MF: Mahmood Fazal
DX: Daniel Stewart
ER: Elias Rønnenfelt
MF: In this episode of Mont Icons, we speak to Elias Rønnenfelt of cult Danish punk band, Iceage.
DX: Elias, Welcome to Mont. Tell us a bit about what's going on in Copenhagen right now.
ER: Well, not a whole lot is going on in Copenhagen right now if I mean, the British strain is slowly making its rounds through the country. Everything is closed besides supermarkets and churches, for some reason. And it's been very cold. And it's been very dark. It's getting progressively colder while getting progressively brighter as well. So after just having been through what was the coldest December month since 1959, I believe the the turn of the year has actually provided us with a bit more daylight now, which is very welcomed. But But yeah, it's, it's it's a bit like this blanket over daily life, and everything is sort of restrained.
DX: Can you talk a little bit about the poetry that you've been working on for the last few months?
ER: Well, around February 2019, a friend gave me a nice big notebook. And I started to go to this public library that has a video reading hall. And I would go there for a minimum of 45 minutes a day and start writing about whatever. And there was just something I kept going through the days and a new thing that I sort of strive to keep a discipline about. And around March last year, and COVID kicked in, I stopped this process, because lockdown was affecting my writing in a way that I didn't want to didn't want to go on into Saturday, because you know, it started to become this lockdown writing and I wanted to be I didn't want to be the person to to be doing like a sort of a lockdown diary, I could sense that becoming very pathetic really quick. And so instead of continuing my writing, I started editing that stuff. And yet it's become more of a thing. It's like a book that says based on just completely free writing that I've done throughout my days of that period of roughly a year, and it's been fine tuned into something that might be something but yeah, it's I don't know what else to say.
MF: When did you start writing? Have you always been writing? Have you always played in bands? Or did writing kind of come first?
ER: Writing came as an necessity for doing bands because I ended up as a lead singer and events and and when you're a bit into that process, you find that that lyrics are a necessity and some somebody's got to write them. So it started out as a task and became something throughout the years that I found out you could sort of dive into and explore and take a liking to, but I've always kept notes and notebooks, which also serve as like a large piece of source material when I actually have to gather things into an invited into lyric form. I was actually going through, I had a friend over for dinner earlier tonight. She asked if I had any old pictures of myself and I don't really keep childhood pictures and that kind of stuff around but I remembered a little notebook from when I was about 14 years old. I had a rediscovery tonight of what a messed up kid I was. So it was like long chronicle of collage and drawings and writings and stuff and pictures of 2PAC and Biggie Smalls quotes and a reworking of the futurist manifesto into like this thing where that nature were supposed to take over and like another plan for an art movement because I was obsessed with it was the London newspaper caught up caught opposite of murder and, and local crime and I was quite obsessed with crime and violence. Because I think that that to me, the the underground scene was stale to me, and I didn't know where to Take it bigger, but violence seemed like a, like a necessity in a dead culture. So I had I found out and I completely forgotten about this, but I found like this whole sketched out idea sheet for where meaningless crime would be the art, and when the art would find its way into the, but when the crime would find its way into the newspaper, that would be the art being framed.
And, and when it was taken to police, that would be the the gallery. And it would just like the ideas were just like, you know, like, somehow, like finding a dead cow carcass and placing it in a traffic light, and then have this symbol placed above it. And then through these meaningless crimes, the symbol would like these, these meaningless things would be gathered up by police and newspapers. And eventually, they would see a link between them, but it was meaningless. And eventually you would you would kind of start this whole investigation. And that would be like the gallery and the output of the art itself. So like, I don't remember where the questions started. But I've just, I've just been through finding out what a messed up teenager was. And I think I did share these ideas with some friends, but nobody really wanted to do it with me. So eventually, it led nowhere. Did you ever instead, instead of instead of it turned into be a band, I guess?
DX: Yeah, that's what's gonna say this is about the time that you started doing IceAge when when you were doing?
ER: Yeah, like, like, right in the early days leading up to
MF: Where you ever exposed to meaningless crimes when you were young?
ER: The crimes would would only be meaningless, because I thought about it as an art thing. But I don't think any crime is that meaningless, usually when it's committed. So I mean, yeah, of course.
MF: What about joy riding?
ER: I don’t know what joy riding is.
MF: Yeah, joy riding. I remember stealing cars with my friends when we were young. And there was nothing, we would just cruise around. It's kind of this meaningless crime. And I often think about, what will we getting out of that? Just maybe it was a rite of passage or something, doing something pretending were adults, or I don't know. But there was, in my youth, I found that there were a lot of meaningless kind of crimes that maybe it's that whole Rebel Without a Cause thing, right.
