Lust For Youth: Copenhagen’s New Boys
In a sun drenched Hackney courtyard, clad in a black Yves Saint Laurent bomber jacket, Malthe Fischer is pressing a craft beer to his lips. He is flagged by a tag-team; two prominent members of Copenhagen’s music scene. Loke Rahbek, sometime member of Vår and Lust For Youth’s former sole member Hannes Norvidde couldn’t look sharper if they were trying. Trust us, they’re not.
This intimidating trio have just made one of our favourite records of the year so far. International is a triumphant synth-pop tour de force. It has transformed Hannes’ one man vehicle for noisy self-expression into a fledgling, shimmering pop band. “It’s great that a lot of people will hear us that haven’t heard the band before”, Loke tells us as he draws a cigarette from his carton. “I just hope they can appreciate the old stuff too.”
Loke and Hannes have been collaborating together for a while under a number of different guises, but it wasn’t until Oh No Ono guitarist Malthe Fischer recently popped into Loke’s Copenhagen record store and label, Posh Isolation, to offer them his studio that they were able to realise their full potential and explore a cleaner sound – not too distant from 80s acts such as Depeche Mode and New Order – that we’ll hesitantly call ‘mainstream’. Malthe tell us, “I felt like Hannes wanted to do something different, so I helped” – he pauses – “to make it easier to digest, but keep the narrative the same.” Hannes interjects, “It’s very different but it’s also the same somehow, the project went from being a kid to being a teenager”. He can’t help but smile; clearly he’s created something he feels very proud of, a crowning achievement in his still adolescent career.
International opens with an instant hard-hitter. Named after a performance- enhancing drug used by cyclists, Epoetin Alfa details Lance Armstrong’s victory in the Tour de France. Hannes argues that scandal and media lies have been the lyrical foundations for much of the record, “There was a lot of talk about Lance Armstrong and his big apology and it was in the Danish news like all the time with lots of Danish bicyclists abusing drugs. It affected us, it made us think about our place in the world.” Loke adds, “It’s like that Madonna record Confessions on a Dancefloor, the record is very much about realising your situation, and him doing drugs on a bicycle is maybe not so far from what the record is”. As he stumbles, struggling to articulate through slightly broken English, his bandmates break into hysterics. Their laughter shatters their cool, composed exteriors for a moment.
As their camaraderie exposes itself, we jump at a chance to comment on Lust For Youth’s image. But even while their guard is down, their defence is swift. “We’ve never had like a style meeting, it comes naturally”, Hannes laughs. Loke, whose dry, self-aware drollery is as immaculate as the trim white shirt draped over his many hand-poked tattoos, jokes that “everything is somewhat linked I guess. If you’re gonna make pretty things, you should wear pretty things and you should look pretty and sleep with pretty people”, he smirks, “appearance is all that counts”. “Bullshit”, says Hannes, equally well dressed, “I hate pretty bands.” Loke looks serious for a moment, “Ok, ok. It’s like that thing with dogs looking like their owners, it’s a small dog pound we have in Copenhagen so we all end up looking alike. Even if it’s not a conscious decision.”
Strolling around Hollywood in white tuxedos, the band look especially dapper in the recent music video for Illume. It’s a medium they hold in high regard. “That’s how I took in music at first, sitting at home watching MTV waiting for my favourite music video,” Loke tells us. But in an age where MTV is more about Kardashians than music, it might only find a home online. Still, as they are, young, attractive, surging towards stardom, these three young lads sit on the crux of a turning point for pop music where the internet may prove more pivotal than MTV ever could. Where they go next is up to them, but if they play this right, they could well be perching right at the top.
International is out now via Sacred Bones