Speaker Announcement: Natasha Friis Saxberg

Skærmbillede 2014-11-20 kl. 13.59.33

Interconnectedness, globalisation, movement – all of these are buzzwords of our millennium and a focal point within the TEDxKEA narrative. Humanity took its time getting to where we are today, yet we still have a long way to go. The process of innovation, however, can and needs to be quicker and more effective, according to Natasha Friis Saxberg.

A globetrotter and a tech-frontrunner, Natasha has lived on three continents and has been exposed to many different cultures throughout her lifetime. Pursuing meaning on a global and human level rather than merely a local one has therefore become a mantra for her.

Natasha kicked off her career working within the art and craft industry, showing entrepreneurial guile to open her first business at the tender age of 18. Her talent and understanding of the industry paved the way for early success as a garment designer – but an economic recession had other plans for her. Forced to abandon her business and devoid of a strong academic foundation to fall back on at the time, Natasha’s instincts led her to pursue an education as a systems engineer in 1997.

Natasha saw huge potential in the Internet in its early years, which “back then was about establishing servers and networks; making sure that people could communicate”. The young systems engineer rose quickly through the ranks – swiftly ascending to the position of operations manager for the Danish rail company, DSB S-Tog.

Operationalizing information technology within a company such as DSB, whose clientele is extremely diverse, was not without its challenges, and neither was being a forerunner for the arguments in favour of providing Internet services to commuters. Her ideas, whilst impressive, were too premature for many of her bosses and colleagues. Natasha left the company with her wits about her and valuable experience in the bag, whilst her efforts would soon prove to be instrumental in bringing the personalised Internet communication experience that Danish transportation companies are renowned for today.

Since then, she has gone from strength to strength and is now the anchor of the increasingly popular television show “Tech and the City”, based in bustling New York. She has also authored several books, and plays leading advisory roles in various capacities within the tech industry.

Currently an industry icon with a knack for trendspotting and tech-savvy swag, crafted from years of hard and passionate work within the digital sector, Natasha feels that we need to go back to our roots when it comes to innovation:

“If you only innovate based on the symptoms of a need, as opposed to the actual need, it will take a long time before we optimise humanity”. Building on this, Natasha’s speech will focus on the creation of value in society, based on an anthropological approach to understanding human needs, rather than merely through changes to what is already being done.

Brace yourselves for a talk from one of the most talented professionals within the tech sector, an exceptionally creative individual with a doctorate from the school of real-life experiences. Natasha Friis Saxberg will motivate you to perceive the world in a different light, by focusing on the future through visionary thinking, as opposed to creating incremental change by reproducing the past.

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Speaker Announcement: Mads Faurholt Jørgensen

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here :

 

Skærmbillede 2014-11-04 kl. 13.19.17

 

There is plenty that can be said and written of a man who has built over 30 leading Internet ventures all over the world in just five years. Amongst these ventures were giant enterprises such as Zalora, Lazada, Compare Asia Group and The Iconic, all of which are leading online stores and platforms in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2010, Groupon, listed by Forbes as the fastest growing company in the world, announced its continued expansion in Asia. At the helm of this monstrous endeavour was the iconic Mads Faurholt-Jørgensen, aged just 29 today. Four years ago, Mads took on roles as Global Partner and Managing Director at Groupon, driving the company’s success in the Asia Pacific region.

We all want to stand out from the crowd. But what does it take to push our dreams and visions from mere thoughts to tangible realities? Our latest TEDxKEA speaker may have some of the answers to these riddling questions.

Success has come in leaps and bounds for Mads, and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But how did all this come to pass at such a breakneck pace?

Well, for one thing, Mads has always wanted to “stand out and do things differently,” a mantra that has consistently featured in his endeavours, just like when he strolled through a bachelor’s degree at Copenhagen Business School in one year and nine months, as the first ever student to do so.

Not only did Mads blitz through his education, he also made it look like a walk in the park, defying the growing trend of students in Denmark taking longer to finish their education than the allotted time frames. It was also a strategic move to stand out in such a way, taking the quickest route through the stream as opposed to aiming for the highest average – in itself arguably a more complex struggle. Later, Mads crossed the Atlantic to blaze a trail through MIT, racking up no less than 10 scholarships for various achievements in his MBA.

Once out of the college blocks, standing out became a philosophy that was ingrained in his mindset as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. Mads made a name for himself in sales, analysis and private equity before grasping the reins of founding and leading companies. The driving force behind this, was having the courage to stand out and do things differently: as we have discussed – thinking big.

Translated into operational philosophy at Nova Founders Capital, which he founded, Mads maintains that “When building companies, we try to think How big will this be?, as opposed to will this work out? […] We remove all shadow of a doubt by making something that’s so good, people can’t say no to it”.

Naturally, this magnitude of success can never come without an immense work ethic and a burning passion for what you do. “Just like the saying that entrepreneurs will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40, I believe that if you do what you truly love, it never really feels like work”, remarks Mads.

We have previously discussed how lucky we are to have the opportunities that the Danish higher education system offers. Mads, who has seized those opportunities better than most, is ready to school you on putting one foot in front of the other on December 11th.

Fact File

2012 – present: Founding partner, Nova Founders Capital
2011 – present: Founder and Shareholder, Lazada Group (one of the leading online department store in South East Asia)
2011 – present : Founder and Shareholder, The Iconic (One of the leading online fashion companies in Australia)
2010 – 2012: Global Managing Director and Partner, Rocket Internet GmbH (the largest internet venture builder)
2010 – 2011: Managing Director Asia Pacific and International Vice President, Groupon. This company was classified by Forbes as the fastest -growing company in the world.
2007 – 2009: Associate, Mckinsey & Company, Switzerland
2003 – 2005: Sales Manager and coach, Viasat Broadcasting. Under Mads’ leadership, his sales division met its $40 m sales revenue target for the first time in its history. The company was also voted the 3rd best sales / service department in Denmark

Education

  • Bachelor of Science, Business Administration and Economics. Copenhagen Business School. Mads became the first student to ever finish this degree in the short span of one year and nine months
  • Masters degree in Financial Analysis, Copenhagen Business School
  • MBA, Business Administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan  School of Management. In his time at this prestigious organization, Mads was awarded 10 different scholarships.

