From Bergen With Love: Interview with The Megaphonic Thrift

The good thing with indie music these days is that it does not get old. It is just not possible. It’s meaning can grow, evolve and find it’s own way, be shaped differently, be observed differently, but in it’s essence it remains to be relevant, emotions and feelings potent as during the moment it was created.

So there is no problem for me sharing an interview I had with The Megaphonic Thrift several months ago, after I grew into their newest album, Få meg til verden i tide. Consisting of four people, Linn Frøkedal, Richard Myklebust, Fredrik Vogsborg, Njål Clementsen, they have a dynamic a lot would envy. They melt together in their songs and they seem to have a very good understanding of each other.

This time I was really interested in the more technical side of the creation progress, the relatioships and struggles of it are as fascinating as music, human nature is complicated and adds a new level to anything. I promise you will be surprised of how different their approach seems to be. At least there was much to ponder upon for me. Decide for yourself and do not forget to give them a listen later (they were picked as the best indie group of the year in 2015, after all!).

  • Which comes first: sound or lyrics?

We always write the music first. The vocal melodies come next, and then the lyrics pop up afther we have had the songs in our minds for a while.

  • How do you recharge? Your music has been described as intense, hard and even claustrophobic; do you need to get away from it from time to time or is it so much in your blood that you live and breathe your music/the smiliar music?

We recharge while working on other projects. Njål is an artist, with a focus on sound installations. Currently he is recording a new album with his other band, Electric Eye. Frederik is a producer and works with different Norwegian artists like Silja Sol, Real Ones and Hjerteslag. Richard and Linn have a new duo, Misty Coast, that lets them dive into a world of minimalistic psych pop.

  • Do you have arguments about your own music pieces? If it is okay to know and the answer is yes, which song has caused the most disagreements among the band?

We have differences in opinions all the time during writing and recording. It’s this friction and tension that makes it interesting for us, and hopefully also for the listener. I remember the chorus of “The Experiment” causing extra havoc in the studio

  • When is the best time to listen to The Megaphonic Thrift?

You tell us! Some people say that they enjoy listening to our music while they go mountain hiking while others say it is the perfect soundtrack for road trips. A young couple wrote to us and said they had sex for the first time with our song “Exploding Eyes” blasting from the speakers. As long as you play it loud, we think it works any time.

  • What inspires you? A typical question, but has there been cases where something different and very distant from your own style has brought on inspration or motivation to write and play something?

Everthing in our lives somehow inspires us. Friends, lovers, food, arts, books, movies and TV-series. The environment while we make music inspires us, and even the colour of the sky and the time of the year. There has been a lot of cases where someting a bit different to our own style of music has motivated us to make stuff. We have based songs around our favourite hip hop beats, and we have even used Iron Maiden for inspiration.

  • Is there a music style that you absolutely dislike, or is there something in your playlist that people usually do not expect?

In general, between us four, we can appreciate pretty much any style of music. Except Irish Folk Punkrock. We hate Irish Folk Punkrock.

  • What drives you? When there is a period of lack in motivation, how do you make yourself go on? And does it usually happen to you all at once or is at last one of you down to pull others through in these kind of cases?

I guess we kind of take turns on keeping the motivation up… that is the good thing about working collectively like we do. We all find motivation and inspiration in creating something new and challenging ourselves in terms of how Megaphonic is perceived.

  • Which one applies to you more – go with the flow, have a proper plan where you want to end up and complete or a bit of both?

We never really make a plan before we create music. For our first album, we had some dogmas, but since that we have really just done whatever we want to, and no idea is denied before it is tried out. It’s half the fun and excitement not knowing how things are gonna turn out in the end.

  • Usually you are asked “what’s your favourite piece of your own stuff”. I want to know – what is your least favourite piece and is there a reason for it? Of course feel free to say what you like as well.

This is a tricky one. We would NEVER be able to agree on this one. It really shines through when we make setlists for shows – we all want to play different songs. We would probably end up with all different albums in our hands, if we had to pick our favourite, so we’re not able to do that either.

  • How do you feel about people who listen to your music without understanding the language? Do you think they are missing out or do you think they are still able to grasp the mood and topic through other things than lyrics?

It is only our latest album where we sing in Norwegian, and our lyrical landscape is not very easy to totally grasp, even though you know the language. The words are very much based around the music, and we use voices more like an instrument, and not that much to tell a story. I think you can undersand more by listening to the sounds and the vibes, and how everything works together.

  • Which language is more comfortable to sing in?

We prefer to sing in English, and we think it just flows better within the music. It can also give us certain distance to the words. When we say things that would be very close to us in our native tongue, we can somehow separate a little from the English, and that makes it less naked.

  • What is the most important in growing and developing, making music you like or keeping up with the stype, with what you are known for? How much would you yourselves say you have changed?

Changed is not the right word, but growing and developing is the core of The Megaphonic Thrift.

  • How important are music videos?

A cool music video can lift up a good song, but a great music video can never save a bad song. If you can somehow illustrate the vibe of the song, and make it even stronger with adding picture, you’ve got it!

  • A little more technical question, mastermind behind putting everything together – what kind of producer is a good producer? And a lot of people would like to know what is one specific effect you tend to use the most in your music?

A good producer is a creative producer. Someone who can think outside the box and challenge the artist. Someone who can help create what artist has in mind, but also be able to change the artist’s mind when it is stuck.

When it comes to effects… we use a lot… We probably cannot point out one single effect, but effects that affect time and space are important to us, such as reverb and delay.

  • Ideas for collaborations? Yes or no, and with who? Yould you want to be in charge?

Our latest album was a collaboration with Emil Nikolaisen from Serena Maneesh and Njål Paulsberg from PYHUFNT and Young Dreams. That worked out very well. Who knows what we will do next? We are very excited about bringing new elements into our music and the different minds of people are the most challenging and exciting elements to work with. We don’t need to be in charge, as long as the music turns out great.

So here you go, some ideas of the amazing band from an amazing town. I especially appreciate how they are open and explain their vision so clearly and calmly – I am fascinated by people singing in their non-native language and couldn’t agree more in what they say here. Also I do not think anyone I have talked to has nailed explaining a good music video.

If you have not listened to The Megaphonic Thrift yet, I strongly encourage your to check something from them out. Why not try the “Exploding Eyes” as this is powerful and an amazing first impression? Or “Talks Like a Weed King” which music video is just as crazy as it sounds. And if you have checked them already – go and put on a song. Think of what they said. Can you hear now? It’s magnificent.

For convenience, here is their youtube, spotify, homepage and facebook.