Boundaries talk Roskilde Festival debut and reaching out to a crowd: Interview

J.N. July 31, 2019

The Roskilde Festival in the south of Denmark is one of the largest music festivals in Europe and one of the oldest (50th anniversary 2020), and for artists looking to elevate their visibility and expand their fan bases, music festivals in general and Roskilde festival in particular, considering its reputation and status, offer a unique opportunity to do both. It means a possibility of being exposed to thousands of people who did not know about your band before, which is a main aspect for artists in the music industry.

Already in 1999 Roskilde Festival started with a warm-up day and offered a few bands – bands that were yet to have their breakthrough – stage time a day before the main festival days. During the years that lonely warm-up day expanded and increased to three warm-up days entailing two stages and around twenty bands on stage a day, with particular focus on promoting bands from the Scandinavian countries (check a map if you don’t know what countries are Scandinavian).

If you grow up in Scandinavia and are in a band, one of your life goals is to play Roskilde Festival. It’s by far the best exposure you can get as a band, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to play in front of friends and family. For Danish Boundaries, a band we interviewed in Hamburg in March this year, literally playing on home turf means a lot.

Roskilde Festival debut

Your first Roskilde Festival gig tomorrow, but it’s only you here at the moment?
Mads: It’s just the two of us for now. Jacob and Jonas are with Höy La, Jacob does the sound and Jonas plays drums. Emil won’t come until tomorrow.

But we’ll stay the full week after driving back our gear to Copenhagen. Some of us will camp here and Jacob will continue working, mixing the sound for something like five bands and will be driving back and forth to Copenhagen, but he also hates camping (laugh).

How big is it for you to play the Roskilde Festival? Although it’s only the warm-up days I guess that’s what every Danish band want to reach?
Morten: It’s a great feeling of course and we’re very excited about it, and we were very surprised when Roskilde Festival booked us because we just started out for fun and never expected anything. Jonas has played here before with other bands.

Mads: For me it’s a strange feeling; you go through all these emotions. I was super excited after being booked to the festival.

On one hand is just a show, we’re not going to do anything special, just do what we usually do. On the other hand it’s way more than that.

How much do you think the Roskilde Festival is worth in terms of promotion for you?
Mads: Hopefully a lot. As far as I can tell from listening to what other people playing here have said, it’s a huge cv thing to have played here. It’s way easier to get booked to other venues after you have played Roskilde, and hopefully something good will come out of this tomorrow.

And you also have a great timeslot tomorrow.
Mads: Exactly! It’s a tension in a good way and we really look forward to play, and how it will be to play. People who played here before us usually say the same thing; the mental aspect of playing the Roskilde Festival is quite different from everything else. So we’re very excited about how it’s going to be when we’re on the stage tomorrow.

Since we met the last time, for three months ago, you have released a new single “Tusk/Forgiver”, you’re booked for a Danish tour in the fall, and Gaffa magazine pointed out that you’re one of the bands to watch this year. It’s going quite well at the moment?
Mads: It’s great of course. Just like Morten said, we didn’t really expect all of this to happen. We’re very excited about what’s going to happen on tour, especially with the band after playing all those shows.

When the tour starts we already sort of started on our next record as well, and it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens when we take new songs out of the studio, on the road, and if it helps us to grow even more. Hopefully it means that we can push it out early next year.

Yes, because when we met in Hamburg you told us that you want to release an album in the beginning of 2020.
Mads: As it looks right now, yes. Just like we said in Hamburg we spent a lot of time making the EP which also was a great learning experience for us, but the last single [“Tusk/Forgiver”] was something we made over the course of three weeks.

As much as we like the EP [self-titled EP] we sort of translated the whole approach to music into the new stuff we do now. Hopefully the new approach to music makes the recording process quicker, so it shouldn’t take as long as it did with the EP.

Reaching through on the Danish music scene

The post-punk scene returned with grace a few years ago and many new bands were born. It’s no secret that traditional modern rock bands have struggled over the past few years. If you know where to look, you’ll still find a seemingly endless amount of great music, but if you haven’t done your due diligence, you may feel like the genre is gasping for air.

Indie rock still has tons of great bands, if you know where to look, but you still may feel disillusioned with the genre and want to listen to something different, even if only for the afternoon. Luckily, there’s one rock subgenre to sink your teeth into that consistently impresses and has secretly flourished: post-punk. Post-punk isn’t going through an existential crisis or an identity crisis. In fact, the genre is arguably as lively as it’s ever been.

On the other hand, being a post-punk act in a music landscape where EDM DJ’s and hip hop artists get all the attention may make it a bit tricky to reach through, but for Morten and Mads it doesn’t matter: good music will always get attention. And Boundaries is on the “Bands to watch” list according to one of Scandinavia’s most renowned music magazines, Gaffa.

