Photos by Mikkel Rask
Since I was like,13, I’ve wanted to go on tour with a band. At age 13 I was imagining something along the lines of Hanson, their tousled,questionably feminine manes blowing in the wind surging from the front window, glancing at me coquettishly from beneath tinted wayfarers.
At 16 the movie Almost Famous did little to stifle my wild illusions and by the time I was 21 and dating a musician but still hadn’t gone on tour I was getting fairly pissed off.
And so it was in this state I went to see xxyyxx and Giraffage play in Aarhus on my birthday.
Both are electronic producers. Giraffage is 21 and makes beautiful dream pop. Xxyyxx, at only 16, is becoming disturbingly popular with his own mix of chillwave style glitchy dub step.
“If you want to see me on my birthday,I’ll be here,” said the message to my ever suffering friends who, living up to their reputation for being the best fucking people in Aarhus, dutifully tagged along to the gig.
Scandinavia seems to have missed the memo about how to have a good time in life.Dressed in the Danish uniform of black jeans, black shirt, black jacket and facial expressions almost as icey as their bleach white hair, they stood at the back of the venue while we danced up front.
The harder I danced, the more my friends drank and by the end of the night we were all in a suitably deranged state, prompting us to jump on stage and lose our collective shit.
It was wild, it was free, the music was pumping through our bodies like boiling hot blood and nothing could stop us now! In this moment, we were infinite! Until a complete and utter buzz kill of a bouncer kicked us all off stage.
Not to have our night totally ruined, we went up to xxyyxx and Giraffage at the end of the show. Did they like our dancing on stage? Of course they did.
“That’s how you get fools famous, get random ass bitches dancing on stage,” Zoe contributed wisely.
We were all getting along great until the douchebag of a bouncer came back and told us we all had to leave.
I was completely happy, we’d had a great night, it was my birthday and we’d heard some good music. Crunching our way through the gravel outside the club I didn’t think my night could get any better. And then it did.
Leonie drew my attention to it first. “Wow, I think they have too much money, look at their nice car,” she said.
There it was, glistening black under the rail yard lights.A sunroof that encompassed the entire roof! It was some kind of a majestic spaceship beckoning me. And there, even more glorious, a spare seat.
Suddenly the prospect of staying in Aarhus for the weekend looked very dull.
Leonie wrapped her scarf around me and whispered in my ear, “go on, go Bridget,” and before I could stop myself I was knocking on the window of the venue, trying to dodge the angry bouncer.
The visuals operator, Guillermo, poked out his confused little head.
“Um so you guys are going to Sweden next,right? Do you mind if I hitch a ride with you?”
A quick conference with the rest of the guys and the driver and I was in! I climbed through the window and into a room full of free beer, the loveliest guys you’ll ever meet and the weirdest, funniest birthday weekend I’ve had in a long time.
Nestled snugly in the car between Charlie(Giraffage) and Marcel (xxyyxx) I don’t remember at what point i dozed off to sleep. But I sure as hell woke up fast to a small, prune-like woman and her hairy male counterpart shining a torch into my eyes.
We’d been pulled off the road at the Swedish border for a “random” drug search.
Who knows why we’d been pulled over. Maybe it was because we were five youngsters crammed into one car. Maybe because it was 5am. Maybe because the driver Mikkel was wearing a cap emblazoned with “Sativa”, a strain of weed, in huge letters.Either way, we looked fucking suspicious.
“What are you travelling to Sweden for?” the hairy man asked.
“We’re musicians, we’re on tour.”
“So, where’s all your music equipment?”
“Um..electronic musicians. They use laptops..and stuff,” Mikkel acted out typing on a laptop, as if that would help. The border officers squinted at us as though we’d just tried to explain a meme. (“i mean it’s just an Internet thing”)
It took the sniffer dog about 3 adorable seconds to sniff out the 2 grams of pot Mikkel had attempted to hide under his seat and we were all ordered out of the car into a poorly lit, freezing cold shed.