Speaker Announcment : Stefan Pflug

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here :  http://tedxkea.com/speaker-announcement-stefan-pflug/

Skærmbillede 2014-10-20 kl. 22.49.31

Speaker Announcement: Stefan Pflug

We live in a world of unprecedented connectivity. As the next generation of digital natives rises to the challenges of digital consumerism and presence, there are countless possibilities for both advertisers and society alike. But perhaps this in itself is problematic.

Meet Stefan Pflug, an extraordinarily impassioned sports marketing manager who has risen through the ranks of the industry like a hot knife through butter. Still only in his late twenties, Stefan currently manages the sponsorship portfolio of Unibet and has an enviable track record within digital marketing, spanning successful stints with companies like telecommunications giant “3” and “Tvguide.dk.”

His talent for activating consumers via digital platforms has earned him various awards, including that of “industry rising star” from Partnership Activation, and the prize for the strongest mobile platform in the Danish football league, Superligaen.

But there is more to Stefan Pflug than an impressive resume and a beaming smile. At the heart of his ethos as a professional within an increasingly important digital age lies a deep-seeded passion for what he does, a passion that burns through every aspect of his life. As a former college American football player who had to retreat from the sport due to an unfortunate series of injuries, Stefan is well aware of the power of passion (and of having to fight hard in life).

Similarly, Stefan is aware of the challenges that the information overload of the digital age poses: “Fans follow their team on a million different platforms and micro moments online are obliterating the original experience […] Watching sports used to be a uniting experience that you would enjoy with your buddies, but now we are more interested in high-speed updates on our mobile phones – instead of actually watching the game! […] This is not healthy for the consumer nor advertisers […] We need to go back to the core experience and find out what we as viewers are triggered by” he says.

Essentially, these sensory bombardments across varied digital platforms are challenging the way in which we consume sports and interact with each other.

The micro moment paradigm that Stefan is so strongly against is but one area that needs to be addressed, not merely in fields such as sports marketing, but also in the broader narrative of the way advertisers view their consumers. Stefan believes that our attention spans can last more than six seconds and we therefore should aim for more quality over quantity when it comes to the manner in which we interact with content and vice-versa.

The answers to the challenges of the digital age are not set in stone. However, a critical view of the way we consume is needed.

Prepare yourselves for a TED talk by a young man with limitless drive that will both challenge and inspire the way you view digital media!

 

Fact file:

2008 – 2010: Portal composer / project manager, 3
June 2011 – November 2011 : Media consultant, Tvguide.dk ltd
2011 – present: Marketing co-ordinator, Unibet
July 2013: Award received for “Industry Rising Star,” Partnership Activation inc
June 2014: Nominated for “Best Social Marketing Campaign,”  eGR Operator Marketing & Innovation Awards
2014: Brand activation manager, Unibet
July 2014: Award received for “Strongest Mobile Platform in Denmark,” Superligaen A / S

 

 

 

TEDxKEA speaker announcement : Lars Hulgård

Original article for TEDxKEA, available here: http://tedxkea.com/speaker-announcement-lars-hulgard/

 

Skærmbillede 2014-10-14 kl. 09.49.17

 

Social entrepreneurship is one of many new buzzwords in the global economic rhetoric. At the peak of the recent economic crisis, many were quick to point towards this field as one of integral measures that could potentially alter the nature of global economics and pave the way for a sustainable and efficient world.

But what’s changed since? Why does a narrative that focuses on revolutionising the business agenda find itself being mentioned in the same breath as standard economic practices (most of which are failing)?

Meet Lars Hulgård, one of the few people in Europe that just might have the answer. Lars literally wrote the book on the importance of social enterprise, and the potential it has in shaping the future of the global economy. He is the president and co-founder of the EMES network, which unites scholars across diverse disciplines and national borders around a singular purpose.

EMES is a global university research network, working within the dimension of social economy. Its mission lies in building an arsenal of empirical and theoretical knowledge on the emergence of social enterprises in Europe.

TEDxKEA is proud to present a broad-grinned globetrotter who has advised governments and shaped the foundations of knowledge, who in his own words “like so many others in Denmark, jogs a lot in his free time”.

Lars graduated with a master’s degree in sociology from Copenhagen University in 1989 before completing a Ph.D in public administration at Roskilde University in 1995. His alliance with Roskilde University continues to this day: Lars is a professor at the Social Entrepreneurship and Management master’s programme, which he initiated.

He serves as chairman for the Social Innovation and Organizational Learning research group, and RUC Innovation, which is a platform for innovative collaboration between the university and external enterprises.

Whilst it is all well and good to praise social entrepreneurship and its emergence, there are many, like Lars, who are all too aware that a critical stance has to be taken.

“Many of SE’s activities today have unfortunately been tangled up the standard bureaucratically endless discourses […] What happened to the intense critique of our current economic models?”, Lars asks. “We need companies that focus on adding social value to our society and have this philosophy ingrained in their visions, rather than those that focus purely on generating profit!”

Armed with a profound knowledge of the field of social entrepreneurship and a global legion of researchers, Lars is not only ready to fight to irrevocably shake up the global economic landscape, but also to help shape the mindsets of the upcoming generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs.

Fact file:

  • 1990-1997: Ph.D.-student and assistant professor, Department of Social Science, Roskilde University
  • 1998: Co-founded EMES European Research Network
  • 2006-2008: Dean of Department, Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University
  • 2007-present: Full professor, Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University
  • 2008-present: Chairman of the research group Social Innovation and Organizational Learning, Roskilde University
  • 2008-2011: Chair, RUC Innovation
  • 2010-present: President, EMES European Research Network

Sharon Jones Interview

Vega, Spring 2014.

Daptone records a retro sort of label who think that it’s rad to keep things old school and simple when it comes to the soul music that defines their way of thinking. At the centre of this mindset is Sharon Jones and her backing band, The Dap Kings, who have made it their mission over the years to keep the soul flag flying high, safe from the encroachment of music categories that threaten to redefine it as something that it is not. Sharon was the soul standard beared long before Amy Winehouse came along, conquered and tragically departed and, having fought her way out of a titanic battle with pancreatic cancer, Jones is stronger and more vocal than ever before. Initially delayed, her latest album ‘Give The People What They Want’ is a work borne of her struggles in this battle and is currently one of the driving forces behind her ongoing tour.