The post-punk scene has been, in a way, rejuvenated the last ten years and Denmark already delivered bands as The Foreign Resort, Shiny Darkly and Iceage. Why do you think the post-punk scene has a revival at this point in time?
Mads: I think there’s two reasons to why it’s still popular or has become popular again. One thing is that it’s a genre that never really peaked so it hasn’t really gained a massive mainstream attention, just being there in the background from when it started. It’s also a very interesting kind of music, very simple and intuitive.

Post-punk is also on the way up; classic rock has stepped down a bit over the last fifteen years, especially in Denmark where there’s not that many classic rock bands that get attention today. I think it’s very difficult to take classic rock and do something original with it today, usually it sounds like Wolfmother. Because post-punk hasn’t been that big, there’s still quite much to explore.

But what has changed in post-punk since the first wave started at the end of the seventies? It sounds different today.
Mads: It’s a good question but for us it wasn’t like “Now it’s time to make an interpretation of post-punk”. What we do definitely has its roots in post-punk but we take a lot of other genres as well. Most of us, especially me and Morten, were going through a huge shoegaze period.

But maybe that’s the thing about post-punk, it’s easy to adapt other kinds of music into it. Post-punk is usually a few chords, a good bassline and making it very simple. Post-punk for me has its beauty in its simplicity, but it’s much about how easy it is to adapt other things into it.

The early wave of post-punk was quite political, maybe even anti-politics, which was reflected in the often dark and depressive lyrics. Has that changed today?
Morten: Dark yes, but not that political, at least we’re not.

Mads: Maybe in a different way. Bands that have gained a bit more attention do it, like IDLES who are really political and have used their genre to promote a political message that may even be more important than the music. Maybe we turn completely political on the record, it’s not our goal but you don’t know (laugh).

Morten: It’s good times for being political!

But how does the scene stand the competition of other genres in Denmark? We’ve had a few bands lately that claim that what gets most attention today is DJ’s or the hip hop scene.
Morten: You’re right about that, but it’s not a Danish or Scandinavian thing, it’s the same worldwide.

Mads: It’s a two-edged sword in a way. On one hand it’s way more difficult for us today to get a mainstream breakthrough, which isn’t what we try to achieve either; but on the other hand, when people make good music in a genre it’s not that much competition.

There’s still a lot of people listening to this kind of music, and when someone has something interesting to put out my experience is that it’s not that difficult to get attention.

In Germany there’s a great community, especially on the post-punk scene, and established bands help new bands onto stage through support slots. How is with the Danish music community?
Mads: In a way it works like that but we mostly support bands we know and hang out with, but we cross genres because the Danish music industry is kind of small, most people know each other. Genres is not that interesting for us either.

It’s not that we hang out with all bands and artists in Denmark, but people who love to play live and play organic music often know each other, and for us it’s more of supporting good music rather than clinging to one genre. Otherwise we would only hang out with three bands or something (laugh).

We’ve had a series of interviews where we have talked to new bands about how difficult it is to reach out to a crowd. Twenty years ago it was a lot different when you had a huge machinery helping you out – labels, PR agencies, radio – but bands today are expected to do a lot promotional work on their own. How do you find this promotional process in social media?
Mads: We do it but it’s not something we take great pride in.

Morten: We’re more anti-social media. We don’t put out that many posts because it’s no point doing it if it’s nothing interesting or something relevant. Posting a photo of us rehearsing isn’t that fun.

Mads: You can definitely push the band or the project you work with if it’s something you’re really good at, and we’re probably not that good at it. Maybe it’s a bit of a generic answer but I really want people to judge us by our music, and hopefully they like it. If not, it’s all ok because I don’t want to force feed people with our music either.

Morten: And I don’t think we’re that social media kind of interesting band. I rather see that people like us for the music than finding us as persons interesting.

Mads: It wasn’t that we started the band and had this vision “This is something we really like to express or put out to the world”, we’re just five friends who really like to hang out. That’s why we make music. It’s much about our friendship and doing something together we’re proud of.

We have been very fortunate that Danish music media took a lot of interest in us and having that in mind we haven’t really put a lot of effort into social media. We haven’t had to push for anything, at least not in an uncomfortable way.

Last time we met you told me that your goal is a European tour. Is it something that you plan for after the tour in Denmark?
Mads: It will be in the spring if it happens. We have a ten-date tour in the fall and a few shows during the winter. After the tour we’ll play in England and we may return to Hamburg and Molotow again to play a festival in January.

It’s difficult to get to the next level and for us it makes more sense to go outside of Denmark and try it out.

Morten: Especially after the tour in the fall in Denmark. Maybe no one will turn up and then we’ll try outside Denmark.

Photographers: Peter Troest and Bo Källberg

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About The Author

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.