It often takes an album for an act to more fully realise their sound.
This has certainly been the case for SOFTWAVE with their debut ‘Game On’. With the influence of big voiced singers such as Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, the Danish couple add a twist to sub-ERASURE flavoured synthpop.
Laced in Nordic melancholy, SOFTWAVE have delivered a fine debut album with off-the-wall narratives contained within a classic melodic framework.
Since their debut EP ‘Together Alone’ in 2016, Danish duo SOFTWAVE have been gaining momentum with well-received live performances and notable endorsements from former members of THE HUMAN LEAGUE Jo Callis and Ian Burden, as well as one-time Numan sideman Chris Payne.
Catrine & Jerry: It was a great success. We sold way more vinyls that we thought we would. We were warned by so many Danes about producing vinyls, but we did it anyway because it was our personal wish to have our debut album on that format. We received good feedback from several reviewers.
Looking back, how was making ‘Game On’ compared with your first EP ‘Together Alone’?
Catrine & Jerry: It was more professional and serious with a strict deadline and a lot of collaborators. We constantly gain experience, so we completed tracks faster and the workflow was much better. When making the EP everything was new to us; the whole music scene, how you interact with people involved, is all something we are more familiar with today.
‘No Need To Hide’ has been cited by a number of people as one of the highlights from the album, what was that inspired by?
Catrine: This was the second song we worked on for the album. Lyrics wise, the song is inspired by my past time with a critically ill dad and how much I experienced from group therapy sessions. For me, it wasn’t a taboo and I wasn’t afraid to expose my feelings with others. Therefore I named the song ‘No Need To Hide’.
Jerry: Music wise, I wasn’t inspired by anything in particular; it was just a creative idea. If I were to name the title, as the shy guy I am, it would have been ‘I Need To Hide’ … *laughs*
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK understands ‘Something Is Missing’ is about your dog Nero?
Catrine: Haha… yes it is. I haven’t said that directly in the lyrics, because it was important for other people without a dog-relationship to relate to it as well. But basically this song is dedicated to everybody who lost something or someone valuable in their lives.
“As a child all my dreams came true” – The life before my dad got ill, I was spoiled. Apart from games, movies and toys, I always wanted a dog so badly, so he gave one to me. After 15 years with a lovely time with my dog Nero, he passed away. Therefore I named the song ‘Something Is Missing’.
Was the dancefloor friendly ‘Human Beings’ an observation of modern society?
Catrine: Yes. In today’s society, my experience is that only a few people have the time to study and analyze important subjects.
Some people only have the time to be superficial and then they forget about each other. That is a sad development when it doesn’t demand much more from you than to give “one smile one hug, empathise and having fun – in giving we receive, we are human beings”.
‘Galaxy Of Stars’ was quite an appropriate song to release in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, did you watch any of the many fascinating documentaries about it? Would you like to travel in space?
Catrine: We haven’t seen any recent documentaries about it. In fact we didn’t realise it was the 50th anniversary when we wrote the song, so we can label it as a happy accident.
Jerry: I love science fiction, so travelling in the great unknown would indeed be exiting. I wouldn’t rely on a metal tube with fire in the bottom to travel to other galaxies, but if some friendly ETs came by and offered me a ride in their shiny UFO, I would definitely go for it.
If Celine Dion fronted ERASURE, it would probably sound like SOFTWAVE, please discuss… 😉
Catrine: I would love someone to introduce us like that someday. As the humble person I am, I wouldn’t say that I have a voice like Celine Dion. But Jerry definitely has the talent of a young Vince Clarke 😉
Jerry: An interesting theory. Maybe someone should propose the two of them to collaborate. Then we can discuss if it sounds SOFTWAVE-ish.
Speaking of ERASURE, you covered ‘Siren Song’ live with a choir as part of the promotion for ‘Game On’, how was the experience and why did you choose that song in particular?
Catrine & Jerry: The song wasn’t really chosen by us, but by ELEKTROKOR (Electrochoir). For a long time, we had a request from a huge fan for us to make an ERASURE cover song. After discovering ELEKTROKOR by a coincidence via Facebook, we saw an opportunity to meet our fan’s request.