ER: Yeah. And I never stole any cars myself. But I guess you know, that was meaningless crime is as you know, vandalism, and breaking things in graffiti and shoplifting outside of absolute necessity. But then there was also meaningful crimes. As you know, we grew up around in the the sort of radical left wing squad scene at the time, where there was a lot of activism going on a lot of riots participate in from a very young age. And, but, but yeah, yeah, some some some meaningless vandalism for sure. But also a lot of meaningful stuff that that actually felt like it was, you know, fighting the good fighter or leading towards some sort of purpose.
DX: Could you talk a little about that Ungdomshuset, or how you say it, the youth centre right?
ER: When I was about 12 years old, I started you know, maybe developing from being a natural outcast. In you know, the school that you grew up in the environment that you're you are around to a conscious outcast. And that goes hand in hand with with discovering certain kinds of music that you take on sn identity rather than just something that's around, and I started getting into punk and stuff. And I grew up in a neighbourhood called Nørrebro. Where all these things were sort of tied to and the pillar there of youth culture, alternative youth culture was the squad called the youth house has been there since the 80s. Which was an incredible place. Like few I've ever seen, or nowhere, I've seen that there was, you know, just like a huge squat that that's, that had lots of events going on, in completely alternative life. As to what you sort of knew, in early days, you would drink your first beer stare, sneaking out of your friend's parents window and and sort of go into this Neverland of a place that was safe to be a drunk 12 year old among other youth punks, but also dangerous in itself. And this was Around the same time, or years that that the Ufa started getting threatened. Because the government wanted those autonomous activists there, did they want to get rid of them. So eventually they sold the house to a Christian sect, the build up to this lasted years, I think, where the inevitable doom of that place was sort of brewing underneath at all, all the while, while the youth was sort of mobilising, and getting ready for this fight. So my neighbourhood was filled with activity and meetings, you could go to going in all sorts of strains. I mean, like you could go to workshops of building barricades for demos or protection gear for riots, but you could also check the calendar and there would be like some nerdy political types discussing like the Bolsheviks, beef with the anarchists in Russia way back then. And you would go there and understand nothing. But it was exciting that something so subversive was just happening just underneath the surface of where you grew up. I mean, like, around your childhood Street, basically. So yeah, it would just sort of like be that place will become the backdrop of it. And while the whole youth was like, enhancing its frustration, and the whole thing was building up to this in inevitable day, where the police would finally come in and take this house, everybody was had a consensus that they shouldn't be able to do that without everyone giving it their all to prevent that. So there's a lot of riots leading up to that. And eventually it happened. They came in one morning and took over the place with a helicopter and the crane and went upstairs and we were we ran out of school, the minute we heard it was happening. All my friends were stood crying in front of this. And mind you, there had been lots of clashes and protests leading up to this where I had seen my friends and my peers getting beaten down in the street and jailed and there was lots of more jailings and beatings to follow. It culminated in a week long, sort of my childhood neighbourhood Nørrebro becoming a warzone with banks beings smashed and cars on fire. And just rioting until you know, the police finally got the best of it. But yeah, at a very early age, I experienced a serious subversive riot from the youth where banks were being smashed and fire and people didn't really take any shit from this society that they wanted to muffle anything that stood out, and was quite a living quite peacefully. But you know, as everything is when it's on its own, it's a bit fucked as as life is. But yeah, yeah, it was something everybody believed in and it was eventually just crushed.
MF: And at the youth house, what were some of the things that when you're when you're attending, you guys were protesting against what were some of the issues and demonstrations for?
