Nine years after Red, Nowegian collective Datarock (led by Fredrik Saroea and Ketil Mosnes) released a new album. Face The Brutality is out now via YAP. We had an interesting talk with lead singer and musician Fredrik Saroea. Dig into it after the video of the track “Laugh in the Face of Darkness”.
Let’s start with the new album “Face The Brutality”. What about the title and the creative process? How is it born?
We once heard a radio show in Canada with the title Face the Brutality, and basically all found it so funny that we always wanted to use the name for something. When the sound of the new album took on a slightly darker tone than our earlier stuff, the time felt right to utilize that oh so powerful title… The album was actually pretty slowly born: I started demoing years ago at Toolshed studio in London with Adrian Meehan who recorded parts of the RED album. I also demoed at the 5071 studio here in Bergen with Kato Ådland (Röyksopp’s guitar player) who also recorded “I Used to Dance with My Daddy”, my solo EP “Chamonix & Paris”, other parts of RED plus DATAROCK‘s 30 minute soundtrack epos called “In E”. Even did some demos with Enslaved’s producer Iver Sandøy at Solslottet; same guy who for instance helped me record “Catcher in the Rye”. But in 2016 original DATAROCKer Ketil Mosnes joined the process, and we started doing more at our own place hereby named YAP HQ and with our drummer Øyvind Solheim (also banging the drums in Ungdomskulen) at his Nebb Studio. After laying down the basics of 30 sketches and then deciding on the main 10, we went back to Duper Studio – were we’ve finalized all our recordings since the early years with Yngve Sætre – basically spending months on and off recording, arranging, rerecording, rearranging, adding lyrics as it finally came to me, and then finally mixing and remixing it for ever – eventually mastering it with my favorite mastering engineer; Mike Marsh at The Exchange Mike Mash Mastring studio in the U.K.
Artwork is powerful. What about it?
It’s all done by one of Norway’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, DOLK; a dear friend who’s at a similar place in his personal & creative life as us – and his visuals expression just felt perfect for the sound of the material. He was kind enough to lend us his work – including the scratches Lamborghini in the video for “Laugh in the Face of Darkness”; one of his most profiled pieces called “Low Key”, exhibited at ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus Denmark – and they actually let us shoot it with a pretty big crew even using tons of dry ice at the exhibition.
What about the video of “Laugh In The Face of Darkness”, considering the mood of the track?
That’s the insane genius Sjur Pollen’s outstanding work – solely created by himself …with a little bit of help by the Danish lighting engineer Poul Iversen. I simply asked him to take inspiration from Stranger Things, David Lynch, 80ties aesthetics – and to whatever degree the Venom phenomenon to create a transition to black suits, and he took it from there. I involuntary took on the role as the producer – having to organize shoots in two countries at more than one art museum (like KODE where my restaurant Lysverket is located), renting gear from an array of companies, make an historic hotel let us fill their main salon with haze an entire night, etc. But the dark result is a delight. Don’t miss out on all the prequels & teasers featuring tons of exclusive material.
You are from Norway. There’s something of the recent local scene and from international music scene that you appreciated and contributed to the inspiration of the new album?
Not really here – although there’s tons of new stuff that I really like, such as Misty Coast, The Great News, Closing Eyes, Whalesharkattack, Kvelertak or less recent guys like +Plattform, André Bratten, Todd Terje, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Bjørn Torske and Benjamin Finger. Internationally there’s a bunch that inspired – most not really resent though. For instance both Soulwax & LCD Soundsystem are still super inspiring to us – and we even went to the length of traveling abroad just to see the start of LCD Soundsystem’s tour last year. The obvious inspiration for some of the synth arrangements though is Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s Stranger Things score.
Let’s talk about innovation and experimentation in music. What is your definition and your interest in it related theway to express your music?
I think real, interesting experimentation has to be based on a certain level of solid understand and mastering of tradition and technique within a genre – and I don’t master anything really, so to be honest, I’m still bewildered how the hell we’ve been able to carry any kind of career. But I guess others than us appreciate the effort of being a music fan trying to simply pay tribute to the music we’re into. What sounds like experiments in DATAROCK though is probably just us failing to convincingly copy / pay tribute to someone else. However, I’ll admit that I love “experimenting” with everything including pretty straight forward beats , and play drums on end just to try and come up with something somewhat new – at least to me. Like the “Fa Fa Fa” beat was supposed to sound like Charlie Watts playing disco 🙂 Love how the weird ass beats for “Ruffle Shuffle”, “Beautiful Monster” – or the John Bonham “Immigrant Song” pattern meets Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and New Order’s “Blue Monday” in “Laugh in the Face of Darkness” – was the very start of those songs and made it to the final versions. But that’s not really experiments I’d say. Neither is my simply incompetent timbales “solo” in “Everything”, or my weirdly timed synth melodies in “BMX” or “Invitation to Love”; that’s just me trying to create something nice. Same as Ketil’s bass line for “Feathers & Wax”; I think that’s Paul Simon’s “Graceland” bass echoing from within Ket-Ill. But I do like “experimenting” with our sound – like when I put down two bass guitars and no guitar guitar on “Invitation to Love”. Or how the intro to “Laugh in the Face of Darkness” is 4 against 3, 4 against 3 and then 3 eights against 2 played live on a Sequential Circuits DrumTrak – inspired by the break in “Blue Monday“. Also dig digging into Yngve Sætre’s synth park so see what I can find. This time I even used his Fender Rhodes & Hammond organ for “Laugh in…”.
Is there an upcoming tour to promote the album? What is the part you like more of live shows compared to studio session?