Wednesday, May 29, 2019

10 Questions For: Secret Treehouse


They are one of the best bands hailing from Scandinavia. Their music blends indie, pop and rock in a unique manner, and all of their singles to date are simply marvelous. Sounds European! had the opportunity of talking to them, in one of the coolest interviews we've ever had. These are our 10 questions for Sveinung Fossan Bukve, of Secret Treehouse:

Sounds European!: We like to start our interviews getting to know a bit about the artists' backgrounds. Among all band members, who are the common idols you had when you were growing up? And do you feel they have influenced the music you currently make?

Sveinung Fossan Bukve (Secret Treehouse): Our musical backgrounds are quite diverse, I would say. My first real obsession when it comes to bands was Radiohead, and they still make much of the soundtrack of my life. I know Anja loves them too. Anja also loved U2 from her early days, and grew up with Alanis Morissette and Genesis. Marius really loves the world of drums from the '80s, he is pretty much the one in the band who loves commercial pop the most.

SE!: How did you guys first meet? When and how did you form the band? How did you feel when you started playing together? After the band was formed, what happened – what were your first career steps as a group?

SFB: Anja and I started the band a few years back. We moved to Bergen and then met Tormod, and then later Trond Espen and Marius joined. I would say when we all got together to make this record, there was this feeling of everything coming together. We found a sound together, we cracked the code of songs we've been working on for a long time – at the same time as we continued with that sound on new songs.

SE!: Can you tell us more about the band's name? Who came up with it? And what is the explanation behind the name Secret Treehouse?

SFB: Actually our former drummer, Giuliano. We all loved the name, and later we kind of formed our visual expression around the band's name. Secret Treehouse is about a form of escapism. It can be exemplified in an organic secret treehouse where there is life and creativity in a desolate, cold urban place. The place you retreat to when you need some distance and escape from reality. We like to describe ourselves in contrasts, the dark versus the light, the urban and dead versus the green nature. We like to think that there is a green creative hope in the midst of all the darkness, and we find creativity in these dichotomies.

SE!: Your three singles, "Kind of special", "Fear of frogs" and "The big rewind", are great. We really love them! Putting the three together, we feel a common direction: alternative pop-rock with retro electronic elements and a big focus on the melody. Is our impression accurate? How would you qualify, in style and genre, the music you make?

SFB: Thanks! When I write I have a big focus on melody, so very cool that you picked that up. I find it hard to label my own music, but I would say that we are within the indie pop genre, with elements of electronic music and rock. But I always have in mind that a good melody can work with almost any production or arrangement, so I'm aiming for any of our songs to be able to work with just an acoustic guitar or piano with vocals.

SE!: It's impossible to listen to your music and talk about your style and genre without connecting it all to the country where you come from. Norway is a place that is friendly to these alternative sounds, and is starting to be internationally recognized as an exporter of this kind of music. What is your view on the current Norwegian music scene? And how has it been, for you, to develop your career in Norway?

SFB: There has been a major shift in the way the business handles things over here the later years. The music business is getting more professional, and more and more musicians and bands are looking to go abroad. Artists like Röyksopp, AURORA and Sigrid are putting our city (and country) on the musical map and we even have bigger names than them in the EDM genre (Kygo and Alan Walker).

"A good melody can work with almost any production or arrangement"

SE!: In March, you signed with Ditto Plus, and "The big rewind" was your first single released on the label. What did it mean, for you, to sign with a label? And what has changed since then? What kind of experiences have they already been able to share and contribute to your work? And what possibilities have they already opened for you?

SFB: We have been DIY artists so far, and put together a strong team with people we trust to work with us. So signing with a label had to mean finding a label that allowed us to be in charge of our own career. Ditto Plus was therefore a perfect match for us. Having someone professional to discuss things with is important to us. The biggest change so far is that they've opened the way for us to get on editorial Spotify playlists, but it's still just early days in our collaboration.

SE!: Your three singles are going to be part of your upcoming album, which is also gonna be titled "The big rewind". What can you tell us about your album? At what point of making it are you? What kind of songs can we expect? And is there a release date known, or soon to be known?

SFB: We know the date, and the album is finished! I'm not sure when it will be official, though. We still have a few more singles at hand, before album release. The album was produced by our dear friend Stamos Koliousis. Songs are written by me, but we have all arranged them together. Some of the lyrics are written by our friend Øyvind Strømmen. We recorded the album partially in our own studio in Bergen, and in RecPublica Studio i Lubrza, in Poland. What an insane place to go! A high-end studio placed in a 700-year-old brick water mill in a poor, sleepy Polish town. Ten-minute drive from there, they have made the biggest Jesus statue in the world [Christ the King, in Świebodzin].
From the album, you can expect more of what you have already heard, but we like to vary between high-energy songs and more delicate songs, so there is a good mix there. We even have a song with only acoustic guitar and vocals. We stick to the good melody and let the song and arrangements develop from what we want to convey, but the whole album is in the landscape of indie pop with elements of electronic music and rock.

SE!: Besides the album's release, what else can your fans expect from you? What are your professional projects for 2019?

SFB: We are planning on doing several shows. First up is in London on May 30th. Then we're planning on having some trips abroad and in Norway after the album launches. And, we've started recording new music! A lot of new songs are written and a lot more is to come. So count on us to stay in there for the long run!

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some Norwegian and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

SFB: Oh damn, what a great question! Nigel Godrich (as a producer), Röyksopp, Nels Cline (one of my biggest influences as a guitarist), Billie Eilish (what an unbelievable production that album of hers has), Aisha Badru (great voice), Jonny Greenwood... well, to name a few.

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Secret Treehouse, and why?

SFB: That is a difficult question, but I would say that "The big rewind" or "Do you remember" (not yet released) are my favourites on the record, but also the quiet "Hero" (not yet released). It has to do with the topics and my personal involvement put into words in these songs, and that I really, really love how they turned out musically as well. They amplify what I intended to express in the first place.
As for the rest of the band, "Do you remember" and "Wrong hands" (out on May 30th) are very high up in their list of favourites. They have strong melodies with a lot of emotion, dressed up in dynamic and big arrangements.

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