The pruney woman led me away from the boys into a cubicle.
“Take off your clothes.”
I was a little taken aback. I’d only woken up about 5 minutes ago, and here I was at in this strange shed with a wrinkly woman who wants to see me naked.
I was already fucking cold and didn’t want to give up the little warmth provided by my now seemingly ridiculous outfit of a floor length, japanese style chiffon dress.It was red and embroidered with little white and gold flowers. In a moment of delirious satisfaction I consoled myself that I was probably the most glamourous person this little cubicle had ever seen.
Did I look like a drug smuggler to this woman? Was I wide-eyed,sweating like an overcooked hotdog? No, I looked fucking good and she knew it. How dare she attempt to strip search me.
“I mean, it’s really cold,” I stuttered, my inner diva suddenly swallowed up by self consciousness.
Her twinkly eyes stared right back, chilling me to the core.nSighing I took off my dress, and stood there not totally appreciating the humorous image of myself, naked except for my boots, under the fluorescent glow of the cubicle lights.
A series of entirely humiliating poses and she was satisfied that I didn’t have narcotics taped to my feet, inside various orifices or in my armpits (seriously?)
I attempted to make small talk as I got dressed.
“You must have seen a lot of naked people..”
“I guess so.”
“Like, more than a doctor or something.”
“Is that like, your job. Just looking at people naked?”
“I look in the cars and stuff too.”
I was kind of sad to leave the pruney one. I felt like we really shared something in the harsh confines of that cubicle. I mean, not that many people see me naked. But I soon forgot about her when I was led to to a new cubicle containing a forlorn looking Marcel and Charlie.
I wasn’t sure if they’d be strip searched too. Maybe this was a special punishment reserved only for me. Maybe they’d mistakenly singled me out as the leader of some elaborate Scandinavian drug cartel. “The one in the flowery dress, she’s attired far too flamboyantly for these parts, she must be up to something.” Anyway, no one was talking about it and I wasn’t going to be the one to ask. I was kind of thinking they’d let us out now, but the Swedish Border Control had other ideas.
The door suddenly swung open with an almighty bang.
“WHO’S DRUGS IS IT???” the hairy man screamed in what I can only assume was some kind of scare tactic.
Marcel, Charlie and I sat there stunned.
“Drugs?What drugs? Oh, you mean the pot,” Marcel said, summing up our generation’s attitude to marijuana in one beautiful sentence.
The hairy man was not impressed. “So none of you admit it. Who bought the drugs, was it the Danish guy?”
“We don’t know man,” Charlie sighed.
Now I don’t know about the others, but I genuinely had no idea who’s pot it was. I only met these guys a few hours ago. When i’d tried to explain this to Mrs Prune she’d regarded me with even more suspicion. “Why are you in a car to Sweden with some people you just met?”
The hairy man left again. We sat there for another twenty minutes, shivering, before the pruney one returned. I guess she was playing good cop.
“There’s five of you in the car. One of you must have bought the pot.”
This moronic logic astounded me. It was like an equation performed by a preschooler still coming to terms with mathematics. 5 people in the car, 1 must have bought the pot? I imagined her sitting outside our cubicle, hunched forward over a pad of paper, scribbling furiously with a stub of a pencil. “Aha! I’ve got it!” she thought. She had us now, trapped with the steel clamp of her superior mind.
But what about 4 people in the car? 3 people? 2 people? Any amount of people in the car, someone still had to buy the pot.
When we all refused to own up, amateur Sherlock slunk off and was replaced by another round of bad cop.This time he kicked in the door and, seemingly at random, decided to accuse Marcel.
“So it’s your pot!” he announced, a little too triumphantly for someone with absolutely no evidence for such a wild accusation.
“Huh? No.” Marcel was nonplussed.
“But you admitted you smoke?”
“Yeah , I smoke. But it’s not my pot.”
Foiled again! By us meddling kids!
