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Meet Kalandra, a Nordic folk infused alternative rock band

By Reuben Fenemore Posted: 19. Oct, 2017

Kalandra (photo: Audun Eftevåg)

Following their second tour to Germany, Kalandra stopped by the Berlin office to talk their upcoming album and their mysterious musical landscape

Kalandra is a three-piece band based in Oslo spearheaded by Katrine Ødegård Stenbekk, Florian Bernhard Döderlein Winter and Jogeir Daae Mæland.

Tell me about Kalandra –  where did it come from and what is the idea behind it?

Katrine: Kalandra was started in 2011 in Liverpool because I missed folk music with a modern twist,combined with pop or rock. So I started Kalandra because I wanted to make folk music more commcercial.

Florian: I joined the band in 2013 and it wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be, it was happier, more like British Folk. There were a couple of Canadian members and British members, and slowly over time, as we grew older and more bitter, we morphed to find a more mystical and ethereal sombre tone, which we explored when we lived in Liverpool. Once university was over we chose to go back to Norway, to the roots where the music originates.

Katrine: I think also when you spend so much time together as a band you really adapt to each other. The three of us now, we’ve really discovered ourselves and tune in that. You know what everyone wants and you’re on the same wavelength and so it is arranged a lot faster and we know exactly what works now.

Florian: We’ve had an honest conversation about what we want and how we want the sound, through experimenting and jamming a lot. We used to be seven-piece band at one point, but then for a long time the core of the band has mostly been the three of us. So it makes sense to keep that and hire session musicians, as we need them.

Jogeir: I came in 2012, and I think there have been several phases of exploring music. We have a lot in common in musical taste, but not much in common outside of music. We brought our own influences to the band, trying it over time and finding a common ground. Now I think the best music we make is when we don’t talk anymore and just jam and have the conversations afterwards.

Florian: Most of the new things on the coming album have just been jammed out.

You say you all have a love for the strange and I’m curious what that means to you personally and musically?

Florian: I guess the folklore, the weird strange folklore of other countries and all of these ancient singing techniques.

Like kulning for example?

Katrine: Yes kulning and also the ‘folky’ vocal technique of female Nordic artists, like Jenny Hval from Norway or Eivør from the Faroe Islands. It’s also creating the arrangements behind that to make it a bit eerie or to create a certain feeling. It can get quite expressive and theatrical as well. We allow ourselves to go mad sometimes at the end of the song.

Jogeir: For me, in musical terms, I like to be surprised when I listen to music. In this musical landscape we have now, to hear something that I didn’t expect, or to go in a direction I didn’t expect, makes sense in order to create those kinds of moments.

Florian: Making strange emotions instead of having a cookie cutter feeling or vibe that goes through the whole song. You want to take it somewhere unexpected and change. There is a story to be told, and that’s where the folklore comes in. There is a strange tale to be told and a story isn’t just flat, it’s not just one motion, it starts somewhere and ends somewhere else.

How do you approach creating a musical experience or atmosphere for storytelling to occur?

Katrine: It starts with melodies, a good melody and then also the technical software and synths and the way you use your voice.

Jogeir: I think we definitely don’t want to just go on stage and play a bunch of song. We want to go on stage and lure people in with the beginning, like a story, we’ve put a lot of thought behind the way we present all our songs and what order and how we change between them.

Katrine: When I go to a gig or to the movies or to the theatre, I want to be completely submerged. I want to forget my day, I want to forget all the things I have to do. That’s what I want people to feel when they come to our show, to completely let go.

Following your EP, what can we expect from your upcoming album?

Florian: New stuff. A different direction I guess. The EP was an experiment in both songwriting and figuring out what we wanted to do. There is going to be less of the progressive rock element. It’s a wonderful record, but you can hear we’ve been a bit overzealous; we packed a lot of things in there.

Katrine: So now it’s more like making the vocal and the story very clear with fewer elements and communicating it better.

Florian: More than ever it’s about the vibe and the atmosphere. It needs to transport you somewhere. If not only to tell a story with the lyrics but the music itself places you somewhere else.

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