theaussieword.com catches up with Norwegian dance rockers DATAROCK.
Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
DATAROCK started out as a group of friends back home in Bergen Norway just making music for our friends – and the whole project was more of a joke, student art project than a serious attempt to “make it”. When we ended up as #12 on Hottest One Hundred and “best of” lists in Rolling Stone Magazine and NME – and eventually went on to play a thousand shows in 36 countries and being synchronized to stuff like 20 video games like 2 Sims and 4 FIFA versions, Vampire Diaries, Workaholics and ads for Coca-Cola, Apple Google, Microsoft and Samsung, that all took us by surprise big time. Especially as everything that first had us interested in music was pretty weird, underground, off the mainstream radar, no compromise and to some extent forgotten acts from the 70ties and 80ties like DEVO, Talking Heads, Television, The Fall, Gang Of Four, ESG, The Slitz, Bow Wow Wow, Liquid Liquid, Can, The Cure, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses etc plus peers like LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Soulwax and !!!. First music we all played as kids though was punk & thrash metal.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
At it seams – at least not prosperity: After getting a close to mainstream reach in certain territories we gradually started walking down a somewhat capital driven path that none of us felt entirely comfortable with. So we gradually started doing almost suicidal projects like take part in huge mainstream TV show (including the Eurovision), releasing a musical with a full symphony orchestra, recording a 30 minute instrumental track, playing an art music festival with a choir of 420 kids on stage, etc – and in the process alienating ourselves from this monster we created ourselves. Eventually we basically had to put DATAROCK down, but after a short break we kinda realized we could start all over from scratch, and so all the original members from the early days came back together to see what would happen if we tried working in the same manner as in then very beginning. Without an international label & management – or well meaning capital driven advisers – I guess we were back in a creative state free to do whatever we wanted without even subconsciously taking commercially clever moves into consideration. And suddenly songwriting and production was as carefree and personally rewarding as back in the days when we started up as a student prank. That however also enabled the creative process to be more true to who we were by now: survivors of our twenties & thirties, husbands & fathers, and the makers of tons of good and bad decisions – but still very close friends with tons of sheared history. And I guess that’s the best part of it – and what motivates us the most: creating something the four of us (not a label) are happy with on a deep level of whatever kind.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
Right now I guess coming back to tour Australia for the 9th time 🙂
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
First there’s an EP called “A Fool At Forty Is A Fool Indeed” coming Feb 22nd incl. two remixes of “The One”, and then we’re heading to Mexico City and Guadalajara before tour dates and summer festivals in Europe. And crossing our fingers for a return to Australia within the year.
Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
Hehe – I don’t even know where to start. We still records everything back home in Bergen with the same engineer and co-producer as back on “Computer Camp Love” and “Fa Fa Fa”, and we very consciously made the decision NOT to try update or adopt our production style to any of the current EDM or whatever, but rather rely on our own not-cost-effective, slow cooked signature production and weird choice of vintage drum machines (like the Sequentian Circuits DrumTrak & Korg Electribe EM-1), synthesizers (like Roland Juno-60, Sequentian Circuits Prophet-5, Korg MS-20, Roland RS 505 and our 5th band member the Casio MT-65) combined with vintage guitars, bass, the same 1972 Slingerland kit and live percussion – recorded in the same analogue studio back in Bergen Norway that we’ve always recorded in …via the same kinda console that used to be at Stax Studio back in the days! Only new stuff on “Face The Brutality” and the coming EP is how we produced vocals, added a The Cure & Joy Division chorus to the bass, went crazy with the fairly new Oberheim OB-06, and added a real Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes and piano to songs like “Laugh in the Face of Darkness”.
Success, what is the secret to it?
In our case, if you can call what we accomplished a “success” on for instance the critically acclaimed album “Face The Brutality” from 2018 I think especially music nerds – like music journalist – appreciate the fact that you can hear that we’ve worked our asses off for that album; all songs are meticulously executed with a serious level of multileveled qualities weather you like the songs or not, they all have pretty complex & imaginative arrangements, the production is as high-end and signature-strong as it ever was (even though we’re obviously paying everything out of our own pockets as we don’t have a power-label to pay beside our own YAP Records), the mix is exquisite and the mastering my Mike Marsh is killer. And all that on a total DIY indie recording is almost moving even for me. That’s something I think a listener can hear comes out of true passion, and I’m sure that comes though even to listeners who are used to straight up mass produced commercial pop. So I guess hard work, true passion and honesty.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Touring Australia – basically supporting James Brown on the touring stadium festival Groovin the Moo back in he days.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
The Who for paving the ground for imaginative acts, but Talking Heads, DEVO and Happy Mondays were always our holy trinity. Talking Heads for the imaginative songwriting, post-punk, new wave, white funk and amazing production (incl. naive use of keys), DEVO for their attitude to being a band and all that goes along with is, Happy Mondays for their cool – and merging guitar pop with a contemporary kind of club beats and production. On “Face The Brutality” I’ll admit even The Cure and Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s Stranger Things score had it’s impact. And we’re so happy LCD Soundsystem, SoulWax and !!! never left too – cause they gave us hope that there at least were a few still living who could care for this weird music we are making.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
As mentioned there’s an EP called “A Fool At Forty Is A Fool Indeed” coming Feb 22nd before heading to Mexico City & Guadalajara and tour dates & later on summer festivals in Europe. The insane project DATAROCK – The Musical isn’t quite over yet either, cause we’re also in dialogue with collaborators in France about doing something with orchestrated versions of our material.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
DATAROCK have been around for long enough to know that we know nothing about where we’re at in 5 years – but we’re probably still wearing them tracksuits playing shows and releasing the occasional tune 🙂
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
Tame Impala, Cut Copy, The Presets, AC/DC, Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue and Olivia Newton-John!
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
In many ways I guess the industry changed for the better – making it easier for indie artists to reach an international audience etc. On the other hand is seams as if subculture and various sub genres somewhat suffers now that all music is judged by the same parameters of the numbers game; a game pretty easy to manipulate and capitalize on for everyone from the streaming service itself to the various “influencers” of today whom has a pretty different role than the classic “influencer” known back in the day as “critics” and music journalists. Some years ago for instance you could actually go to a festivals and discover an artists you’d never heard of before who would blow your mind; nowadays you rarely see a single name that hasn’t already gained a serious number of streams and followers on social media. That’s just how it is – and I don’t feel any particular way about it – but that obviously makes it even harder to get you music out there, unless you have a power structure around you who can force your stuff upon the world. In the few cases a weird and wonderful act breaks the rules and breaks through the noise though – all this just makes those amazing accidents the more magic.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
Likewise! Sure; be kind to each others, but most importantly – be kind to DATAROCK and share “The One” with everyone you know! Let’s breaks the rules!