I recently met up with a very interesting scandinavian band called Novah to talk about their upcoming Single “Cold (The Minute We Found Love)”, the Music Video and an EP that is being released in Early 2015. What started out as a side project of Simon Hagström Rennerstedt and David Tranberg, has evolved into an epic indie band blending thoughtful lyrics with some of the best and most catchy tunes you will hear in the near future! I had a chance to talk to co-founder and keyboarder Simon Hagström Rennerstedt and drummer Paul Strand:
Simon, since you are one of the two creators of Novah, tell me about how this band was formed and what your idea behind it is?
Simon: So David (lead singer) and I grew up on the same street in a town outside Stockholm and we’ve always been playing music. We had a band called “Shouting Terry” in High School for 4 or 5 years. Then we split up and had different bands. I was working on a project called “Doves and Dust”. Then two years ago we both sat down in my apartment in Stockholm and just played around with some songs and melodies. We both thought that we should have a side project, because I was playing in a band, he was also playing in a band, but nothing was very serious. So we created this project completely without rules, just writing songs and recording demos, just making exactly the kind of music that we love, without having a band or anything. It was all about the music. We recorded some demos and then I moved to Berlin last year. We wanted to put the project on ice for my time in Berlin, but then after two months we spoke again and started writing more songs over Skype. I also took some trips to Stockholm to meet him, and he came to visit Berlin. During my time in Berlin, I had met a very passionate and talented producer called Idan Altman, who we really wanted to work with. We then booked the Greve Studios in Berlin and arranged everything to record an album. David came down to Berlin, we recorded the stuff and we immediately knew that we really need to do something serious with this material, because otherwise it would be a waste. It felt quite natural to form a band with Paul, my brother Filip and Oskar.
So Paul, how did Simon convince you to join this Project?
Paul: Actually David was the one who approached me. We played in the same band for a brief while and we’ve been friends for a long time. So he actually sent me the songs and said: ”look we are starting this project, have a listen and see what you think”. From there the decision to join was quite easy, because I liked the songs and its a nice group of guys. It was clear to me that they were serious about this project.
Simon: It took only two hours to convince him.
Paul: So I listened to the songs, I called back David and said” Yeah, we are doing this!”
Simon: From then we’ve just been working on completing the album, which is now an EP because we stripped it down a little bit. And then we’ve been building a concept with the videos and all the visual content. Novah is not just a band, its a whole concept.
The songs from the upcoming album, were written by you Simon, and David alone, right? Is that something you intend to keep up for the future, or do you want to involve the whole band in this process?
Simon: We’ve been rehearsing over the summer now and started working on some stuff together. But I think it will mostly stay the way, that David and I will sit down and write the songs, make demos and then take them to the whole band. It can be a little bit tricky to have five people involved in writing a song.
The EP is called “Scenes From An Earlier Dream”, how did you come up with that title, and what does that tell us about the album?
Simon: Thats actually a question for David, because he wrote the song “Scenes From An Earlier Dream”.
So was that the first song you had written?
Simon: No, I think it was actually the last song we finished.
So what made you chose that song to represent your work as a whole?
Simon: Because the whole feeling of all the songs together is a little bit atmospheric. Music wise, but especially the lyrics as well. It’s all about thinking about different things that happen in life and society. Also, we had this feeling that this song summarises the album very well. Besides that, its a really nice title to have for an album.
“Cold (The Minute We Found Love)” is being released September 25th, why did you chose this song as your first single?
Simon: Thats a good question. We’ve been talking about that for the last two months now. First of all, we think its the most catchy up-tempo song on the album. We believe its the best song for us to introduce ourselves to the public. It’s up-tempo, with a catchy riff and it is also huge in the chorus.
Paul: I think its a song that grabs a hold of you. Its captivating, so i think its reasonable to have that song as a first single because the rest of the album is a little more downtempo.
Simon: It is very hard to know yourself, what the others will like. Because we know the songs, we know what’s coming. It is tricky, because this song will be responsible for the first impression people will have of us. But we think its a really nice first single, and hopefully it makes people really want to hear some more stuff.
But maybe it helps that Paul, who was not involved in the songwriting process, has an outside perspective on the songs.
Simon: Yes, Exactly. Thats why we’ve been asking the others a lot. We know from our experience, once you’ve written a song and you’ve listened to it 100 times, you don’t really hear what’s good or bad. You don’t hear it with fresh ears anymore.
Along with your first single, you also shot a spectacular Music video in Norway. What was your idea behind this video?
