Feature: Darling West

Darling West Albumfeature zu „Cosmos“ und Interview

Darling West im Interview über ihr neues Album „Cosmos“; Fotocredit: Solveig Selj

Darling West haben am vergangenen Freitag ihr neues Studioalbum „Cosmos“ veröffentlicht. Mit der neuen Platte und den 10 neuen Tracks verorten sie sich neu. Denn in der Vergangenheit konnte man die Band ziemlich deutlich dem Folk und Americana zuordnen. Jetzt gehen sie neue Wege und klingen irgendwie auf eine gewisse Weise befreit. West Coast Pop. Dieser Begriff fällt auch im Pressetext zur Platte und ich finde, wenn man sich diesem annimmt, passt das ganz gut. Das ist stimmig und das neue Bild von Darling West fügt sich hier zu einem Gesamtkunstwerk, das an der norwegischen Westküste geschaffen wurde. Nicht an der amerikanischen Westküste. Könnte man aber meinen. Zum ersten Mal hat der Kern der Band – das Ehepaar Mari und Tor Egil Kreken – die Bandmitglieder Thomas Gallatin und Christer Slaaen in den Songwriting- und Produktionsprozess einbezogen. Dadurch werden Tracks wie „Wild Dreams“ oder „Old Man“ deutlich opulenter und fülliger im Sound.

Trotzdem dringen die früheren Einflüsse aus dem Americana durch. Der Opener eröffnet genau so, wie man es von Darling West noch kennt. Die wohlig warme Stimme von Mari dringt durch. Bei „Light Ahead“ wähnt man sich direkt in diesem West Coast Pop. Die gedämpften Akkorde, die den gesamten Song begleiten geben dem Song einen Drive und einen Vibe, der sich dann in offenen Gitarren im Refrain auflöst. Dorthin kehren sie aber wieder zurück. Insgesamt betrachtet bekommen wir 10 ziemlich unterschiedliche, aber doch zusammenhängende Tracks geliefert. „Cosmos“ gefällt durch den Ideenreichtum des Ehepaars, die endlich auch mal Support von der restlichen Band bekommen. Dadurch wird alles deutlich bunter. Ob es für die Band aber prinzipiell schwieriger war, das Album fertig zu stellen? Auch darüber sprechen wir mit der Band im nun folgenden Interview.

For the new album you have retreated to a small island in Norway. Why do you think this isolation to create something creative still works so well?

Darling West: „There are a few different reasons why it works so well. First of all we are very inspired by nature, and the scenery on Giske (the island) is quite spectacular. Through the windows of the studio you look straight at the ocean. It’s just a wonderful setting to work in. Secondly, the isolation makes it easier to focus on the music and on being creative, and there’s an atmosphere where we are all working on different ideas, recording them, discussing themes and writing lyrics and just immersing ourselves in the songs. It’s a very beautiful process, and something we are grateful to share as a band.“

How would the album sound different if you had created it surrounded by hustle and bustle? On „Cosmos“ you break new ground in the idea of a Norwegian band producing Americana. Before you started recording the album, did you have a concrete idea of how your sound should sound on the record?

Darling West: „It’s hard to say exactly. Although we did actually record most of the album in a studio in Oslo, the songwriting happened in more remote and quiet places. And for us the creative periods when we write are where we prefer to be somewhere that has an inspiring and relaxed feeling to it. But since we recorded the album ourselves in the studio of our guitar player, Chris, we didn’t have to worry about hours spent in the same way we would in a commercial studio, and that certainly helped us to retain a relaxed vibe throughout the recording of the album. As to the sound of the album, we let things happen quite naturally. For some of the tracks we made demos that would put the song in the direction we’d like it to go, and for others we just started playing together and recording and then we built the arrangements together, trying out a lot of different ideas and sounds and keeping the things we liked the most.“

You release new singles and also albums in a very continuous rhythm. Would you rather describe yourselves as a „creatively restless“ band that is always looking for the way to the studio?

Darling West: „We do see ourselves as a hard-working band, and as a part of staying active and also trying to build a bigger audience, we think it’s important to release music on a sort of regular basis. But once an album is out we’re kind of over it and eager to start writing new songs again, which is such a rewarding process for our creative minds. So yes, we might be quite restless to be creative. We try to set aside periods to write every year, and once the songs are ready, we just get so excited we want to start recording them as soon as possible. And especially since Christer got the studio we’re now working in, it’s gotten very easy to just decide to spend a few days in there arranging and recording music.“

You’ve played shows all over the world. Among other things, festivals like the SXSW plays. Seen from the outside, that’s quite a lot of milestones that you’ve reached. Do you feel more of an inner unrest yourself, because nowadays as a band you can never stand still and should rest on your laurels? Or does confirmation and satisfaction prevail?

Darling West: „We are not very good at going on holiday, to put it that way, but we’re working on it. Also the perspective seen from the outside is probably somewhat different from how we feel. Although we are very grateful for all the things we have done and gotten to see, we feel we still have a lot more to experience, and working in the creative arts you never really rest on your laurels. There’s always a story out there to tell, and a song to find. We do feel very lucky to be able to do what we love to do together, and so there’s really not an inner unrest, but we certainly still have a lot of goals we’d like to reach. And to be very honest, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted to be in an Indiepop/Americana band these days. So at least for us it feels like we don’t really have much of a choice. If we want to keep the band going, we need to keep working hard. It’s a labor of love, and we are so excited to be releasing a new album thins spring and seeing where it will take us.“

If we listen through the 10 new songs on „Cosmos“, what lasting impression should we as listeners have from it in any case, so that you say: Ok, you really heard the album?

Darling West: „Our wish is to inspire people who are going through rough times, to uplift people and make them smile and to comfort people who are in need of consolation. So if someone would tell us one or more of those things happened, that would make us very happy. There are also beautiful string arrangments by Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Taylor Swift, Paul Simon++) on two songs, and we hope people will notice that. The most important thing for us is to connect with the listener through the music, and give them a feeling of something real and honest.“

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