Music & clubs

A few questions for… When Saints Go Machine

INTERVIEW: Nikolaj Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine. Next year brings a new album and they’ll be doing the robot dance at Berlin Festival’s Club XBerg on September 7.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Skou

Danish singer Nikolaj Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine may prefer Antony and the Johnsons to Kraftwerk, but his electro pop trio gets more bubbly with every release. Next year brings a new album and they’ll be doing the robot dance at the !K7 27th Anniversary Special held at Berlin Festival’s Club Xberg on Friday, September 7.

How did you come up with the band name?

We wanted to upload some stuff to Myspace so we needed a band name. Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In” was laying on top of a pile of vinyl in the studio, and then it was just a matter of some minor theft… Afterwards we’ve talked about how the music suits the name. My only problem is that it’s too long. Every time I log into my email I have to type all these letters.

So your advice to an aspiring band is to choose a short name?

Just one word.

The group has been comrades for a long time.

Not really. We knew each other remotely, grew up next to each other, and some of our parents were friends, but we weren’t close before we started making music together.

Then why play together?

Because we thought it would be fun. In the beginning it was just a game, but we respected each other and thought we clicked in a special way. The band was never the motivation when we began to play. Actually, we didn’t intend for our music to be released in Denmark, because we didn’t listen to what was played on the radio, so we thought. We didn’t fit in with the Danish taste. But maybe we filled a void. I don’t think we imagined anything… I remember the first time we heard one of our songs on the radio. We all thought: “That’s it!” – that was the dream.

What separates you from the Danish scene?

We listen to a lot of different music, from doom metal to Brazilian folk. But sometimes we meet over some record, like Ariel Pink, Deerhoof, The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming lips or something by Fiona Apple, and we discuss what excites us about these records, and it’s usually something completely different, some detail. One thing I’ve noticed in our own music is that we always have a hook. It can be the sound of the vocal or a frog that croaks, but there always need to be some sort of signature.

So, what kind of people listen to WSGM?

All kinds of people. Which I think isn’t that weird, because we have some roots in our music that you can trace back through music history – and our music is like a fairytale (laughs). I never thought I’d use that word about our music, but I do believe some people conceive of our music as a story like in a fairytale – and everybody likes a good fairytale.