ELEKTROKOR has a huge talent and passion covering songs by DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO and ERASURE, which was a perfect match. It’s not often you get an opportunity like that in little Denmark. There was no doubt that we should collaborate. The idea was for guest them at their concert in a church. Afterwards we thought it was a perfect fit for them to join our release concert, which was welcomed by most of the audiences and the reviewer Teddy Bjørklund. Next time we do an ERASURE cover, we will choose the song ourselves.
Which tracks have been your own favourites from ‘Game On’ and why?
Jerry: My personal favourites are: ‘Something is Missing’ because I felt it had something to it from the very beginning and it’s quite catchy as well. Also ‘Galaxy of Stars’ because it’s very ERASURE like in its sound and ‘I Need Love’ is upbeat and in my own opinion, I think it has a YAZOO feeling to it.
Catrine: ‘Galaxy of Stars’ was my first challenge singing in a downbeat tempo and maintain the joy in my voice while singing. It was a lovely song to work with. I actually loved everything about it. It was written without struggling at all, the lyrics came easily to me. I really dreamed myself into the ‘Galaxy of Stars’. Even the vocal recordings were lovely. Normally I prefer to sing live, because singing in a box feels unnatural to me. I had the same experience with ‘Guardian Angel’. Music wise and in general, I like how much ‘Human Beings’ and ‘Curiosity’ differ from the other tracks. My favourite live performance track would be ’No Need To Hide’.
Remixes can be a bit hit and miss but Jerry’s Alternate Version of ‘On & On & On’ was an improvement on the original, have you any more planned for release?
Catrine & Jerry: Thank you, we feel so too 🙂
We are planning a new remix release of ‘Game On’ (release date TBA soon). As something new, there has been a surprisingly great interest from talented producers this time. So we don’t feel the need to do a remix by ourselves and besides, we’re busy producing new original SOFTWAVE tracks.
One of the producers we’re very proud to have on the compilation is ex-HUMAN LEAGUE member Ian Burden who we were lucky to meet last year in addition to our tour in London, thanks to a good friend who invited us to Ian’s solo album release in Soho.
An extended version of ‘Something is Missing’ will be released by the well known German label ZYX Music on ‘New Generation 15’ released September 6th and ‘I Need Love’ by Conzoom Records on ‘Electropop.15’ released September 13th.
You are performing at the ‘Pop+Synth Festival’ in Copenhagen in November, along with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN and OCTOLAB… this might actually be the first event of its kind in Denmark if ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is not mistaken?
Catrine: Well. In Denmark the synthpop scene isn’t that big, actually non-existent. But in Sweden, the scene is bigger and therefore I decided to increase the attention to the genre by inviting a bunch of Swedish synthpop bands to my debut synth event ‘Pop+ Synth Festival’ along with other international bands.
I have also succeeded with some great collaborations and tickets are already selling fast. Some wrote “This might be the synth-event of the year” and “Great initiative!”. My concept is to support the artists, because as an artist, I know how much work we put into gigs etc. No one deserves to perform for free. And when I experience a lot of Swedish bands (whom I have never heard of) contacting me to get a spot on my line up – it touches me deeply. I feel I’m doing a good thing here. “Something is Missing” in Denmark – and I hope I can make a difference. Even though the scene isn’t big, I know there’s a synthpop and Italo audience out there.
Classical composer Maurice Ravel said: “Whatever sauce you put around the melody is a matter of taste. What is important is the melodic line”, any thoughts?
Jerry: I totally agree. Without it there’s nothing.
Catrine: The melody relates to so many feelings and can be part of a memory from your life. Even though I’m not a producer, I guess it’s easier to produce a great beat than a great melody. Therefore SOFTWAVE tries to combine melodies from both vocals and music.
So how will SOFTWAVE’s synthpop heart will go on?
Catrine: Always by striving for improvement, never to give up and to reach new listeners with our music.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SOFTWAVE
Since their debut EP ‘Together Alone’ in 2016, Danish duo SOFTWAVE have been gaining momentum with well-received live performances and endorsements from luminaries such as one-time member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE Jo Callis and former Numan sideman Chris Payne.
