Carnival Youth: It´s a metaphor for chilling.
The Latvian indie rock band that toured Europe for the last month spoke with us about starting a band, writing their own songs, their perfect day and surfing.
Lotyšská indie-rocková hudobná skupina, ktorá mala minulý mesiac turné po Európe sa s nami porozprávala o zakladaní kapely, písaní vlastných pesničiek, o ich ideálnom dni a surfovaní
Sever, najmä Island, bol vždy považovaný za unikát v produkcii výbornej hudby, ale Lotyšsko bolo v tomto smere vždy trochu podceňované a prehliadané. Teraz sa však na lotyšskej hudobnej scéne objavila mladá kapela, ktorá Lotyšskú hudbu zviditeľnila. V Bratislave sme ju mohli vidieť dva roky po sebe a priznávame- zaujali nás. Preto sme sa minulý týždeň vydali za nimi do Viedne, aby sme s nimi spravili rozhovor. Carnival Youth, čerstvý nositeľ hudobného ocenenia European Border Breaking Award.
Štyria mladí chlapci založili kapelu pred pár rokmi na strednej škole v Rige, kde sa aj spoznali a odvtedy vydali už dva štúdiové albumy: No clouds allowed a Propeller. Nový album Propeller je úspešný a kapela ho prezentovala na európskom turné. V Bratislave sa zastavili 29-teho apríla a deň nato zahrali aj v Prešove. Na slovenské obecenstvo si stále spomínajú ako na jedno z najlepších z celého turné. Keďže nový album Propeller vydali iba prvého apríla tohto roku, ich setlisty na koncertoch boli plné, pre diváka, relatívne nových pesničiek, ale ľudia si ich aj tak užívali, hlavne ich “letné” pesničky mali v Bratislavskej Fuge veľmi dobrú odozvu.
Po príchode do klubu Chelsea vo Viedni, kde mala mať táto Lotyšská kapela v ten večer koncert, nás barman zaviedol z baru do vedľajšej miestnosti, kde mali chlapci práve „soundcheck“. Pár ľudí postávalo pod pódiom a pozeralo a počúvalo skúšku. Turné sa pomaly chýlilo ku koncu, koncert vo Viedni mal byť posledným na „kontinente“ nasledovali už len dva v Anglicku. Zo správania členov kapely bolo očividné že zvukové skúšky, koncerty a dlhé cestovanie sa počas posledných týždňov stali bežnou súčasťou ich života. Keď sa skúška skončila, zbehli z pódia aby si užili tých pár voľných chvíľ. Aleksis odbehol preskúmať Viedeň, a tak sa bohužiaľ na rozhovore s nami nezúčastnil. Ale ostatní, Emils, Edgars a Roberts vyšli von na cigaretku a slnko. Henriks, ich manažér nás zoznámil a odviedol hore do backstagu. Po chvíľke rozprávania sme sa pustili do rozhovoru..:
The North has always been a great source of good music for the world, but Latvia has maybe been a bit underestimated and unnoticed by the foreign audience. Lately, a new band which made Latvian music much more interesting and available arose. Last week, we went to Vienna and did an interview with the winners of European Border Breaking Award – Carnival Youth. These four young Latvian boys formed a band few years ago while they were still in high school and since then released two albums: No clouds allowed and Propeller.The new album is a great success and last month they toured Europe traveling in a van from one gig to another. They stopped by in Bratislava on the 29th of April and Prešov afterwards and even now they can still recall the gig and the audience from Bratislava as one of the best ones. As their new album Propeller has only been released on the 1st of April, most of the songs on their set-list were relatively new for the audience but enjoyable nevertheless. Especially their songs with a summer vibe had a very good response in Bratislava´s Fuga.
After arriving to the Chelsea Club in Vienna, where the Latvian band was to have a concert that evening, the bartender let us in from the bar to a room where the boys were having a sound-check. A few people were standing in front of the stage, listening, watching and enjoying the music. The tour was almost over then, the gig in Vienna was their last on the continent, only two more in England and the tour would be over. It was apparent that the sound-checks, gigs and traveling had gotten to be a part of their normal day. When the sound-check was over, they jumped off the stage and enjoyed the few spare moments they had. Aleksis ran off to explore Vienna so, unfortunately, he couldn´t participate in the interview. But the others, Emils, Edgars and Roberts, went outside for a cigarette and the last bit of sun. Henriks, their tour manager, introduced us and together we went upstairs to the backstage of the alternative club. After a small chat, we jumped right into the interview…
[ Emils – drums n vocals
Roberts – keyboards, vocals
Edgars – guitar, vocals
Aleksis – guitar,bass]
B- How was the European tour? Did you enjoy it or was it more challenging than what you had expected?
EM- No, I guess it was less challenging than what we had expected, we have enjoyed it a lot. We bought a football ball for 6 euros and played it everyday.