ER: Well, I mean, a lot of the demonstrations back then, was just more mindless frustration against the government and society at large, rather than like a singular issue, which is quite funny, because like, you know, nowadays has been a lot of protests in Copenhagen, with the with the way that people have been had, like the government has been abominably handling the refugee crisis and how they're subsets certainly subsequently present. And Black Lives Matter has been on the rise here as well. But it's all been peaceful, because now people are fighting for very distinct courses. And you don't want to damage the case, even though I understand and sympathise with with other places where things have gotten more violent with these exact matters. That's just how it hasn't really been the case here. Well, back then, there wasn't really a singular case as much as that it was, yeah, one thing was the house but the house was sort of a symbol of the house getting crushed was a symbol of how everybody was sort of desperate and in disagreement with society, which also was a better vehicle for violent demonstration because you weren't like damaging distinct costs like that. So So a lot of it would be gathered around, like people taking new squats or processing against the sale of the new files or general just kind of like fuck the government sort of things. I'm sure there were a lot of protests that were that had like a specific issue tied to but I can't when I was 14,
DX: And how did this lead to IceAge? Like cuz I remember when speaking to you, there was a pretty direct connection between that happening and you guys doing the band, you came out of that kind of scene and that experience. So can you talk about those early kind of conversations with-
ER: Yes well, I don't think any conversations really happened, it was kind of blindly reacting to things without having a real idea of what you were trying to do. But I think after the death of the you files in when I was 14, that kind of left like a ground zero, a sort of crater in Copenhagen, where that that whole movement sort of like had taken such a punch, that it died down for a bit, and couldn't just regain the strength of it after having lost that house because it meant so much. And I think there was something with me and the group I was hanging, that has also not been that satisfied with the artistic output of the you files. So I think so when I was 16, a couple years later, after that, was demolished. I started to I had grown to satisfied because you know, that it was it was a very traditional punk environment. But you know, a lot of hardcore bands, a lot of crusty bands, artistically in terms of whatever I was into, it just didn't really stir anything in me. And, and and I wanted to, I think I was unknowingly longing for something that was that had an artistic merit to it that didn't, that I didn't really see anything to that could fulfil me in recent years. So when we started, we were just a complete reaction to that in terms of just being fucked and kind of having this sort of, like, hooligan culture and people around us were graffiti painters, and were just looking for trouble. Where the youth house has been had been very filled with guidelines and a sort of code, I think we were looking to do something that was sort of juvenile delinquent, just anti social and not looking to be anybody's friend just to be like a thorn in the side of culture. Because on the other hand, you know, Danish indie culture, commercial commercial culture was also filled with like indie bands, and really stale, boring stuff that I loathe. At the time, I hated all of it, we just saw that there was nothing for us. So fuck everything, we're going to be a band where you there's almost like a gang. And concerts are like, secret club, where it's not necessarily safe to go to a concert. And I think that was just like a sort of a desperate reaction to being so fed up with the culture around us.
DX: And can you talk a little bit about some of those early shows and those experiences like how close to your vision of this nihilistic cult? Did they actually come in reality?
ER: I mean, on one hand, it was kind of innocent. But yeah, I mean, I guess the first many gigs was just like, anybody who was dumb enough to to book us for a show, or let us play the venue, all of our friends would turn up, and they would smash all the furniture, send each other to the hospital. And don't get me wrong. It's not like there was a complete lack of empathy, like, you know, like, but in terms of reaction, it was very much like a us versus them sort of mentality for a while on. So that sort of became, you know, that sort of mentality. For sure, maybe I should have its lifespan, or it gets really pathetic, really quick. But for a minute, like it was just a group of friends that made a little club together that that nobody really allowed to get into on this day, sort of like looked, I had that same tension, the I have like a twisted look on the world. And just about making it anybody who booked us sort of regretted.
DX: Can you talk a little about the writing of those early lyrics, and you're kind of being forced into this position to kind of craft your art manifestos into lyrics and the like, how did you approach that when you first started writing?
ER: Well, completely without experience. So I guess I was trying to put words on some things that I was feeling. And I was trying to establish like a world within the lyrics that is was like, that was maybe like, had ties to this reality that we had built for ourselves, but also sort of like building a mythical extraterrestrial world around that and something that was sort of mysterious, and hard to penetrate, and, and drawing on a lot of symbols and sort of magical things.
In retrospect, but I think that those were also early attempts of but not really knowing how to command language around and, you know, they're very much also works of a 17 year old kid that doesn't really know how to use English that well, even you know,
MF: Were there any tracks, in retrospect that you think you did accomplish that, and really pull together a sound, and a language or style that you think represented where your head was at that time?
ER: I hope that the most of it was sort of expressed that to some extent, but I've never really been one to look that much backwards. So I haven't I haven't listened to any of those records in, in many years. So I don't have the best analysis of what it might be.
MF: Do you find that as well, as a musician, you don't go back? Because I know with with my writing, I never go back and read anything I published. slightly out of fear, because I feel like it's just terrifying to look back at where you began. But as musicians, do you find that you? Once something's published, it's no longer yours, so to speak, and you just turn your back on it or something.
DX: Yeah, very rarely listen to any records that I've made before. Like, I really avoid listening to anything that I've made until about 10 years has passed or so. And then I start really enjoying it. But if it's in the last few years, it's a bit, it's a bit raw, and it's a bit unsettling, I think, it's not something that I choose to do very often for the same reasons as you It feels very strange. So alias do you do you find?
