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Interview: Magnus Børmark from 22

 
By on Tuesday, 21st August 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Norwegian eccentric math rockers 22 have recently released their debut album ‘Flux’ on Best Before Records. I caught up with guitarist Magnus Børmark for a quick chat about the number 22, the band’s influences and travelling to another dimension.

You have a pretty much unGoogleable name, why did you choose 22?
I have the seen the number 22 everywhere from when I was at a very young age. I started receiving information and seeing different patterns through the occurrence of the number. I learned that there were many people around the world seeing numbers and patterns everywhere, but few took the phenomena beyond the point of awe and amazement. So we decided to convert the energies and insights gleaned into music and the band 22 is the result of that decision.

Your debut album ‘Flux’ has just been released, what can you tell us about it?
It is an audio guidebook to keeping your balance when the world around you turns into chaos. There have been no compromises regarding what we want to express. I recorded, produced and mixed the album myself, cause there really was not anyone around who understood what we were up to.

How did you get involved with Best Before records?
A British band, called Arcane Roots, had gotten hold of our earliest recordings and were talking a lot about how great we were, mentioning us in interviews and so on. Due to this, Best Before Records got interested and then one thing lead to another. We are forever thankful to Arcane Roots. They are now our best friends, and they show an unique lack of egotism and fear in these weird times for the music industry.

What are the primary influences behind the album?
Numbers, synchronicities, astral travels, channelled information from non physical entities and such. We also of course love Meshuggah, Kate Bush, Edgar Allan Poe and playing hackysack. All this, plus what we have experienced through our joined creative endeavours, has inspired the creation of ‘Flux’.

Compared to your previous EP releases, how was the experience of writing an album?
It was fulfilling. With an album you can take each song further in the respective direction they are inclined to go. With EPs, you sort have to keep it ‘snappy’ and more succinct. With an album, you can create a vaster universe for the listener to move in. Can’t wait to release a double album.

Looking at your Web site there are no forthcoming live dates, do you plan to tour the album?
We toured quite extensively the last year, and we will come back to tour even more extensively. We are looking at several options on how we want to do it. We want to up things a bit. So we are keeping our cool until we know we can give people something even more spectacular than when they saw us the last time. We always want to give the audience more than their money’s worth.

You’ve received a lot of attention from the likes of Kerrang! and Q, how does that feel?
That feels really really good. We are quite eclectic, and having journalists latching on to our thing is quite amazing. I think many of the magazines have reporters that have seen us live, and then they really get us. We are all about the live shows, and when you see 22 live, I think you understand that what is recorded on the album is no coincidence.

What would you have to achieve to finally know you’ve ‘made it’?
When we play big venues around the world, and we can still laugh and play hackysack with each other between soundcheck and gig, then I would I say we’ve made it.

If the world ends at the end of 2012 like the Mayans predicted, what’s the last thing you’re going to do?
I’ll shift to another parallel version of Earth that does not end, but rather evolves beyond the negative patterns we’ve woven ourselves into here. In fact I have already shifted. It all depends what you want to experience.

 

Great Escape 2012: Day 3 Afternoon Roundup – 12th May 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 30th May 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Being at the Great Escape can be surreal: wending your way through crowds; down unknown cobblestoned lanes, only to find yourself at a dead end; drinking to be sociable and to have fun but not drinking too much that you won’t remember anything the next day, for you have know you have to come up with not just intelligible but thought-provoking reviews. So there’s nothing like a bit of Real Life to put you squarely back in the present. As I was getting ready to take on Great Escape Day 3, I was stopped by a phone call from reception saying she had arrived.

My spot of Real Life was provided by my good friend Jennie; we are and have been sisters in the Duran Duran fandom for years. Obviously (but unlike most of the Guardian’s readership it appears), we are both chuffed that Duran Duran were chosen to play at this summer’s London Olympic Games. Jennie often reads my Facebook page for a laugh, if only to bemoan that she knows nothing about the ‘indie’ bands that fill up my time and cause my heart to go a-flutter. I explain to her that I’m going to see a band from Sheffield in mere hours, following that with an interview, and all my insides have gone to mush, because I’ve had an ostensible band crush on them the first time Steve Lamacq gave their first single a spin on his Radio1 programme. (And that would be quite a while ago, since as you remember, Radio1 stupidly gave Lammo and his ‘In New Music We Trust’ show the boot in summer 2009.)

This is all happening while we’re watching her daughter, now talking and walking yet very bashful around ‘Auntie Mary’, playing around in this giant sandbox Brighton has down by the seafront. I can see now why Brighton is a kid’s paradise; the world’s your oyster when you’re playing in the sandbox, innit? It’s kind of sobering, stood there watching kids play and being kids, accepting this isn’t the life you’ve chosen. Reunions in my circle of schoolfriends now include everyone wanting to see my holiday snaps from England or wherever else I’ve been, everyone gawking, “that must be nice, to go on vacation whenever you want. You can’t do that…when you’ve got kids.” I’m not sure how or if I’m supposed to answer. Part of living life is coping with the hand you’re dealt. That’s how it’s been with me. On the other hand, sometimes I want to say to these people, “you chose that life.” And I chose this life. And music.

But before we risk falling into an entire post philosophising, you might be wondering which band I was referring to. And that would be the Crookes. It seems everyone else I knew who liked them had already seen them loads of times. Even a close mate’s band went on an entire tour with them. So I gave my goodbyes to my dear friend and her dear little sprog to queue early outside the Hope. As happened all weekend, a simple question of, “which is the right queue for delegates?” was met with a smarmy answer: “Pick one. Maybe you’ll be lucky.” I held my tongue in and hoped for the best with the right-hand queue. But I can tell you, there was about as much order as a queue to board an Amtrak train in Washington bound for New York. I got there early, and once they let us go inside to form a queue, I was #3 in line. And I was not going to be cut in front of by girls who showed up late and started their own queue parallel to ours. (For the record, they tried, but I ran – I mean ran – so I was practically stepping on the shoes of the bloke in the queue in front of me. A thousand apologies, dude. But desperate times call for desperate measures.)

