We return with the next part in our Sounds of Scandinavia feature with a look at 20 of the best music acts coming out of Denmark.
Next up in our Sounds of Scandinavia feature is Denmark: a country that’s birthed Trentemøller, WhoMadeWho, Efterklang, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour and most recently, electro-pop starlet MØ. In the last few years, the Danish music scene has risen sharply and there’s a wealth of bands, solo artists and producers that beg to be discovered outside of the country’s borders.
In alphabetical order, the selection below spotlights bands that have just broken onto the scene as well as more established acts from a wide spectrum of genres. Acts such as electro-pop duo Kill J, punk-rock band Iceage, minimal house producers Kasper Bjørke and Unkwon, rapper Linkoban and singer-songwriter Broken Twin are all proof that there’s a wave of artists doing wonderful things in this small Nordic country. Take a look below and peep our list of Swedish music acts once you’re through.
Honing her craft from a very early age, Agnes Obel is a classically trained singer and pianist whose venture into contemporary singer-songwriting hugely and unexpectedly paid off. Equal parts delicate and powerful; her debut album Philharmonics received critical and commercial success – particularly in Denmark, France and Belgium where the record went double platinum. Reeling from the sudden success, she had to adapt and learn quickly to deliver work of the same caliber. The result, sophomore album Aventine, surpasses her debut; it ripples with beautiful piano melodies, pristine strings and her exquisite vocals.
Check out her Soundcloud here, which features an inspiring David Lynch remix of “Fuel To Fire.”
Pop artist Asbjørn spent the majority of this year building up his fan base with a series of visually striking videos. At the start of this year, he dropped “Brotherhood,” which was followed by a monthly track/video release. Wanting to redefine his generation’s take on pop music, Pseudo Visions is the 22-year-old’s take on today’s music formats. The series tells a continuous story of Asbjørn exploring himself, his sexuality and his masculinity. His 2012 debut album, Sunken Ships, is a sonically diverse, vocally rich effort and includes intricately crafted “Bones Bad Bones” and “The Criminal.” His sophomore album will be released in January 2015. Describing himself as a Danish pop kid with a relentless urge to dance, Asbjørn now lives, sings and dances in Berlin.
Behind the moniker Broken Twin is singer-songwriter Majke Voss Romme who has crafted an intensely personal world around her music. Released in April, the 25-year-old’s debut album May was mixed by Ian Caple who’s known for his work with Tindersticks, Tricky and Kate Bush. By ways of its serene vocals, piano and string arrangements, her album impresses with its sonic simplicity. Lately, she supported Daughter on their European tour and opened for Damien Rice.
Central to Copenhagen-based Blaue Blume is Jonas Smith’s cooing falsetto; it conveys nostalgia and keeps the band sounding as timeless as they intended. Grounded in the old virtues of what it actually means to be in a band, the four-piece looked up to Led Zeppelin and The Smiths when they first started out. This winter they’ve performed at both London and Berlin’s Ja Ja Ja events – an influential showcasing platform for Nordic musical acts. The Danish romantics have released two EPs, Beau & Lorette and 15.01.12 so far and 2015 should see them releasing their debut album.
Cancer is the newest project of When Saints Go Machine’s frontman Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild and Chorus Grant’s Kristian Finne Kristensen. They’ve been creating music together since their bachelor degrees and 2014 saw the release of their mini album Ragazzi. The record offers a more organic, stripped-down sound than the duo’s primary projects and includes the wonderfully delicate “Same Color As Digital Photography.” Their choice of moniker might raise questions: they picked it so that they could create an openness to talk about things that are sometimes painful and difficult. Keen to remain sincere and honest, they try to embrace sorrow as much as their successes.
Check out their new video for “Body On The Bones.”
The man behind the alias Dinner is Danish pop-artist Anders Rhedin. Calling Copenhagen, Berlin and Los Angeles home, he’s a former member of dream-pop Choir of Young Believers and has spent the last years working on his solo project. His two previously released EPs combine airy synths, electro guitars with lo-fi ballads and his baritone vocals. His most recent offering is the four-track Oui!, which dropped in September. Released via Captured Tracks (whose roster includes Beach Fossils, DIIV and Mac DeMarco), the EP pulses with a seductive, wonderfully kitschy sound that’s reminiscent of the ’70s. Directed by Lily X and shot in a “freezing cold” NYC studio, the video for the single “Going Out” captures a lucrative 18-hour warehouse party.
