The DJ turned songwriter tells us all about his fantastic debut album.
Shirt and blazer MARTINE ROSE, trousers NAPA BY MARTINE ROSE, belt MCM, sunglasses GUCCI
First making a name for himself as a DJ on Oslo’s club scene, Gundelach – aka Kai Gundelach – decided to step out with his own music around three years ago. Releasing his debut track “Alone in the Night”, it was his second single “Spiders” that pushed him into the spotlight when Pharrell dropped it on his Beats 1 show.
Fast forward three years and Gundelach has fully proved himself as a name to know with his captivating synth-sound and broodingly beautiful lyrics. Having dropped his debut album Baltus earlier this year, it’s a noir-tinged electronic masterpiece that will have you hooked as soon as you listen.
Keen to find out more, we caught up with him on a sunny London afternoon to talk about his fantastic debut and what else is to come.
What’s your first musical memory?
I must have been listening to my father practising euphonium when I was really young. He would practise almost every day. He still plays.
What music are you personally a fan of?
I’m a fan of music that makes me feel something. Whether it’s techno, black metal or Radka Toneff. I don’t like superficial shit music made only to make money.
You started your musical career as a DJ. What drew you towards this?
The energy of a good dance floor! I remember going to clubs in Oslo with my fake ID when I was 16. Olanski, G-Ha, Diskjokke and Vinny Villbass (all legendary Oslo-DJ’s) had this night called “Foot food” which was just great. That alone might be the thing that got me into it.
When did you decide to release your own music?
I actually wanted to be an actor before focusing on music. I applied for the national theatre school in Oslo, and when I did a really shitty audition and was on the tram to get home I decided there and then.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
Shit, I don’t remember exactly. I think that “Iron” of my album is one of the first I wrote actually.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
I try not to listen so much to music when I write. I read short stories. My favourite author is Kjell Askildsen.
Obviously your track “Spiders” blew up when Pharrell played it on Beats 1. What was that like?
I was in Berlin on vacation with my GF when my manager called me in the morning. I was super hungover. He told me to tune into Beats1 and I heard him playing it. It was nice!!
Did you ever expect something like that to happen?
Yeah I guess.. Not that specifically, but I thought and hoped stuff like that would happen, you know?
(LEFT) Shirt WOOD WOOD trousers NAPA BY MARTINE ROSE, shoes CONVERSE, belt TOPMAN, necklace Gundelach’s own
(RIGHT) Suit TOPMAN, t-shirt LES BASICS, sunglasses GENTLE MONSTER
Your debut album Baltus came out in March. How long have you been working on it?
I worked on it intensely in a studio from October to December. But some of the songs on the record are old songs, songs that I wrote back in 2011. I was really depressed in periods over those years and wrote a lot of songs. And when I started working on the album I knew that I needed to have some of those songs on it because I couldn’t write about those feelings in a true way now.
What’s it about? Is it one theme or a collection of stories?
I don’t think it’s a theme really. It’s vague stories about my life I guess. About depression, loneliness, comfort, love.
What’s the reaction been like so far?
It’s been good! I was so nervous the week before the release.. But I got a lot of good reviews hehe.
How would you describe the record?
What do you want people to take away from it?
I don’t know man. I hope they take different things away from it. I made it for myself. If people like it that’s cool.
Are you working on another body of work yet?
I just bought a new drum machine. So I’m mostly fiddling around on that nowadays. Making techno and ambient stuff.
What else have you got planned for this year?
I’m touring in Europe now in May! Then I play some festivals over the summer. I’ll make some more music too!
(LEFT) Shirt MARTINE ROSE, blazer TOPMAN, vest APC, trousers NAPA BY MARTINE ROSE, belt TOPMAN
(CENTRE) Shirt and blazer MARTINE ROSE
(RIGHT) Blazer MARTINE ROSE, shirt XANDER ZHOU, trousers NAPA BY MARTINE ROSE, trainers CONVERSE, necklace Gunderlach’s own