Tobi Duchampe explores a blend of staggering, half-collapsing discord on “God Of Punk”.
Tobi Duchampe's project was one that people first started becoming vaguely aware of last year, when his live shows, involving controlled chaos, splattered art punk and chips, started to becoming talking points at festivals.
Then Tobias Pfeil (also a member of Heartbreak Satellite) gave the world some recorded material with his sprawling debut single “Hello World”. But if you thought that was a heavy beast at just seven minutes long, then his follow-up, “God Of Punk”, dwarfs it at an even heftier ten minutes. A lot of the same musical references crop up on his new track as its predecessor, with beat poetry echoing Jenny Hval and Marching Church. At the same time it’s a more muscular and powerful song, sounding at times like a tidal wave crashing, while also being more immediate – there is a chorus, and its abrasiveness doesn’t make it any less appealing.
A night bus journey from Copenhagen to Oslo inspired the song, as Pfeil explains: “What was interesting was that it contrasted my daily life and the people I meet on a daily basis so much. Like I usually see a lot of art-hipsters and indie/art/intellectual hip left-wing kind of people. The bus was full of immigrant families, drunks, drug users, punks and like what you generally would think of as the lower class in society.
“The children were crying all night and the drunks were shouting and I couldn’t sleep for a minute that night and was supposed to play a gig the day after. On a bus there is no way to escape this kind of confrontational discomfort, like you can in the streets or in a shopping mall or whatever. First I was annoyed but then I realised I actually loved this atmosphere of chaos and of people shouting obscene stuff at each other in public - or rather - within the confined space of the bus - there was something so real and true about how we all started interacting, compared to how people sometimes act in like “hip pseudo-hi-middle-class Scandinavia” (super scared of conflict, shy, afraid to offend anyone etc etc…). The bus ride revealed to me a powerful, chaotic, emotionally spontaneous attitude that I felt I had slightly lost touch with. I wrote the song on the bus trying to apply the same kind of attitude to my own music/lyrics.”
“The God of Punk is like what you in old times would call the devil, or witches, or demons, or any kind of energy or force that disrupts the flow and the plans society might have, and sparks chaos and agitates people,” Pfeil describes of the track's name. “It's what fosters provocative ideas and make us do weird, inexplicable stuff that contradicts the law, or society’s idea of what is correct to do. Like in teenagers rioting against their parents, les gilets jaunes in France, the maniacs who swear loudly in the streets, all of these people are unhappy about the current state of things, but their way to try to change it is using destructive tactics like sabotage.
On the melodic chorus juxtaposing the burnt-out art-noise on “God Of Punk”, Pfeil says: “I like to think of a composition as just a piece of time containing sound (or the absence of it) and thereby, in relation to the music or sounds that already exist, defining its own rules or universe. So it’s up to the song’s inner structure to define what is important for it or not. In the case of 'God Of Punk', the juxtaposition or contrast between the chorus and the rest of the song is really what (hopefully) makes it interesting. Neither parts would be super interesting on their own. It’s like a good football game, there’s often not more than 2 or 3 goals in those 90+ minutes and a lot of waiting and suspense in between. But this is what makes us feel so ecstatic when someone scores! “God Of Punk” works a lot like football in a way, it’s long and there’s 2 “goals” in it haha.”
Tobi Duchampe wrote his forthcoming debut album The Saddest Game in between touring and recording for other projects, having been inspired by beat poets like Jack Kerouac, but, he says “maybe even more William Burroughs to create music really roughly, really quickly, with a lot of unfiltered energy in it. Most of the songs were written and rehearsed a day or two before we played them live, and a lot of them were shaped through the people who are playing the music, which is mostly my friends and impro/free jazz musicians in Oslo and Copenhagen.
“The Idea was to make this epic, improvised rock album. I think a lot of rock these days sounds very controlled and very planned and very produced, which I find really uninteresting. To me, rock is all about spontaneity and taking chances. So what I tried to do, is like combining Ziggy Stardust with Sun Ra or something. We recorded the whole album in three days in the living room of Thor Neby, who is this fantastic audiophile/nerd/musician and amazing person. His neighbours almost lynched him afterwards and he was never allowed to record there again because we were so loud.
“Later I did some overdubs with people I love like the tubist Rasmus Lund in Denmark and poet/writer Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo in New York. There’s an opera singer, cello and flutes and lots of different stuff on the album that I think makes it really interesting in the rock music context. I got the album pressed on vinyl which was a really fun process, because it makes everything sound different in a cool way compared to digital, and it’s like the ultimate rock music format.
“I’m planning to release a lot of music on my label Fake Boom this year so The Saddest Game is in a way just the beginning of many releases to come. What I’m working on now and releasing hopefully later this year is similar in the way that it is very conceptual and also very expressive and maximalist, but the sound and musical universe is completely different. To me, it’s super exciting to release my stuff this year and I’m super happy there’s people out there who are getting interested and love or hate it already, haha.”