If you fancy yourself a discriminating fan of (aka unapologetic snob about) that heavenly "Scandinavian sound" then you already have Danish band Tetris = Therapy on your playlist's shortlist. If you don't, let me school you real quick: T = T is indie hot, Scandinavian cool, and has fresh-pressed, delicious tracks to offer as proof that they are "purveyors of musical escapism."
Kasper Guldberg Husted writes and sings the poetic words woven into the "semi-electronic Jutlandic post-pop" music of indie band Tetris = Therapy. He plays the guitar, saxophone and keyboards, too, and when joined by jazz-influenced Jeppe Høi Justesen on drums and Rune Riisbjerg Thomsen on guitar each song unfolds like little epic novels that makes your heart wander and wonder.
T = T stays true to this musical storytelling sound they've shaped over the years they've played together. They know their mission well. On their Facebook page, when announcing the release of their latest EP Temperance, T = T dispensed great advice on how to listen to their new EP for the first time:
Listen to it at high volume over a cup of coffee with one you love while the Sun bakes your cheeks and your hearts and the universe is infinitely great and you feel you're alive and everything falls into place and for the first time in your life are you in no doubt that you have the capacity to love. You can also just listen to it on the poor iPhone headphones on the bus. Everything is possible.
Recently, the gentlemen of Tetris = Therapy kindly answered a few questions for me about such pressing issues as their unusual name, their new EP Temperance and the multiple use of what can only be described as an "electric didgeridoo". That interview is directly below, but before you start it, wouldn't it be nice to open another browser tab and stream the EP Temperance on SoundCloud or bandcamp while you're reading?
Hey, welcome back!
And away we go...
Tell us the story of how the name Tetris = Therapy came to be. And is it cool to spell it “Equals” instead?
Kasper: In high school I was an impressionable kid with a lot of big ideas and I think one evening I probably decided that I needed to share those with the world, so I started blogging on my new Myspace profile, of all places. I remember naming one post "Tetris = Therapy", just musing on how much I loved that game - which I still do, I still find it therapeutic, relaxing. Apparently so do certain scientists now, which is kind of amazing. (Editors note: In case you're curious...Tetris eases traumatic flashbacks)
Anyway, when Rune and I started putting the first songs together for our new project I just thought of that title and went "hey, Tetris = Therapy would be a cool name for band" and he went "yeah!" and that's the way it has been ever since. And I guess you can spell out "equals", I don't mind, that's just not how we do it. Although the = has been cause for confusion before.
Describe the “sound” of T = T and list some influences.
Rune: I guess it's the sound of American indie songwriting styles set against a backdrop of icy Scandinavian soundscapes.
Kasper: Semi-electronic Jutlandic post-pop.
Rune: As far as influences go, The Postal Service is an obvious one that we loved almost from the day we started playing music together. We've been compared to Future Islands recently, which is cool as we really like their records. Low in terms of using dynamics and restraint on the new EP. We've always been inspired in general by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Explosions in the Sky - just their way of building songs and mapping out a story through sound, and making every element of a song play an equally important role.
Kasper: There was a band in the 80's called Gangway, they were kind of the Danish equivalent of what The Smiths and R.E.M. were doing for British and American music, who did two amazing records before going completely off track into this weird Pet Shop Boys territory - some of that is pretty great too though. But they are definitely a big influence on how I try to approach melodies, and working in everyday situations into the songs in sort of a surreal and slightly distorted manner. Probably my favorite band out of Denmark. Oh, and I've been obsessed with all things Beach Boys-related for going on five years now.
Jeppe: I was listening to a ton of M83 when we did both records. Joy Division too. Other than that I think what really informs me as a drummer is that I've played various forms of jazz all my life, which I guess shows up in something like 'Unconventional Copenhagen' - it's a combination of that and my love of 80's pop...so, tight synthpop and free jazz.
