We’ve been keeping tabs on Norway’s Young Dreams for a while here at Best Fit, waiting expectedly for a debut which never seemed to arrive. At long last, the kaleidoscopic record Between Places has made its much anticipated appearance – a grandiose record where the richness of sound is only rivalled by the ambition of the group.
Young Dreams are a band who aren’t shy in acknowledging the wide variety of influences that have had an impact on them, listing confidently: “Steve Reich, Waldo de Los Rios, Rachmaninov, Hudson Mohawke, The Avalanches and Isolée,” as some notable acts. The Beach Boys are another major name, clearly inferring wisdom upon the Bergen-based tribe, whose numbers have grown from originally seven to about twelve. If you thought that twelve sounded a bit excessive for a band that isn’t Broken Social Scene, just you wait… “Twenty people were involved ! There’s tons of instruments and voices and it was all done in Bergen. Luckily the city has a strong community of musicians, and everyone helps each other out. Also, we worked with Gareth Jones, who is a genius, to make sense of the sound we were trying to achieve on the album. The album is a mix of different things. It’s a blend of our ideals in music. A lot of organised and arranged information.” And their favourite part of the whole thing? “The beginning, the end and the part in the middle.”
The band do bear relation to bustling Canadian collectives like Broken Social Scene in their fusing of various genres and orchestral qualities, which has been generally proven to create very interesting music. “We pretty much tried to bring back a universe of chords, melodies and songwriting that we think has been lost, and put a lot of thought and effort into the production, arrangements and the composing of music and lyrics. In the studio we really tried to insert details onto the tracks and to stretch things as far as possible without exiting the genre-label known as pop music. We did things such as imagining at the start of the making of the album what Edvard Grieg’s lyrical pieces would sound like if they had been sung with lyrics and with a more modern instrumentation.”
But weaving a sonic tapestry with such a wealth of majesty, combined with the meticulous care they take over every detail, takes a lot of time. We may have been on the edge of our seats waiting for a release date, but the band knew that the album could take some time to make. “It didn’t take longer to write, record, mix and master than we expected it to. We’re all musicians who’ve been in other bands for a while, but it’s the first time, for a few of us, that we’ve recorded and produced the entire thing ourselves. We’ve learned patience.”
Their sound is both grand in nature and grand in design. They’ve created their signature timbre with a bit of planning, but a lot of spontaneity. “We have consciously tried to create a sound that is unique and different, and have played a lot around to generate happy accidents. Like “Hmm, what happens if I do this and put this other thing on and then run it through this and then chop it up and then put it back together through this”. Sometimes you end up with a three legged and five headed monster which is cool. And sometimes you end up with a normal, sort of proportioned thing. Which is not that cool.”
During this period of blueprints and awesome aural clumsiness, they’ve drawn upon countless influences, and describe their musical heroes as “anyone that tries his or her best, and that makes something not only for an audience but also him or herself. If it contributes in any way for the development and conservation of good ideals in art.” They’re also kind enough to give us some ideas and tips on burgeoning acts who made an impact on the record, including “Put Your Hands Up For Neo-Tokyo, Chris Holm, Bloody Beach, The Megaphonic Thrift, Verdensrommet and Giorgio Tuma.”
Hailing from Norway’s west coast, Young Dreams have grown to become one of the most exciting and inventive acts to have emerged from the thriving music scene. “Its cool to be in a band in Norway,” the band state. And the reason behind that? “We are lucky to live in one of the richest countries in the world. Our parents keep reminding us of that. Also everyone gets basic musical education in school.”
They’ve made a sizeable fanbase in their home nation, but have gradually been extending that aura of influence to the rest of the world and it’s evident when they play that they pour their hearts into every performance. “We try to play our songs as well as possible. We do four part harmonies and play a lot of instruments at the same time. Our aim is to bring musical pleasure.” Though unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan, referencing a recent performance that didn’t quite meet their personal standards. “We were really pumped up and excited about the Eurosonic 2013 show but one of the synthesizers wouldn’t work. That was a bummer. Now I have bought a new one. It is super cool and professional.”
The lead single from Between Places is ‘Fog Of War’, an orchestral indie-dance number with lush instrumentation and powerful vocals. “We wanted to make something inspired by classical music and opera and mix it up with ideas from trance, and also play around with the idea of making something bombastic. Since we’re a pop band, we ended up with something that we think is a really cool introduction to what the album is about.” Even though the music is sprawling and epic, the content matter is remarkably introspective. “The lyrics are something that we don’t feel comfortable discussing too much, but the song is about needing to find strength.” Though music isn’t the only thing they have their minds set on – “We would like to learn how to brew our own IPA!” – but of course, it is still a big part of the group, which should probably go without saying. “We’re already writing and composing new material. Maybe we’ll try it on tour. We’re also visiting the US for the first time. Only Chris has been there before with a band, so it’ll surely be a surreal experience for us. We’re also looking forward to getting to know the British Isles better. And a big hope is to play in Chile one day.”
But are there any shows lined up now? Well… “We aren’t sure if we are supposed to announce quite yet, so you’ll have to follow us on Facebook or our web page!” Way to plug boys!
Young Dreams’ debut album Between Places is available now through Modular.
Photo by Andrew Amorim