I was borderline hypothermic now and totally ready to say it was my pot just so i could go back to the warm, snug, spaceship of a car. Luckily, they came and let us out before I had the chance to. Apparently Sweden has a zero tolerance policy on drugs, particularly drug smuggling and those 2 grams could have put me in prison for 3 months. Oops.
We have no idea why they let us go in the end. They had completely taken apart our car, confiscated the pot as well as our chewing gum for some obscure reason. There was some pot dropped down the side of the car that they couldn’t reach, so they just poked it until it was un-smoke able, the mental image of which I found completely hilarious.
And so the mornings events transformed into little more than an amusing tale to be told in a self satisfied manner at hip parties. Details were shared and elaborated on, fleshing out the story, making it more humorous and less distressing. The boys, for example, had been instructed to remove their clothing one item at a time, like some sort of bizarre strip tease.It wasn’t until they were standing knock kneed in their underwear that they fully realized what was going on.
It’s funny the things that cross your mind at such moments. I, mistaking the
events for a cavity search, was concerned that the woman wasn’t wearing gloves.
“How unhygienic,” I thought.
Marcel, only 16, was wondering why they hasn’t checked for any of our IDs. “I’m a minor, is it even legal to see me naked?”
And so set the tone for the remainder of our trip. I stayed with the boys, sharing their hotel rooms, food, free booze and stage space. The promoters were confused, thinking I was a part of the band. It was fun, but the most fun part was getting to know these lovely guys.
Marcel in some ways, is mature beyond his years. He finished high school in a year and a half and has no qualms about being interviewed by VICE or touring with people 6 years his senior.
Yet at times, he is so completely and utterly a teenager.
He complains that his Mum bought him the wrong deodorant. “She got swagger, i told her to get Fiji!”
I have to help him choose out clothes at the offensively hipster Cheap Monday flagship store.
In Gothenburg, while Charlie plays, he is obviously uncomfortable. “That girl is looking at me, ” he whispers through gritted teeth. It sounds strange coming from a guy with 50,000 likes on facebook. Of course she is, she’s at your show?
Likewise, his music has that air about it that sadly, often only comes with youth. The feeling of just doing something because you enjoy it, or want to do it. The fun that comes with just mucking around. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s fucking fun so who cares?
He’s got a bit of the confused angst of a 16 year old. Trying to be taken seriously in a world that’s way too serious. “I started reading Lolita, but it was weird,” he confides.
Later, he’ll try to have a discussion with Charlie.
“Do you ever think about weird things while you’re playing?”
“Yeah,” Charlie replies, “I mean, I think about pizza a lot.”
These guys are sweet, dorky and almost completely lacking egos. Through meeting them, my suspicions about the emerging music scene are confirmed.
Music used to be a rock ‘n’ roll community, edgy and cool, a scene to be in and be seen in.Now. As Charlie says, it’s nerds alone on their laptops.
“Yeah, I didn’t know anyone making music in my area.”
In a way, the music comes from that isolation. Influence is good, but having no community creates something interesting. Something more experimental, with influence determined not by your neighbourhood bands but by what you listen to on the web, from far away. It explains why someone like Washed Out can make such beachy vibes from within America’s deep south.
This isolation is particularly obvious in electronic music. Once the realm of the dance floor, electro is now often saturated with melancholic loneliness and heart wrenching melodies.
It’s mid afternoon now and Marcel nudges me from my reverie.
“Hey Bridget?” he’s staring out the window.
We’re driving back to Copenhagen where I’ll say goodbye to the guys after a weird and completely enjoyable weekend. They’ll head to Germany and I’ll meet them in Brussels, just for one night,weeks later. It’s a sad realization, knowing that this weekend was a one off. That even if I see them again it will be in the context of our normal friends, obligations,lives and it just won’t be the same.
I shift up in my seat. “Yeah Marcel?”
He tears his gaze away from the window to meet my eyes.
“What do you think frozen mud looks like?”