From their studio in Herlev, Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen have not stood still, learning from their first release and actually improving on it, particularly with Jerry’s Alternate Version of the catchy ‘On & On & On’ on the companion remix EP.
And now sees the release of the couple’s debut long player with a declaration that it’s all now ‘Game On’. Cross ERASURE with the influence of singers such as Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, and you get the picture that while female fronted synthpop is a plenty, SOFTWAVE offer something special in the vocal department for their first album.
It’s a journey that has excited Catrine Christensen who told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in Autumn 2017: “An album is like a story with smaller parts that connects and become that greater story. It’s small parts and emotions from your life that fits together, some being uptempo and energetic, some being slow and some sad etc.”
With a dramatic intro appropriately titled ‘Takeoff’, SOFTWAVE’s inaugural full length mission features a spoken commentary and countdown from Christensen to connect to the album’s futuristic gamer theme.
The album’s first single and calling card ‘Something Is Missing’ is buzzingly sub-ERASURE, an alluringly catchy and assured synthpop statement with melodies and counter-melodies galore.
In a tune partly inspired by her unique relationship with her dog Nero, as Christensen puts it: “life contains greater things than just temporary material things”.
More uptempo but punctuated by machines of ice, ‘No Need To Hide’ is undoubtedly Clarkean too, celebrating positivity in possibly SOFTWAVE’s finest moment yet with one of those rousing Scandipop choruses.
‘Reflected Memories’ sparkles but retains that touch of melancholy which Nordic acts are so good at. Here, Christensen is vocally rich and more confident while Olsen has upped the ante on production values since the debut, applying bravado and vibrato as appropriate.
Comparatively more sedate, ‘Guardian Angel’ plays with dripping arpeggios, airy soundscapes and the occasional Celine Dion hairbrush moment for something that Christensen declares is almost spiritual.
Rewarding their ‘Valor’, this enjoyable filmic instrumental sets the second for the second act; so with bursts of stabbing electronic energy, ‘I Need Love’ take a leaf from its Moroder-esque title, but with an effective offbeat on it rhythm construction for a love song for people who hate songs about love but who need it and feed on it.
‘Curiosity’ provides a breather and another ballad moment with Christensen displaying her range over Olsen’s sympathetic backdrop; it’s an inventive fictional story about a forgotten “one-hit-wonder” who is deep frozen in an underground laboratory, brought back to life by a fan and together they make another hit record… the concept is downright bizarre but brilliant, showing how much SOFTWAVE are thinking outside of the box.
The trancey ‘Human Beings’ is set at dancefloor pace, but Olsen’s production puts the song itself at centre stage rather than percussively overdriving it. With a commentary about how people use people and love things, rather than the other way round, the end result all the much better for it. Closing the album, the sweet ‘Galaxy Of Stars’ is classic ERASURE, pulsing and signalling gloriously as Christensen stares into the night sky reflecting on her day.
So with ‘Game On’ now “game over”, what is the verdict? SOFTWAVE have delivered a fine and enjoyable debut album with off-the-wall narratives contained within a classic melodic framework. So the natural reaction is to press “play” again.
Striving for continual artistic improvement and displaying a willingness to learn as they progress, there is no doubt that based on this documentary evidence, SOFTWAVE’s synthpop heart will go on…
The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.
Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner Mark Reeder used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.
After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and Gary Numan refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.
But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.
Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.
Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.
Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.
By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.
Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉
Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…
The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.
As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.
Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.
No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.
Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.
2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.
Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.
One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but Michael Oakley and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.
It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction. Meanwhile, Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017. South American wasn’t left out either and representation came via Argentina’s COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO.
Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and Hannah Peel embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.
Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.
Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set
Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.
With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.
It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…
While ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.
Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.
However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.
However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.
Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉
Danish duo SOFTWAVE impressed on their debut London live performance in 2017.
Featuring engaging lead singer Catrine Christensen and technical wizard Jerry Olsen, their first EP ‘Together Alone’ was a six track collection of appealing Nordic synthpop.