MF: When I think about it, I think it might have something to do with musicians touring, like your relationship with what you produce is so intense, over a year or, or however many years you continue to tour with the with the artwork that you've produced? And then you kind of abandon it or don't want to go near it, do you think it's got something to do with performing so intensely, as well as producing an artwork?
ER: Well, I think it's, it's, it's kind of, when you produce an album of record, it ends up becoming sort of amalgamation, or a capsule image of everything that led up to it, everything you went through in life, every struggle every moment, every thing that sort of led you to wanting to commit something, and then you you in a in a in a burst, try to capture that recording. And once it's in capsule, you can't change it, it just becomes this sort of like closed off summary. And it could be kind of painful to to look at that. And it can be kind of dangerous, because you will also start seeing its flaws. Be I can remember seeing diaries from from long ago and you cringe at the things that you would mourn about or, or the way that you would put things or this past version of yourself. That is perhaps not really there anymore. I mean, the same person is there, but it's it's a window into the past, and that that can just be a hard thing to face. So I tend not to get nostalgic or revisit too much of my previous output. But you were mentioning then the 10 year mark, which leads back to me reading through those old diaries or notebooks today. And I read some of the writing I did then. And it was fascinating to me because it is past that 10 year mark and there was writings about having like walking in the middle of the night at quarter to five in the morning, having dream visions of controlling the weather and like all these mad feelings or like a chronicle of that I've been riding in my mother's house in the middle of the night, while the house next door was on fire. And firefighters were battling to keep the fire from from spreading to my building and the other next old buildings and then describing my absolute numbness to the whole experience and how I kind of felt a callousness to the whole event and I guess this was being written while you know, this is taking place on ground level. That five minutes we're trying to kill This fire in my name is building and how I had this teenage sort of like just being completely distance from the whole experience and not necessarily thing that negative about it. Or perhaps it was like in it was feeling numb permanently at the time. It's sort of became closer to the fire inside or something. But but like this disease like, Well, I mean like I would perhaps like some years ago like harshly cringe at that, but but I literally just read this an hour ago, and I was like what a gloriously messed up kid I was.
DX: Yeah, I think the bottom line for me is I'm not I'm not very sentimental. I don't keep a lot of mementos, and trinkets and souvenirs from my past. And particularly, I don't revisit a lot of that work, because I don't feel any kind of nostalgic longing to be a child again, or even someone in their 20s again, or even someone like a few years ago, again, like I don't see the work that I've done as as being something that I want to forget or leave leave behind. But I'm more focused in the work that I'm going to be doing next.
ER: And I feel like my whole youth have been waging a battle against sentimentality and nostalgia.
DX: Yeah, like, I'd like you to kind of talk a little bit about that, because it's one of the things I feel connected with you strongly on and hadn't really heard anyone, collate it, as well, as you had at the time.
ER: I think I was just quite naturally disgusted with the idea of of nostalgia. And sentimentality, because I had this, I do have that, that there was necessity to move forward and to wallow in recent tests, sweetness would be regressive in a way. And I don't think that I'm necessarily correct, in this way of thinking. And I think that I'm softening up a bit now on this way of thinking on my 28th year, but I think it was necessary for me to, to progress to just have sort of a very harsh way of rejecting anything that that would lead me towards being rocked in the industry dance of the past, you know, so I don't really, really know what that says, it's just something in my nature that that always rejected that.
DX: Does this resonate with you, Mahmood? Or do you have a box of diaries that you revisit from time to time under your bed?
ER: Yeah, I have. I always took notes. And I always scribbled inside books, whenever I had I thought and stuff. So. But yeah, I look back on on those texts, not very often, only serendipitously, like if I'm moving shelves or cleaning my room or something. But I don't even recognise a lot of the time. Some of the things written in those books, I think I have quite a dissociative personality. So I tend to distance myself or reinvent myself, more often than I probably should. Or maybe it's healthy. I don't know. But I yeah, I find it really difficult trying to understand who that person was that wrote those and make them feel those notebooks maybe that someone said it's slightly cringy when they read it. And yeah, I kind of get that too. It's it's a bit cringy or just foreign or something. Yeah. Oh, strange. I don't know.
