Of Copenhagen’s synth-pop duo First Hate, one thing is certain: you will never get bored. Enthusiastic in their approach to creating experimental soundscapes, First Hate squeezes every last drop of their melt-in-your-mouth pop detours into a shiny new album titled Cotton Candy. From the 80s-meets-modern-pop sounds of “Someone New” to the westernised instrumentals of “Cowboys In The Tub”, the entire effort reflects the stratospheric range of the duo — and their ever-evolving style of tune-crafting.
In a visual effort that is every bit as mesmerising as their unique soundscape, “Commercial” opens with a quick escape followed by a roofless road trip — championing an unwavering sense of freedom. Slow and steady in rhythm, “Commercial” slowly takes you on a journey through the city — during which the duo show that nothing really matters, simultaneously teaching us to let go and live our dreams instead.
To mark the release of Cotton Candy, we sat with the duo to discuss the origins of their band, their favourite tracks and lyrics and their dream alter egos. To stream the album, focus track and for the full interview, head below now…
Hey First Hate! How are you doing?
A: Halløj Wonderland! Good to be talking to you! Lately, we are happy like little bunnies. Summer, new First Hate music, new shows lined up, a holiday around the corner…
Let’s start with how you met, how did it come about? And when did you decide to form a band and make music together?
J: We met back in 1999 in Switzerland at ‘The International Brainlord Chess Competition For Amazing Children’ (We know, what a name). Since we were the only two representatives from Denmark we spent the entire week together, eating Black Forest cake at the buffet and doing children’s graffiti in the hallways of our creepy hotel. A year after we both got kicked out of the chess club, we decided to form a band, but it wasn’t until 7 years later that we actually began making music.
And why did you name yourselves First Hate? How did you come up with it?
J: Names are a strange thing right? In the beginning, you hear the words first and hate, but after a while, First Hate becomes just like any other name, Louise, Michael or Lasagna for that matter. Now First Hate is synonymous with our sound and universe, but it was originally just something we picked from a list of AI generated names on bandnamegenerator.com, it seems the site doesn’t exist anymore.
A: Speaking of names, I think modern food names are boring because the dishes are just called what’s on the plate in order from large element to small element. Names like Tiramisu or Burger are just more poetic. In Denmark, we have a traditional dish called ‘Brændende Kærlighed (Burning Love). That’s an available band name for you right there.
You’ve definitely been busy touring the world. Where has been your favourite place to visit so far and why?
A: Some of our favourite places to tour have definitely been Ukraine and also Russia. I still remember the first time I came to Kiev from St Petersburg and everything was in Cyrillic letters. Not being able to go back there and meet and support our friends is heartbreaking.
J: Favourite places are like favourite colours or favourite songs. Impossible to pick. We’ve made beautiful memories in so many countries now and the essence of touring is also the changes in the surroundings you go through. With that said, being half Chinese, touring in China has been a clear highlight both times. Getting to travel around the country and see it through a different lens than with my family has been important to me. Also touring Japan has been pretty life changing for both of us and it’s something we are always eager to do again.
Congratulations on the completion of your new album Cotton Candy! What stands out the most to you with this latest work?
A: We spent most of last summer in our friend Mads studio in Copenhagen. Sadly the old junk building will be torn down and a motel will be replacing it. We had many artists coming through to add layers to the songs and we were very open. I think the realisation that we can change genre and style so many times during one album, but over the years have built such a distinct First Hate sound that you can always hear that it’s us, was fun to play with. I think we did a good job. What do you think?
And it comes with the focus track “Commercial”, which contains some stabs at the capitalist lifestyle. Does political commentary run through the whole album?
J: Political, personal and emotional POV’s interchange throughout the songs, much like how one’s brain works throughout the day. Or like scrolling through stories on instagram. A story about unboxing new clothes, a story about Israel committing war crimes, a story about a cute dog.
A: Our perspective on life is a bit warped. I hope people will make their own assumptions and interpretations of what the songs mean.
Do you have a favourite track? And if so, why?
J: Most of the tracks have been a favourite track at some point in the making of the record. It’s something that really changes with time. Cotton Candy has a special place in my heart, because it deals with personal loss and the apathy of life. I lost my mom a few years ago while we were on tour, and the simple melody and lyrics in the chorus of that song are really soothing to my soul. Cowboys in the tub is also a favourite, just because of the slow and heavy vibe and Someone New really fits the summer air that’s blowing right around the corner. To me, it’s the sound of biking out to Anton’s studio to make music and going for a swim in the harbour of Copenhagen.
A: “Eat your spaghetti to forgetti your regretti” is my favourite sentence on the album I think.
I don’t know if I have a favourite song? I have a least favourite song haha… It can be hard to love your own work sometimes. It changes like the weather.
Are there any themes left that you want to explore within your music?
J: The songwriting and production is a very intuitive process for us, and most of the songs capture moments and feelings from our daily lives. For both of us, making music is very much like keeping a diary. We both have busy minds with a surplus++ of thoughts running through at any given time, so I don’t think we’ll run out of themes to explore or things to write about ever. Some people mistake our love for simple universal statements, that on the surface can sound cliché or even silly at times with a certain careless superficiality. In reality, we put a lot of thought into our choices in production and lyrics and like to work over and under the idea of what is expected from narratives in a song.
If you had to choose a new genre of sound to explore, what would it be?
J: It would be fun to make some really fast and uplifting music. Something like Happy Hardcore. It’s also such a good name for a genre and we have often talked about it, because it could fit the ecstatic energy at our live shows really well. And we also just love so many of those songs. To be able to make sounds like Party Animals – Aquarious or even better, Scooter – Endless Summer would be a dream come true.
A: One day when we are too old to tour we will win the International Eurovision Song Contest and save the planet. I would also love to be Elton John and just be really good at piano and singing… Anton John… maybe one day.
And finally, what’s next for you? Do you have any specific goals for the near and far future?
A: We are not allowed to lift the sheets completely yet. But you can look forward to a lot of exciting FH shows around our all time favourite plus size lady, mother earth, some more music videos and freaky photos. I think right now we are most excited about the vinyls and the merchandise to come out. Having a New York based label also means a higher focus on North and South American territories which is a dream come true!
J: There’s a lot of exciting stuff on the way. As for specific goals; We would love to play a sold out US tour soon and we dream of playing in Las Vegas at some point. If anybody out there can make it happen, get in touch!