Recently signed to XL Records after a brilliant debut on Escho, Danish four-piece Liss produce fresh, soulful tracks that are fast making a name for Aarhus natives as the new sound of pop. Having caught the attention of King Krule and The XX producer Rodaidh McDonald at one of their live shows, Søren, Villads, Vilhelm and Tobias are set to release their first full length EP “First” on 20th May. Ahead of shows at MOTH Club and Latitude, we spoke to the band to find out more about an early punk dalliance, jamming by the sea and the difference between the Danish and British festival scene.
What was it like growing up in Aarhus? Was there a big music scene there?
It’s a small city, but it was a great place to grow up. There’s a university here so people are really young. You end up meeting the same people everywhere, all the time. Sometimes it’s nice, but it can also be a bit frustrating, a bit claustrophobic. There’s a new venue that’s just opened called TAPE which is really nice. It’s mostly rock, for the first time there’s now a good rock scene in Aarhus.
You’ve said previously you prefer recording in remote locations, so you can be “isolated from everything but your working space”. Why is that?
We have a rehearsal space in Aarhus where we usually start playing, it’s a little bit out from the centre of the city. We normally start with a few chords, and we jam from that. I think it helps to have something to start from. Once we have a melody we normally record a demo on an iPhone and take that to the summer house so we can work on it. It’s in the forest and close to the sea. It’s very small. There’s no civilisation nearby really. We used to go quite often, but don’t have as much time to get out there any more.
Does the landscape influence your songwriting?
I think the sound of the music is influenced by the surroundings, but not the lyrics as much. I write about myself, my friends and my family. The themes are quite general, we want everyone to relate to the songs.
You had a punk band before Liss?
Our guitarist Vilhelm did, he was playing in a kids punk band. I think he was 12 or something. The stuff he used to make was really funny, it was all about “fuck the system”, which was amusing because he was so small. It was kind of a coincidence how we all met actually, we knew one another from school, and through our girlfriends. We started sharing demos and liked them so decided to started jamming. It wasn’t serious to begin with, just us having fun, a good way to get to know each other.
When did you decide to make this full time?
It happened really fast. We put out the first version of Try in September 2014 I think and got an email from Escho, a label based in Copenhagen. Then soon afterwards we got a message from XL Records, so we were like OK, let’s do this! It was very surreal and quite scary. We started right before we were due to finish school so if we weren’t doing this we’d probably be working in a supermarket or something.
You’re playing at Latitude later this summer, what are you looking forward to most about the festival?
I normally plan quite a lot so I want to just explore this time and discover new people. We’ve never played a British festival before, we’ve performed at a couple of Danish ones, but I think this will be more rainy. I think people will also behave a bit more compared to Denmark, people at Danish festivals are really disgusting. They go totally nuts. They act like animals. I guess it’s nice to have a week where you can just let yourself go and there are no rules.
SBTRKT – “Ready, Set Loop”
It’s a real energy bomb…on the verge of exploding! It’s like the seconds are counting down keeping the listener on edge!
El Guincho – “Pegada Al White”
We spent some time in the studio in Barcelona and the engineer introduced us to El Guincho. Great tune.
Drake – “Too Good”
Will this be the song of the year?
KAYTRANADA – “LITE SPOTS”
…Or will this be the song of the year? Kaytranada’s new album is sick.
Skepta – “Ladies Hit Squad”
We’re fortunate to play Roskilde Festival in Denmark this year where Skepta is playing as well. Looking forward to seeing him.
DeJ Loaf – “Me U & Hennessy”
Her voice is amazing and the atmosphere in this track is perfect.
Mura Masa – “What If I Go?”
Such a fresh production on this track.
ANOHNI – “Crisis”
Anohni gives us goosebumps. The new album manages to look forward and back at the same time.
James Blake – “I Need A Forest Fire”
Good to have him back. This is a beautiful track.
Liss play MOTH Club on 24th May and Latitude from 14th – 17th July. Their debut EP ‘First’ is out on 20th May on XL Recordings.