A remixed version of the EP, naturally titled ‘Together Alone – The Remixes’ actually managed to improve several of the numbers, particularly with Jerry’s Alternate Version of the catchy ‘On & On & On’. Catrine and Jerry took time out for a lengthy chat.
Which artists have inspired SOFTWAVE, whether synthy or not?
Catrine: Before knowing about ERASURE and the existence of electronic music at all, the female vocalists who inspired me the most was Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne. You might think that’s quit an unusual mix, and it is. I have always liked listening to different kind of music to discover new artists and new sounds. I got to know about Celine Dion, after seeing the world premiere of ‘Titanic’ in 1997. ‘My Heart Will Go On’ is therefore my favourite of hers, and yes, I have been singing it A LOT since 😉
Tina Turner inspired me because I saw the movie ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’, an authentic movie about her tough life experiences. I was amazed about her strong attitude and not to forget her deep and extremely powerful vocal.
Madonna’s catchy melodies, vocal, simple sing able lyrics and music videos inspired me and Gwen Stefani, because of her beautiful innocent look and nice female vocal. Avril Lavigne was a skategirl and at that time I was one too, so the song that inspired me the most when I was 14, was ‘Sk8boy’! But after meeting Jerry in 2007 at Culture Box, a famous Danish electronic club, I discovered electronic music.
I was overwhelmed by Jerry’s huge interest in it and the unique sounds he produced himself and never heard by no one else but him and his closest friends.
Jerry: For me, my inspiration is all synthy. DEPECHE MODE, SOFT CELL, YAZOO and various artists from the 80s and especially ERASURE as they are my favourite band. It’s not like we try to sound like any of them, we are very focused on not getting too cheesy. We want to sound like us, but with elements from mentioned acts.
Catrine: Jerry was the one who told me about ERASURE for the first time in my life. I remember seeing a live video where Andy Bell was jumping around on stage in silly clothes, fearless and expressing the songs to the audience in a fascinating lovely way. I loved him right away, his performances made me happy. I had never seen anything like it before. At that particular moment, I got motivated to sing on stage immediately. To give away positive energy, that’s the purpose of my life. And being a singer is the best way to do it.
Today I’m pretty much inspired by the 80s sound and think it’s important to produce songs with great music, lyrics and vocals, so not just having vocals up front and the music just left in background with a sound of a simple beat.
No, I love the music from the 80s because it reminds me of my lovely childhood when my big brother still lived home, he was born in 1978 and always listened to 80s music. Besides ERASURE, I’m also inspired by EURYTHMICS, YAZOO, KAVINSKY, CODE 64, EMPATHY TEST, NINA (and her amazing drummer Laura) and Danish artists like MATHILDE FALCH, SØS FENGER and NEPHEW.
What is the usual creative dynamic with SOFTWAVE?
Catrine: New ideas and deadlines with exciting goals make us creative. Jerry usually produces a demo, consisting of a beat or chords, for me to listen to. If Jerry’s idea inspires me, I will automatically come up with great vocal melodies. If Jerry likes my idea, we stick to the track and continue working on it until it’s finished.
Jerry: When we started out, it was basically me creating an almost finished track but now we start with just chords, a simple beat and Catrine’s final vocal melody before we move on and make it an actual track. That seems to work a lot better.
Catrine: Usually it takes a long time for us to finish, but we don’t want to hurry up finishing the tracks we produce and then end up with a lot tracks, but crap. NO, we want to develop our skills during the progress and learn from our mistakes so that we can improve the productions. Also feedback from the audience encourages our creativity, so no one should ever hesitate telling us their real opinion.
How do you look back on the ‘Together Alone’ EP?
Jerry: I’m both proud and embarrassed at the same time. Proud, because it was our first ever musical project and because neither of us have any education or anything regarding music composition or production. Embarrassed, because when you compare our music to so many others, I can hear that there is room for improvement all across the board. And as me being my own worst critic, it’s easy to feel that it’s not good enough at all.
Catrine: It was tough completing it since the EP was our first release ever. It took us about two years. We established SOFTWAVE back in 2014 and at that particular moment, we decided to build a soundproof studio (Blue Orange Studio) to be able to produce good quality music and great clean vocal recordings. The debut EP was kind of a test. Actually, we didn’t think people would like it, we just had to follow our common dream to see what happened or else we might not ever get the opportunity again.
