We chat to Embla Karidotter Dahleng from Norwegian group Razika about making indie ska-pop.
How do you decide which songs to write in English, which ones in Norwegian? This is nothing we decide, like “okay, the next song have to be in English”. The lyrics just come naturally, either it’s in English or Norwegian. We started singing in English, this is, for some weird reason, very natural for every band in every country I think. But we all agree that it’s cooler to sing in our own language and we have more Norwegian songs on the next record.
Where was your first gig? Our first gig was at a small bar called Logen here in Bergen. Our bass player’s father also plays bass (in the band called Dance With a Stranger, they were huge in Norway in the ’80s) and he got us our very first gig. Every Monday he and his other band plays there, and they invited us to be their support band. We were only fifteen and so god damn nervous. All of us had to go to the bathroom at least five times before we played. Some of us still had braces, we didn’t dare to look up at the audience and played terribly. We played three songs, two of our own and then Bob Dylan’s ‘I shall be released’. On this song the crowd started to sing along and they stood up cheering and clapping. We thought it was because we were good, but it was more because of we knew almost everyone there – our family and their friends filled up the whole room just to support us.
What has been your favourite gig so far? We have so many good memories, but we have two favorites 1. When we supported Arctic Monkeys in Sweden and Norway which seriously was a dream come true. 2. When we played at the smallest stage on the Norwegian festival called Slottsfjell, and the crowd was so huge, so we proved to the festival that they were wrong to put us on that stage.
You’ve got some pretty cute fans, any memorable fan presents? We have so many different fans, both girls and guys in every age. In Japan it was extreme. Actually too extreme. They started crying and screaming and touching and holding on to us and didn’t want to let go. Memorable, but not cute. Then we also have the fifty-sixty year old men with their two tone T-shirts who skank at our shows and want to talk to us about how it would be if we were the same age. Not that cute, but funny. The cutest must be five year old Mikkel from Oslo who came to our show a couple of months ago with his dad. He was in the first row and had our children’s T-shirt on. We dedicated a song to him and he smiled from ear to ear with happiness. Afterwords he came up to us to take pictures and his dad told us he had been listening to our record and loving it since he was four, and we could really see that by how washed and worn his t-shirt was.
You’ve traveled a lot, what do you always pack when you go on tour? Not anything in particular. If one of us forgets something it’s nice to know that we’re four girls and friends, and can always borrow from one another. Whether it’s conditioner, make up, stockings, cigarettes or whatever.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home to Bergen? Go home and see our boyfriends or family. We hate to meet people right after we’ve travelled. Then you have to talk about how everything was. Then you meet another one two minutes later that also asks. Then you meet another one and another one… Bergen is a small city, so you just want to get home, sleep, “digest” your trip, let the memories sink in. Then at night we’ll go out for a drink and we can tell people how it was. Oh yeahhh, rock starssss….
Best place to hang out in Bergen? Depends on what you want to do. But all of us like to be outside in a park and barbeque and drink with our friends. So maybe Nygårdsparken, which is the park in Møhlenpris, which is the area in the city we grew up in. Best part of town!
Do you have a part-time jobs? Yes, we do. Right now the vocalist is a waiter, the drummer works in a office supplies store, the bass player works in the cinema’s kiosk and the guitarist in a kindergarten. It’s quite hard to get that much work when we travel as much as we do, but we’re used to managing two things. We started the band and recorded our first album when we still went to school, so we know how to roll…
Any other Norwegian groups that should be on our radar?
Not when you’ve already discovered us.
Razika are working on their second album. Their first, Program 91, is out now.