I caught up with the endearing songbird ahead of her show at Vega in Ma, for a chit-chat about her music, views on r & b, working with Lou Reed and the U.S healthcare system, which in case you forgot, is quite shit. She was chirpy, and talkative, ahead of her show, which went on to rake in widespread praise from various media and burst into song whenever afforded the slightest opportunity – her flowing locks replaced by an air of statuesque bald sophistication not unlike that of fellow diva-in-crime, Grace Jones.

 

 

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 10.39.19 AM

 

 

 

The Battle Against Cancer 

 

 

A: “Welcome back to Copenhagen Sharon. How are you feeling ahead of the show ?”

Sharon: “Im ready.” “ I mean, we’ve been going, we’ve been going, we’ve been going.” “Tonight is the third show in a row.” “We fly to Helsinki or somewhere like that tomorrow.” “It’s a lot, but i’m ready to go !”

A “ This year has been a big one for you – you’ve come out fighting from your battle with cancer.” “Congratulations on that.”

Sharon: “Thanks – it’s still a battle.” “ You know for the rest of my life I have to go every six months to check that none of it comes back, as a matter of fact i’m going for a check-up on the 9th of June.”

A “How has this battle shaped your views on music and what it is that you do as a performer ?”

Sharon: “I just want to do more and get my stuff out there.” “I want people to recognise soul music and recognise that what me and The Dap Kings are doing is true soul music.” I’m alive and my goal is to push for the music world to recognise the category of soul music.” “I think that’s why my life was saved – for me to continue to do what i’m doing.”

A “To keep battling, admirable.” “ It goes without saying that it’s nice for you to be back on stage again”

Sharon “ Oh yeah !” “For me, that’s my joy, that’s my energy, that’s my happiness – the stage and music.” “ When I couldn’t do it, when I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t even listen to anything anymore” “ It was frustrating.” “ From June to September I couldn’t bend over, that’s how bad it was”

A “ Ouch ! “ Here in Denmark, there’s a lot of talk about the medical system” “ In the U.S, they are trying to reform things right now.” “What is your experience with the system?”

Sharon: “Well thank God i’m in the band.” “ We have an insurance” “We pay so much for it though- almost 10’000 dollars a month !” “One of the doctors that did the operation in New York was from outside of my network so I had to pay.” “ He tried to work it into my plan but it wasn’t possible so after 2 or 3 months I had to pay him some 20’000 dollars or whatever it was.” “ I’ve been paying and paying and I wasn’t working so the little money i’d saved up was chewed up.” “I have to take enzymes for the rest of my life though – I just changed insurances so that’s gone up too and the medicine itself it probably also going to go up.”

A: “That’s crazy”

Sharon: “It is – I went to a med store sometime back and I hadn’t shown my insurance card so the guy behind the counter comes back with the medicine – he wouldn’t even tell me out loud how much it was – he wrote it on a piece of paper and pointed to it.” “ I was like have you lost your mind ?” “Five hundred and eighty something dollars !” “Of course when I showed the insurance card the price came down drastically but it got me thinking, if I didn’t have insurance, what would that mean ?” “ Would I just die if I couldn’t afford the medicine ?”

A : “Sadly that is a reality for many people in America”

Sharon: “Yeah, people are sick and can’t get medication – they are not insured” It’s scary, they are fighting Obamacare, trying to say it’s not working.” “ It is working, they just don’t want to give it a chance.” “ They are full of crap !” “It’s all about the pharmaceuticals and the money – you’ve got to keep the doctors and the doctors have to keep you on all your pills instead of telling you to go home and find more natural solutions that could also help you” “I don’t want to talk about natural drugs because the last time I talked to one of the news people in New York they misinterpreted it completely.” “That was not my intention at all – I wasn’t bragging about my experiences with weed , but they need to get it right, there are a lot of people that use it- cancer patients and so on”

A: “Well they have legitimized Marijuana in some parts of the states, Colorado for instance.”

Sharon: “Colorado is a different part of the country.” “Even if people don’t want to smoke it, they can take a pill prescribed by the doctors.”

A : “It’s quite stressful to contemplate a med system based on such rampant inequalities”

Sharon : “ I’m telling you- you see what it’s like ?” “ I figure that everyone has to do what they got to do- i’ve been eating kale, Spinach and carrots, ginger and so on, mixed as a drink sometimes”

A: “Sounds like a nutrient bomb”

Sharon “ Yeah, when I started taking it the doctors were amazed by how fast I was recovering.” “ That’s the power of the greens, the power of vegetables.” “That’s what you’ve got to do, stick to natural stuff.”

 

Give The People What They Want 

 

A: “ Indeed.” “Going back to a more positive topic, your music –your latest album Give the people what they want’ was also delayed by your illness.” “It’s out now and it’s got quite a lot of people baking it up.” “What was the inspiration behind it ?”

Sharon : “It took us a couple of years just to make the album because my mother was sick, Neil Sugarman’s brother was sick too.” “They both died afterwards- my mother died during the making of this album, Neil Sugarman’s brother died of cancer then the next year there I was diagnosed.”

A: “Was the album ready at that point ?”

Sharon “No actually the album was due to drop in August and in April-May I was diagnosed with cancer so everything got postponed to the year after, January.” “We put out ‘Retreat’ already because we thought the album was coming out so while I was in the hospital an animated video was made for it – which changed it to a tale about fighting cancer.” “We also did the video for ‘Stranger’ – I was very sick during that, on chemo.” “ I went in and we did the video over one day and I was in bed for the next four days after that because my white blood cell count had dropped and my immune system was down.” “It was happy though, but I was a stranger to it all.” ‘Get up and get out’ changed as well – first I had to learn it- the drummer wrote it and he didn’t tell me what the song was all about to start off with.” “ Later he told me it was about bed bugs – ‘I’ve been laying with you night after night, you leave before I see the morning light, I always say you’re not welcome no more but when you knock I open up the door and say Get up and get out !” (sings jubilantly ! )

A: “ Haha ! And there I was thinking that this song was about some lousy lover ! “

Sharon “Yeah, right ? (Laughs) “ And then the second verse ‘All my friends they ask me about you and I swear up and down that we are through.” “If only what I say is true, why can’t you find someone new ?” “Get up and get out !” “When I started singing it on stage, we changed the whole groove and I start the song off in a Tina Turner way.” “I don’t tell em about the bed bugs though” “At the end I scream ‘ Get up cancer, get out!’ “I shout the cancer out”

 

Proper R & B is not pop 

 

A : “ Your record label, Daptone, has a back to the old r & b school feel to it…”

Sharon “Yeah it’s r & b but we want to want to be recognised as soul – there is no label for soul music in the music categories.”