DX: I definitely feel this sense that we've matured over the over a time in which nostalgia was so strongly written into popular culture and the ways that people around me interacted with popular culture was so like nostalgic, and even getting into punk and underground culture. That kind of longing for the glory days, was always something that disgusted me and, and made me like cautious about committing too much to that identity or that world. It was the kind of callous ferocity of sentiments like your Elias that I encountered more on the outskirts of and interacting more with literature and art. And I found that, that sense of disgust for for sentimentality and nostalgia. I feel like it's something that is if anything, becoming more and more prominent in the way that people interact and speak about the past as this kind of mythical Eden in a lot of respects,
ER: Yeah, and even if the past is just last summer, but I did see a change in myself, starting right writing the poetry, because I did do these daily spaces for myself to sit and write, not with a song in mind, or not merely sort of spontaneous notes, but sitting down with a blank sheet of paper, and then just waiting to see what would come visit me. And sometimes it would be something that happened earlier that day, sometimes it would be impressions from the previous night. But sometimes there'll be none of that. And what came to visit me was memories. And then I would have to sit with that MIT sentimentality of memories long gone, and sort of sort of being stuck all of a sudden, in trying to recall them or could have feel them again, and it kind of changed my outlook on it a little bit, that that's actually value to be found in be visiting things. And also, having lived long enough to have a few things to be visited that sense to be made of what came before that has now led up to whatever that fucking being you are now is. So I'm less radical on that. Note, now, I think,
MF: I think this idea of being sentimental is really, really interesting. I think it's in Infinite Jest, David Foster, Wallace writes about this kind of cynical transcendence of sentiment, as being a fear, like this fear of being human, or something being really human. Because it's so ingrained in our memory. What do you what do you make of something like that? And because it is, I mean, even in art and literature, it's very easy to be cynical of sentiment.
ER: Yeah, I mean, it's, it's easy to reject the idea of a past where you don't have much prepares to take from, but having lived a bit longer, you know, there's a mould to, to look at. But I find it all very fascinating. The idea of memory, for sure. And how you revisit it, I'm gonna butcher this quote, but I remember seeing this photography book from Solomon, and it's, in the first page had a quote from somebody, I can't recall who he is. But it roughly, is this short quote,that talks about that the guy who said this, he used to think of his childhood, as a building as a house, like his childhood home, and the memories and the feelings that he used to feel of those memories as something that he possessed as like a locked thing in his heart that he could revisit and recall upon whenever he decided to, but then, at an age, which I imagined being much older than I am now came to the, to the tragic conclusion that his own memories, that was his possession was not his memories. There were there were at aggressing thing. And he was revisiting memories of him memorising certain memories. And, and, and, and, and, and that whole thing that he felt was like a golden diamond, in himself, was actually just like, a deteriorating thing. And I just thought that was so sad, but so true.
MF: Yeah, that's really interesting, especially the way memory kind of plays tricks on us or tries to keep us safe by shapeshifting. I think that's, that's really interesting to, like, protect memory. How brain kind of protects us from real memories by by reconfiguring them, and, you know, presenting the deathless as a mirage or something.
ER: And I think that's also why I was so, so rejected of nostalgia, because I remember many years ago, reading some sort of study or writing about nostalgia, and it said that the human brain has a way of filtering out all the the negative sides of our memories to a degree I mean, of course trauma is stuck permanently and can hold us forever. But when I read that, I was filtering through my on memory, and I was looking at early teenage summers, where we were summers felt like they were lasting forever. And you were stuck to your own little circle of friends. And you were just outside most of the time and you do hiding spots and doing you things. And I would think back of those times as being absolute utopian idol, ideally khakis. But but but um, but then when I really thought about it, I saw that nostalgia had filtered through filtered out all the pain and all the all the ways that in those times, I was fundamentally feeling awful. And life was kind of crap. So So I mainly remembered the icing, the beautiful icing of the cake of those years, rather than a lot of and they were also that I see. It's not that that wasn't true, but my pruning selja had filtered out like half of it. Because half of it wasn't that nice, remember?
MF: And it's interesting that you make music and music is such an anchor and nostalgia. I find that-
ER: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, but also a curated anchor.
DX: Well, if anything, I'd say IceAge are defined by refusing to kind of trigger those nostalgic fantasies in the audience like you don't stay still long enough for people to be able to build up that sentimentality about what you're doing because you continually reinventing yourself and making these kind of movements away from an almost completely rejecting to the point where you play like, maybe one song of your first album or something. Is this something that you've talked to that the others about? Or is it has just happened organically?
