this possibility because it’s open and not completely defined. And musically, actually, pretty free apart from the sort of composition of it. Just a new really interesting period and making music together.
Casper: Try to get more material together and explore a bit more of the collaboration. What we will be playing at the moment is a thing we started in Finland a couple of weeks ago. We went there for the first time to make music together. Went to a small summer cottage to see what would come out of that. The music we will be playing tonight is from that summer cottage way up in Finland. It seems appropriate to do it at a Finnish event like this.
The band is based in Berlin. Any particular reasons why?
Casper: Everyone that asks that question, you probably hear it yourself, “why Berlin?” To me Berlin seems to be the place where there’s most like-minded people, having similar goals as I have. It feels always like a natural place to be. There is always interesting things happening. There’s things to love and hate about all kinds of cities. I came from Copenhagen which is a lovely place as well, but Berlin’s a bit bigger, a bit more colorful.
Tatu: It feels freer to any of the Scandinavian capitals, Copenhagen, or Helsinki where I lived ten years. I agree completely with what you said, it attracts artists and like-minded people and the social life and how things happen in the city, it’s really free. More free of the social norms or rules than Scandinavia where certain things are structured. Berlin’s created energy that isn’t always determined in one way and results in a lot of beautiful things.
Is it safe to say electronic music has taken over Berlin?
Casper: I think electronic music or the DJ culture has taken over a lot of places around the world. To put up events like this, it seems silly in way with a real band and actually going through the struggles to actually making it work. You have to appreciate being in a band these days because if you look at the success of an event, an amount of how many people come, how much booze did they buy, all this kind of stuff. It’s definitely easier putting on a nice DJ. There’s an interesting struggle for live music in a way. I think every musician now a days knows about, it spans from bands that just start off in the teenage years to bands like us who have been playing music 15 years. We have to constantly try to make live music sexy. Make it something people really want, something that people really crave for. I think that it’s actually an interesting period in time. We need to reform the idea of music and also try to take people on new journeys.
There’s no harm in a DJ or someone spinning records, it’s great. But anyone watching a great performer playing live and being able to relate to this beautiful impact it has on you. To get that back in a way that people actually get to experience these things, that’s a tough challenge but it’s also worth it I think cause music is meant to be live.
Tatu: In many ways the world has changed and is changing where things happen more fast, where they are more compact. Things are processed faster and easy to access and people can make music with less money and at home, which wasn’t the same when we were kids. We didn’t have ipads or portable studios in our home. As you say the DJ culture and the live music culture are not even rivals of each other but parts of the popular culture. It’s pretty interesting to see where it results. I don’t think live music will ever disappear and the appreciation for handcrafted things like say a garage band with a bunch of kids playing. That’s something really raw and you can really relate to. I don’t say that you can’t relate to DJs but it’s just a completely different thing if someone is spinning records and pressing buttons, where it’s sort of less human I would say.
Tatu: Wide-open streets and a lot of space to think and breathe. The relaxed vibe of people coming together in a nice melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds.
Casper: We came from Denmark yesterday, and just coming in this beautiful late summer sunshine. Berlin summer for me is a really unique thing, it seems like this city’s really breathing. It’s kind of an ugly city in many ways, but once the sunlight is hitting it the right way, people out on the streets, it seems good things are happening. There’s an amazing energy going on.
For all things Tatu Rönkkö + Efterklang, click here.
Photos: John Perye