A “So what is the difference, for you, between the ‘r & b’ that we hear on the radio today and what you’ve been making throughout the years ?”

Sharon: “It’s just changed.” “The r & b of today isn’t the r & b of the old days because the r & b of the past was called soul.” “James Brown came up with funk and then you had different categories of funk” “ R & B took on a whole other value; I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to r & b today – it’s pop music.” “Anytime you take, and I keep using their names, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake, and people keep on saying they’re r & b singers I think ‘Wait, that’s pop ! They are great pop singers, their music is great but it’s not r & b.” “I don’t consider it r & b.”

A “For me Amy Winehouse was a very good musician, all credit and respect to her, would you say that you have a similar sound ? “You’d been on the scene for some time before her singing that sort of sound.”

Sharon : “Yeah, we inspired her, I inspired her.” “That’s why Amy and Ronson came to our label, came to the Dap Kings and 6 of her songs on her album were produced.”

A : “ What is your philosophy behind music ?” “Why do you do what you do ?”

Sharon : “I’ve never really thought about it like that.” “I think of music as a bit of my life, it’s been part of my life since I was a child.” “When I did my first solo and realised I can sing in church, at that point, I was aware that it was a gift, a blessing.” “It’s something I have to do – it’s my happiness, my joy.” “I don’t have kids, i’m not married and i’ve been on the road for the last 20 years or so touring” “ To me, when I lose that joy, that happiness, or when I don’t feel that connection, when I lose the connection with my fan or with my band, it’s time to quit, to retire”

A: “Hopefully not anytime soon”

Sharon : “I don’t see it coming any time soon right now”

A: “It was difficult for you to make your big break, having been around on the scene for a while.” “When did you know for certain that making music was something you wanted to devote your life to ?”

Sharon: “It was in church one day.” “Back in the 80’s and 90’s I was trying to do that club stuff with all them beats – you’d go in the studio and they’d tell you ‘Sorry, but you just don’t have the look for this kind of stuff.’ “I knew I had a voice, a gift so to be told that in my youth was hurtful.” “I took many jobs and many of them weren’t for me.” “Everything comes back to my music, back to singing.” “I knew that it was part of my life and something that I had to do.” “ You’ve got to know where you’re going and what you’re doing.” “Some people want to be singers and musicians and it’s not for them. “In your heart you know you’re good and if you’re somewhere and fifty people tell you that you’re not or 100’000 people tell you that and you’re the only one who believes in you, maybe there’s something wrong.” “ However, when one person out of all those tells you something positive, you’ve got to search yourself and keep going- have faith in yourself and keep that one person in mind.” “That’s what carried me, I didn’t have to look though- my ex was out playing and the guys he was with were looking for a soul singer with a James Brown groove thing going.” “ I could do that easily, that was my break and I knew that it was the style of music that I was meant to do.” “I don’t want to go out and try to sound like Beyonce or some of the young girls out there today, that’s not what I do.”

A : “That’s the problem with the music industry, their reproduction of everything that’s already there …”

Sharon: “And people let them do it, they give you a bit of money and if you’re record doesn’t sell a few hundred thousand copies they drop you.” “With my music, whether I sell 500 or 5000, the record label is still going to go on supporting me”

 

R.I.P Lou Reed 

Screen shot 2014-07-16 at 11.04.08 AM

credit: PaulMcGeiver

 

A : “You’ve worked with quite a few musicians over the years – Lou Reed being one of them.” “What was it like working with Lou?”

Sharon: “Honestly, I didn’t even know who Lou Reed was.” (chuckles) “Of course I remember ‘tu tu tu’ (hums ‘talk a walk on the wild side’ ) but it wasn’t my style – I wasn’t into the rock of the 80’s and 90’s.” “When they told me what he was doing and I listened to his ‘Berlin’ album I thought ‘Wow ! This is dark.” “At that first rehearsal in Brooklyn Anthony from Anthony and the Johnson’s was there too.” “ I didn’t know who this guy was but his style reminded me a lot of Tiny Tim who used to sing ‘tip toe to the garden’ (sings Tiny Tim’s iconic Tip Toe Through the Garden’ ) “ He had a very high pitched voice.” “ I went to Australia and he let me do a verse of ‘Sweet Jane’ with him on the first night.” “ He wasn’t going to ask me to sing”

A: Why not ?

Sharon : “That’s Lou for you – I stepped on his solos.” “It didn’t bother me at all – In Australia someone asked him what it was like to have such great backup singers and he said ‘Sharon, come here, I want you to take a verse of ‘Sweet Jane’ and we tried it out without success to start off with.” “ I told him ‘Lou if I have to sing this song the way you sing it then I don’t want to do it because that’s not who I am’

A: “Two very different styles”

Sharon “Exactly.” “So Lou goes ‘I tell you what, i’ve been singing this song for many years my way – let me see how you are going to do it.’ “I did my Tina Turner thing and at the end of the night Lou says ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, the magnificent, wonderful Sharon Jones !’ “We hugged in the dressing room afterwards and everything was cool.” “ He was happy to start off with but got mad afterwards because he wanted me to go on tour with him in Europe and I said yes, before cancelling 3 days before the tour because I had to do the movie with Denzel Washington , ‘The Great Debaters’- I chose to do the movie.”

A “How come ?”

Sharon: “Because it was Denzel and it was the great debaters (chuckles heartily)” “ It was an opportunity to be in a movie, who would turn that down ?” “I would have made more money with Lou but I turned down the tour.” “I had two short scenes but would you believe it they cut em out !” “ I sung a whole song as well which they also cut out” “So get the original and watch the director’s cut and you’ll see me in there and the parts that they took out.”

A : “ Any idea why they cut that out ?”