ER: Like is this an agreement between a thing we talked about a bit about the asset sort of happened, we didn't, we never talked about direction or where we wanted to go, that was just an impulse. But we used to have like an almost sort of fetishistic enjoyment in disappointing people. Because when when we started getting like international fame, and an audience, which we will also appreciated a lot, we could just feel that there were entities, where there would be established entities or fanlike entities trying to sort of pigeonhole us in boxes in. And we were not ready for that. And hopefully, hopefully, we will, we will never be ready for that. So so when we release an album, by the time that album was released, we had already started going into the next direction, we were sort of neglect playing the album altogether, and go just with songs that knew but nobody knew and didn't know how to react to and then, you know, they would catch up later as the next record came out. But there would be like a period of us trying to play those unreleased songs almost exclusively. And we would enjoy that people legitimately didn't know what to think or do about it in the moment. Because, in a sense, we won them, you know, like, like, we flew them off. They couldn't they couldn't get us it, especially from the transition from the more frenetic fast paced started the band, to where we began taking a more diplomatic approach to songwriting. That was where before ploughing into the field of love came out. There we started playing those songs on hold tourists in the States. And people were expecting to just have a concert where they could just react and mosh and do whatever was expected from an ice age concert. And they would expect that chaos, but then a new kind of chaos came out of that because I didn't I'd never wanted to be that hardcore, but the mentality with the whole thing is like a a synchronised dance that is to be expected from even before you enter the venue. So So naturally, like, we wanted to do something where it was almost impossible for the audience to to, to to get into that, because we wanted to maintain ownership of ourselves that we don't come to, to do whatever dance is, sort of filled this required here. Like we want to force you to think about how how do I react in the moment to this music Rather than, okay, once we want one two three four, here we go. And that led to that sort of almost perverse enjoyment in disappointing those people. But at the same time, you would see disappointed disappointment, some people while you will also see interest in others that had a curious mindset.
MF: How conscious are you of your audience when you make music? I know as a journalist, I have to be hyper conscious of the readers whenever I'm writing, because you're writing for the public, essentially. I mean, you're doing a service. What as a musician, is that relationship skewed? How conscious of you of the people that listen to your music? When you're making it?
ER: I would say less and less, I think, because then the initial burst of us storming into the media and getting hype and all that shit, and, and being like the quote unquote, saviours of punk and all that, which we never had any interest of being that that that led to like, yeah, like, we were for all we could trying to escape any box they would try and put us in. And now I think that we have a quiet understanding audience that that it's not a given that you should expect a particular thing. Quite the opposite, maybe. So so. So I feel a bit more free to do whatever I want. Now, rather than doing things in direct defiance,
MF: Between ploughing into the field of love and record, before that, you took a four year break before releasing beyondless. Did that gap change a lot for you in your process? And what was the need for that four year kind of break? Because you weren't releasing quite consecutively prior to that, right?
ER: Yeah. I guess a ploughing almost immediately after recording every record that the next direction would have suggested said immediately, but after ploughing, the songs that we started rehearsing and coming up with ideas, we're just seeing, like a continuation of playing into the field of love. And that made us just sort of be very in directionless, because we had no interest in doing a sequel to record we already did. And that led us to sort of put things on hold, because the last thing we want to do was repeat ourselves. And then I went up and often did a couple of master church records where sort of, I think, personally, as a songwriter, I broke a lot of barriers. That barrier said that I needed to break in order to to figure out what another ice chunk could be, but, but to me, it's important, I'd better take a three year break, then just commit something halfhearted. That seems sufficient?
MF: And how do you how do you know when when songs working? Do you? Like, you know?
ER: Well, the thing is, I feel like you never really do until you quite find the process. And and, and the way I write songs is something that requires a lot of putting the work in, and a lot of hours, something is constantly sitting down and trying to carve it out. And something it's just if you're in a paper writing or just fucking out with a piano guitar, just noodling. And then you'll have a multitude of ideas. They all usually seem equally shit or good in the moment. But then, personally, I have to sit on ideas for a long time to understand if they're even worth pursuing. I will have a lot of ideas going on at the same time. But the one the ideas that won't leave me are the ones that I will bring to the other guys in the band and ask for their help in fulfilling that idea. And still, then like sometimes, you know, it might go in the garbage bin, but I feel like it's a lot of time is the question of of having an idea that simply won't leave you alone.
DX: Can you talk about the most recent example of that just to ground it a little bit? The song that most recently wouldn't leave you alone?