R- Well, as it wasn´t the first tour, we were kind of prepared for that stuff…
EM- For a month in a bus.
R- And today we were talking on the bus, about how does it come that we haven´t really argued, like really badly with each other. So we must do it like today. (laugh)
EM- Yeah, we´ll try.. And the venues have been great and the audience…
R- Especially in Bratislava. And I´m not just saying that because you´re from there. Really!
B- Did you actually get a chance to see the cities that you played in or was it more just traveling in the car and not getting to see anything?
EM-It depends on the city… There are days off when we can walk around, but mostly it´s a rush.
ED- In Slovakia we went to the Tatra mountains for two days to a wooden house.
R- Usually we have to drive for 4 or 5 hundred kilometres per day, so you don´t have much time to see anything around. You do the soundcheck and the gig. But of course, we love sightseeing if we have the time.
EM- At least at night.
R- While driving to the hotel…
B- Did you eat any special food while you were on the tour, was there something that you really liked?
EM- Absinth for sure… (laugh)
R- Yeah, we ate guláš in Prague.
EM- And then we drank Becherovka.
R- I guess you have it too…
B- Yes, we have guláš and Becherovka…. and Absinth.
R- Well nowadays you can get every food like everywhere. Like Japanese, Chinese, Indian.. But we´re trying to taste the traditional dishes.
(Koncert v Bratislavskej Fuge zľava doprava: Aleksis, Edgars, Emils, Roberts.)
B- What is the best part of having a band? Is it the fact that you get to travel a lot, or is it the possibility to make your own art? What is the part that you enjoy the most?
R- Well you named two… (laugh) Is there any more?
B- But there´s more!
EM- Just, I guess the experience of being on stage. You can´t really get it anywhere else. Exploring new cities and traveling with your best friends…
R-Not every band has this opportunity to really travel and play around, so we´re really lucky to have that opportunity.
EM- And taste some good food.
R-We meet new people everyday… A bit weird feeling is that after a few weeks of traveling you suddenly forget which country you are in and what happened like yesterday and you´re trying to think: “OK we´re somewhere…” (laugh) It´s a weird feeling, you cannot really get it somewhere else.
B- Well you should write a diary or something, so that you don´t forget.
ED- Well, he (Emils) does…
A- What does it take to start a tour, was it really hard?
R-To organize it?
A-Yeah, if someone is only starting his new band, is it something really hard to do?
ED- Yes, well I guess it takes a lot of time and a little bit of crime… (laugh)
R- We have a really good management and they had been organising this tour for half a year, just to get those gigs everyday in a distance where you can drive to and to organise promotions…
ED- Yeah, well, you can´t go on a tour if you´re a new band I think, because the venues will not book you… You need some kind of promotion like showcase festivals, that´s what we did. I think in 2014 we attended majority of Europe’s showcases.
R-If they like you, they´ll take you to some college radios, maybe to some bigger radios, and then people start to know you because otherwise they just don´t come to your gig… Well, when was the last time you guys went to a gig in Bratislava of some random small band that doesn’t come from there..
B- What was the reason for starting a band? Have you always known that you wanted to be musicians or was it more like – because you´re friends – so one of you wanted a band and made the others join?
ED- I guess we just had the opportunity to use a rehearsal space where we could play and we used it.
EM- Well, we didn´t really have a name, like to be a band. Till the end of high school, we really didn´t know what we were going to do afterwards. But the propeller kept spinning and I guess everything was in the right place at the right time. (smiles)
R- It just happened very naturally, it all started in school, the three of us were classmates and the fourth guy (Alexis) was a schoolmate from a parallel class. And we had this opportunity just to go and play and we didn´t want to form a band in the beginning, just to be cool or something, we just had fun and it turned out well.
ED- I don´t know… (laughs)
R- That´s up to you… And then we met the manager and other people who helped us…
EM- Everything else came later.
B- Do you write your own songs?
EM- No, no, no… (sarcasm )
B-Yes, of course, but do you do EVERYTHING on your own?
ED n EM- Yeah.
R-Well, like any normal band, we also have a producer who is also a sound engineer for the recording and he helps us because that´s a normal thing, he´s like the fifth guy who can see and hear things from aside and if we have some kind of a misunderstanding. But yeah, it´s our decision and our work.
B- So who’s the main composer?
R- No, we don´t have one.
ED- Yeah, today Roberts, tomorrow Emils.
R- Yeah, we change everyday. Basically, if someone has an idea for a chorus or a verse or a line that should be in a song, we all just get together and work something out… But we´re like a democratic band.
EM- All equals…
©Filips Smits photography
B- How do you choose for which song to make a music video? Are they your favourite ones or are they the more popular ones?
ED- Usually, all the bands, I think, make a music video for the singles that come out first.
