"If you can be fun instead of serious, then be fun"
A true highlight of The Great Escape and part of an exciting wave of new talent from Norway, Pom Poko are definitely ones to watch in the year ahead. As the band kick off their run of London shows and unveil the wonderfully weird new video for ‘You’ll Be Fine’, we caught up with Pom Poko at Øya Festival to find out what sets them apart.
“It’s sort of a love-related song,” singer Ragnhild Jamtveit tells NME about ‘You’ll Be Fine’. “You can’t call it a love song. Most of the songs have a theme. This one is modern love song to yourself, not anyone else. It’s about having someone who doesn’t want to be with you and you’re like ‘OK, that’s fine’.”
It’s that same undefinable quality that makes Pom Poko stand out – and they’re here to challenge you at every turn.
“The music industry underestimates their audience,” adds guitarist Martin Miguel Almagro Tonne. “People are capable of understanding a lot of music that they aren’t normally exposed to through mainstream channels. Sometimes something comes through and people love it. People understand a lot more than the rules allow them to.”
How would you describe the character the band?
Jonas Krøvel, bass: “Our think the key word for us is ‘fun’. I brought an idea to rehearsal a few weeks ago. It was a good idea, but it was way too melancholic. It sounded really ‘jazz academy’. It wasn’t a bad idea, but it just didn’t work at all.”
Lyrically, what inspires you?
Ragnhild Jamtveit, vocals: “I improvise a lot of the lyrics, still. Now I’ve started to write many of them down. I think the lyrics are quite absurd and I try to avoid them being too melancholic. They just need to fit the music. It’s like a stream of consciousness.”
With you guys, Sigrid, Sløtface, Jenny Hval, Ary, Anna Of The North, there’s so much amazing new music coming from Norway at the moment. Do you feel like you’re part of any kind of ‘scene’?
R: “No, not really. I don’t feel that way.”
Martin Tonne, guitar: “If we are part of a scene, then it’s the scene of conservatory jazz musicians who don’t play jazz. We love jazz, though. Maybe if we did synthesizer-based pop music then we’d be more comfortable inside the scene. We don’t want to be another clean and sanitised band in monochrome and turtlenecks. One of the most important parts of our ideology is that if you have the opportunity to be colourful instead of black and white, then be colourful. If you can be fun instead of serious, then be fun.”
J: “Lots of Norwegian music is so perfect. In this band, we have a lot of room for really catastrophic errors. I’ve tried to teach myself the mistakes of past concerts and just flail from side to side and try to see if something new happens.”
☆Pom Poko☆ ***************** ★Jazz Baby★ ≈single out 21.04.2017≈ mixed by Truls H. Nergaard and Martin M. A. Tonne mastered by Björn Engelman at Cutting Room
So do you think people ever get the wrong idea about you guys?
Ola Djupvik, drums: “People have been calling us ‘K-Rock’. Like the rock version of K-Pop. That’s basically all the same as the billboard hits. That’s a strange box that people try and put us in, but I don’t understand how they got the idea.”
J: “I get to discover a lot of music by the boxes that people put us in. When they’re like ‘oh I’ve heard you, you’ve stolen a lot from Le Tigre’. Then we write it down, check it out and we’re like ‘oh yeah, that’s cool’. We were born 30 years after the post-punk reign of terror, but people think we sound like that.”
Pom Poko’s upcoming UK and European tour dates are below
Tuesday 19 September – Sebright Arms, London UK
Wednesday 20 September – Thousand Island, London UK
Thursday 21 Sept – The Old Blue Last, London UK
Thursday 19 October – Ideal Bar, Copenhagen Denmark
Tuesday 28 November – Internet Explorer, Berlin Germany
Wednesday 29 November – Sugar Factory, Amsterdam Netherlands