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The Northern Portrait

Stefan Larsen told us something about Northern Portrait, their inspiration, influences, habits... and about great music they're making. Read the following lines...

- First of all, congratulations for the great new album "Criminal Art
Lovers"! "Crazy, what is this thing that is happening to me?" was
exactly what I felt listening to your single for the first time. Tell
us something more about the album. Did you expect such a great

The reviews have blown us away. We didn't expect that very positive reaction at all. But we're of course really happy that people enjoy our songs.

- What has changed since "Napoleon Sweetheart"?

The main change has been that we've recorded on some different and slightly better equipment, that has brought the general standard up. Then of course an album is a very different format from an EP which gave us the chance to add a lot more nuances to what we do. Apart from that I still think the album shows quite a natural development in our sound and song writing.

- Most lyrics from "Criminal Art Lovers" sound so human. Are they personal?

I suppose the lyrics are personal in a way but my main inspiration comes from things I hear in the street or come to think of when cycling about in Copenhagen, on my way to work, or whatever. But of course certain lyrical passages are personal, yes.

Northern Portrait - The Operation Worked But the Patient Died - Live @ Copenhagen Popfest 2010/04/17

- Who is "The patient" who died?

The title ("The Operation Worked But The Patient Died") was one that I picked up when watching an interview once - I cannot really remember the context, but I thought it was an interesting notion. The patient isn't an actual person, more an idea, you know: Sometimes things can go right but still end up failing.

- Tell us something about the band history. Most people here never heard for "Northern Portrait" till the "Criminal Art Lovers" album. It's time to change it ASAP.

The band history is very brief, actually. We formed in July 2007 and were contacted after only about a month in existence by the American record label Matinée Recordings, who wanted to release our songs. And that was it. We released our two first EPs 'The Fallen Aristocracy' and 'Napoleon Sweetheart' in 2008, spent most of 2009 recording the album and playing a number of very nice gigs around Europe and in America. We actually played our first ever gig in Hamburg just one year ago now.

- You cannot run away from comparing to The Smiths. Do you find it shallow?

I think it's fair enough to compare us to The Smiths, because there are of course a number of similar ingredients in our music, and I have never tried to deny being inspired by them. The only problem is, that some people simply cannot see beyond that. First of all, The Smiths haven't existed since the late 80s so I really cannot see the problem with us having some similarities, I mean, are The Smiths the only band in the world entitled to recordings some jangly guitars? I don't think so. Then I have to say that I feel just as inspired by a lot of other groups, The Housemartins for instance. Just because a few people use the very easy autopilot-reply: "Northern Portrait just sounds like The Smiths", and see that as bad, it's not gonna make us chance a thing in our music - luckily most reactions we get are indeed very positive. And then finally I have to say that being compared to The Smiths isn't the worst band I can think of.

- Who has the biggest influence on your sound? (Yes, this question is following The Smiths question by intention! :) )

To be honest I feel more inspired by early Morrissey solo recordings than The Smiths. I think I'm gonna quote our myspace description of ourselves as an answer to your question: pop music in general, the housemartins, echo and the bunnymen, jarvis cocker, trash can sinatras, the smiths, a-ha, and other interesting pop music in particular.

- You're from Denmark. What do you think about music scene in your country? Actually, people find the scandinavian musicians as the most progressive and valuable nowadays. Is it unexpected to you?

Personally I must say that I don't follow the Danish music scene that closely. I've had some Danish favourite artists over the years, which are: Love Shop, Lars Hug, Gangway and Kliché. As for Scandinavia I like a lot of the indie-pop groups like The Electric Pop Group and Liechtenstein amongst many others. The Swedish indie-pop scene is very good indeed!

- What do you think about myspace in promotional purposes? Do you prefer other kind of promotion?

Myspace was the main reason we got out to such a wide audience so quickly and eventually got our release deal with Matinée Recordings, so I think myspace is very good for music promotion. It's always nice when people spread the word through a nice fanzine, but I suppose the internet has a slightly larger impact factor.

- Let's imagine I'm indie-influenced man... Where would you take me out on friday night in your hometown?

There's a place called 'Din Nye Ven', which means 'Your New Friend', that's quite lovely. Otherwise I'd simply take you to one of the more traditional Danish pubs.

- Let's imagine I'm very hungry and with only 10 Euros in my pocket... Where would you take me out in your hometown?

If it's for lunch I'd take you to 'Fremtiden', which means 'The Future' - that's a fantastic place for traditional Danish lunch, which I really enjoy. For dinner I'd probably invite you to the restaurant 'Klais' and add a bit more money - it's French and Italian cuisine at very very reasonable prices.

- Are you planning an european tour? Don't forget Zagreb! Deal?

We have some gigs coming up, and if you could find us a Croatian gig we'd be there straight away! So, yes indeed; Deal!

Northern Portrait - Criminal Art Lovers

- Future plans?

We're gonna release a very limited edition 7" with 'Life Returns To Normal' and 'Some People' accompanied by a video. Then we've planned to release another 7" with two brand new songs this Summer. It's gonna be called 'PRETTY DECENT SWIMMERS' and then finally we've planned to record a five track EP, which is hopefully gonna be released sometime in the Fall. Oh and then our album is also planned for release on vinyl sometime soon. And finally on top of a good deal, we plan to book a gig in Zagreb! (please send us some contact information for local gig organizers)

- Something we forgot to mention?

I don't think so, but I'd like to finish by saying: See You In Zagreb Soon!



danko // 22/04/2010


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