With her retro-modern pop songs, 28-year-old Maria Apetri aka Fallulah has been receiving critical acclaim in her home country from the get-go. Due to her parents’ dance profession, she was immersed in the art from a young age, building up a career around it but ended up turning her hand to music – a pivot that seemed to truly pay off.
Her 2010 debut album The Black Cat Neighborhood reached number 3 in Denmark and is now certified platinum. The single “Bridges” was number 1 on both the Danish hit and radio list and won the notable “P3 Guld Award”; its video, directed by Jeppe Kolstrup, is – in a word – brilliant. Her followup album Escapism, released in 2013, is rich with drums, flutes and percussions and includes the track “SUPERFISHYALITY.”
Check out her SoundCloud for more.
Four friends based in Copenhagen, Iceage formed back when they were 17 and 18 years old. Signed to Dais, What’s Your Rupture? and internationally known Danish label Tambourhinoceros, they received Pitchfork’s renowned “Best Album Of The Week” title for every one of their three studio albums (2011, 2013, 2014). October 2014 saw them release Ploughing Into The Field Of Love via Matador, further confirming their place as Denmark’s punk rock band to watch. Fueled by messy guitars, almost cacophonous drums and frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s slurry vocals (reminiscent of Mark E Smith), there’s beauty to be found in the chaotic, rugged sound.
DJ, producer and remixer, Kasper Bjørke has produced a versatile body of work released via notable labels Eskimo, Correspondant, Compost Black Label, hfn music, while garnering respect from Seth Troxler and Prins Thomas amongst others. His cover of The Rolling Stone’s 1981 classic “Heaven” received the remixing prowess of deep-house prodigy Nicolas Jaar. “Young Again” shows his talents at creating magnificently sensual videos. His most recent studio album After Forever gained widespread critical acclaim and is a wonderful pure-synth pop feat that combines post-punk disco with pristine Scandinavian production. It led to a Danish Gaffa Award nomination as “Best Electronic Release.”
Kenton Slash Demon
Kenton Slash Demon is the parallel project of two members of electro-pop band When Saints Go Machine. Despite their relatively small catalogue, Silas Moldenhawer and Jonas Kenton have managed to rev up quite some attention with their rhythmic electro-house music. Techno giants John Talabot, Dixon and Todd Terje have incorporated their tracks into their DJ sets. Track “Sun” is a great place to start. Just last month they created a mix for Danish fashion house WoodWood’s “Muzak” series and they’ve graced Boiler Room twice. This appearance sees them on their own soil as part of BR’s debut Denmark show, playing alongside Trentmøller and Kasper Bjørke and Unkown.
Visit their SoundCloud to hear more.
Made up of Kill (music) and J (vocals), this Scandinavian pop pair was born out of “a poetic longing for something simple, primal, dirty and pleasurable.” Tracks “Phoenix” and “Bullet” demonstrate the staggering range in J’s voice while Kill’s contrasting electronic beats and bouncy R&B sound prove that they’re not bound to one genre. They’ve had a recent string of successes: at the start of November they supported WhoMadeWho and Sekuoia; a few weeks ago they released a brilliant video for their newest single “Cold Stone” and only last week did they receive a nomination for the reputable Danish Music Prize GAFFA. Currently working on their debut album, which will be released via Sound of Copenhagen next year, it looks like 2015 is already theirs for the taking.
Listen to more music through their SoundCloud.
There’s little online about rising rapper-singer Linkoban but plenty of visually audacious videos to make up for it. Here’s what we did manage to dig up: she’s signed to fellow Copenhagen rapper Lucy Love’s label Superbillion Records and is known for her eccentric, wholly impressive stage presence. Describing her music as “grime inspired electro-rap,” her 2013 debut album OX pulses with fierce energy and hard-hitting lyrics. Track “Like This” received widespread attention from Boy George, Danish and Swedish national radio P3, BBC Radio 1 and was used on Stella McCartney’s Paris runway show. In 2013, she received nominations for the Danish DJ Award in the category “Best Urban Released” and three at the GAFFAS Awards.
As of yet, Denmark might not be known for its burgeoning dancehall scene but things are swiftly changing thanks to Raske Penge, which translates in English as “Healthy Money.” The 35-year old singer is a key member of the reggae and dancehall community in Denmark, which is growing stronger thanks in part to his unique and authentic sound. Tracks like “Bor Her” “Intelligent,” and the playful”Faxe Kondi,” which is about Denmark’s most loved soft drink, have been on heavy rotation on Danish radio stations. While songs like “Baghave,” demonstrate his heavily politicised lyricism – albeit in Danish – discussing Danish drugs laws and their implications.