Sharon: “Length I guess.” “Movies are always too long and they have to nip it down from like 3 hours to an hour and a half so there are so many scenes they have to cut out.” “Of course my scenes were some of them” (laughs)

A : “I’ve got to see the movie then I guess”

Sharon: “From the beginning Al, It’s all at the beginning.”

A: “Any plans of acting again any time soon ?”

Sharon: “Oh I would love to !” “We are in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ too – the whole band.” “I would love it if Tyler Perry did something and got me in there.” “Singing is acting you know, you’ve got to act those stories out when you’re on the stage.”

A: “This is my last question, what’s next for you ?” “ You’re touring now but are the plans beyond ‘Give The People What They Want ?’

Sharon: “ No plan really, I just want to continue to get this album known and continue to have my health.” “I hope and pray that every show we do goes well, that nothing has to be cancelled.” “That’s important you know- cancellation hurts.”

Agnes Obel, Vesterbro. Sept 2013

(Interview also out in The Copenhagen Post)

Danish pianist and singer Agnes Obel stormed to European popularity a good 3 or so years ago with her debut album, Philharmonics, a coup de maître that garnered gold in The Netherlands and went platinum in Belgium, France and Denmark. With such accentuated success to live up to, Obel is back in 2013 with her follow-up album, Aventine; a more nuanced and experimental work that draws on the dark emotional influences of Roy Orbison, amongst other inspirations. I caught up with her in Vesterbro, ahead of the start of her European tour and this is what she had to say about her music and the new album.

agnes3

Amk: “Welcome back to Copenhagen Agnes.” “For those who don’t know what you’re music is all about, what’s the philosophy behind your music ?” “What goes into making a song for you ?”

Obel: “Hmm, Well I can explain something about the process or the method.” “When I started working on my own music I didn’t have the chance to record in a big music studio so I had to record everything myself.” “I figured out that recording and writing songs at the same time works really well for me.” “A different moods shines through the song and the performance of it also changes.” “ I feel that this way of working also allows me to get closer to the nerve of the song.”

Amk: “You grew up surrounded by musical instruments as a child. How did the piano become your instrument of choice ? ”

Obel: “That’s a good question.” “I don’t know how I was stupid enough not to learn to play all the other instruments” (laughs). “We had a vibraphone and a double bass; why didn’t I learn to play them as well as I play the piano ?” “There was something about the beauty and resonance of the piano that spoke to my imagination I guess.” “My brother was into drums and guitars and I was always very much into the piano.”

Amk: “Your second album, Aventine, is just about to drop.” “You must be pretty excited about it.” “What is different on this album compared to Philharmonics ?”

Obel : “Aventine was made over a more concentrated period (one and a half years). Philharmonics was also recorded over a concentrated period though some of the songs are from earlier in my life. With Aventine, i’m trying to look into new states of mind that i’ve experienced and been curious about.” “The Cello is a major driving force in some of the songs on the album and i’ve experimented with it, using it in new ways and so on.”

Amk: “You’ve got a few shows coming up to promote the album.” “Is there any show that stands out amongst the bunch for you ?”

Obel : “I’m looking forward to Paradiso in Amsterdam- I’ve played there before on one of the first bigger shows I did on the previous album.” “It’s a beautiful venue.” “I’m also really looking forward to playing at Le Trianon in Paris.”

Amk: “What about inspirations ?” “Who or what do you get inspired by ?”

Obel: “I’m inspired by lots of things all the time and these things change, all the time.” “For the new album, i’m particularly inspired by Roy Orbison and the re-invention his songs have gained through David Lynch movies where one sees this dark under-current developing in them.” “I love the conversation between film and music.”

Amk: “You moved to Berlin a few years ago.” “What is it like living there ?”

Obel: “OhI really like Berlin !” “I grew up in Gentofte and moved to Frederiksberg when I was 12.” “When I went to Berlin for the first time I It felt like a big city and a village all at the same time.” “I didn’t really understand the place to begin with so I was very curious and I came home and told everyone that I’d be moving there.” “It was a leap into the darkness to see if it would work out, which it did and i’m very happy living there now.”

Amk: “What is it like to play in Denmark and Scandinavia in general ?”

Obel: “I’ve heard from other artists that people are a little bit more reserved in Northern Europe, which comes across at concerts, where the audience may be quieter.” “So this means less hecklers (laughs) but maybe it also means that people may not be as open about how they felt.” “I’m not so sure this is especially true of Denmark and I haven’t played that much in the North of Europe as most of my performances have been further south but it’s what i’ve heard.” “As far as Denmark goes, it is always really difficult to play for your family and friends.” “One becomes really self conscious, which is a challenge for me especially in Copenhagen where I know some of the venues really well.”

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Dan Thatsme Interview

Meet Dan Presencer, the youthful face behind DanThatsme, an ambitious singer-songwriter who’s trying to make a career writing and performing songs, as he looks to carve his niche in the musical landscape of the modern day. Somewhere at the swaying crossroads between Jeff Buckley and Joni Mitchel, DanThatsme is now a something of a fixture on the local singer-songwriter circuit. But the former Camden town lad has plans that extend beyond the borders of wonderful Copenhagen. Here is Dan’s story: (photo credits: AmK) 

AmK : “Dan Thatsme. Who is that ?”

Dan: “DanThatsme.” “I wanted to have a name that was really simple without it really meaning anything.” “I didn’t want to have a name like Cloudy Sunday or something like that.” “I wanted something very straightforward without any connotations.” “I wanted all of the focus to be on my playing and my music- nothing else.”

AmK : “And you play as part of a trio here in Copenhagen now.” “Could you tell us a bit about that ?”

Dan: “At the moment i’m playing with a trio, and i’m on the guitar, vocals and writing myself.” “I’ve got an amazing bass player, Dan Peter Sundland who is Norwegian and lives in Berlin and comes over here for gigs.” “He is an absolute burner, whilst being very tasteful, very giving and very thoughtful.” “There’s also a young drummer who is up and coming on the Copenhagen jazz scene, Rasmus Meyer.” “He’s a fantastic guy, fantastic player – really committed.” “It’s a privilege to have them both in my band and when we play it’s a lot of fun.” “Sometimes I play with another up and coming jazz saxophone player called Ollie Wallace who is a burning bee bop player who plays solo lines and backup harmonies on the sax.”

