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Northern Portrait : Interview
Author: Anthony Strutt
Published: 20/04/2008

Northern Portrait are a new indiepop trio from Denmark, who formed in Copenhagen last year.

Their four song debut EP, 'The Fallen Aristocracy', has just been released on Matinee Records, and has drawn them comparisons with the Smiths, Gene, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, 1000 Violins, the Trashcan Sinatras and the Sundays.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to singer Stefan Larsen about the band and 'The Fallen Aristocracy'

PB : Northern Portrait formed last summer. Have you all been in other bands because the song craftmanship on 'The Fallen Aristocracy EP' is stunning ?

SL : Thank you for that. Michael, the drummer, and I have played together in various bands since we were something like 11 years old. We have also played in bands with original material, so we have both been writing songs for quite some time. The guitarist Rune has also been playing in some different bands over the years, but hasn’t written any songs yet.

PB : Who does the band consist of ?

SL : The line up is Michael Sorensen, Rune Reholt and myself, but we are working with two other guys preparing a live set, and hope to be able make our live debut sometime this summer.

PB : I can hear the Smiths, 1000 Violins, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice in your sound. Are you fans of any of these ?

SL : Well, I cannot deny having listened to the Smiths, and why should I? But my only knowledge of Aztec Camera comes from Craig Gannon, whom I met at a concert in Copenhagen a couple of years ago – he said they weren’t that great, and I really haven’t checked them out. But I promise I will.

I must admit I have never heard of 1000 Violins, but their name obviously forces me to want to find out more about them. I’m a fan of Edwyn Collins –’A Girl Like You’ is a favourite of mine. As for Orange Juice, I’m aware of them, and I like what I’ve heard, but I wouldn’t list them as one of our biggest influences.

To be absolutely honest I just pick up ideas here and there and put them together, but my list of influences includes Jarvis Cocker and Pulp which is perhaps not that audible, the Housemartins and the Smiths.

But ever since we issued our first song ’Crazy’ on MySpace, all sorts of references have been made from other people, and now I’ve suddenly discovered the Sundays, the Trashcan Sinatras and others. And I’ve also become a fan of all the other Matinée Recording artists, all of whom are very inspiring.

PB : Why did you you decide to call yourselves Northern Portrait ?

SL : I can’t remember the exact logic of the name, but I think it had something to do with the picture we have on our MySpace page (and which we have used for our first EP sleeve). But I don’t know what it was.

PB : Do you remember C86 first time around ?

SL : The first time I heard of C86 was on the indie-mp3 site and for some reason I had always read it as C64 and thought, ”Oh, I once had one of those.” Then I realised that I’d got it wrong and it wasn’t the computer. Now I’ve done a bit of research, and I love some of the songs and the whole idea of C86. So my answer is no, I do not remember C86. Also, I was only seven in 1986 and read nothing but Donald Duck comics and listened to Jules Verne stories on my tape recorder at the time.

PB : Have you any plans to tour outside of Denmark ?

SL : We haven’t made, as I said, our live debut as Northern Portrait yet, but have received many invitations from all over Europe, but funnily enough none from Denmark. We are now preparing a live set, and I must say that it’s coming along really well.

PB : Why did you sign to Matinee ?

SL : Matinée Recordings seems like the perfect label. Within two weeks of our existence the first record company contacted us, and a couple of others followed, but it wasn’t until we received a message from Matinée that everything started happening. It’s a real joy to be part of such a great catalogue.

PB : Has MySpace been a big help ?

SL : MySpace has without any doubt been the biggest help together with the whole music blogosphere, where the Danish editor Stytzer who runs the blog 'Hits In The Car' was the first to write about us.

MySpace is certainly an outstanding place for new bands to promote their music.

PB : What are your future plans ?

SL : Right now we are finishing the recordings for our next EP, ’Napoleon Sweetheart’, which is going be followed by the release of out debut album, for which we are still to choose a title. Quite a few songs for the album have already been recorded, and a couple can be heard on our MySpace page.

PB : Is the music scene back home very healthy with venues to play and an audience to purchase your music ?

SL : I think there are some rather nice little venues for indie pop in Denmark, and there’s a nice festival too, but I don’t really think there is that much focus on this part of the music scene in Denmark at the moment, I’m afraid.

Most of what is being made in Denmark is complete rubbish, to be honest. Another thing is that the Danish music journalists and radio DJs are utterly lazy – one indication is that we were played on the BBC before ever being played on even the smallest local radio here. But all the people who have heard of us here in Denmark have been very sweet and positive.

PB : Thank you for your time

SL : Oh, thank you.

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Magazine Reviews
Criminal Art Lovers , CD : Anthony Strutt
Napoleon Sweetheart EP , CDS : Anthony Strutt
The Fallen Aristocracy EP , CDS : Anthony Strutt

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