From the raves of Rome to his professional classical choir boy background, Lasse Matthiessen tells us the inspiration that took him to “Rome”.
Blessing our eardrums with yet another immersive soundscape is Lasse Matthiessen with “Rome”. Lead by a single deep baseline, peppered with an intensity that claws deep at our senses, the artist take a melancholic trip down memory lane for his new single with catapulting us straight into our feels.
Taking us through a void full of simple beats, playful high notes and blanketed in a subtle synth, “Rome” builds into a melody that holds the mind hostage. Drawing from the indie-pop DNA of his cultivated sound, Lasse embraces concepts of passing time in a track which is reminiscent of his descent into the rave-scene in the capital city of Germany.
Speaking of the impact of his professional classical choir boy background, as well as the experienced emotions which inspired the isolated raw-vocals at the height of “Rome”’s chorus, Lasse Matthiessen spares no detail as he welcomes us into his creative process.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Lasse, how are you? How has 2021 been for you?
My 2021 has been all about getting ready for the release of my EP “Coordinates Remain” which was originally planned for the spring. One special treat of 2021 was playing the German Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. It was my first concert in a long time. I also did find time between lockdowns to go to Stockholm and Berlin to write new songs and if any good has come out of this pandemic for me, it was having the time to write new songs.
With everything that happened last year, was your creativity affected at all?
It was at first quite a lot. To me writing and producing music is something that I do with the purpose of playing the music to others. And since it was difficult to know when that was possible to do again, I didn’t have the same motivation for writing new songs at first. But it changed eventually.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
Music has always been a part of my life since I was a kid – especially because my dad is a musician and composer. What probably affected me the most as a singer and composer has been two things. One is that I grew up with my dad playing and composing jazz music. He also produced jazz records for the Danish Broadcast Corporation with big international acts. I got to meet many of them, and that influenced me. For example, I remember meeting the American guitarist John Scofield. He took the time to talk to me about his music, what guitars he likes and what guitar pedals. Meeting the man behind the music, gave me a clear path into understanding and listening to his music and think about the compositions. The other thing that has meant a lot to my inspiration, or maybe more my musical expression, is that as a boy I sang in a professional classical boys’ choir. We rehearsed larger works for example by Bach and just to be able to sing them, we had 7 hours of classical singing lessons every week. You know, just learning how to sing right, hold a tone, to breath the proper way, to be pitch perfect and especially how to create and control the right tone. My music is indie pop, so I do not think you can hear the influence directly. But the way I sing, my singing technique and the tone of voice, certainly have influences from my classical music background and the jazz music I listened to. The music I do now, is obviously completely different in the indie pop music genre. But I don’t sing in a very typical pop way. I have found my own way I think – to be honest – quite unique tone in my voice. I often hear people say “they can feel” my voice and it resonates in them. The voice could probably be described as dark and deep. If you listen to “Rome” think you would know what I mean.
You’ve toured all over Europe, but where are you originally from?
I am from Copenhagen, Denmark from the district called “Nørrebro”. It means northern bridge and used to be a working class district but has changed a lot in the last years. You have a great mixture of people with different backgrounds, old Danish pubs and great restaurants with food from all over the world. And still it remains the neighbourhood where I grew up. I still love it. But I spend half my time in Berlin too and have been doing it for some years. In Berlin I got the chance to go on German national TV and it catapulted me in to touring quite a lot especially in Germany but also in Switzerland and Austria. I also got the opportunity to support acts like Anna Calvi, Glen Hansard and Susanne Vega – taking my very electronic synth based songs and just playing them acoustically on an old nylon guitar. Actually, on my EP, most of the songs are composed on that guitar and afterwards we replaced the guitar with beats and synths. Only on the song “Reed” we let the guitar stay in.
Do you think your hometown impacted your sound in anyway?
My hometown definitely has given me a lot for inspiration for the lyrics and probably also quite a lot for the mood of many of the songs. You probably know the weather in Copenhagen can compete with that of London in terms of rain and wind… I have heard a lot of people talking about us Scandinavians having some kind of unique Nordic tone to our music. You know, a bit like the Nordic TV-Series… Maybe we do. Or maybe it is just being where it is too cold for too long. I would be curious to hear a British take on that – does my music sound Nordic?
And now you’re about to drop your new EP, talk us through your mindset approaching the project?
Since my last EP “When We Collided”, I wanted to be challenged in the sense of how to write my songs and how to produce them. I was looking for a producer who was able to on one side push me in a new electronic direction and on the other hand would get my inspirations from both the pop mainstream but also from the indie folk world. With the Swedish producer Joakim Budde, I found what I was looking for. He knew how to find a way to incorporate my voice in a modern, indie pop world. We worked in Stockholm and on some of the songs – like “Rome” and “Dancing With Air” and we worked with the amazing Swedish artist and writer Jade Ell – creating songs and lyrics that I could never have done on my own.
Looking back on the creation process, what song means the most to you?
To me personally the songs “Rome” and “Dancing With Air” are the ones meaning the most to me. On “Rome” I have worked very intensely to push myself musically and put myself in situations where I would not normally feel comfortable. An example is the chorus in Rome, which is just my voice alone with a heavy, pumping sub-bass. If you had asked me two years ago if I would have written songs like that, I would have laughed at you and said no. Now I love it. I guess, this creation process has made the song special to me.
What do you want people to take away from your sound?
I want people to sit down and turn the track up loud and listen. And then I want them to pay notice to the vocals and the lyrics. I would love for them to picture me singing to them directly. I wouldn’t be able to tell people what to take away with them – but I can tell you a bit about what one of the main themes is to me.
It’s about looking back at places where you’ve been and that fundamentally changed the direction of your life. But it is only a long time after you can locate the experiences having that impact. In the lyrics of “Rome” and “Dancing with Air” I guess you could say I insist to revisit those places. I can tell you about the background story for “Rome” and you can decide for yourself if it is true or not. In Rome, I remember being in a place with a lot of people and hearing a sound far away. I went down a flight of stairs into the depths of the earth, then down a spiral staircase and the further I came down, the more I heard a deep sub bass and felt how it resonated in my body. At the bottom, I was standing in the middle of a catacomb where a rave took place. Stethoscope lights and the heat from dancing people. And then suddenly as I continued, I was standing in a square in the middle of Rome. With only two other people. And there was complete silence. I guess the song is like different movie clips from an evening and is basically about moments in our lives that are so important to us that they stay in us and maybe even changes the course of our lives. To remember these experiences and try to distil what is experience and what is memory when returning to the same places again.
Who would you say are your inspirations?
This is a question that often leaves me quite perplexed. The thing is that I don’t really know what inspires me. Often when I listen to my music sometime after I have released it I can sound like elements of songs I’ve been listening to but I didn’t notice I was inspired by them beforehand. But most of time it could be a conversation I overhear on the tube or maybe something I’ve read in a book that influences me. Something that provokes me. It could be a song on the radio too. I’ll just shazam it. Maybe a month or two later I’ll hear a song I wrote and think oh wow – that part I stole from that song on the radio. But until then I wouldn’t know.
What’s next for you?
In January and February next year I’ll be going on tour in Germany and later that year hopefully also in the UK. Next year I plan to release a full album if everything goes well.
What are you most excited for?
Of course, I’d love for people in the UK and around the world to start listening to my new music and I’d love for them to share it with others and come to my concerts.