Track Premiere & Interview: The Loch Ness Mouse – “Warm Circuitry”

Loch_Ness_Mouse

Photo by Havard Krogedal.

The Loch Ness Mouse has been making delightful indie pop for over two decades. But it wouldn’t be surprising if you haven’t heard of them — the band hails from Oslo, Norway, and has experienced most of their success in Scandinavia, Europe, and Asia. Fans of upbeat, breezy pop ranging from Belle and Sebastian to The Lucksmiths to The Concretes all the way back to Abba will find much to love about The Loch Ness Mouse’s well-developed arrangements and impeccable pop sensibilities. Today, we’re proud to host the U.S.  premiere of the lead track on the band’s recent LP, which has already been released in the European Union and Japan. Stream “Warm Circuitry” in all its pop glory below. Following the embed, we spoke with the band via email, and you can read our conversation that covers topics ranging from current interests in Norwegian and American bands to channeling the Nordic hills and forests in song. We were particularly stoked to see one specific dark experimental rock band get a shoutout. Find out more about The Loch Ness Mouse here.

Pop Press INTL: You’ve been making music for two decades now! What has changed most about your roles as musicians over that time?

The Loch Ness Mouse: The most obvious thing that comes to mind, is of course the change of formats that has taken place and everything that has to do with spreading music digitally. And partly also how the process of recording has changed, with the new, easier access to good gear and all. Like this time around, the string quartet is recorded in New Jersey, the drums through a great sounding console in Oslo, etc. etc.

On a more personal level, one aspect is that I think we early on, and for quite some time, felt that we came from a scene, centered around a label (called Perfect Pop Records) with a specific profile etc. Even when that came to an end I guess we still for a long time had a sense of being in touch with the musical life of Oslo. I live in the countryside, an hour outside of town, and for the last 7 years or so, I think we have just spent time more isolated, doing our thing, free from any outside influences in that regard.

PPI: Who are some of your Scandinavian heroes in music, historically?

LNM: I think the Monica Zetterlund (Sweden)/Bill Evans collaboration “Waltz for Debby” would be worth mentioning as something that stands out. A lot of good jazz history/legacy in Norway, too. It would be hard not to mention A-ha in anything related to Norwegian pop, I suppose. I did not see the greatness of it in the 80s, teenager on my way into underground music, but it’s easy to go back now and re-discover and see the quality of it. A Japanese journalist recently mentioned the band Fra Lippo Lippi as an example of a Norwegian band he knew of and liked. From the same time as A-ha, a few hits in Norway, but huge in the Phillipines and other parts of Asia. Founding member of the band now runs the label Rune Grammofon.

PPI: What Norwegian bands should we know about currently?

LNM: My favourite album from last year in Norway was the record “Runddans”, a collaboration between Todd Rundgren and Norwegians Hans-Peter Lindström and Emil Nikolaisen. Both Lindström’s own outputs and Emil Nikolaisen’s band Serena Maneesh would probably already be well known to certain audiences. I’d definitely recommend them. Hilma Nikolaisen, who was also in Serena Maneesh, has recently released some great solo stuff. We’ve been fortunate enough to have some guests on our new album, like Sondre Lerche, Frøkedal, Magnus Hængsle, and I’d recommend to check out all of them. Frøkedal is also in a band called I Was A King. Also I think Elvira Nikolaisen did a very special pop album called “Lighthouse” a few years ago.

PPI: Are there American bands you guys listen to currently?

LNM: Well, I guess we listen to American bands all the time, pretty much every day. But if the question indicates “current bands”, I must admit I’ve lost touch a bit. My bad, really, but different focus and life situation for a while, I guess, leading to not checking out as much new music as I used to do. But I’m listening to the new Tortoise-album right now, which came out on the same label as our new album in Japan. And I always try to check out new outputs from Swans, who seem to be very vital these days.

PPI: Does Norway in general pay attention to what’s happening in American music?

LNM: Absolutely. It’s hard to make generalizations, because the Norwegian music scene is diverse, but yes, I think there’s an interest in picking up whatever’s new from America.

PPI: How does the geography or weather of Norway/Oslo interact with your songs and songwriting?

LNM: We have done some writing that makes direct use of the scenery, local history and so on thematically, but then at other times, like with this new record, I myself don’t feel it as much of a reference point for anything, whether lyrically or musically. But I notice that the Japanese seem to pinpoint some Nordic sound in the music.  But I would say that living out in the countryside probably delivers some premises for the writing process, even when I’m not writing about it. I like the city just as much, but still, the open fields, and working in the woods, like I often do, leads to a lot of silence and time to see ideas  begin to develop.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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