I looked behind me, hearing American accents and thinking I’d get some back up in this regard; when I tried to exchange pleasantries with the couple, I was disappointed that they sounded snobby. And entitled. “We come every year.” I kind of gathered this by the tone and their badges, which in hindsight I probably should have examined more closely but I didn’t feel like bothering, as I had it in my head that they were just posh punters. As you can probably imagine, I didn’t run into too many Americans at either music festival I attended, and the Americans I knew and spent time with are all involved in music blogging or PR, so they’re all lovely people. Anyone else, though, was a different story. I hate thinking this is the way we look to everyone else at music festivals abroad. No-one should swan into these situations thinking they’re better than everyone else simply because of their nationality. Dear me. Maybe offering up those fish and chips the other night at the Queens Hotel gave me good karma? All I know is that the quickest way to alienate yourself in a new and potentially uncomfortable situation is acting all holier-than-thou…

So after practically running over Punter #2, it was up the stairs and into the performance space. Whoa. The Hope is tiny, with room for about 100, and that’s shoe-horning them in. For my first Crookes appearance, I couldn’t have hoped for a more intimate experience. They were a late addition to the Great Escape, so I could hardly believe my luck. Glad I arrived early…

While I organised myself with notepad and cameras, I said hello to singer/bassist George Waites and explained I was from America. Poor guy, I think I may have given him a whole load of anxiety playing for someone who’d come all that way to see them. (Sorry George! Geez, I’m already apologizing all over on this Saturday, aren’t I?) They started with ‘Chorus of Fools’, a track off their 2011 Fierce Panda debut ‘Chasing After Ghosts’. “You and me / were fated to be / so damn blue”: I remember hearing these words and thinking they were some of the saddest lyrics I’d ever heard. Yet in the confines of a herky jerky, animated set by the Crookes, there was no sorrow to be had. The stage, which of course was just as tiny as the ‘club’ area was, buzzed with life as arms, limbs and guitars went flying as they were played (mostly) with reckless abandon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcwf_VnXNHM[/youtube]

Newer singles ‘American Girls’ (dedicated to the memory of the girls they met last year on their SXSW sojourn; watch it above) and ‘Afterglow’ sounded wonderful. So did songs on from their debut EP ‘Dreams of Another Day’, released in autumn 2010, which seems like a lifetime ago, yet still sound amazing, like ‘Backstreet Lovers’. Waites explained to me later in the sunshine that they were sat in someone’s car after lecture when Lammo spun the song the first time and how unbelievably weird and exciting that was. They’ve got a new album out this summer called ‘Hold Fast’ but you can hear them talk more about it in this interview I posted last week.

After the Crookes, I changed gears and headed over to Komedia. I should have paid better attention to the signs for upstairs, downstairs and the studio bar, because later that night, I didn’t know where I was going and it probably would have helped to have a better nose for navigation. My purpose: I was going to catch the only Juveniles set that didn’t have conflicts with any other band on my list. I’ve seen so many Kitsune bands, it made sense to go see this band before they blew up like La Roux, Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club, if only to be able to say, “I saw them at the 2012 Great Escape. In a basement. Neener neener!”

I have no idea who writes the blurbs in the Great Escape booklet but the claim that the band 22 “describe themselves as ‘an instructional guide to spiritual enlightenment, harmonic individuality and universal transcendence’” would make me believe I was about to see a Norwegian Enya. I’d describe it more like thrashy, metal prog from Trondheim, Norway. This generally is not my thing, but I have to say, with their wireless guitars, band members jumped down from the stage to the wooden floor of Komedia downstairs, axes blazing. It is sure more fun watching prog rockers leaping all over the place than standing still on the stage, concentrating on their chords.

After all of 22’s gear was sorted and removed from stage (and they left with the audience cheering for them, I might add), then came Juveniles and their stage setup. It is clear from hearing ‘Ambitions’, the hugely dancey song of theirs featured on Kitsune Parisien II released in February, that this band likes synths. So it’s no surprise to see not just one but two major synth setups onstage. However, this is not to say that they didn’t have the opportunity to eschew the synths for a moment and play guitars instead and bring out the funk, such as in ‘Blackout’ video below.

They’re the perfect blend of Two Door Cinema Club (melodic and infectious tunes) and Holy Ghost! (funky disco) and given the right and continual promotion by Kitsune, they could be the next big thing in dance / electropop. Watch this space.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkijQZnm9SA[/youtube]

You will probably not believe how I spent the rest of my afternoon. I set up shop in the now deserted press centre, borrowing a staff laptop to catch up on email and shore up the loose ends for our stage the following Friday at Liverpool Sound City. Disappointingly, I found out my last chance for a Dome show would not happen; Reverend and the Makers cancelled as Jon McClure was unable to sing. Yet again in Brighton I was forced to change course, but you’ll read my further frustrations in the next installment.

I also met a Wireimage photographer from Portsmouth and saw the AU Review guys again, before I ducked outside to see Simon Price of the Independent and his red ‘horns’ presiding over the celebrity front table during John Robb’s pub quiz. (It would not be the last time I’d see Mr. Robb but that’s for another city and another post…) And it must sound really strange that I was waiting for a NYC PR friend of mine there, as we’d never met before. But that’s something that surely can be said about the Great Escape: be prepared for the unexpected…

 
 
 

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