Danish mono mono are the new masters of ambient synth.
For Denmark-based ambient-electro mono mono, homemade samples and outdoor sounds are the way forward in creating soothing yet intricately layered and pulsing electronic sounds. Karoline Elsig (who is able to be inspired by just a word on her list) and the duo’s other half Jakob Franck, are the Danish masters of an otherworldly sound that create an uplifting and ethereal listening experience. From nature sounds, such as the snapping of branches and the tumbling of pebbles, to glitchy crackles, hypnotic saxophones and waving basslines, mono mono’s ethereal electro-pop is completely relaxing and totally addictive.
Their newest track, “Helium Balloon”, is an almost transcendent track, balancing the grace of their ethereal melodic threads with attitude-packed basslines and synths. In keeping with her writing process – a way of working that concentrates on harnessing feelings and situations and eloquently working through those ideas – Karoline’s sweet, light and enthralling voice trails above a melody made of homemade samples, spiking electro blips and naturalistic sounds. mono mono will lift you up above the clouds.
Danish music seems to really be on the up and up. What’s the music scene like at home?
Jakob: There is a lot of talented artists in Denmark, and a booming underground scene. But the music can be a bit one-sided sometimes. We feel that it can be difficult to get attention when you are playing alternative music and are not mainstream and that’s a shame because we think it’s good for everyone to challenge what they would usually listen to, and explore some new music.
You have a lot of different sounds going on in your music, especially in “Helium Balloon”, some glitch sounding electro-pop, some synth and ambient noise. Where do you think your sound comes from?
J: That’s a tricky question. I think it’s because we have various musical backgrounds and listen to a lot of different music. Therefore, we are also inspired by many different things and I think that our sound is created from all that differences, and by finding their common features and put them together.
Do you both have backgrounds in music? When did you start working together?
J: Yes. I’ve had music into my life all my life because my father is a musician. When I was 8 years old I started playing guitar and bass. I have always liked to experimenting with music but when I in 2011 got Ableton installed on my computer, a whole new world opened for me. I really enjoyed to manipulate with sounds and started out making soundscape music
Karoline: I’ve played music for many years. My background is varied, but actually I haven’t touched the electronic genre before me and Jakob started mono mono. I started playing the piano when I was a kid, through the years I started singing and playing the saxophone. We have both played in other bands before we meet each other. But we started working together when we met each other in the music class at our High School for about 3 years ago. Shortly after we began developing a lot of musical ideas and soon found out that we have many common interests in music and decided, therefore, to try to make some music together.
What’s your songwriting process like?
K: My starting point is always a feeling or a situation. If we start a new track, with a beat or a synthesizer it often brings up a feeling that I can connect myself to, and then I try to be in the feeling and i try to fabricate a situation or a little story. If I stop and need inspiration to continue the songwriting I often take a look at my ‘word-list’. I often write down words that I run into when I talk with somebody, hear a cool sentence or when I see something that touch me. I like beautiful and soft words which are nice to pronounce. I have a long list of words or sentences on my computer. And sometimes when I write a song, and need inspiration I take a look on the list, and often is it only a few words that inspire me to continue.
J: When I start to make a new beat or have to work on a track I usually try to set some dogmas for myself. I find it easier and more creatively to limit myself a bit and it’s usually the sounds that inspire me and shows me which direction the track should take. Always when we start to make a new track, we send a lot of different ideas back and forth to each other. When we have enough ideas, we meet and get it all put together and try to develop it.
“We are also inspired by many different things and I think that our sound is created from all that differences, and by finding their common features and put them together.”
Do you set out with a particular message when you start a recording a track or does that kind of find you?
J: It is very different and depends much on what we build the track up around. If we are starting with some text Karoline have made, there is a message from the beginning, and we try to fit in the music to that feeling the message brings. But if we starts with the music, we don’t set out with a message, the message comes by the atmosphere there is in the music.
I’ve read that you record some samples in nature. What sort of sounds do you look for? What do they bring to your tracks?
J: We are using nature samples because we are very inspired by the nature and want to put that physically into our music. We are often looking for crackle sounds to make the percussion and glitchy things. That could be crackling branches, rummage in leaves from bushes, smashing stones and something like that.
K: The field recordings brings some atmosphere and personality to our tracks. Because there is no one who can make the exact same sound as us, when we are using our homemade samples. It will only be possible to do something similar. And we think it’s fun to put some kind of signature on our music.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
K: I have always been fascinated and a big fan of Björk – her music, her voice and the mystic and drama that surrounds her person. I also really like Anohni and some other scandinavian artists such as fever ray, samaris and the knife.
J: I’m really enjoying to explore new music so I always listen to a lot of different music! Therefore it’s a bit difficult to name my favorite artist. But right now I’m listen a lot to FKA Twigs, Francis Bebey, Caribou, William Basinski, Boards of Canada and the Norwegian duo Smerz.
Your tracks are super romantic and kind of feel like they each tell a story. Where do you find your inspiration?
K: I often find my inspiration in a feeling or situation. I try to stay in the feeling and provoking something I feel is good to write about. When it feels good and when I am in the right mood I am in flow and the story just come up by itself.
What’s next for you two? What can we look forward to in the coming months?
K: We are working on a lot of new tracks for an EP in Spring 2017. In the meantime do we have some live session videos that should be released during the next months.