Sweet Tempest and the silence before the storm
UHØRT. This Danish word can be understood a few ways, but all of them fit the description of the festival to which the name refers.
First off, the music played there is unheard of. It is novel and notable.
At UHØRT’s main festival at Refshaleøen in August, you will be able to hear around 40 bands on three stages, over three days with around 3000 other people. A festival pulling in those numbers, with mostly unheard of bands, is unprecedented – but necessary. Without new blood and movement, the Danish music scene would be a sad sight to behold. With their raw concrete stages and unique concept, it is hard not to think of the festival as a sort of connection to the underground, a place between the dusty darkness and the sunlight. But it isn’t your usual setup.
The festival does not only provide a framework for the bands to perform in, they enable people to network and provide coaches during and after the concerts to help the bands with promotion material and direction. Get discovered – and get promoted in the process? It would be reasonable to say that it is an outrageous proposition, in the best possible way.
However, as we know, the winter is long and harsh in the North, and to divert our attention away from the darkness, they decided last year to grace us with a teaser for their summer extravaganza – a smaller one-day festival in February. This year is no exception, naturally.
This Saturday, February 4th, six bands from different backgrounds and genres will be playing, and the line-up looks delicious.
From Rebecca Lou’s punk rock love songs to the neon-lighted dance beats of Farveblind, it will be a night of musical adventure. I was lucky to catch up with one of the bands, which caught my attention as I was listening through them – Sweet Tempest.
You may have heard them as support for Fallulah last spring, if you are hip with the jive like that – or maybe you have seen The Neon Demon and thought that one of the songs, Mine, was particularly good. The dreamy pop-duo is still relatively new to Denmark, but has harvested compliments from all over the world, among others the American music blog Indie Trendsetters and German Best Before. The band consists of Luna Kira Rud-Petersen and Julian Winding, who seems to have found a common ground in fair electronic sounds with acoustic bases.
We’ve both grown up in creative and musical families so working with music was a pretty natural progression for us. We’ve spent all our lives participating in projects and bands in a variety genres—and whilst we have quite different musical backgrounds, we feel like we’ve got a great middle ground in our band that really appeals to us both. We’re both born in Denmark and Luna lives in Copenhagen whilst Julian lives in Berlin.
I’ve personally always found the collaboration of a band to be somewhat magical and abstract. To think that two people would be able to find a common ground as musicians and agree on something being their shared sound is – it will never cease to astonish me.
Luckily, we’ve got our roles in the band well secured or else we’d probably be locked in endless discussions over toast and whiskey. Julian is the one who takes care of the music and sound design whilst Luna stands for the melodies and lyrics. Sometimes when Luna is in a good mood, Julian writes some lyrics too.
Luna’s lyrics and voice is almost ethereal, and it is perfectly accompanied by soft guitar, avid banjo or strings. Although at times, I would find it a little too sweet, it brings me back to melancholy summers and bittersweet goodbyes in a way that I would not have expected to enjoy. Not only does the band seem to be a natural state for them both, but it feels as if they have overcome the hurdle of long-distance relationships. As a creative, I’ve attempted to maintain the spark and the energy between cities – even if it is only from one end of the country to the other – and it takes both determination and courage to make it work. Despite matching well, the Sweet Tempest project is no bed of roses.
We think the best description of our long distance relationship currently is ‘challenging’. We’ve always spent incredible amounts of time together, even lived together. We’ve just now decided that it’s time to go on holiday, no friends, no interruptions, and just write the best album we can and most likely enjoy a thoroughly large amount of whiskey in the process.
And sometimes, celebration of one thing leads to even better things to celebrate. As mentioned before, one of their songs, Mine, can be heard in the successful feature film by Nicolas Winding Refn, who also created Drive and Only God Forgives.
Funnily enough, we wrote “Mine” because we were high off of finishing our song ‘Snow’, so the writing of that song was actually a celebratory process! Then during our first concert ever at which the director was attending, we decided to crank up the guitars on the track for fun and he loved it. He literally just said “That song will be in my film” and you can’t really argue with that.
When I decided to write about the duo, I wasn’t fully aware that they were the one to write one of the most fitting songs of the movie, which I was blown away by. It goes to say I was excited to hear the rest of their oeuvre – and I must admit I had not expected the romantic album, Snow, to be their latest album. Mine captures a darkness that was exceptionally balanced with Luna’s voice, both seductive and innocent; it is rare that I find a local band with the qualities of some of my favorite international bands, like Class Actress or Glass Candy.
Their newest single, Empty Box, however, does forebode a darker side to the band’s misty blues. I was eager to find out if this was the case.
Absolutely! You hit the nail on the head. We want to keep our floaty feeling but there is definitely darkness in the new songs we’re working on. You don’t survive 2016 and come out without a bit of darkness. But what is darkness without light and vice versa? We don’t want to stop flying but we also want to do a bit of sailing on those big scary seas.
And while we are waiting for the rest of Denmark to get onboard to Sweet Tempest, the international media has been receiving them very well. I would imagine that working in Berlin could hide the band right under the noses of Danish music lovers, but the chance has come for people to see them live this week at UHØRT in Pumpehuset.
To be honest, we’ve never focused on any particular region or country, just on what was in front of us at the time. We’re exceptionally humbled by all the lovely things people have been saying about us in so many different places, we didn’t really see it coming. We’re really looking forward to UHØRT. It’s a great event and after all the attention from abroad, it’s good to know we can get some local love.
And love they will get – last year’s UHØRT Præsenterer saw a great turnout, and it is unlikely with a lineup like they have that it will be any less this year.
The question that keeps the curiosity alive is always what lies in the future. When will the dreamy darkness be published?
We’re currently working on our second EP that we expect to release in April and finding ways to make our live set as good as possible. Basically, we haven’t seen the sun in ages. Our song “Mine” just got plugged for television in Brazil though, so that might change! And Empty Box is being featured in a film in Los Angeles and apparently they get a bit of sun over there too so we’re really hoping someone is going to invite us over there soon. We haven’t planned anything yet but when all that is done we’re just dreaming about a nice long tour!
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