Interview with Christian Hjelm of Figurines

Figurines are a band from Denmark. If you haven’t heard of them, you soon will because they have just recorded the best album of their career so far and the best album of 2011. The triumphant eponymous “Figurines” is the sound of a band reborn. Both intimate and epic, the songs burst with the energy of discovery. The cover art–a kaleidoscopic bouquet of what appear to be golden saw blades–matches perfectly the refined sound they have evolved over the course of their four albums, warm and inviting, yet sharp and austere.

Nick: The new album is incredible. There is a confidence in the recording that makes it seem like you knew you guys were on to something. When did you realize this was going to be an important record?

Christian Hjelm: Thanks! Glad you like the album.
I’m not sure we did actually. We knew that we had some songs which in our opinion were good and we knew that we wanted to create an atmosphere in the studio that was fun and cozy throughout the sessions, and we also knew that we wanted to record the whole album just the three of us.
So in that sense it’s an important album because we did everything ourselves.

N: Were you guys consciously trying to make a proper album that would stand the test of time?

CH: We always try make good solid albums containing ..well..songs that we think are good, and just hope that everyone around us thinks the same.

N: Where were most of the songs written?

CH: The basic ideas for all the songs were written mostly in my apartment , and then finished in the studio.

N: Do you come up with the main idea for a song and then you work it out as a group, or is it more of a collaborative affair?

CH: That’s right , I come up with the basic idea for a song and then we normally arrange it together.

N:It says in the liner notes that some of the album was recorded in your rehearsal space, your apartments and at Ramon’s elementary school. Was this a practical, budgetary decision or were you guys trying to capture a particular feel?

CH: In a way it was a budgetary decision because as mentioned before we did everything ourselves so we wanted to challenge the whole “$600 (or more) a day in a real studio kind of thing” that’s why we picked more alternative places we could use for free.

N: It must be difficult recreating the sound of the new songs live. How has touring the new album gone so far?

CH: It’s been great and cool to get back on the road again. It’s not that difficult actually because we’re 5 on stage when we play live. The songs we play from the album have been recreated in close versions to album version. They still differ a bit , but I guess they should because it’s live you know.

N: You recently played some east coast shows here in the US. How was the reception of the new material? Are US crowds different from European crowds? Are there any plans for a full US tour or a tour of any other continents?

CH: It was very positive I think, but we still play a lot of the older stuff as well just to create a good mix of it all live. The crowds are pretty much the same, except maybe the European crowds tend to groove a little more , or even dance to the music , where the Americans are more just standing still , maybe concentrating and listening more to the music which is cool too.

N: I’m sure many of your US fans became aware of your music through the placement of your song “The Air We Breathe” in an episode of “Gossip Girl.” How did that surreal incident come about? Were you guys, or are you now, fans of the show?

CH: When we’re told about it years ago we didn’t know “gossip girl” , at the time it was a new tv show , so weren’t back then and not even now as far as I know. But I know people who like it.
It’s funny how that became our biggest selling single in the US because of that show…and it wasn’t even a single.

N: There is a sound of yearning in your singing and your music. What do you yearn for?

CH: I’m not sure actually , think it’s one of those things you can’t really explain.

For more on Figurines, visit:

Nick Cullen

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