Rune: It was a much more condensed process, the songs were fairly new when we went into the studio. The tracking was done in a week, whereas Acquaintances was done over several months, with songs that were sometimes three years old - everything was just more planned out this time, we tried to be more professional, more focused. Maybe it was easier as well seeing as the songs seemed like they had more in common than previous sets of songs in our band's lifetime...it was a cohesive whole that seemed to pull itself together really easily.
Jeppe: Just the songs early on, it really seemed like a completely new direction for us, so it was also just a matter of getting in there and making sure that was put to tape before we moved on into another place.
Kasper: All four songs have a much more hook- and song-based mellow feel, So that gave way to more of an organic band process in the studio. Just the three of us actually playing together in the same room instead of layering tracks over a long time and cutting everything up and putting it back together. Like the song Home on the Range, the basic track was played almost entirely live, with Jeppe on the drums, Rune on the guitar and myself on the Juno 60 synthesizer. It was just a revelation to know that we could do that and that we did not have to rely that much on production tricks and programmed sounds for a song to come together...of course we ended up mixing it for months, but what can you do. That's why people make deadlines.
Let’s play favorites. Name the track on the Temperance EP that you love the best and why.
Kasper: That's a tough one. Right now I'm really into Home on the Range - I'm just really happy with how the recording turned out. It has a great, thick foggy vibe about it.
Rune: Right now, I'm gonna go with Blast Off - besides being a cool song it shows off a lot of the new things we have learned as songwriters as well as about the process of pulling a song together in Tetris = Therapy - our possibilities and limitations. It encompasses almost all the different elements we've been toying around with during the making of the EP. It moves through some cool phases. I mean it's tough to pick between the songs as I think the EP really works as whole to show a complete picture of where we were when we made it.
Jeppe: I'm joining Rune on the Blast Off wagon - I just love how it's an amalgamation of so many influences, ideas and sounds. I love playing it, it has a great energy.
In both Acquaintances (Video Game Museum) and The Temperance (University Girls) I hear an electronic didgeridoo...I think. What the what is it? And (more importantly) how do you know when a song calls for the "woooOOOowwwWWWwwooOOOooow" of the electric didgeridoo?
Kasper: Ah, the great electric didgeridoo! God I wish that was a thing. Actually that sound is just a software synth that I've grown to love that kind of simulates the sound of something like the Roland TB-303, like a classic "acid" house sound, with some manipulation. What's funny is that I actually snuck a sample of an actual didgeridoo on to the 'University Girls' track, early on when I was starting to put the song together… just because that is such a lame, useless instrument in so many contexts, that I really wanted to make it work so bad. And it kind of did! It's still there, see if you can hear it. I guess as we've never had a bass player it's always a matter of finding a creative way to fill out the low end of a song, and that has been a go to sound for a while now - it's just a cool contrast to the guitars and the vocals...it really makes things move along, but in a weird "caught in sludge" kind of slo-mo way.
Rune: Yes we are - very much looking forward to it. Great line-up.
Kasper: Those guys are the best. Other than that we are only just starting to play live shows again after a long break, so we need to start up that whole gigging machinery again - but we are planning a tour of Denmark with our good friends in The Great Dictators and Hell is in Hello this fall which should be amazing. And of course we would love to go to the states soon too, so we are looking into that as well.
Tell us what the future holds for Kasper, Rune and Jeppe as well as T = T? Also, tell us how to best keep track of news and free tracks and such.
Rune: Well, as Kasper mentioned, we'll hopefully do a tour in the fall and we'll start demoing some new songs that have been coming into fruition in the rehearsal space soon. And of course we want to take some time to promote the new EP and get that out there and make sure as many people as possible hear it.
Jeppe: I'm just now moving to Copenhagen, so that should be exciting. Actually being in the same city.
Kasper: We just really want to start producing and putting out music at a higher rate. There are a lot of things coming together right now for us. And, seeing as everything on this planet that moves is on Facebook, I would recommend you keep up to date with us there: Tetris = Therapy on Facebook