Efterklang: ‘It’s a nice metaphor for hope and change’

Windflowers, the sixth album by Efterklang, is so named after anemone commonly found in forests in their homeland, Denmark.

Efterklang. Picture: Dennis Mort

“Choosing titles is not always so easy for us,” says Rasmus Stolberg, the band’s bass player, speaking via Zoom. “We had a few options and then I think (singer) Casper (Clausen) said ‘windflowers’ and it all sounded really nice to us and it resonated really well with all three of us.

“Anemones is a really big thing for me and my mum and I also know for (keyboard player) Mads (Brauer) and his mum because it’s something as a child we both remember our mums pointing out in the forest – ‘Look at that there, it means spring is coming’. That’s what it means to me, it reminds me of my childhood, of being in the forest with my family and of something new growing out and up, that’s why I liked it. In that way it becomes a nice metaphor for hope and change, but also the dreams you put in when you make a new album.”

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Covid restrictions in Denmark meant the trio were, for once, limited in the number of guest musicians that they could work with on this record. Stolberg says it reminded him of the indie rock band’s early days in Copenhagen 20 years ago.

“In the early days we would always experiment ourselves with trying to get a sound and then we were like, ‘This can’t be done, let’s get someone proper to do it’. And as we did more and more records, our network grew. Now if we needed some amazing guitar we would ask a friend instead of trying to figure it out ourselves.

“In this situation it was suddenly, ‘we can make a lot of sound, the three of us’. So there’s a lot of drumming on the new record that is us, also guitars and pianos. That felt very much like making music before we had a career because we’ve been making music as friends since we were teenagers and that’s what it was about: trial and error, looking for sounds, trying to put things together and see if it could balance, and it was fun to do it like that again. Maybe it becomes a bit more personal, I don’t know, but for sure it was fun.

“I have to say we did invite four people that we’ve been collaborating with a lot, who we toured with in the year leading up to the lockdown.”

Working without deadlines allowed them a “vacuum of time” in which they came up with around 70 song ideas. Stolberg says: “It was like free time because it was time we were supposed to be touring, time where we had not planned to write new music, and suddenly we were isolated, not able to travel or do what we had planned to do. In that sense it felt very much like having no restrictions. In a way it was a gift, the time. and it was very fruitful. Casper and Mads were extremely productive. When we compose it always starts with them, they come up with an idea individually or together, then I listen to it and we start working on it all together. They did 70 or 80 small ideas, some of them had lyrics and were quite far on in the process.

“We met up for the first time in June last year and I think we spent the first two days just listening to all the ideas. We had the same favourites but there were like 40 of them, so we had to go into those. In the end there was no way we could work on all of those sketches so we started working on those that talked the most to us immediately. I think there’s another album lying in there, for sure.”

It’s 16 years since Efterklang released their debut album Tripper on the Leeds-based Leaf Label. Stolberg remembers; “Before I met Tony Morley from the Leaf Label I didn’t even think it was possible to make a living off music and I didn’t know anything about the music business. We grew up as friends in the countryside, I was 18 when we moved to Copenhagen and we didn’t have a network, we had no friends with a record deal and we knew no-one in the business. Also there was no YouTube videos for us to see how this works.

“It was a lucky coincidence that we hooked up with the Leaf Label because my cousin is a jazz guitarist in Edinburgh and he recommended I write to them and I did and it ended up with Tony signing us. I think we’d played five shows at that time, not a single one outside Denmark, he took and big chance and I learnt so much from him back then. Beside from being in the band and co-producing and so on, I also manage the band and I also used to run our own little record label which very much also we set up with the help of Tony.

“Back then I used to be on this Messenger chat thing with Tony and we would go back and forth on stuff and I learnt so much from him, things I still think about today when we put out new records. So I definitely think fondly of those years because it was all so new. Those years will never come back for me, when the world is like a big enigma, you don’t know where you’re going in your 20s, you take some choices or things happen to you”, you meet someone but you have no idea where it might result 20 years later. Here I am 20 years later and still in the music world and it feels great.”

Windflowers is out on Friday October 8. Efterklang play at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on January 28. efterklang.net