The second unsigned act in this mini-series is Danish duo Kasper Lauest and Henrik Jürgensen, who prefer to be known as Blue Swan. Formed thanks to the Pet Shop Boys forums on the internet in 1999, they started making music with covers of PSB b-sides Your Funny Uncle and A New Life.
They have recorded three “demo albums”: Sinister But Fragile (2004), Intentionally Miserable (2005), and Fire and Flames (2008), and are planning to record together again soon.
As before, we’ve got three tracks to taste from them, and I’m consciously not going to sully them with too many of my opinions! The first of the tracks in their Music for stowaways demo is Black Widow (2004):
By way of warning, you have to make sure you love both autotune and 303 acid sounds if you’re going to sign up to this one! They describe it as dark and haunting, yet melodic, which I think is fair.
Next up, Chief of the Tribe (2008):
One of the comments describes the bass as “slumpy,” which is about right. The melody is definitely reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys.
Finally, we have Everyone I Know (2008):
Again, you can hear the ghost of Neil Tennant haunting this one! They’ve also tagged it with Stock, Aitken, and Waterman, which I can see too.
Kasper’s answers to my daft questions are particularly intriguing…
What’s your favourite synth, and why?
The synth that had the biggest importance to the Blue Swan project was probably the Access Virus C, which I got in 2003 and really got us going. That synth is used on almost everything on our 2004 Sinister But Fragile album.
These days I don’t really use hardware synths anymore, because software synths are so much more handy to use. I generally try to use a lot of different synths, but the most used are probably Lennar Digital Sylenth1, which is very easy to program and good for huge sawtooth based sounds, and refx Nexus 2, which has a lot of nice presets if you’re in quick need of a nice patch.
I like Spectrasonics Triton or Rob Papen Subboombass for bass sounds. I suppose a good approach to synths is to limit oneself and really learn a synth in depth. I’ve never been able to do that though, and prefer to use lots of different synths, flicking through presets until I find something I like and then alter it a bit. I will probably never have the patience to fully learn proper synth programming.
Which (existing) movie would have benefitted your music on the soundtrack?
Maybe some 80’s influenced movie like Drive, but that already had great music. I could see a song like Black Widow, Montague & Capulet or Solitude go with a movie like that. Otherwise I don’t really think we do movie-esque music, although I guess that our mini-album Intentionally Miserable is a movie within itself.
Nobody really listens to music any more. Discuss.
I would argue that people listen to music more than ever before, but arguably less focused that before, which is primarily a result of an enourmously wide range of music being so easily accessible. In the past, a kid would buy a CD and then listen to it religiously. These days we crave new sounds all of the time. I do it myself, I listen to hundreds of new songs every month, constantly looking for new great tunes.
Perhaps it makes me appreciate good tunes a bit less, and it certainly doesn’t allow much time for a track to grow on you, but I wouldn’t say that it was better before. I’m exposed to far greater amounts of great music than in the past and this can’t be a bad thing.
I’ve also noticed that teenagers today don’t just listen to music from the last 18 months, like my generation did when we were teens. They listen to music from every era, which I think is very interesting. There is really something out there for everyone. The internet has allowed for communities of subcultures to worship a particular niche of music, that in the past simply would never have gotten released.
He concludes, “I think the internet has been a huge plus for musicians and people who love music. The only ones it hasn’t been good for is music companies and distributors,” which I would agree with on every level. We also learnt the punishments to which Justin Bieber should be subjected for Eenie Meenie (“cruel and unusual”), which seems fair.
Blue Swan‘s Soundcloud site can be found here: http://soundcloud.com/blueswan