What was the thinking behind the remix version of ‘Together Alone’? Was it about improvement or reinterpretation?
Jerry: The initial thought was reinterpretation, we thought it would be fun to hear other artists’ versions of our tracks. We hoped for just one or two remixes but got contacted by several artists who wanted to work with us and that was really a pleasant surprise for us. It ended up being an improvement for our tracks as well as an interpretation.
Catrine: The remix compilation is the result of the popularity of the ‘Together Alone’ EP outside of Denmark. Support from around the world helped us to reach our audience in a way we could never have done by ourselves. The thinking behind the remixes was to give other great producers the opportunity to ad their sound and creativity to our tracks, help them to be spotted and hopefully inspire us and others.
It felt naturally to do a remix version after the EP since we don’t have a huge repertoire and are new to how things worked in the music industry. To hear other producers’ versions of our music was very exciting because they came from Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Israel, USA and Mexico. They added a lot of different sounds and we pretty much got inspired by them, they did a great job.
But actually the originally plan was only to produce about 3 remixes in total which turned out to be 9, we were surprised how many who showed their interest. Patrik Kambo was the first one to produce a remix for ‘On & On & On’ – we were asked by Ingo Möller from Conzoom Records to make an extended version of our own songs and sent it to him to be part of the ‘Electropop’ compilation series. It never happened, so we decided to do a remix compilation. Also, don’t forget Jerry’s alternate version of ‘On & On & On’ which we think is better than the original.
Things appear to have gone up a level for SOFTWAVE since the ‘On & On & On’ remix video and your London debut?
Catrine: Yes it did, I guess everything was perfect timing even though the release of the music video and remix EP was delayed.
Jerry: It has and it’s funny because lately we haven’t released any new music, it’s just people who still seem to discover our EP and Remix EP. It’s kind of like a freight train, slow start but when it’s up to speed, it’s difficult to stop again and just rolls on by itself. So apart from a couple of live gigs in Denmark, it’s mostly due to Catrine’s excellent PR skills that we are getting the attention we get.
The new found attention has exposed you to the good and bad sides of the music business; what do you think you have learnt over the last 12 months?
Catrine: That it’s very important to be a good team and get in contact with the right people. A good team meaning, be able to work creatively and constructive together, no matter ups and downs in the process of building up a band. I could never had done this alone, or Jerry either.
It has been a very tough adventure for me so far as Jerry controls the music part and I, everything else to make our dream come true. It’s not a secret that I’m a fighter and if I meet a conflict such as people that don’t find our music or story interesting enough for their projects, I just find another way around. The truth is, that there always is another way as long as you don’t quit fighting and believe in yourself and your dreams to come true. The moment you don’t believe it will happen it won’t.
So I do my best not to get to much influenced by what other people think of our band and just keep trying to be even better. The last 12 months I have learnt that deadlines are hard to comply, that’s why I love to write down schedules all the time. I have plenty of to-do and who to contact lists. Thank God, or else I couldn’t manage all this traffic that is going on when I administer the band.
I have also learnt that it is very expensive to have a band, especially if you want to move forward and reach a bigger audience. In the beginning I didn’t care because we needed this so badly and had to move fast.
When I look back, I see that a lot that was spent was never returned to us as a huge amount on our bank accounts as we wished for.
BUT I also see that every day, our band gets more attention worldwide, more views, followers, listeners, promoters etc. and everything happens because of our great network and supporters who seems to like our music pretty much. I believe in SOFTWAVE and I feel a bright future is near!
Jerry: So far, we have almost only been exposed to the good part of the music business, we are very fortunate to have met so many great people. Everybody around us has been very kind to us, and that’s both here at home and in London. So I would say that I have learned how things are supposed to be like when it’s “right”. If something deviates totally from how things are now, there’s probably something wrong. People who enter the music business and start off by knowing the bad guys think “Oh so that’s just how it’s supposed to be like”.
