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Interview With Our BOTW: When Saints Go Machine

We caught up with our Band of the Week, When Saints Go Machine, via email, to get some insights into the mini-album...

PlanetNotion: Tell us about how you guys got started as WSGM?

Nikolaj Vonsild: Long story short. We all grew up in the same neighbourhood in Copenhagen. Jonas and Silas were best friends and Simon lived right across the street. Simons and my parents have known each other since before we were born and we used to always spend New Year together. One day to stop us from being bored with ourselves we went to Jonas and Silas studio and wrote two songs, we all really enjoyed working together and one week later we decided to form the band. A real chair needs four legs.

PN: Where does the name come from?

NV: We had to have a name to upload our music to Myspace and to send it to blogs when we started out. It would be a lie if I said it didn’t come from “When The Saints Go Marching In”,  but it wouldn’t  work as a band name and we thought When Saints Go Machine sounded interesting and fit the music we were trying to make.

PN: How would you guys describe the music you make?

NV: I would describe it as being dark, organic, quirky, pop music, with a lot of details, good melodies a lot of vocals, synthesisers and other electronics. I like words and try to write lyrics that give the listener space to create their own odd picture. Hopefully sometimes I succeed, but what do I know?

PN: Your music seems to take from and play with a lot of different genres – who are your major influences?

NV: I guess a major influence would be 90´s pop, trance etc, but only because that was what the radio was playing when we grew up. Other influences could be Mathew Herbert, White Noise and Moloko. House music has also been a big source of inspiration, but generally we’re inspired by everything we experience, all the music we listen to and everyone we have played and discussed music with including each other and how our work as a band is evolving.

PN: You guys formed in 2007 – how has the recording process been for the band? How have you guys evolved since then?

NV: We started out writing all of our music on computers. Three out of four of the band members played keyboards and samplers live during our performances. Silas later on picked up the drums and that kind of changed the way we played live and on record. Our earlier music was inspired by club music which has taken a back seat on our later recordings. Being in a band for years and getting to know one another increasingly better allows us to be completely open and honest about our concerns, abilities and weaknesses. This honesty makes us understand each other even better and in a way makes it easier for us to find a mutual musical expression. Furthermore our inspirations seem to broaden as time goes by, and with every project we do we try to move in different directions. We experiment a lot more with acoustic instrumentation mixed with electronic compositions which makes up for a nice blend. We also seem to be more intuitive and by that I am saying that if a recording emulates a specific feeling we won’t have to re-record it just to get a better sound quality. Spontaneous ideas and sounds are always hard to recreate.

PN:  What’s your favourite track on the album and why?

NV: It is hard to say, but I think you always remember the songs that came easy through just playing around or feeling inspired, so I would have to go with Fail Forever or Pick Up Your Tears And Run.

PN: You’ve been quoted as saying, “We wanted to make work that would transcend the borders of Denmark” – Do you see WSGM as your ticket out of the country?

NV: We only have a bit over 5 million people in Denmark and if you want to make a decent living as a musician coming from Denmark, and your goal is writing music that is a bit more interesting and a lot less taking a piss on the listener than a lot of other stuff out there, you need an audience outside Denmark as well. So the answer is yes.

PN: What records/artists have you been really enjoying recently?

NV: Re-kid, Nisennenmondai, Roxy music’s album Avalon, The Slits, Chimes And Bells, Treefight For Sunlight, CU In Heaven, The League Of  Extraordinary Gentlemen and John Talabot.

PN: What does 2011 hold for the band?

NV: Extensive touring, releasing the Fail Forever mini album/EP and a full-length album. Other than that what 2011 has in store for everyone.

- Interview by Seb Law

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