Pop doesn’t always have the best rep, but one band single-handedly working to change all that with their eclectic mix of funky baselines, roughly diced electronic samples and lush melodic harmonies is Norwegian trio, Philco Fiction. Their debut album Take It Personal, out today on Something In Construction, opens with lead singer Turid (pronounced Tue-rid) Solberg’s timid vocals, gently humming over a backing drum beat before bursting into an unashamed explosion of colour-drenched neo-pop.
Working your way through the rest of the album, you really begin to get a feel for the group’s diversity – tracks like Finally and Too Nice explore a much darker side to their sound, whilst Time Is A Fly is a patchwork of bizarre but oddly endearing lyrics, framed by the trademark crystalline dream-disco that opens the album. To find out a little bit more about their latest release, we caught up Turid, Bjarne and Andreas to talk Barbie doll drumsticks, Turid’s mermaid twin and playing the musical saw.
It often starts with Turid’s sketches, words and melodies. 50/50 of improvising and perfecting. Letting go of lovers and sleeping with strangers. Embracing coincidences and being honest about our references. What’s moving right now and dig into the treasures of the past
Dazed Digital: Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Where have you come from, and where are you going?
Philco Fiction: We’re wide-eyed ambitious kids from the south of Norway. There are three of us in the Philco family. Except for our common interest in music, humour and ginger-ale, our minds are as different as our faces. Bjarne and Turid Alida met 12 winters ago over a cup of covers. And started with nothing less than hits of Erykah Badu, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder etc. For Andreas, it started with brassbands and ‘use your sister’s barbie legs as drumsticks’. Nine winters have passed since we started working together, making our very own music.
We’ve been through all the relationship phases, except from the breaking-up part. We never broke up but some years we didn’t talk that much, just to stay out of trouble. Some of us have been travelling quite a bit, living in China and England. To make sure we add new stories to the book. Right now we are preparing the worldwide release of ‘Take it Personal’. At the same time we are working on our next album. We will never be seamen, but hopefully live by the sea at some point, and maybe contribute to the family tree. At the end of the day - music is our tomorrow.
DD: A lot of people are labelling your music as sounding typically ‘Scandinavian’. How do you go about starting work on a new track, and how would you describe your sound?
Philco Fiction: ‘Oh, you Scandinavians!’ We were not aware of this label till we started playing abroad. Maybe it’s because we share roots and it’s like gestures within families. It’s difficult to see your own family from the outside. How you throw your hair like your sister, or walk just like your cousin. Don’t know. People tend to blame the contrasts in the seasons, and a lot of people juxtapose (or confuse) winter and melancholy. We do explore melancholy in our music. But we don’t think it’s got that much to do with winter. There’s a lot of humour in the changing of seasons as well. Humour & Melancholy, that’s our season. The process. It always starts off very playful, and with a lot of digging. The challenge is to keep it playful all the way through the process. It often starts with Turid’s sketches, words and melodies. 50/50 of improvising and perfecting. Letting go of lovers and sleeping with strangers. Embracing coincidences and being honest about our references. What’s moving right now and dig into the treasures of the past. Share music. Keep the contrasts within the family. Make sure we don’t keep it too real.
… the story behind the name?
Philco or Philadelphia Storage Battery Company was a pioneer within radio production amongst other things. It actually started with old Philco radio adds like ’Hurry home to your new Philco’. Philco also stands for volume. At first it was the visual profile and the design of the radios that stole our attention.
But I guess the story behind the story here is how we were introduced to music as kids. The radio was very important. Well the radio & cassette player. Sitting and waiting with your finger ready to push the record button the very moment the speakers spit out your favourite hit or your future favourite hit. It was a great, great game!! You could say they were our first record sessions. It’s still a lot about catching the moment.
… a good place to go to get away from it all?
I think Bjarne would put on his best clothes and harvest his own fields with his own combine harvester. I think Andreas would put on his Olympic sweater from -94 and hit the skitrails that run deep into the forests of Oslo. I think Turid Alida would jump into the late summer Oslo-fiord and look for her mermaid twin.
… good for breakfast?
Philco Breakfasts this week:
Monday: Solomon Burke – Don’t give up on me
Tuesday: Death Grips – Beware/I’ve seen footage/Thru the walls
Wednesday: Betty Davis – Git in there
Thursday: Frank Ocean - Pyramids
Friday: David Bowie reading Peter & the Wolf
Saturday: A Tribe Called Quest – The anthology. (Long breakfast)
Sunday: Bon Iver’s version of ‘I can’t make you love me/Nick of time’
… your secret talent?
Our secret talent is all our talented and inspiring friends in all different fields. Would love to mention them all but it would be a crazy long list. A very special thank you to: Andreas Løwe, Jo Berger Myhre, Ask Frederik Berg, Simon H. Eraker, Mai Elise Solberg, Simon Skreddernes, Elisabeth Stray Pedersen, Elise Solberg and Goran Obad.
… the best gig you’ve played, and the worst?
It was may this year, Paris and Fleche D’Or. We had been driving around the city for hours trying to find a spot for our car. You know, that’s not what you want to do when you’re in Paris. The Eiffel dream, the croissants, the French men and all that. But we were still very enthusiastic about our first gig in Paris. Jean Michel and Francoise were on the guest list. The house was packed when we went on stage. The roof was already shaking, it was so hot! BUT Andreas hit his head quite badly on the way in. He had a hard time holding on to his Barbie drumsticks because of the birds, the bees and the stars shaking his head. Turid Alida and Bjarne knew nothing of it and had the time of their life. It is the worst and the best gig within the family.
DD: Tell us something we don’t know.
Philco Fiction: Both Bjarne’s grandfather and Andreas’ great-uncle used to play the musical saw, so when B and A heard the familiar sound on the subway in New York back in April last year something woke up in them. After chasing the sound of “Amazing Graze” for a few seconds they spotted an old man sitting by a cassette deck with his saw and his bow. Two days later Moses Josiah joined us for a recording session in our rented flat in New Jersey, and his musical saw is to be heard on two of the tracks on “Take It Personal”.