... and their Instruments.
"Katzenjammer" sounds like a ride through the Wild West, a folk-dance in deepest Russia and a love story between a tightrope walker and a fire-eater. They create something totally new between Rock, Pop, Folk, Balkanbeats, circus music and country.
AVIVA-Berlin met Turid J├Şrgensen, Solveig Heilo, Marianne Sveen and Anne Marit Bergheim in Berlin and had a lot of fun talking with them.
AVIVA-Berlin: Because of your live shows, you have been to Berlin a lot. The last time was in April when you played in the Postbahnhof.
What do you like about Berlin?
Solveig: I like the urbanness of Berlin. I like the vibe of the city. It┬┤s a very urban vibe here. It┬┤s a big city and has a lot of history and a very good cultural scene. It┬┤s an interesting and inspiring city in that way.
Turid: I agree. The culture in Berlin is very inspiring. I also have to say that I love the flea markets.
Anne Marit: The same as the girls said. I also love the energy here.
Marianne:I like the diversity of the city. Because the first time we were here we thought Berlin is like this and not like that. But then we came back and saw different places in Berlin. It┬┤s growing and has so many nice spots.
AVIVA-Berlin: Because of your live shows you are often on the road. This year alone, you will give concerts in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and the UK.
What do you love and miss while you┬┤re on tour?
Solveig: I love touring because you are able to see places you wouldn┬┤t be able to see if you didn┬┤t do this. I also love the freedom of being out travelling. I┬┤ve always been a sucker for travelling. And I love to go out to the street, drop the map away and find the way back somehow. When I┬┤m alone in the city, I just feel to be free. I love that. Sad things about being on the road are that you cannot call your friends and say "Hi. Do you come for a coffee?" Of course I can call these girls but since we are together all the time we need some time alone as well. All the friends back home you can just call.
Turid: I love to make music. That┬┤s why I did it. And I also have to say that you see a lot of different places. Sometimes I see some places and I want to go back and explore them. But often we don┬┤t have time to explore the city we are in. What I miss is my boyfriend, my cat, my family and my friends.
Anne Marit: I just love to travel. We are able to meet new people all over the world and I think that this is a privilege. What I miss is cooking. Although I love the catering, I miss just making my own food.
Marianne: Of course the same stuff. I think that I┬┤m missing my piano a lot. I have my guitar and my ukulele with me but my piano is back home because it┬┤s too big. I like my electronic piano too, but it has not the soul as my piano at home. I write most of my songs on the piano and it always has a kind of mood.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you never get on each others┬┤ nerves?
Marianne: Yep! Of course we do. We are more like a family because we┬┤ve been together every day almost the last three years, the whole day through. We wake up in the same bus and go to sleep in the same bus after studying almost together. So of course we get on each other┬┤s nerves. If we didn┬┤t I think we would be exploding in a year or two.
Turid: It would be strange if we didn┬┤t have feelings about being together all the time.
AVIVA-Berlin: A few weeks ago, your second album "A Kiss Before You Go" was released in Germany and blasted its way to position 7 in the German album charts.
Did you expect this success?
Solveig: We never expect anything. We hoped for it but we never expected. But we also have to say that we had always a very good feeling about Germany. We talked about this - France and Germany fit Katzenjammer very well. I always kind of knew that something good was gonna happen here. But we didn┬┤t think as far as to some position in the charts
AVIVA-Berlin: The collage on the CD cover is very mysterious and atmospheric. You┬┤re all in a small boat and it seems like you┬┤re searching for something in the darkness.
Could you explain the concept behind this image, and how the ideas for it developed?
Anne Marit: The idea was taken from a French movie called "The city of the lost children". It┬┤s a very impressing film. There is actually a story if you look at all the pictures in the cover. First we are in the boat of course and searching for different things. And then we dive into the water and keep searching for something and then there is a diver who captures these three girls.
Solveig: How is it gonna end?
Turid: I think that we just get a kiss before we go.
Marianne: I think you can see the references in the story, the colours, the mood and atmosphere if you watch the movie.
AVIVA-Berlin: I love your music. For me it┬┤s always very impulsive and surprising. You create something totally new between Rock, Pop, Folk, Balkanbeats, circus music and country.
Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?
Solveig: We are four very different girls with very different tastes of music and our common references are in some ways old movies. We all like Disney movies and visual stuff. We have as well as different things very different tastes of music that we listen to and we put this together and then we get this crazy Katzenjammer-sound.
AVIVA-Berlin: In your album you┬┤re playing a cover version of "Land of confusion" from "Genesis". Why did you cover this song in particular?
Marianne: It┬┤s because I saw that music video when I was like five years old or something and I was hooked because I love that song, I love the video. And then we needed a cover song for a Radio show. And I already arranged this song a long time ago with another band. I love Genesis and Phil Collins.
