This next interview is with the brilliant creative mind behind Antipole Karl Morten Dahl. I have previously loved and reviewed their album Northern Flux and I am extremely excited to see him play with IAMTHESHADOW in July.
Antipole Interview with Sounds and Shadows
(Ken) As a European band that is breaking into American scenes what do you see as the biggest differences in the post punk scene in our continents?
How is Antipole setting itself apart?
(Karl) It’s hard to say from here. There are obviously excellent scenes both in Europe and US. Europe has some bigger events/festivals for goth/dark music that US are missing to a certain degree at least. I don’t think your location is such a burden/obstacle as it used to be. Recently Ash Code, She Past Away and Hante. signed Metropolis and are going on tour in the US.
It’s hard observing what’s setting us apart being in the middle of it. I assume we’re more melancholic and ethereal than most post-punk bands. Maybe the mix of melancholic/ethereal and electronic. But then again, there are others that do that too! I think the music lives best on it’s own without me declaring what it is.
When I first started listening to your music the first thing I was struck by was the precision and thought that went into these songs. Every musical decision seems to have very calculated meaning.What is your process in creating a new song and how is that level of detail important to what you are trying to accomplish as an artist?
Thanks! Details are definitely important. One detail can make a big difference Most of the time a melody line or a feeling or beat drops into my head either while playing guitar, driving, watching TV or whatever. I then have to record that melody/feeling/whatever instantly on my mini studio. Then, if it’s a good one more guitar parts and the bass line come pretty easy to me. I put a lot of effort in finding the guitar melodies that fit together and emphasize the feeling of the song. A lot of the work and detail is then put into work by Paris Alexander – my partner in crime – and Eirene. When I’m done I send the stems (multiple guitars and bass) to Paris and he arrange the song, add drums, keyboards and vocals – often together with Eirene. Paris put a lot of effort in the details of the production and his ability to express the core feeling of my music is something I’m very grateful for.
I first found your band with the outstanding album Northern Flux, your latest offering Perspectives is an album of remixes. How do you feel hearing another band do a new take on the songs you produce and what is the importance of this in the modern era?
It’s exciting hearing other’s take on your songs. In a way I also get that feeling when Paris and Eirene work on my songs. I hear their take on my melodies. After working with Paris and Eirene on so many songs their take on it is a very big part of what’s considered Antipole. My instrumental basic guitar and bass recordings (you can listen to Panoply, Songs for AC from 2014) sound more like demos these days, but they were the important sparkle and beginning of it all.
I love doing remixes of other’s songs. Especially favorite songs. I’ve been incredibly lucky being able to remix some of my favorite artists like Hante., IAMTHESHADOW, In Letter Form, Agent Side Grinder, Geometric Vision ft Volkan Caner and more. I’m reluctant to remixing any song though. It has to have that Antipole feeling or at least be room to add that Antipole feeling. The remixes I do with Paris are different from most remixes in general in the way that I always add new guitar lines to the songs. And if I can’t find those guitar lines in the song I can’t remix it. At least it wouldn’t be any interesting. Technically I rely very much on Paris doing these remixes. I record guitar lines and he remixes my guitars with the original stems of the song.
I think remixes make the scene more interesting, and also help you finding new interesting artists. I’m pretty sure Ash Code or Agent Side Grinder remixing Antipole have gained us some new listeners. But it has to be musically interesting, not to “help others”. Another great perspective is that doings remixes can be the start of further collaborations musically. Doing In Decay with Kill Shelter and Delphine Coma is a good example of that. I have to mention Cold Transmission – they’re doing a great job joining creative forces on the scene – with remixes and other.
I love so many of your songs but Shadow Lover is one I keep coming back to. It’s such a beautiful track I feel really stirs emotion and highlights the things you do best. Tell me about what was happening in your life when you wrote this song and the emotions it conjured in you?
I think the bass line came to me first and the rest came easily pretty fast. It was early spring 2017 just days after the Getting Frequent Now EP was released – the first release I did with Paris. I had started working with Paris just 2-3 months before and the collaboration with him created a lot of energy and inspiration. Which resulted in many new songs – including Shadow Lover – that later that year were released on Northern Flux. Paris added a beautiful melody to Shadow Lover. Having a producer and vocals made it a lot more interesting and rewarding.
You have had a lot of success in 2018, what is your goal for 2019 and your ideal scenario to build on the music you have created?
We’re almost done with the follow up to Northern Flux (Unknown Pleasures Records – scheduled for May). Again I’m working with Paris Alexander and Eirene. In addition two of the songs on the album feature Marc Lewis of The Snake Corps. He wrote lyrics and melody lines for those two songs and of course sings. He’s a good friend of Paris Alexander and Eirene and I’m really happy being able to work with him. We would love doing more gigs throughout Europe going forward.
In 2019 you are working with Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW at a show in Germany. Tell me more about what this collaboration means to you and how it has made you grow as an artist to play with musicians of this caliber?
Pedro Code (and Vitor and Rui) are great people and much more established as a live act than Antipole. Performing with them on stage last year in Liege was a highlight (among many in 2018). They’ve got really beautiful songs which are not that far away from the Antipole universe and it’s a really good fit on many levels. I did two songs with them in Liege 2018 and Pedro asked if I could do guitars on more songs next time so I assume he thinks it’s a good fit too. I’ll be performing with them in Leicester in March and then Cologne, Germany in July!
Your songs have such a polished and concise sound, but we are always growing. What is the part of you as an artist you think you could still develop the most? What do you do to get better?
(I’ve never been a skilled guitar player. Always focusing more on the melodies than the technical stuff. I guess I could be better technically, but I don’t think it’s important really. So I guess I won’t spend much time practicing on playing faster, hehe. We’re trying to make the drums/rhythm aspect of our music more interesting. Listening to She past Away and Clan of Xymox (and others) are inspiring in that way. They’re so good at it.
I have spoken in my review about what I was hearing as influences in your music, tell me a bit about who really changed your world, what artists made you believe that music was the life for you?
My answer is not very goth… It was Kurt Cobain and Nirvana early 1992. I was 17 at the time, it hit me hard and the music resonated and spoke to me directly. I bought a guitar and after learning some basic chords I started trying to write songs. A lot of bad songs. Later, and more relevant to Antipole, was me meeting Anne-Christel in 2013. I had spent much of my time listening to indie music over the years, like Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Yo La Tengo and less of my time to Joy Division and The Cure etc. We got together as a couple and Anne-Christel was basically only listening to post-punk. And importantly, recent post-punk, like Winter Severity Index, She Past Away, Cold Showers but also Kitchen of Distinction and of course a lot of Chameleons, Joy Division and The Cure. I’ve been stuck there since!
You are obviously a band that takes a lot of time creating a detailed and complete picture with your sound. What are 3 pieces of equipment you could not live without?
My BOSS BR-800 Mini studio. It has a guitar effect built in that I use for everything I do. And then the BOSS Phase Shifter which I’ve used quite a lot too. The 3rd would be Paris Alexander. I’m relying on him to create the atmosphere and soundscape that I aim for.
If you had to do a crossroads deal with the devil to send you to your next evolution what would you ask for, and what would you be willing to give?
Hard question. I feel I get more than I ask for or deserve most of the time. I’m grateful.
Interview by: Ken Magerman (Sounds and Shadows)