Music

As the frontman of raucous Copenhagen band Pardans, Gustav Berntsen, has found sense in chaos. Yet, keen to explore different avenues, for the past year or so the Danish musician has been experimenting with a softer, more personal approach that has since evolved into a new solo project under the moniker Dirt Bike.

“Coming from a punk background I realised that I had a need to express myself in a less confrontational and dramatic way, something less boisterous,” Berntsen reflects us. “[It’s] a vessel for impulses and feelings different from those that make up chaotic punk songs.”

Debut single Roll In The Hay – listen below – is an ode to summer love, where days merge into nights and time melts like a 99 flake. Chords chime with lo-fi execution and languid hip-hop beats float to form a sense of sensuality, sincerity and freedom that mirrors Berntsen’s current mindset. Self-produced in his Copenhagen home-studio, Berntsen is treading a singer-songwriter path that sees him push his limits and pull on emotions previously untapped.

On going solo…
“Over the winter I wrote a bunch of songs sitting down with my acoustic guitar. They turned out quite sincere and warm. Coming from a punk background I realised that I had a need to express myself in a less confrontational and dramatic way, something less boisterous. A vessel for impulses and feelings different from those that make up chaotic punk songs. Pardans is still going strong though and I really treasure losing myself in that madness every once in a while, we’re working on new material and playing in London in September.”

On his new Dirt Bike project…
“All the songs I’ve recorded so far came to life playing my guitar – I wanted to keep that singer-songwriter essence in the songs. But at the same time I wanted to welcome all my various musical inspirations in the arrangements. Together with my friend Søren Buschmann, I believe that we did this with Roll In The Hay. It sonically shifts scenes in every part and we really plug into different styles. I think there are traces of all my favourite artists in there. I enjoy writing with an instrument in hand, it’s really melody-oriented and a lot of fun. It’s been really liberating to rediscover this intuitive way of playing music and writing songs.”

photography by Konrad Eilenberger

On the recording process…
“I recorded most of the tunes in my home studio in Copenhagen but some of it was recorded at the conservatory where I study right now. For Roll In The Hay, Søren came over to hang out in my apartment on a weekend night, I showed him the initial arrangement and we sat down with some beers and rearranged the song without giving it much thought. It really came to life. Afterwards we went out, quite drunk. Also my friend Amalie Petri features on backing vocals, she’s really a talented singer.”

On the meaning behind Roll In The Hay
“It’s a love song for sure, but it’s really about that kind of warm summer love you conceptualize in the spring. You envision this special individual to spend all those long days with. And you’ll go swimming, eat cherries, lay in the grass.”

Follow Dirt Bike here.