I can’t imagine we will ever find ourselves in that place as we are not dependant on some sh*tty mainstream label to exploit us as we make our own money through our jobs. We do this first and foremost because we love music, not for the money. It’s very hard this way but we are our own masters, so to speak.
Is there any advice you would give to acts starting out?
Catrine: Everything is possible if you believe in yourself and what you stand for, so please show it to the world and the world will give you back – Be patient, success takes time!
Don’t work on a project all alone. Be kind to the people you meet and they might be kind to you as well. There will also be a good chance of being remembered. Why be bad when you can be good?!
Jerry: Be aware that the DIY method and having a full-time job at the same time while making progress in the music business can have a really big impact on your private life. It gets frustrating at times when you don’t have enough spare time…
Remember in these times where getting a record label deal is rare and you have to do it all yourselves, it’s not only making music but also PR, keeping in touch with other artists and business contacts, it’s merchandise and live performances, so I suggest outsourcing as much work as possible to either friends, family or even hired hands. When we started out, I thought I would just be sitting making music and even though Catrine does the most work regarding PR etc, I can’t just sit in my studio chair and only do that.
Whereas in the Nordic region, Sweden, Norway and Finland have had their electronic acts make an impact around the world, Denmark appears to not have as much of a tradition, why do you think that might be?
Catrine: Sadly you’re right about that. Denmark is not into electronic music. For many years, it has been underground music, and not welcome anywhere else. Also the artists didn’t have the need to be mainstream and it felt great not to be famous. BUT in 2016 something happened… a lot of small independent companies run by volunteers wanted electronic music, plus all its sub-genres, to be known by the Danes and to make seriously changes.
I started as a volunteer this summer at STRØM, which supports everything within the electronic music scene in Denmark. They just published a “Study of electronic music in Denmark 2017” in collaboration with the famous Danish Festival, Roskilde. The study had an article in the famous Danish music magazine, ‘Musikeren’ in September by Dansk Musiker Forbund (DMF). I believe in their course and am working on something with STRØM right now…
Jerry: That’s a tough question. Maybe it’s the famous Danish Jantelov (Law of Jante) that says “You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us” – sadly it’s very embedded in the Danish society and way of thinking. It could be the influence of hip hop music, which for some reason is extremely popular in Denmark. And if you do something that’s not popular or what others do, then the law of Jante kicks you in the face.
Anyway, the scene for alternative electronic music is really small in Denmark and I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon.
Do you feel any connection with your Swedish neighbours TRAIN TO SPAIN who explore some similar synthpop terrain to SOFTWAVE?
Jerry: No actually we don’t. In fact I think there is a big difference between Danes and Swedes, tragically enough we don’t even understand each other when we speak our native languages, even though they are pretty similar and we are neighbours. I feel a stronger connection with the English people and music. We had such a great time in London and made a lot of new friends there.
Catrine: Not before you told me that you thought we had. I always thought they seemed interesting, and listened to their music. In my opinion TRAIN TO SPAIN is TRAIN TO SPAIN and SOFTWAVE is SOFTWAVE, we are two different bands with different history. But I don’t know them in person. Hopefully I will get the chance to meet them one day.
How is the new material coming along and what type of release are you planning? Does the album format still have any relevance anymore in today’s market?
Catrine: Our upcoming music productions are something special. Since the EP, we can truly hear improvements in that our skills actually have developed.
Jerry’s sound and my vocal, melody ideas and live performance have all been improved since the beginning. This is our first time to try comparing an old release with a new one and it is very exciting, especially because we both feel the improvements. The new sound can be described as Danish synthpop influenced by the 80s, but with a touch of the sound from the modern trance genre to make our music more danceable.
Jerry: It’s coming along, slow but it’s shaping up. As I’ve mentioned, it’s hard with both of us having fulltime jobs and other stuff besides the music and so we are a bit slow… personally I want an album release because I’m old school I guess. People are telling us that we should release single tracks only, because that’s just how it’s done in today’s world of music, but I feel that something is missing when doing so.
An album is like a story with smaller parts that connects and become that greater story. It’s small parts and emotions from your life that fits together, some being uptempo and energetic, some being slow and some sad etc. As an artist, you put them together in the right order for the listener to enjoy in its full glory. Hopefully it’ll be something people can connect to and remember.