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A seasoned musician.

AmK: “How long have you played music for ?”

Dan: “Since the age of four.” “I took violin lessons initially but I was never really into it.” “From the age of nine I started singing in choirs.” “If you google my real name you can find me on a CD as a soloist when I was 10.” “We sang really complex songs and toured the world quite a bit so it was serious stuff.” “My voice broke and I stopped singing in a cathedral choir and I got a guitar at around the same time, aged 11.” “I really got into it and got bored of playing standard stuff.” “I wanted to play material that was as harmonically complex as what I sang in the choir and I wanted to be able to do it on my own as opposed to with the choir.” “This is what drove me to branch out as a guitarist.”

AmK: “You come from a strong tradition of musicians and artists in your family- your dad is a famous jazz trumpet player and your mum is composer.”Does this create any pressure on you as a musician ?”

Dan: “Yeah my dad, Gerard Presencer, played the trumpet combination in the famous Cantaloupe record, aged just eighteen.” “He’s a busy, successful jazz trumpet player.” “When I was still in my mum’s womb she was a very active classical flute player so even before I was born I was exposed to high level classical music.” “My granddad is a trombone player and he played in Woody Herman’s band and under Frank Sinatra’s big band so I was brought up with music around me, jazz especially.”

It does create a bit of pressure- it’s one of the reasons behind my artist name, DanThatsme – I don’t want to tarnish the family name.” “I quit music when I was 20 and thought, sod this – I wanted to have a real job but I tired of it pretty quick and came back to it.” “It’s also really useful though, to have such influential musicians in my family.” “I have very high standards and a discipline that comes from them – I don’t have some sort of naive dream about what the music industry is.” “My parents are musicians, my grandparents are musicians, all of my family friends and the people I hang out with a kid- all of their parents are musicians, so from a very early age I knew what the reality was and how things work.” “When my parents come to my performances I get very nervous because I know they’re judging me, not as a parent, but as colleagues.”

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From Camden town to Copenhagen

AmK: “You now live in Copenhagen, having grown up in London, Camden town to be more exact?”

Dan: “Yeah, well I lived in Camden town and I worked in a few places – When I stopped playing for a few years I got into bikes and I worked in different bike shops.” “I worked in a shop on Great Portland Street and in another in Euston and I loved it.” “I loved bikes but I got a bit bored and broke up with a girl which left me at the crossroads.” “My parents live here and I love Denmark so a move seemed logical.” “I told them I was thinking of working part-time and getting back into music and they said “sod that, come live with us and you don’t have to worry about rent or buying your own food and you can practice everyday. ” “My dad would give me lessons in the mornings; i’d go into the cellar everyday and practice for a long time.” “I came here with a vision of being a man for hire- playing in somebody’s band or something of the sort but I got back into songwriting again and sort of branched out on my own.” “My mum suggested that I go to an open mic and play as I didn’t know anyone here in Copenhagen, which I nervously did…”

AmK : “Was that the Juke Joint at Modjo’s `?”

Dan: “It was at Blågårds Apotek actually.” “The Juke Joint was a bit later.” “I went to Blågårds and the legendary Benjamin Aggerbæk put me on.” “I played a few songs and made some friends really quickly and the process sort of repeated itself as these things tend to do.” “The emphasis went to writing and practicing my own songs rather than doing covers, which meant that my songwriting skills grew a fair bit.”

AmK: “If you were to describe your music, is there any particular genre you think it falls under ?”

Dan: “Well, I guess people would say pop though I would say it’s more a combination of things that I like, things that I take inspiration from.” “I remember listening to Jeff Buckley aged fourteen over and over again and thinking “This guy is just the best , I love him !” Joni Mitchel is another big influence – I got a copy of “Blue” at around the same time I started to listen to Jeff Buckley (fourteen-fifteen) which is also the same age that I started to write songs.” “I listened to them both on repeat and I’d say they came to influence a huge part of my music.” “I have a thing for the letter J actually- if your artist name starts with the letter J then you know you’ll be successful- Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Jill Scott , who I named a song of my own after (Better at home)”

AmK : So you’re a J Junkie is that it ?

Dan: “Haha yeah, you could say so.” “It’s difficult to say who one’s influences are really- I have periods of absorption really, where i’ll listen to one thing for a few weeks all the time and then move on to something else.”

AmK: “Would you say that you’re the traditional singer-songwriter type then ?” “Or is there another dimension to Dan Thatsme ?”

Dan: “Well there’s different types of singer-songwriter people.” “I’m not a Bob Dylan type for instance- I was never really a fan.” “However I sing and I write my own songs and I play them so yes, I am a singer songwriter even though I don’t think it helps my audience to view me as such.” “It can be limiting as a description of me because it pretty much describes every guy with a guitar – there’s an awful lot of songwriters which makes it hard to stand out.”

Amk: “It is hard to stand out. What about your songs, what sort of themes do you sing about ?”

Dan; “My songs are all about women (laughs) They are all about women !”

Amk: “All of them ?”

Dan: “Yeah, bar maybe one which I never play.”

Amk: “Is that one about a guy then?”

Dan: “It’s about a man, yeah, this massive guy.” “No, they’re all about women.” “I find relationships and women really inspiring.” “I could easily play a whole set of songs just about my current girlfriend.” “With music you can say things that you can’t really say in real life.” “I have three and half minutes to speak my mind without getting interrupted (laughs)”

AmK: “Yeah there’s a forum for it, isn’t there ?”

Dan: “Indeed, and you can always brush it off and say “It’s just a song, nothing more you know?” “It’s also something that people can relate to and it’s really cliche to write songs about women but it’s what I do.”

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More than just music

Amk: “So now that you’re settled in Copenhagen, what’s next for you ?” “You give guitar lessons in your free time, what does this bring to your musicianship ?”

Dan: “Yeah I’m settled here now and I love Denmark.” “I had to work out a way of making some money when I first moved here.” “Initially I wanted to work in bike shops, so I made a CV documenting my experiences as a bike mechanic and sent an email to pretty much every bike shop you can imagine and I got nothing back, which was disappointing as I am a good mechanic.” “So my mum gave me one of her GCSE students who needed a few lessons.” “He was in a very safe place for me to learn how to teach music.” “One student turned into two and that turned into three and now I have around twenty to twenty five weekly students.” “Some are beginners and some are pretty good.” “It’s inspiring to start someone’s career in music and I think that my enthusiasm and love of music comes off through my teaching.” “It also keeps me on my toes- I have some students that are really good and who inspire me when it comes to composing my own material.” “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re a musician so having students that ask tricky questions or come up with interesting, inspiring chord combinations helps.”

