Sondre Lerche - Interviews - Soundblab

Sondre Lerche

by Emily Bielby Rating: Release Date:

Having already been formally trained on guitar at only eight-years-old, composing his original material at 14 and gigging in night clubs while still only a minor, Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche had already made himself known, but now at 28 years of age, and with six full length albums recorded in only six years, he's recognised worldwide as a multi talented star with a catalogue of musical creativity.

So firstly, it was at the age of only eight, that you began formal guitar instruction; at what point did you imagine you could make it as a musician?

SL: For a long time I never assumed anyone was into the sort of music I loved cause I didn't know anyone who was. So I didn't really consider being a musician a reality. But when I started meeting people who shared my interests and helped me articulate what I was into I realised maybe I wasn't so alone and maybe there are more people out there feeling it.

Why the change from classical to Brazilian music?

SL: I was terrible at the classical stuff. It wasn't what I signed up for at all. So my teacher compromised and said he'd teach me the bossa nova and maybe I'd like that as it was closes to the pop music I wanted to play.

You penned your first song titled 'Locust Girl' at the age of just 14, were you pleased with the outcome?

SL: At the time I thought it was my first actual song. I'd written songs before it but this one felt real and very robust somehow. It was a milestone I suppose.

Your music has developed and progressed a lot since then, did you naturally find yourself learning new music techniques?

SL: I naturally find myself searching for excitement and that sometimes lies not in what you already know, but in what you are curious to feel.

Talk me through your songwriting process.

SL: Do you have three years? My songwriting process is messy and it takes a lot of time to get to the end of it. Most songs don't make it. Some of them do and they'll end up on records but there are a lot of really good ones that just didn't come together the right way and maybe the won't ever but there's something there still so I never give. Then again some of them happen really fast and that is a blessing whenever that happens.

Autumn 2002 saw the release of your debut Faces Down in America and you began your first major US tour; do you feel the touring is noticeably different in the States to Norway?

SL: It was very different because I had to speak English between songs and it lead me to feel like a slightly different character, which I really enjoyed. And I loved the fact that the audience understand and follow every single word of your lyrics. It was intimidating and exciting.

For you, what was the highlight of this tour?

SL: The first show in the US at Tonic in NYC was a complete surprise. One of the last shows of the first real tour was in LA with Nada Surf and I remember feeling invincible on stage, which may sound very cocky but it's a cool feeling as long as you don't OD on it.

You've actually toured with various acts, including your long-time idols a-ha in Oslo; I bet that was an experience?

SL: It's a kick to be asked to tour with artists whose music matters to you. It's usually very inspiring and I've been blessed to open for a-ha who I grew up with, Elvis Costello, who's my favorite songwriter of all, and Air, whose music really mattered to me in my teens. Really cool experiences.

The debut itself was very well received in Norway and even the United States in Rolling Stone magazine; how did this make you feel?

SL: I was surpised and flattered.

And it was recorded when you were only 18, that must have been quite an achievement for you?

SL: It felt strangely natural at the time cause so much was happening everyday. Of course it's anything but.

How did you come up with the title Faces Down?

SL: It came from the song 'Dead Passengers', which should've been titled 'Faces Down'.

In 2003 you released the live/studio collection EP Don't Be Shallow. How well was that received by fans?

SL: I have no idea. Maybe like a souvenir from some of the touring I'd done. And insight into my clumsy home recording world.

Then in the same year, you embarked on a tour with another of your musical heroes, Elvis Costello; how was that experience?

SL: Intimidating and very cool.

You then went on to release a number of albums, including Duper Sessions in February 2006, Heartbeat Radio in September 2009 and the self- titled Sondre Lerche only recently in June this year; out of all the albums you have released which do you feel was the strongest and which received the most positive response from both fans and press?

SL: I can only try and answer which one I feel strongest about but even that is tricky as I like them all in different ways. I understand what I was after, even though I didn't always succeeed. I think Heartbeat Radio is really good, and the new one is the best. Of course.

Your fourth album Phantom Punch, released in February 2007, actually caught me by surprise; it had a very suggestive title and I was expecting orchestral composition but was welcomed by a more aggressive sound, a slight change from your previous work; what were the reasons behind the change?

SL: I needed to get physical. New energy, new blood!

You did two soundtracks, Dan in Real Life in October 2007 and Dinner for Schmucks in July 2010. Were these written specifically for the films, or would we have seen them as albums regardless?

SL: They were mostly written specifically for the films.

Tell me a bit about Muppets: The Green Album.

SL: I love the Muppets and was asked to do a cover so I did and I had my friend Kato sing the Mr Bassman part. It was all good fun.

Lastly, do you feel it's a gift to be as talented as you are, or is it something you have to work at?

SL Hah! That's the ultimate question. It's all work. Whatever talent I have does not sustain itself.

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