ER: Well, I've got I've got a bunch of songs right now that won't leave me alone. And a lot of them are probably very bad. But but but it's it's always a whirlwind. A friend. Mints have melodies and words floating around in that space that could become something, I have 30 different songs traveling around my head right now. And maybe only a couple of them will become something. But um, but I feel the creative space in the back of the brain is sort of like a nebulous void, where everything is torn apart and just sort of like, in the midst of either disappearing or gluing on to some other idea and creating like a juxtaposition of the things and I don't really know the formula, I just know that sometimes something stick, and sometimes they work and sometimes you want to pursue them. And sometimes, you actually put them into the world. And sometimes people appreciate it. Sometimes they don't like, I'm just trying to keep the mystery and the immediacy of it all, and hopefully not become shit.
DX: Do you, um, you would have been writing lyrics at the same time as writing poetry. So how did they? How did you decide what went where? Because, like, for all intensive purposes, like you couldn't put some other ideas across a law. So how did you feel to that?
ER: Well, I mean, like, I keep notes steadily, being stationary in the same place or traveling, whenever something might hit me. And that sort of gathers up a load of material. And then when I'm about to go into the studio and record, or know that it's sort of about to happen, I will usually take out two weeks that I'm saying to myself, okay, I'm writing the lyrics now. And I'll do that with the base of what I've been gathering up in my notebooks. And also just sitting there, but it will be a fixed period of time. And then they become whatever they become. And, and, and the poetry I've been writing on has just been, you know, forced sitting there, creating the time on a daily basis, without any thought of what it might become. But and then also, I usually keep keep notes and lyrics in English. And I wrote the poetry in Danish just to separate the walls and not allowing them to bleed into each other that way, I've got a perfect language barrier there to prevent that.
MF: Where does your inspiration come from? Are you reading a lot of poets when you're writing poetry? Or are you just going with it?
ER: With this, it was free flowing. I think I can point to certain writers in early years that definitely were the ones that introduced me to kinds of language and kinds of worldviews and kinds of ways of taking in the world. And beauty and everything that in that the world entails. That opened my view to how you could use and utilise language in ways that made a blue h bump into my own writing, for sure. But now I feel with what I read, I'm not necessarily so conscious anymore. As to rich thing that I read does what to my writing, it just all sort of flows in there. And I don't really know which things influenced what and so on to those early writers, writers that I know that you guys have been infatuated with us. Well, you know, people like Shan Shan, and Mishima and Henry Miller. Those were definitely like a four leaf clover of people that were added as a teenager read like you know the beatniks and that kind of thing, but opened my eyes to house in an abstract way of finding beauty in like, like likes, severe, almost fetishistic beauty in, in things that could be described as less attractive.
MF: There's definitely an echo of that, in your early manifesto in a spoke crime as beauty, you know, isolating, isolating meaningless crimes and making them appear beautiful. Yeah. Have you listened to anything recently, just before you said you become infatuated with words or melodies and things that keep haunting you are following you. This is a does that happen when you read other works or or listen to other people's music? I find I've constantly caught up in these loops of, you know, either a paragraph I read or, you know, a drill song I listened to, does that happen to you?
ER: Yeah, I mean, I mean, like, I think I think that that some of the reconsolidation I found great literature in the first place is that it And the same thing goes with music, when you hear this to juice or whatever, for the first time it is that there's, you've been going around for this unexplainable feeling that you can't put sound or words to, but you've been feeling it your whole life. And suddenly you stumble upon this piece of literature, or music or whatever it is, that will echo those will echo that feeling. But it's been like this blurry, nonsensical thing to you. And suddenly it is tangible. They're put into like, something that describes it exactly what you felt but much more concrete that you could ever think about yourself. And you still stumble upon those epiphanies in in culture that will lead you to have that thing of like, okay, somebody, somebody lived through whatever this thing I'm feeling is and they actually, they actually made it something tangible that you could take hold off. And that's a massive amount of feeling understood within that, but also leading you to understand yourself better. I don't know if I can point to anything directly right now. I feel like also, this year, having been writing that book, I have read less than I have been in a decade or something. Because a lot of my reading time have gone to my writing or editing time. So like last year, like I was missing, mostly provoked by The Bluest Eye, but Toni Morrison, and the Master and Margarita, but Michel, booger cough, I think he's called. But But those are not really stories that I felt. I couldn't imply into my own sense of creativity. But more so been just great. Literature going through the the notebook today, I've read a quote by the Tories big, saying, Why should I have any reason to fear any human that drawers in the drawers in the same error as myself? Which in hindsight is a very flawed code. You should definitely feel people that draws in the same error as you. So yeah, that definitely didn't still ring true with me.
