Top image: First Hate. Photography by Magnus Bach
Turn your ears towards Denmark, something is bubbling. The Scandinavian country may be more known for its design credentials than for its musical contributions, however a new wave of musicians are proving that Denmark as a hotbed of exciting new talent. Stretching a broad range of genres and sounds, COPENHAGEN RISING is our portfolio of those musicians standing at the vanguard of Denmark’s rising scene.
As his band moniker Marching Church eludes to, there is something almost ecclesiastic about Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s performances. Master of ceremonies, the Danish musician commands the stage, conjuring soul-wrenching croaks, groans and croons as if the result of a demon-invoking laying on of hands.
These limits of Rønnenfelt’s larynx are his strength, strains revealing a vulnerability and abrasiveness that punctuate each sentence like the swing of a jackhammer. Having first appeared on the music radar as frontman of three-piece Iceage, in 2010 Rønnenfelt carved a new identity via Marching Church. What began as a vehicle through which he could experiment, has since grown into the tightest of bands – featuring members of Lower, Dirty Beaches, Hand of Dust, and his Iceage bandmate Johan S. Weith. Pulling from the same wavelength, Rønnenfelt’s formidable crew enable him to execute his vision with uncompromising results.
The release of their sophomore record, Telling It Like It Is, sees that freer, more exploratory bent extend to Rønnenfelt’s lyric sheet. Here, stream-of-consciousness tales of gritty urban milieu come laced with shrewd and cynical humour. With a new UK Iceage tour having just been announced, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Danish musician.
Riding the wave of a Danish music scene gaining momentum come trio Velvet Volume. Comprised of three sisters, (twins, Noa (guitar) and Naomi (bass), both twenty, alongside their eighteen-year-old drummer sister Nataja) the band have been creating ripples across Europe with their sell-out live shows and a sound that recalls the early 00s halcyon days via the exuberance of The Runaways.
Though they only started performing as an official outfit in 2013, they’ve been playing music together since the age of five and played their first festival at sixteen. With four singles currently buzzing about online, the trio are taking things in their stride. Currently holed up working on their debut album (due for release in October), the energy around them is only set to get more frenzied.
Reaching out for the pleasures of good company and artistic exploration, musician Emil Wilk wants little more than to venture across the world with friends, bringing the music they make to wider audiences.
And this is exactly what he does under his moniker M.I.L.K.. There’s no frantic rush for monetary gain or superstardom. Instead he thrives on the patience of chronicling the fantasies dreamt up in his head, as made clear on singles U and Me and the recently released When You Feel Good.
From a rural, unaffected upbringing on the Danish island of Bornholm, Wilk grew up in a landscape where life is less manic. With that, came an unabashed adoration for music that teenagers of the big cities would have turned their nose up at. Citing Curtis Mayfield as his most prominent influence, one can’t help but hear that same soulful sincerity in his new EP Memories of a Memory of a Postcard.
Music wasn’t a teenage dream for Anton Falck Gansted and Joakim Nørgaard, but after playing around with music technology like GarageBand, the friends united under their moniker First Hate and found the perfect outlet for their creativity.
“I made up this secret language as a teenager, like an alphabet, to write my diary in so nobody could ever find it and read it,” Gansted reminisces below. “But it’s this mix of wanting to keep everything a secret, and then having this deep urge for somebody to find my diary and spread it all over the world and make everybody read it.” These contrasting impulses are reflected in the duo’s music. Whilst intimate and crafted with their most personal feelings, the resulting tracks are the ultimate pop bangers, both accessible and irresistible.
Part of a fabric building the underground scene in Copenhagen, the duo self-produced their debut album, A Prayer for the Unemployed, guided by Troels Damgaard Holm and Lust for Youth’s Malthe Fischer – a band First Hate has toured with, as well as the likes of Communions and Iceage. And it’s this camaraderie that makes the scene so special, the duo even book their friends as DJs to their gigs abroad so they can get their flights covered.
Although of specific meaning to them, the duo ask the listener to become emotively involved with their music. Their album is an invite to the world, city, space they’ve created and get so lost in.
He’s worked with artists as diverse as Kid Cudi and Josh Groban, he’s toured with friend, collaborator and Captured Tracks label-mate Mac DeMarco, and he’s recently made a meditation tape for dogs (yes, really). An eclectic list such as this can only be affiliated with Anders Rhedin – aka Dinner – for it to make sense.
The Danish producer and singer divides his time between Los Angeles, Berlin and Copenhagen, but he finds LA most conducive to his musical imprint, perhaps even more so on his imminent material. A meditative soul in even the most trying circumstances, he even deems being struck with a debilitating flu during recording as a blessing in disguise.
Anders admits he still doesn’t feel comfortable with his discerning, booming vocals, but he likes imperfections and elements of difference. This voice was instrumental to the delivery of Dinner’s dark, 80s synth-pop infused debut album Psychic Lovers last year. His love for The Velvet Underground is evident on early tracks such as Dawn Is Here and Girl, progressing onto the more stark, danceable ‘John Cale meets Europop’ sound of Cool As Ice and Going Out.