I’m not a fan of single tracks being spewed out all over YouTube and then forgotten the next week, I view that as musical junk food.
What have you planned for your return to London?
Jerry: Apart from new tracks I can’t say anything about that 🙂
Catrine: First of all, meeting all the great people we have got to know from this synth family from the UK.. people are always so friendly and as I said, I feel they are like a new family. This community really is something special for both of us. We hope to meet a lot of new people and maybe make some musical activities during our stay. Last time, we only stayed in London for 3 days. This time we are planning to stay for a little longer. Let’s see what happens…
Synth Wave Live 2 is going to be part of our first European tour, which means something. Therefore we are planning to bring with us a lot of surprises.
Friends, new music from the upcoming album AND our first cover, which will be a song by ERASURE; it is actually possible for people to choose which one if they pledge on the ERASURE cover reward.
For more details, you will have to wait a little bit longer. God I’m excited about everything. So many great things are coming up thanks to all the people who believe in us. We are so thankful and look forward to show the audience how much we have developed since April 2017.
What are your hopes and fears for SOFTWAVE?
Jerry: My hope is that we will at some point be able to ditch our jobs and make music full-time, I’m not desiring luxury and stardom I just want live by making the music I so much like. I think my fear is that we don’t evolve in to something greater and better.
Catrine: Hopes – That we will raise enough money from the Kickstarter Project to afford the things that are needed to produce new music. That will give even more hope for our future and indeed motivate us to work even harder. Also I hope to be signed by a label, so we can concentrate to produce more music and don’t have to do everything by ourselves. Still I like to be in charge and to have the overview and main contacts. Until now it worked just fine, but there is more work now than ever for me alone to administer… simply I don’t have got the time to manage, days are too short, so a manager could be nice.
Fears – That the Kickstarter Project is unsuccessful, that we can’t continue to afford SOFTWAVE’s future, and run out of creativity and energy to manage the band over time. There are so many tasks to be done every single day when you’re working with DIY-methods and trying hard to reach higher goals like we do – SOFTWAVE has become a very important part of my life and I don’t think I can live without it.
It’s like a child to me, my precious child whom I’m raising and look after since I love to follow its progress. SOFTWAVE keeps me creative, happy and sometimes exhausted, but I love everything that comes with it, especially the enormous music network and fantastic fans we have been given. All these things is something we have achieved by fighting for the thing we love, for that I’m so thankful and wish for others to follow their dreams as well.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SOFTWAVE
Impressing recently at Synth Wave Live with a very engaging performance were Danish duo SOFTWAVE.
The Herlev couple of singer Catrine Christensen and music producer Jerry Olsen released their first EP ‘Together Alone’ in Summer 2016.
A six track collection of appealing Nordic synthpop, it includes their debut single ‘Follow You’ and the solid live favourite ‘Awake But Still Asleep’. With debut releases often being like dress rehearsals in public, SOFTWAVE have learnt very quickly.
A few months on, they have actually managed to improve on the EP’s best number ‘On & On & On’ with a throbbing alternate reworking by Olsen for a remix version of the EP. As the video illustrates, it is a hope filled electronic tune with the positivity mantra: “In a world of circles, she goes on and on and on…”
‘Together Alone – The Remixes’ features five of the original EP’s tracks over nine remixes and while these vary in accomplishment, ‘The Light Behind My Eyes’ in particular benefits from a remix courtesy of David Burdick which adds a chirpier paced Europop groove.
Like their Scandinavian neighbours TRAIN TO SPAIN who they could be most compared to, SOFTWAVE are greatly inspired by the sequenced superpop of Vince Clarke. Their optimistic outlook is to “make sense of today’s relationships, while exhibiting strength and patience when it comes to fighting for it and the one you love”.
As well as working on their debut album, SOFTWAVE will be featuring on ‘Electropop.12’ released by Conzoom Records and are planning to open for some bigger artists.
SOFTWAVE’s promising synth laden sound is another sign that in some parts of the music world, it’s like acid house never happened and for this, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is extremely grateful 😉