MF: Yeah, that that book I was talking about called On The Line Notes from a Factory by Joseph Pontus.
ER: But what was that the guy who was who was plagued by insomnia?
MF: No, that was actually Emile Cioran, DX, lent me a book of Maxim's just earlier, we were speaking about our alias is suffering from insomnia. And I and I was, I recommended that book because Cioran writes, really harrowingly about insomnia and how he made it work for him.
DX: Yeah, when I was experiencing insomnia, on the level of it being, like, quite dangerous for my mental health, I found a lot of comfort in the insights of Cioran. There's one thing that he says, which really just got me started thinking about, that the inability to sleep is something that's uniquely like human. I feel like insomnia, and the inability to sleep was one of the earliest provocations of a creative drive. Me. Does that resonated with you?
ER: Um, I've been dealing with insomnia in periods for my whole life. And I feel like this that two kinds of insomnia that that's the one where where you sort of ready to sleep within your your, your mind will twist and churn because it's trying to form ideas and it it's it has Something that it wants to get rid of, in those kind of nights staying up all night, I've found massive benefit to. And then there's the other kind, where you can use utilise your awake brain to anything, you just in like a state of mild torture, trying to yearning for that, that peace, and that that final release of sleep. But you can't get to it. So you just endlessly sort of like stuck with your weak brain, but it doesn't mean you want to go anywhere in particular. And so yeah, I've found that insomnia can be quite a lovely thing. And it can be a bit of a hellscape usually, and I definitely resonate, and
MF: You're sleeping throughout the day?
ER: I've taken the the odd grandpa nap here and there, those have been quite good. I've been through this shift before, like, like, I feel like whatever my brain needs to go through usually is if it's a bad period, usually if it makes sense in regard of where it leads to next. It's just a question of how long and I think that goes with the artistic process as well, like Vegas, it's always a dance on roses, you you have to having gone through this, the circles of, of what needs to go through to to get wherever you're getting like nothing is permanent, everything is just a temporary state. And the next state that you head into will be informed by the previous one. So usually nothing is so bad that it's not good for something.
DX: Elias, have you accepted the state of worldwide pestilence and plague as being a new normal and sign that is going to really affect your, like your you've toured consistently, your entire life. Since you started playing music, I mean, and now that's looking like a quite a difficult thing. How have you adjusted to this reality? Like, is this something that you're ready to talk about?
ER: Yeah, I mean, I go back and forth. You know, I find peace in looking at history, as I think many do that the new normal, despite being unprecedented is also the old normal. I mean, I'd never given the Spanish Flu any second thought I knew that something it was something that happened. But I've found reconsolidation in knowing that that happened roughly 100 years ago, and I was looking at pictures of of people around 1900 18 dressed in long coats and hats and whatever people were looking at like back then be being adorned with with masks that looks roughly exactly the same as the one that I go around seeing the cityscape now. And that created like a nice comforting parallel that even though that I have been living in a in a sort of heyday of nothing like this happen, it's nothing exactly new. And then you teeter around on the brink of hope that we can return to a bearable or sense of normalcy again. And I still have that of I think so. You know. But I also think that, you know, on a broader scale, as a society as a civilization, this whole thing has made us question the normalcy, which we won't return to, because, turns out, no surprise, the world's been pretty fucked all along. And it's actually created like, a space for people to take, perhaps bird's eye view of the fullness of how we live, and I feel like for the first time ever, like a thing like in those early years, I was disillusioned ized with society, because it seemed like society's walls were so high and so thick that they were sort of unbreakable. But for the first time in my life span, I feel like we experienced transparency of, of how we're governed of how we kept, and that it's a slightly more fragile than before all along. And I don't know where this is going to leave, but it's definitely very interesting.
DX: I think that's a really good place to finish this conversation actually
MF: Wanted to ask about the knives in your merch shop. And why you why you thought to have knives and where I can work and get one.
ER: I mean, those those are long gone. I had them myself, and they were never in any online shop it I mean, I got a bad you know, this was in the early days as well. And, you know, I had a thing for weaponry, and I had a thing for danger. And without thinking too much of repercussions or anything at all, I just think it would be a killer thing to have knives, with our logo on it. So we got a mate and we were selling him for a US tour with like a little like, I think our tour manager was responsible enough to like make like a no stepping. I don't know, you can't see them, like take him out when you get home sort of like sign on the merge table. Unfortunately, there were no step things. And I yeah, I don't own those things now. But yeah, to me, this seemed like a cool thing to do at the time. In hindsight, wildly irresponsible, you know, such is life.