I’ve eulogised wildly about Vinyl Floor at least twice on these pages and sitting now, reading the interview published below and listening once more to the wide-eyed beauty of ‘Peninsula’ I am struck by how wonderfully human the band’s music sounds. Reference points abound – Pink Floyd at their most ethereal, Genesis when they still called Peter Gabriel their frontman and Caravan to name but few, but ultimately Vinyl Floor carry that unique ability, possessed by so few bands, to carry their influences well whilst introducing their own spin on proceedings. Elegant and effortlessly stunning, Vinyl Floor’s work is one that stimulates the senses and enlivens the imagination, and it is hard to imagine fans of progressive rock in particular wanting to miss out on their sublime work.
The band themselves have been endlessly patient with me when it comes to this interview – planned a few months back, the ravages of work got in the way, but with a calm that is reflected in their music the band were kind enough to wait in my having time to communicate with them and we are proud to present this interview with a band whose work deserves to be widely known. If you have not yet encountered Vinyl Floor we urge you to find their stunning album, ‘peninsula’, if you have already been converted then read on and learn a little more about a band you undoubtedly already love…
First of all could you introduce the band and give us a little background about how Vinyl Floor came to meet?
VF: Sure! We all hail from the same small town north of Copenhagen. We´ve known each other since the mid 90´s. Very much a family! Daniel and Charlie (brothers) have played together since 2001 and with the addition of Rasmus a couple of years later, the heart of the band felt complete. Even though there´s been other significant members in and out of the band in recent years.
The band’s name is quite unusual – oddly the first thing that came to my mind was a huge building filled with vinyl records (my odd imagination) but it also has the more mundane meaning, simply, of a type of flooring! What made you choose this name and what does it mean to you?
VF: Choosing a band name has probably been the hardest part of our decisive band meetings so far. Well, actually you´re very spot on since the first impression we wish to give people, or vision if you like, is that of an imaginary, abandoned, random floor just simply filled with vinyl records. A record collection shares memories, tells a story of its own and can say a lot about the person who owns it. The vinyl floor contains any emotion. A lot of different moods and emotions can be found in our music and lyrics as well. But the word ‘floor’ also contains a double meaning. While being a floor (a ground floor if you like) it also represents the layers of our inspirational sources like 1st floor, 2nd floor etc.
Finally, we´re all very fond of vinyl records (Daniel, especially, is a passionate collector), and the name just seemed to match with the sound of ours which is a nod back to, and a celebration of the analogue sound. There´s plenty of retro elements to be found within the style of our musical arrangements. The Hammond organ dominated the retro sound of our first album. On ‘Peninsula’ the sound has been further extended with strings, pump organ, horns and so on. There´s also the quite boring aspect of the name and that´s the type of flooring yes, ha ha! But we´ve always admired band names with a touch of ambiguity.
What are the key influences that you share as a band?
VF: We can all agree on the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam and Wilco to name a few. But we also have slight differences. Daniel was probably the first one to worship the grandiose sounds of bands like Sigur Rós. Charlie has a love for folk and country, and Rasmus is probably the one worshipping garage rock the most with its, not too heavy, but crunchy and catchy riffs. However, we rarely downright disagree about our musical tastes.
The perception, at least in England, is that it is much harder for bands to spread their influence beyond the borders of their own country if they are not either English or American or part of a niche scene – how difficult have you found it to get recognition outside of Denmark?
VF: Actually most of the attention received so far has been from abroad. From countries such as the USA, Germany and you guys. The Recording Academy in the U.S. put ‘Peninsula’ up for 3 Grammys last year which was a huge surprise to us. Even though it didn´t get a nomination we felt it was being recognized and that it was a token that there´s a place and an audience for us too. It´s just very difficult to tell where you are most needed when operating from a small country. It´s like things happen outside of us. In Denmark we are still very much underground and apart from occasional airplay on national radio, we haven´t yet enjoyed commercial success. We may even be considered a niche band here.
In Denmark itself is progressive rock a popular style of music to play or are you going against the grain?