Amk: “You’re set to play at a music festival in Italy soon too, tell us a bit about that”

Dan: “My band and I have been booked to play at the Ferrara music festival in the Northeast of Italy.” “I’m really looking forward to it- traveling with two really good friends who happen to be in my band and some other good friends will be playing at the festival too.”

AmK: “It’s your second festival, having just played at Nakkefestival, Does this give you more confidence ?”

Dan: “It will actually be my third, as I’m playing at the Copenhagen singer-songwriter festival just before so by then i’ll be a seasoned festival player (laughs)”

Amk: “What would you say the challenges are when it comes to being a musician ?”

Dan: “I find it hard to practice everyday- to remember to keep fresh, even though I love doing so.” “I love finding new ways of playing, new ways of understanding music and so on.” “It’s my passion so i’m really lucky that I get to do so as part of my job.” “There are challenges to every job; you have to work out what your niche is and what you can do to make a living.” “There’s also more to being a musician than just the music, even for established musicians – they have to do interviews, photos, charity work and so on, some of which may not necessarily be interesting but that is nonetheless a part of the job.”

Amk: “Which brings me to one of my last question.” “Where do you want to go with DanThatsme, where will you be in a few years time ?”

Dan: “For the moment it’s going great.” “I have a fantastic band and the songs keep coming.” “My goal as a musician is to do something new.” “My thought process is to add new approaches to the rhythm and nature of my music whilst still sounding pleasant.” “I don’t mean like making squeaky door contemporary classical music- It’s about crossing between genre lines and being myself.” “I would like to have recorded my album in a years time here in Denmark.” “I’d like to be playing more gigs and to more people, to a broader audience.” “I just want to play really and see how it goes.”

Find Dan’s music on his Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/DanThatsme?fref=ts

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Charles Bradley, Interview. Stor Vega June 2013

Living proof you can take the last exit to Brooklyn

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Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
June 30, 2013 – 19:00
The Copenhagen Post caught up with the extraordinary Charles Bradley before his concert at Lille Vega last week
They used to call him Black Velvet – now it’s simply Mr Bradley
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 pic: AmK

The beguiling Charles Bradley is the kind of performer one never forgets. The funk revivalist has enjoyed a fairy-tale success story following the release of his debut album, ‘No Time For Dreaming’, three years ago.

It followed a lifetime of trying to make a living under harsh conditions in the US, moonlighting as Black Velvet as he performed James Brown impersonations alongside his job as a chef.

What’s fascinating is not Bradley’s rise to the limelight at the ripe old age of, per say, but more the perseverance he showed along the way, despite hardship and travails that included him sleeping on New York subway lines as a teen and losing his brother in a shooting.

His is a life replete with drama and difficulties that would derail most, yet somehow the Brooklyn star is still here, telling us his story through shrieks, tears and the passion of a man half his age.

The Copenhagen Post caught up with Bradley before his third performance on Danish soil at Lille Vega last week, backed by his seven-piece band, The Extraordinaires.

The Copenhagen Post: Welcome back to Copenhagen, Charles. This is your third visit to Denmark, I do believe. You go on stage in about half an hour. How are you feeling today?

Charles Bradley: I’ve got a bit of a problem with my eye – it’s running a bit. Must be some kind of allergy, but there ain’t nothing that’s going to stop me from doing a great show. I’m going to do my best to keep people entertained and make them happy.

CP: Your latest album ‘Victim of Love’ has just hit the shelves. Could you tell us a bit about it? What’s the inspiration behind it?

CB: ‘Victim of Love’, that’s  me – it’s about my life. Music is what I have left to tell my story. During my working life I couldn’t express myself you know, cos you want to speak up and say something about the injustices you go through, but you can’t cos that’s the way it is. My music gives me the chance to do this today. I’m grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to be able to share my story.

CP: You’ve definitely “Made it in America”, to quote one of your songs [‘Why is it so hard?’]. Some may forget that many of America’s issues remain hidden by the success of your music. What is the reality of life in America today living in Brooklyn?

CB: Everyone talks about America being the land of milk and honey, but it ain’t. You can get milk and honey, but you gotta work hard to do it and it’s never easy. You’ve got to fight, you’ve got to be strong and keep going even when it seems like there is nothing to live for.  I took the long road to get here.

CP: Many of your songs, such as ‘No Time for Dreaming’, relate to sensitive moments of your life, but they also have a wider application in the state of America and the world today. What is your message to everyone out there who is struggling to cope and struggling to make it?

CB: Go back to the golden rule. If you’ve got a gift that God gave you, use it. Don’t let nobody tell you nothing about it. It doesn’t matter how many millions somebody offers you. You can be rich, you can make it financially, but if you don’t have inner peace, dignity, you won’t have anything. You got to keep your dignity because that’s worth more than anything.

CP: Where do you go from here, Charles. What’s next in this musical journey for you? Can we expect you back in Denmark anytime soon?

CB: I’ve got to put up a show. It’s part of the job, so I’ve got to perform and give people a good time. I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow; I don’t know where I’ll be in a few years. Only God has the answer to that.

Penny Police Interview, Vega April 2013

Original article pending publication for The Copenhagen Post

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Photo: oopenheimer.dk

Penny Police is a act that caused quite a few ripples across the Danish music scene when she first surfaced a few years ago. Those ripples have been spreading ever since, and bear the potential of developing into storm waves, if Penny’s ascendancy in the hallmarks of Danish music continues. The Copenhagen Post caught up with Marie Fjelsted before her performance at Vega’s Ideal Bar last week, (see my concert review here)   for a quick chat about her music, new E.P and where she is headed in 2013.

Amk: “What’s your music about, for all those who don’t know ?” “Why make music in the first place ?”

Penny: “I make music because i’ve got a lot going on inside of me. My music is an outlet for all the many thoughts and stuff that are sailing around my head”

Amk: “A way of sharing your thoughts perhaps ?”