AVIVA-Berlin: In the song "Land of Confusion", but also in " Shepherd┬┤s song" you can hear a sousaphone.
Why did you decide to use this exceptional and rarely used instrument?
Anne Marit: There is a friend of ours. He┬┤s a fantastic tuba-player. A sousaphone is a tuba. It┬┤s kind of the same. You put it on along your body and circle your body and the tone is coming out above your head. It┬┤s a cool instrument. He┬┤s a fantastic musician as well and we asked him if he wants to support us. It was magic.
Turid: We like the way it sounds.
AVIVA-Berlin: In total the band plays 30 instruments. In addition to the usual band instruments like piano, guitar, drums and bass, you are also playing instruments like the mandolin, tuba, accordion, zither, banjo and ukulele on your album.
What was learning how to play all these instruments like? For example, how difficult was it?
Solveig: It differs from instrument to instrument. It┬┤s different. At the beginning my banjo and me we weren┬┤t friends.
Anne Marit: That┬┤s the problem! The banjo is not long.
Solveig: Yes, but suddenly I just became friends with it and now it┬┤s like playing the guitar. And now all songs I like on the guitar, I like on the banjo.
Anne Marit: Sometimes we spend a lot of time practising in periods. But if you know how to play the guitar it┬┤s easy to play the bass because you┬┤re playing the same notes.
Turid: Sometimes we actually just listen to an instrument and think "Oh that sounds great" and then we start practising it. It┬┤s not important that you can play every note as long as you find the right tones.
AVIVA-Berlin: In your song "Rock-Paper-Scissors" a busker named Mr Orchestra plays percussion.
How did this come about?
Marianne: I think we found him on the streets. He┬┤s a great musician and when I met him the second time, I drove him into the studio. We asked him if he wants to add some spice to that song and he said "Yes. Great!" He sounds like a muppet.
AVIVA-Berlin: In my opinion, the last song "God┬┤s Great Dust Storm", breaks the mould somewhat. The song is nearly acapella, discretely underlined by percussion. I like it very much because you sing this song with a lot of passion and intimacy.
To what extent is this song a contrast to the rest of the album and why?
Anne Marit: This was actually a fight for us or a small fight. The band was very sure that this was a very important song to add to the album. But there were some people on the record label who didn┬┤t agree with us in the beginning, now they do. It┬┤s so important that we can show that this band is diverse in every way. Not just in the tempo, we are also very serious about what we do. This is for me the strongest song we┬┤ve got in that. Sometimes when we play on stage it┬┤s easy to fall out of focus when we play songs that we know very well. But that song is impossible to do that because it┬┤s so "careful" for us still. So when we start singing, something just happens. It┬┤s kind of magic.
Marianne: (begins singing "It┬┤s a kind of magic)
Anne Marit: I don┬┤t know if I answered your question but it┬┤s very important to the album to show the seriousness.
AVIVA-Berlin: Was it very hard for you to put down your instruments for this track?
AVIVA-Berlin: Unfortunately I┬┤ve never been to one of your live concerts, but I┬┤ve heard a lot about them. For example, you play the game Musical Chairs, but with your instruments instead of chairs, and you move from instrument to instrument.
How did this idea come about?
Anne Marit: It wasn┬┤t an idea, it just happened.
Turid: When we started the band, we started with instruments we had found, for example mandolin and accordion. So we started with instruments we actually didn┬┤t know how to play when we started the band and we also added instruments we could play. Then it just happened naturally that we heard one song and we wanted to play the other song and we just asked "Can I try the mandolin now, because it looks nice to play?" And then Marianne came into the band did some weird stuff. (laughing) Everything just developed naturally.
AVIVA-Berlin: What was the best live concert you have ever given and why?
Turid: Impossible! Every one is so f------g good.
Marianne: I think actually we┬┤ve been giving all together the last five years around thousands shows. We┬┤ve been playing all the time. And every show is unique in its own way. The one I remember like now the latest that we had with the craziest audience, at least I guess the great concert was the one in Netherlands.
Turid: Oh yeah I remember in Arnhem. It was a crazy concert. There were just 500 people and they sounded like thousand.
Anne Marit: Many, many good moments. Every show is different and unique and very much fun. It┬┤s a boring answer but it┬┤s impossible to answer that.
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you have any plans for the future? Are you working on a new album?
Marianne: Our third album: We are talking about it. We don┬┤t want to wait a long time. We are girls in our best age and we love to start family one day and we can┬┤t wait ten years for that. So it┬┤s easier if we are working hard right now and of course we love it. Now we know better what we want than at that time when we made our first album. We are even more confident in what we┬┤re doing. We don┬┤t care if people don┬┤t like it any more. So the third album will come very soon. Next week! (Laughing)
AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much for the interview!
Katzenjammer im Netz: www.katzenjammer.no
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