Spirit Sessions: HEIMATT

In the second instalment of our Spirit Sessions performances, hosted at Copenhagen Distillery, the up-and-coming singer-songwriter Heimatt gives us another look at the title track from his latest album.

Published: January 31, 2017
Words: J.Scott Stratton & Magnus Grilstad
Artist Link: www.facebook.com/heimattofficial
Spirit Sessions: www.spiritsessions.com

Hailing from the rainy streets of Seattle, there is a certain nostalgia that I feel when listening to singer Magnus Grilstad’s (A.K.A Heimatt) music.

I am not refer to the sounds that you might think, though. Born with Danish and Norwegian roots, Gridstad and his indie-pop/indie-folk band Heimatt are the furthest thing from Seattle, and Grunge, short of Abba. What I refer to, is the post-grunge Sub Pop era.

Many of the bands that became popular on the indie circuit at that time – The Postal Service, Sunny Day Real Estate, Death Cab for Cutie, and a host of others – sprang from a cultural riposte against the popularization the previous underground indie sound – termed ‘Grunge’. Many of these bands that dominated the indie circuit at the time were filled with a certain sadness, a certain beauty, but with themes and lyrical subtleties reflective of more adult experiences. It was more tuned down and reflective, rather than angsty or rebellious.

This is what came back to me when I first Gridstad’s sound, and more specifically with Heimatt’s newest album. The new album The Greatest Story, released last September, is a bit of departure from the previous work which had more roots in modern folk music. It leans more on synth and pulls it’s influences more from Post Punk and New Wave musical compositions, rather than building from bluegrass and folk influence like in the band’s prior work.

Yet regardless of the shift in musical style, the defining factor that keeps the band’s entire oeuvre of work tied together is Gridstad’s powerful alto voice – and if you don’t hear tones of Neil Young, consider yourself tone deaf.

Despite the direction of the band leaning towards more towards an electronic feel, we invited Gridstad to participate in a Spirit Session to performance and talk about his new album. We challenged him to forgo the bands new sound, and take some of his new songs back to basics – no keyboards, no loops, just one man, and a guitar.

For those that are unfamiliar with your work, give me a little bit of background on the band Heimatt?

Heimatt has been the heart, the soul and my everything for the last four years. Starting back in 2013, I gathered some talented musicians, and suddenly it all went very fast – 7 months after our first rehearsals we got booked for Roskilde Festival, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As you are the captain of this ship, what prompted you to work under a band moniker, rather than simply Magnus Grilstad?

You released your second LP back in September of last year, and you’ve stated that it’s a bit of a departure from your previous work – integrating more electronic composition. Can you tell me about that?

Yeah, all the way from the start, Heimatt got to be known as a folk act, implementing the obligatory “hey’s” and the “four-on-the-floor” beat and vibe, so for The Greatest Story, I wanted to take a step in a new direction. There’s so much fantastic music out there these days. It’s fun to be able to try out and explore new genres.

Tell me about some of the thematic content of this album. The lyric content, the compositions, etc.

The album definitely focuses a lot on me, my breakup with my Ex, and on moving on from things. It’s your typical love songs…but a bit more dark I’d say.

Have you included new additional members to the band line-up, to accommodate the slight shift in sound?

Well, the original setting with my old band stopped in 2016 due to kids and adult jobs kicking in, so everything went very smooth, to be honest, we’re still good friends today.

I used about a year to define the new setting, tried out some things and found out what did work and what did not.

Being the preliminary songwriter, take me through how you write your songs? Is it still a collaborative process with the other members of your band?

It still is, yes. I usually embark on a small trip to a cabin or somewhere where I can be alone. I record some demo’s with guitar and vocals, a verse and a chorus, maybe a theme or lead melody, and then we basically take it from there in the practice room. I do often have ideal for drums, synth or a hook line, but the guys undoubtedly contribute a lot with their ideas as well.

You’re about to embark on a Danish tour, but you have quite a large following in Germany and Belgium. Do you have plans to extend the tour throughout Europe?

I’m not really sure what the future brings for me yet. I’m also in the process of finding out whats next for me so only time will tell.

Do you have any famous last words?

Kamelåså. No, in all seriousness – we have an amazing tour in February all around Denmark, come see me play with my amazing band, it’s gonna be loads of fun and a live performance with a lot of energy and love.

Heimatt Spirit Session PR photograph