Penny: “Sort of, it’s not as if I think, now I MUST tell everyone what’s going on – it’s more something that happens and my feelings are translated through music in a natural way.”

Amk: “Penny Police is an interesting stage name.” “Where does it come from and what does it mean ?”

Penny: “Penny is the pleasant aspect of the two P’s and Police is the harder, rougher dimension.” “It’s a duality that reflects who I am and what my music is all about”

Amk: What about your inspiration, where does that come from ?

Penny: “It’s all thoughts- thoughts that I have about different things; life for instance.” “It’s about what’s right for oneself.” “It’s so easy to say, “I should have done this or that or the other” so it’s important for me to constantly think about what it is that’s important for me.” “It is about finding ones balance, which of course is a never-ending process.” “Musically, there is lots of stuff that inspires me-the Norwegian Ane Brune is really cool, The Beatles- George Harrison, Paul McArtney and all of that lot as well- they’ve got some amazing melodies !”

Amk: “Your new E.P sink or sail has recently dropped. Tell us a bit about it”

Penny: “All the songs on it are about the lives of inner feelings.” “Whereas my previous productions were way more outgoing, sink or sail is a lot more melancholic.” “The songs emanate from thoughts that came out of situations where I couldn’t do anything else other than bury myself in a sofa in sadness.” “It’s about what springs to mind in such situations, about getting knocked down and getting up again.” “Musically, it’s very ambient and there’s no autoharp on it.” “Some would say it’s art-pop, whereas my album from last year is more within the singer-songwriter niche and has more folk elements.”

I noticed that you grew up in Ribe, Denmark’s oldest city and culturally a place where lots happens. What was it like for you growing up there ?

Penny: “Ribe is a great town to grow up in !” “There’s lots of music, which affected me a lot.” “I attended a musical academy there and exploited all the opportunities I could such as performing in Ribe’s church and so on.” “It’s a small town with a big town feel because of all the cultural happenings that take place there , many of which I was happy to be a part of.”

Amk: “And how does Copenhagen live up to that ?”

Penny : “I’m happy to live in Copenhagen.” “It’s also a nice city.” “I couldn’t imagine myself living in Ribe in my youth, right now that is.”

Amk “So with your E.P on the shelves and several concerts on the calendar, what’s next for you this year ? “

Penny : “I’m writing songs for a new album. Some of them have already been written, some are still pending. It’s scheduled for a release in 2014.” “ I’m also talking to people in England and Germany about future musical projects.” “I’m also working closely with Barbara Moleko and we’ll be writing songs together for her new album.”

Modeseletor Interview, Copenhagen Feb 2013

Original article:

http://cphpost.dk/culture/insights-mode-working

 

Sebastien Szary and Gernot Bronsert got together in the early 1990s when Germany had just been shaken by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The duo found gigs playing a fusion of acid house, techno and hip-hop to hordes of anarchic Berliners in a now-united city. Since then, they have gone on to produce music alongside the likes of the city’s ‘first lady of electronic music’ Ellen Allien and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who is a fan of their ecclectic electronic sound. The Copenhagen Post caught up with Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary for a short interview before their massive show at Store Vega a few weeks ago:

(link to review: http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/berlin-calling-modeselektor-take-store-vega-spin)

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Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary before the show at Vega. Photo: Jason Moisio

Here is what Szary had to say about Copenhagen, Musical inspirations, and working with Thom Yorke.

Amk: So, Szary is this your first time in Copenhagen ?

Szary: Well Gernot is the one who is really good at counting the years. I think we started in 2005 and we’ve been back every year since then. This is the 8th or the 10th time. We’ve played in Århus, Copenhagen and even on Bornholm in the pre-Modeselektor era (laughs)

Amk What was it like at Roskilde ?

Szary: Roskilde was amazing, it’s a really nice festival. We’ve played there twice- last year and two years ago with Moderat, the side-project we have together with Apparat. You can feel that it’s a festival with a lot of history.

Amk what was it like playing back in the early 90’s after the wall came down in Berlin ?

Szary: The whole situation after the wall came down was comparable to the wild West. The wall coming down was like a revolution- all the different influences – Communism from the East, and Capitalism- consumption and so on from the West all came together. It was a very exciting time musically as well. A lot of different styles from all the radios from different sectors came together.

Amk: What’s on your Ipod right now ? What are you inspired by ?

Szary: I have a problem with my Ipod, I hate software updates so I stopped updating my Ipod a couple of years ago. Right now i’m listening to the new My Bloody Valentine album quite a bit. Modeselektor are quite diverse, we do our slalom thing. We came from the hip hop of the 80’s then went straight to Acid House back to hip hop (Public Enemy and so on) and then into techno, Sonic Youth rock, you name it. There are lots of undiscovered sound samples and non-western oriented styles of music from the 20’s and 40’s that inspire us when we compose, well I don’t want to call it composing, it’s more like jamming. It helps if you have a knowledge of music and I have to admit that Gernot and I don’t have proper musical knowledge. I don’t play the piano for instance, so the way we use our instruments is more intuitive than anything else.

Amk: Now a question about Thom Yorke

Szary (laughing) : Ah Thom Yorke, The T Question, it comes up often

Amk: Indeed. What is it like to work with him, you guys are quite close, right ?

Szary: Yeah, we’ve been friends for about ten years. The partnership started with remixes initially then we teamed up with Radiohead and it’s going pretty well. It’s more than just about music, we are good friends with Thom. He’s a nice guy.

What’s your favourite city to perform in ?

Szary: There are quite a few actually. We like cities that aren’t in the focus that much. Glasgow can be pretty fun, also in the rain. I like the people there, it’s a bit rough and similar to the rough feel of East Germany. San Francisco and New York are fun too as is Guadalajara, Mexico.

Lastly, What’s next for Modeselektor ? What are you working on at the moment ?

Szary: Right now we’re working on the next Moderat album (teaming up with Apparat). It should be out in August. It’s time to continue our partnership with Apparat so that’s taking up almost all of our time. Aside from this we have our own private lives to keep us occupied as well.

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Modeselektor raised the rafters at Store Vega last month. Photos: Jason Moisio

If you haven’t listened to Modeselektor’s music yet, here’s a couple of tunes :