Norwegian pop-folk songstress Anne Lise Frøkedal has fronted successful bands Harry’s Gym and I was a King before branching out on her own. She tells Big Issue North about her debut solo effort, Hold On Dreamer, ahead of a live show at The Castle Hotel, Manchester, 28 Feb.
Despite having a band this is very much your solo project. What does your solo project allow you to do that being in a band didn’t?
Nothing can compare to being in a (well-functioning) band. It is rewarding in a unique way, both musically and in the way you all share ups and downs. But it also commits you to operate within the collective musical frameworks and make mutual decisions.
I’ve always been drawn to different kinds of music, from traditional music to folk, electronica and ambient. And I started feeling curious what it would sound like if I added ingredients from all of these musical influences to my own songs. That’s why I had to create a new environment for making music, free from mutual decision-making. And that was the start of my solo project.
How has the album making process differed from when you fronted Harry’s Gym and I was a King?
I tried really hard to write simple songs that didn’t rely too much on the production. And I wanted to play the songs live before deciding how to record them. So I asked some of my favourite people and musicians to test them out with me on a live stage. We played four Mondays in a row at a club in Oslo, feeling a little bit more secure every time. I was expecting that the musicians would change for each show, but the core of the band remained the same throughout the month – and it still is. Some time later we recorded most of these songs live in a studio. I’ve added bits and pieces later on, but the main part of the “band tracks” on the album were just us playing like we did during those first four shows.
Your band is called Familien, do you see them as family?
You often see the people you perform with a lot more than your own family, so to a certain degree they become almost like your brothers and sisters. And with Familien, I knew we would be spending a lot of days rehearsing, performing and travelling together – and that these were the perfect people to share all this time with.
How would you describe the sound of your debut album?
The sound is organic and stripped-down, with an electric guitar, organ/synth, a floor tom and a violin as the core elements, along with the vocals. Although I believe my songs are pop songs, the sound is closer to folk with little bits of electronics here and there.
Who are you key influences?
They keep changing. But right now they seem to be a mixture of Vashti Bunyan, The Velvet Underground, The Balfa Brothers, John Cale’s solo material and Brian Eno with Robert Fripp on the guitar.
What can we expect from your live shows?
Quality music, nice people, good vibes. No drumkits or bass players allowed onstage. Fiddlers always welcome.
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