Find out more about the elusive dancehall don via his website.
Rangleklods consists of Esben Nørskov Andersen and Pernille Smith-Sivertsen – they handle the ambient electro-pop sounds together and asynchronously deliver stark vocal melodies. Their debut album Beekeeper (which includes three-track EP “Home”) was released in 2012 and features “Clouds” – a mesmerizing display of their talents combined, accompanied by a delicately poignant video. In fact, each one of their singles features a moving visual account – just see their YouTube channel for more. Single “Control” released in 2013 saw them going in a glitchier, grittier sonic direction.
This year, they’ve been playing a series of shows and festivals, and their Facebook profile promises a new release is on the horizon: “We promise to begin providing you guys new material in the pretty near future – the album is sooo close to being done.” Until then, familiarize yourself with their back catalogue via their SoundCloud.
Sekuoia is the solo project of 21-year-old Dane Patrick Alexander Bech-Madsen, who grew up in Detroit and is now based back in Copenhagen. He’s been creating a delicate balance of ambient, hip-hop and electronic beats since 2012 and his four-track EP “Trips” is a wonderful, weightless effort. Rich with crackling, lingering sounds that combine the organic with the electronic, this young Dane is strongly influenced by the UK dubstep and the minimal scene. Watch the video for killer track “Evenings” for an all-round immersive feel of his aesthetic.
Sleep Party People
The man behind solo project Sleep Party People is Brian Batz. Live, he’s joined on stage by five rabbit-mask-wearing friends. Incognito to presumably overcome shyness, the music that Batz produces and plays alongside his “bunnies” conveys an atmospheric dreamlike affair – further confirmed by the titles of his full-length studio albums: 2012’s We Were Drifting On A Sad Song and 2014’s Floating. His sound strikes a balance between ambient music and post-punk landscape and comparisons with Mogwai and Sigur Ros have been drawn.
Schultz & Forever
Schultz & Forever is the “bedroom project” of 20-something Jonathan Schultz, who’s been releasing a steady stream of EPs since 2011. Bringing the listener into a woozy state, Schultz’s sound is stitched together by nostalgic, folk-inspired hues and his delicate vocal harmonies. His latest offering, “Broadcast Dynamics,” sees him maturing both as a man and as musician and bringing in a new order of bandmates. Intensely personal, the EP features the hauntingly beautiful “Silvia,” accompanied by a wonderfully weird video. He’s certainly got an affinity for the strange and the stimulating – further emphasized by the video for “Falling.”
Check out his Facebook for details on his upcoming debut, scheduled to drop soon.
Drummer, DJ and producer, Tomas Barfod has been moving fluidly between projects for years; he’s known for his work with electronic duo Filur alongside Kasper Bjørke and most notably, for being the drummer and producer of WhoMadeWho. 2012 saw the release of his debut album Salton Sea, which presents a whirlwind of eclectic sounds, snares, cymbals and beats. Barfod’s been praised for his astonishing turnover rate: this year alone, he’s produced a solo EP, a number of one-off singles, a WhoMadeWho studio album – and his sophomore album Love Me on Secretly Canadian.
After a number of collaborative projects within the Danish music scene, Copenhagen-based Anders Dixen is now producing under his own solo project, Unkwon. Drawing influences from his British peers, Unkwon brings a melancholic ambience to his minimal house beats. He describes his music as “bedroom rave,” which he defines as “the music from last night’s rave that’s still suck in your head; a distant, reverb-heavy kind of sound.” Unkwon has caused an online stir with his mixes for notable platforms such as Boiler Room and Dummy Magazine, and has delivered remixes for WSGM and Trentemøller amongst others. His 2013 EP Fractures makes use of eclectic sounds and reverbs while maintaining a steady rhythm throughout.
When Saints Go Machine
As the side projects of When Saints Go Machine’s members have featured twice on this list already, we figure who better to end the list with than the band itself. The Copenhagen-based quartet have been producing music that blurs the lines between pop, electronica and dance music since 2007. It’s the unmistakable and emotional atmosphere created by Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild’s soulful vocals that characterizes their music. Parallel to that, the electronic elements – attributed to the other members’ background in club music – define the production of their sound.
Check out standout tracks “Parix” and “Kelly” off their 2011 album Konkylie to sample the band’s penchant for melodic pop sensibility. Their most recent release, Infinity Pool, sees them venture into more of an electronic direction.
Looking for more Scandinavian goodness? Check out our list of the 20 Swedish Music Acts You Need to Know Right Now.