VF: At the moment, against the grain for sure. Which is totally fine by us. Danish media primarily focuses on electronic music and dancehall. There´s just not room for a wide range of variety. It´s a small country. And that´s not criticism but the way things are today. It sometimes feels a bit strange feeling like you´re swimming against the tide when you´re basically a rock/pop influenced band with a touch of alternative and progressive. On the other hand it´s nice to be the odd one out because we sincerely feel, as self assured as it may sound, that we have developed a sound of our own. That we have something special to offer. We´re not arrogant, we just take our song writing very seriously.
The artwork for your album is utterly stunning – how did you develop the imagery and to what extent was the band involved in crafting the visual side of the release?
VF: Thanks, it´s much appreciated! The artwork was made by Simon Mejstrup Sørensen. He´s not just a graphic designer – he´s a true artist. Seriously, the guy could do a painting and you would want to stare at if for hours afterwards. For Peninsula we had this idea of doing a thick booklet filled with characters, lyrics and illustrations done in a Victorian style. Simon was positive in his respond to this and we started having meetings. We had quite a few meetings during that time actually. Sometimes Daniel drew a sketch of what he envisioned and then Simon would take over. Inspired by the lyrics, Simon also contributed some crazy characters to the plot and we all quickly agreed on how to present the type of dramaturgy that the album unfolds.
How long did it take to write and record the album and how much time did you take to sequence and develop the final release?
VF: It rather quickly became clear that we needed to do a sort of concept album this time and that we needed to take our time rehearsing it, arranging it, sequencing it, and just discussing the development of the story a lot. We worked on it for nearly a year but once we entered the studio in Sweden, it was recorded in 14 days minus mixing and mastering. We needed it to sound fresh and immediate. Not too polished but with some edge. However, all the arrangements were done before we hit the studio – even the ones for the strings.
What did you look for when it came to finding a recording studio and why did you eventually decide to record in Sweden rather than your home country?
VF: A place with a variety of instruments where we could experiment and just concentrate and loose our minds in a good way. A place with analogue gear and foremost a guy who could understand what we wanted to do, who could understand the different moods we needed to create. A guy with dedication and patience. We found all this in Studio Möllan in Malmö and in its owner/engineer Emil Isaksson. We researched a lot of studios and visited a nice studio in Copenhagen too but finally decided on Studio Möllan after having seen the place and having had a conversation with Emil. It just felt right.
Is there any particular art or literature that influences your lyrics? Is it a challenge to write in English?
VF: It´s a huge mix really of things we read about, things we have heard about and things we have experienced in our personal lives. Hopes, fears, dreams, nightmares and everything in between. Some of the lyrics do have a bit of Kerouac and Kafka influence whilst others experiment with phrases, words and structure without any other significant influences than our own thoughts and imagination. Some of the lyrics are like small poems. Some of the lyrics even have historical subjects incorporated. Some can be perceived as scenes from a nightmare which is also the case with a brand new song of ours. Newspapers, articles and movies inspire us too. We each carry a lyric book in which we frequently write down random thoughts that will eventually become lyrics in the end.
What is next for Vinyl Floor – do you have any specific plans or ambitions?
VF: We are currently recording material for a new album. We are going to do it ourselves this time in our own studio. So far it´s the opposite approach than the Peninsula process. We will take our time recording it. The songs are brought in one-by-one and sometimes not even rehearsed by the band before we start recording it. It´s important for us to do something different this time. Keep it fresh and exciting. We currently have about 5 tracks with some overdubs. The new stuff really sounds great to us.
We´d also like to expand our touring activities. The first album had us visiting Japan and Peninsula had us visiting Germany and the UK for the first time. We´d love to do more there and also have the U.S. in mind for sure. We just need to work plans out for the next one and go where we are needed. We will continue working on the constantly shifting market/business and try to get Vinyl Floor settled financially, so that we can play more shows, record more music. We want to dedicate our lives to our music on a full time basis. That is the main goal.
Don’t wait to listen to Vinyl floor – check out this video below: