Artist Interviews

Q&A: Sondre Lerche

By | Published on Wednesday 28 September 2011

Sondre Lerche

Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche released his debut album, ‘Faces Down’, just after his 20th birthday. His smart, charming songwriting skills quickly won him fans both inside and outside of Norway. This adoration has only grown over the course of ten years and five albums, with many comparing him to Burt Bacharach.

Following hot on the heels of his version of Muppets song ‘Mr Bassman’ for the recently released ‘Muppets: The Green Album’ covers compilation, Lerche is due to release his eponymous sixth album on 3 Oct, the first through his own label Mona Records. Recorded and mixed over three weeks, the album sees Sondre utilise his creative ties with fellow musicians residing in Brooklyn, where he now lives, including the likes of Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith and Nicolas Verhnes of Spoon and Animal Collective.

He will also play a headline show at London’s Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on 6 Oct. Ahead of all that, CMU Editor Andy Malt spoke to Sondre Lerche to find out more.

AM: How has relocating to Brooklyn influenced your songwriting on the new album?
SL: I think New York might’ve made me more confrontational and I think this album reflects that.

AM: Did the recording process for this album differ to previous records?
SL: It was faster and more intuitive. I only gave us two weeks to record and that was really exhilarating. It disconnected our heads somehow.

AM: Why, on your sixth album did you choose to go with an eponymous title? Is this album more ‘you’ than previous records?
SL: All my albums are me, for better or worse, but when I couldn’t find a title I liked it seemed sort of natural for this one to be self-titled.

AM: You’re often compared to Burt Bacharach, what are your thoughts on that? Does it create certain expectations of you?
SL: I like Bacharach’s songs a lot, always have. But he is mainly a songwriter and arranger, and I am mainly a songwriter and performer, so by default we are pretty different. But I take it as a fine compliment.

AM: Speaking of great songwriting, how did your cover of ‘Mr Bassman’ for the Muppets album come about?
SL: I was asked if I’m a Muppets fan, and of course I am, so I just picked a song from a long list they sent me and recorded it in my bedroom. Then I sent it to my buddy Kato in Norway and he added some banjo and the voice of Mr Bassman. It was really a lot of fun.

AM: Why did you choose to release your new album through your own label?
SL: I’d been wanting to do it for a long time and the timing was just right. I felt ready and my dear helpers encouraged me and we did it. It feels top!

AM: Does running your own label mean you are more involved now with the business side of things? Is that something you enjoy?
SL: It’s a fine line. I like being involved but I can’t deal too much with it before I feel funny. Luckily I have good helpers to deal with the business stuff. But I enjoy the freedom it provides me and the fact that I can communicate more directly with my audience.

AM: Would you go back to the traditional label system if it allowed you the same level of artistic freedom?
SL: Artistic freedom was never a problem for me when I was a major label artist. It was more just that the whole major label system fell apart, and after that it didn’t feel like a place for a small artist like me. So unless they offered me a particularly good deal, they’ve nothing much to offer me, which is totally understandable.

AM: Are you looking forward to getting back to Europe next month?
SL: Very much so. It’s been too long. I’ve a great band with me. It’ll be awesome!

AM: What are your plans for the future?
SL: More love, more music. Just doing my share.