Wintry Nordic Darkwave Visions // An Interview with TORCH

WL//WH Interview TORCH  

Developing over time a compelling Darkwave sound defined on their Bandcamp as “a mix of electronic beats, wide synths, fretless bass and driving guitars” the young Greenlandic/Danish trio, comprised of Ivik Rosing-Johnsen (guitar & vocals), Josefine Valler (bass) and Benjamin Lind (synth & vocals), deliver an extremely inspired and emotional debut album, equally frozen and atmospheric, as it is resonant and poignant, that doesn’t fail to portray the heartfelt passion and gripping intensity of the band’s creative approach to songwriting and instrumentation, giving us a mesmerizing album that nods to the past yet resonates with its own light of personality and flair.

  • Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s trace back to your personal roots, where did you grow up and how did you get into music? Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

Ivik: “Coming from Greenland, my early musical endeavors revolved primarily around Metal. It wasn’t until I relocated to Denmark at the age of 16 I encountered a variety of musical styles. Artists such as Bauhaus, Joy Division, and The Sisters of Mercy captured my attention, leading me to delve deeper into the captivating realm of darkwave.”

Josefine: My musical journey began with the tunes of Depeche Mode and The Cure, which my parents introduced me to. As I grew older, around the age of 15, I ventured into the realm of other obscure dark bands from the ’80s, specifically exploring the coldwave/darkwave genre. In Denmark, where the scene is relatively small, I felt ecstatic when I finally met Benjamin and Ivik, as I could finally share my music tastes with like-minded individuals.

Benjamin: “I was raised in Aarhus, a small Danish town, where music has been an integral part of my life since my earliest days. The credit for my passion in this particular genre goes to my father, who has been organizing industrial/EBM concerts since the 90s. Modular synthesizers adorned our living room, ensuring that the dark aesthetic and electronic soundscapes were always present.”

  • How did the band come to life? How did you meet? Did you already have a set idea/vision of how you wanted to sound or has it been a gradual process of discovery?

Torch came into existence during the summer of 2020, amidst the initial lockdown of the pandemic. Ivik and Benjamin, who had been acquainted for years through the punk scene in Aarhus, had previously collaborated on musical projects. In 2019, Benjamin crossed paths with Josefine at the now-closed venue, Tape, where they both worked as bookers, curating events in the “darker” music genres. The lockdown-induced boredom led us to meet up in a basement, armed with Josefine’s father’s vintage Korg drum machine from the 80s, along with inexpensive synthesizers and a supply of beers. As we continued to gather every week, pouring our creative energies into songwriting, our efforts gradually took shape and culminated in the creation of our debut EP, and later on our debut album.

  • How would you describe your sound? What are your main, both national and international, influences?

Our sound can be best described as a fusion of personal narratives and the emotive themes found within the realms of 80’s Post-punk, melancholic cold wave, and a subtle touch of EBM. The creation of our music was greatly influenced by the frigid winters of Scandinavia, which may sound cliché but undeniably left a lasting imprint of Torch‘s overall tone and atmosphere. In terms of influences, we draw inspiration from a diverse range of both national and international sources, contributing to the music we strive to create.

  • What is the relationship between other forms of art and music in Torch? Does one inform the other?

We try to make the aesthetics of our album art, music videos and live shows portray what we feel our music sounds like, we take a lot of inspiration from the darker side of the 80s both musically and aesthetically.

  • Is there in Aarhus, a sort of underground music scene with venues and meeting places? More generally, what’s the Danish music scene like at the moment? Any new bands to keep an eye on?

We all use to spend our time at a venue called Tape, which was sadly closed by the city council. Since then Aarhus has been lacking a venue for underground alternative music. We are part of a music collective that shares a rehearsal space, which contains other Aarhus bands to look out for like Narcosatanicos, Slytter, Trader, Healer, and Loose Ends. Other acts to look out for in the Danish music scene are: She Can’t Afford Mascara, Chopper, St. Digue, P601, Gentle Features, Albert Severin and Missvnaries ov charity.