Simon: It can be hard to create a visual representation of your music. But whenever I listen to a song, I can feel, I can see a colour or a landscape that fits to the music. The video is part of our image as a band, the atmospheric, scandinavian theme. It is supposed to be a little bit rough with scandinavian nature. Especially with the mountains, which are also represented in our Logo. When we first started, we wanted to create something that represents where we come from. We wanted to create this dreamy, surrealistic environment. Paul had the idea to go to Norway or north of Sweden, to the mountains, where we could really capture that feeling that we are trying to get across through the music.
Paul: I think this particular song has a very special feel to it. Its a grand song. To combine the majestics of it with the scandinavian touch we were aiming for. It felt logical to travel up north to the landscape that you really don’t find in many other places. Its a big song, so we wanted a big video.
I noticed that when you go up on the Mountain in the Video, there is lightning striking behind you. Is that an effect or did that really happen?
Simon: That was actually happening, I’m not kidding. Imagine how scared we were. We were about 3000m above sea level and there was this huge storm. We were terrified, there was lightning everywhere. It was crazy, but in retrospect it is really really cool.
Paul: We did that take two or three times I think. The lightning was behind us, so we couldn’t see it. And the thunder only rolls in a little bit later, right? But on the last take, the crew that we were working with, got super excited, and couldn’t believe that they actually got that shot. We didn’t even realise what happened until we heard the thunder.
Simon, you play the drums on the record, but now Paul is the drummer for the band. What made you switch to the keys?
Simon: To be honest, it’s because I am singing in many of the songs and in the future I am going to sing on a lot more songs as well. First of all, I hate drummers that sing. Its the most horrible thing in the world. It doesn’t fit anything. It was quite clear during the recording that i was going to make this change. I’ve been playing drums for my whole life, I see this change as a challenge. We should be very happy that we found Paul, because we are actually playing a lot alike. This made it very very easy for him to adapt to the songs.
Was it hard to transfer that huge production of the album into a live scenario?
Simon: We are still not quite there. The album sound is gigantic and we want to get as close as possible to that sound live as well. We’ve set ourselves high standards, which take a lot of work to achieve. But we are getting there. We just got a sponsorship for some equipment which helped us a lot and we are going to start by play an acoustic show in Brussels soon.
What was the first thing you did together as a band?
Paul: We went to Norway and shot the video. That was also a good thing for bonding, you know? To be with a bunch of guys in another country. I think that was good for the band and for the group dynamics. The trip made everybody realise that we are actually doing this. That this is for real. Oskar and I actually met for the first time at the train station in Norway.
Simon: You can tell quite fast if the connection in a group is good. And we all noticed quite fast that this is really working well. We were really bonding on that trip, and now it feels like we’ve been a band for a long time. Even though its only been 3 moths or so.
Paul: Usually in the rehearsals it takes a long time to get that connection. But now it really feels like we’ve found that connection at an early stage, which helps a lot. It comes very naturally.
So, Cold is coming out on the 25th September, but we have to wait for the whole EP to come out until January 2015. What is your plan until then?
Simon: We are planning to release 3 Singles until January. So we are going to put our focus on the releases. We also want to shoot one or two more videos, which is going to take some time. Then we are going to brussels for our first gig, which is very exciting. We will have to see. We are introducing ourselves to the public for the first time on thursday. We are doing everything on our own, which is exhausting but also a lot of fun. It is very hard, since we are completely fresh and nobody knows about us.
Paul: We’ve been waiting for this for a long time! So far we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, more than we could have hoped for. We really hope that people are going to like it. Its exciting!
What is your dream scenario for a gig if you could play anywhere in the world?
Simon: I know Filip always wanted to play Wembley. He has that as his big dream. I personally want to go to America and play a big stadium there. That would be awesome. But realistically, a first step would be to have a tour in America. What we are focusing on right now is to tour Europe once the EP is out next spring and play some nice festivals and see how that goes.
Paul: I like the thought of some old, rundown warehouse. Just pack it with people and play. Preferably in New York or some other big city. Another dream would be playing some big European festival. Some Festival you’ve watched your favourite bands perform on Youtube. It’d be really cool to have our name on that poster.
If you had the chance to play/record with any musician in the world, who would that be?
Simon: I would work with John Lennon, but he is dead unfortunately. But a big dream would be to work with Brian Eno, for sure. He has produced many many albums and bands, like U2 and Coldplay, which have inspired me a lot. He is a great producer.
Paul: If we could get Rihanna on our record, that’d be cool. So Rihanna and David could do a duet, that would be beautiful.
Simon: Adele would also be super cool. Like a Piano track with Adele would be pretty amazing.
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