EM- We would like to do music videos for all the songs, but you just gotta pick few…
R- Cause it’s a bit expensive, and if it’s not expensive, it just takes time. For example, the last video, we made it almost by ourselves, those guys (Emils and Edgars) were the main editors. You can make a video without money but it doesn´t always turn out good.
B- Which three songs do you feel most connected to right now, they don´t have to be your songs..
ED- Sufjan Stevens- Chicago.
EM- Tom Vek- That can be arranged.
ED- These are the songs we have been listening a lot to while we were on the tour…
R- Radiohead- True love waits, from the latest release. It actually was a song that they made a long time ago and now they just put it on the album… I just named one song so… (laugh) ‚Cause we have to drive those 500 km a day, so we just listen to a lot of albums.
A-Do you listen to your own songs?
ED- Not really, just at the start when we hear the first mixes…
EM- And we play them everyday.
ED- For a month…(laugh)
R- While we are in the process of making, we listen to them a lot… Nick Cave named it: “ Hunting for a song – once you have finished it, it’s not yours anymore so you just let it go.” And we know the songs so well, so it’s weird to listen to it. For example, Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, he said that he listens to his own songs all the time, mostly just his music.
ED- Or Matt Berninger, when he releases a new album, he’s the biggest fan for three months and then he never listens to it again.
B- Do you play the same set of songs everyday or do you change it? Isn’t it a bit annoying?
R- No, no, we change it.
ED- And now it’s easier ‚cause we have two albums, so we have more songs to choose from.
R- And it depends on the time, how much we have to play as well.
B- So the time varies in different venues?
ED- Yeah, like 45 minutes to an hour and half.
B- If you could live a perfect day today- well maybe tomorrow, cause today has already started- what would you do?
EM- Well, today is a perfect day.
ED- I would start it New Zealand, surfing, then I would drink a milkshake-
EM- Jacuzzi with Beyoncé-
ED- Yeah, then I would go to climb some rocks-
ED- In Thailand.
B- Could you make it?
R- Well, it has to be a perfect day, so he has to make it!
EM- Then eat some bananas in India-
ED- Yeah, and dinner next to a volcano in..-
ED- Yes, Iceland…
R- Learn to teleport!
EM- Learn to teleport, jump in a cangaroos sack.
R- Have an interview with Bratislavians in Vienna.
ED- And play a gig- on the Moon!
B- Would you play a gig on you perfect day?
EM- Sure, why not? (laugh)
R- Cause we´ve been doing it for every day for a month, so it seems like you have to do it every day. (laugh)
EM- But I think it has been a really perfect tour.
R- We´re going to be the first band to play on Mars and that could also be a perfect day.
ED- Yeah, we have the contract already.
- Yes, so they´re bringing all the instruments right now, it takes time to build the stage. And then, when we learn to teleport, we´re gonna be there on stage. Amazing!
B- But there’s going to be no audience…
R- Oh, whatever… Maybe the locals!
B- What´s your motto?
EM- Winter is coming.
R- It’s always coming. And when it’s past, the next one is coming… (laugh) Well, we can quote you some silly stuff but we just like to be young and do what we love. That´s the main thing, to do it. That´s why we´re here – we took the opportunity to-
R- Yes, just do what you want guys.
ED- Just do it!
R- Yes, just do it! How do you say it in Slovak?
ED+R- Urob to!
R- That sounds like you have to do it… (laugh)
©Filips Smits photography (concert in Londons KOKO club)
B- This one is kind of off the topic, but which writer have you felt most connected to over your lifetime?
EM- That´s a very tough question… Myself…(laugh)
R- Well, there is this German Jewish author, Erich Maria Remarque.
ED- I will take Murakami.
EM- Let´s say Kafka.
B- Can you guys surf in Latvia? Why do you like to surf? Do you surf?
EM- Yeah, we surf.
R- They are snowboarders, so they know how to stand on the board…
EM- You can surf in Latvia a little bit.
R- We have a lot of seaside, but there’s no big waves.
B- I was wondering, ‚cause you have the song Surf and you said that you would surf on your perfect day…
ED- ‚Cause it’s the best thing we’ve been trying…
R- Well, the song is not about surfing, but it feels like it. Summer and the vibe and it´s a metaphor for chilling.
B- Oh, and also I was wondering the other day about the name of the song 1Q7/4, because the name comes from the book right? (Haruki Murakami- 1Q84)
B- But my question, is why did you change the name of the song in such way- to 1Q7/4?
R- Well, we changed the 8 to 7 and added the / –
ED- – because the tempo or the timing of the song is in 7/4.
R- So the rhythm goes like 1,2,3,4,5,6,7… and then it just all came together and it felt like we coded it. (laugh)
B- Thank you!
©Filips Smits photography