  • Can you tell us a little about your recording process and how you create your songs? Is it the capturing of improvisation or is it more structured?

We have since the beginning recorded everything ourselves in our rehearsal space. the songwriting process tends to start with one of us either having a single riff written or a full song structure written and then building upon that idea.

  • You have finally just dropped your debut LP after ‘several months of tireless work in the studio’, could you give us a deep insight about how it took shape, the title, the influences, the highs and lows that have brought to the final result?

It has been a really long process, the whole of the album was written in the span of 2 years and during that time we wrote several songs to define the sound of the album and in that process, some songs didn’t make the cut. The writing of the album was a key part in finding the sound that defines Torch. The influences for the album are a general mixture of everything we listen to daily which spans through so many different things it is hard to answer, but we had the honor to play support for She Past Away, Kælan Mikla, Selofan, who all have influenced us some way or another. During those 2 years, there have certainly been some challenges, whether that being final exams, Josefine living in Copenhagen for a period of time, or other struggles. Despite all of those challenges, we made an album that we are proud of.

  • Did you have an all-encompassing vibe, theme, or tread you wanted to portray?

Though no specific theme or story was kept in mind while writing the album, our Scandinavian surroundings and personal experiences have had a great influence on the record and have created a cold atmosphere that depicts us well.

  • Which two or three songs would you pick out as your favorites from your debut album if you had to and why?

If we had to pick 3 songs, they would probably be “Malinnga”, “Leaving me behind” and “A familiar lie”. We feel these 3 songs define what direction our songwriting is heading.

  • Were there any pivotal records and live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?

Ivik: I think one pivotal moment for me moving towards the type of music that I make know was hearing Joy Division’s album “Closer” and that only lead me further into the realm of similar kinds of music

Benjamin: I remember listening to “Twitch” by Ministry when I was 14 and being like “shit, this is the music I wanna make when I grow older” I think this is a thing that will stay in the back of my mind whenever I do a synth line or beat.

Josefine: The album “Tin Drum” by Japan made a huge impact on me bass-wise. It opened my eyes for fretless bass and Mick Karn has since then been my favorite bassist. Both his solo work and features with acts such as Masami Tsuchiya, Bil Nelson, Gary Numan and Peter Murphy (Dali’s Car) inspire me as a bass player. László Antal of Cult Club is another inspiration to me.

  • What do you enjoy most about performing live? Your highs and lows so far?

We enjoy all aspects of playing live, meeting new people and exploring new cities and getting to perform our songs for an audience is always a pleasure. We were pretty hyped when we played a sold-out gig in Riga, and we saw that people were singing along to our songs, that was a special moment for us – Another memorable moment was in Copenhagen at Pumpehuset, where we supported She Past Away, we had many friends coming from Aarhus, and the setting was just right. The lows so far would probably be the shows we did under the lockdown (especially the seated shows). Despite that we had a great time, it was just weird to do gigs in these settings.

  • What kind of old/new music are you listening to when you’re not creating your own one? Any current bands/artists you are excited by at the moment?

We are all pretty big fans of a lot of 80’s stuff – like Deux, Anne Clark, DAF or Sad Lovers & Giants. Otherwise, we’re pretty stoked with Pol, Aurat, Filmmaker and Choir Boy at the moment.

  • What are your plans for the future after the album?

We’re hoping to play a lot of shows around Europe and if possible outside of Europe too. We’ve already started writing some new songs but we have yet no idea of when it’ll be ready to air.

  • Grazie Mille for being our welcome guests. Any parting words?

We’re so thrilled about all the support we’ve received after the release of ‘Leaving Me Behind’. And last but not least, we’d like to thank record label, Inåt Båkat, for making this album available on vinyl.

Torch‘s debut album “Leaving Me Behind” is out now, both Digitally and on Limited Vinyl 12″, via independent Swedish label Inåt Bakåt Records.

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