The Danish singer-songwriter is shifting from making R&B and hip-hop for other artists to releasing his own indie songs that are dreamy and influenced by Tame Impala and Bon Iver. He combines melancholy and positive energy in “Will You Still Be There,” a new folky alt. pop song about finding your way back to someone you love.
Acoustic guitars, distorted bass, saxophones, flutes, and sampled drums are layered with Grandjean’s distinctive falsettos, vocoders, and lush reverbs. The melodies are catchy but melancholy, and the sound is warm and soulful.
Grandjean sings every note on his album “Lost Minds”, in contrast to his previous releases, which featured many guest vocalists. The Danish singer-songwriter layers his distinctive vocals over dusty samples and upbeat beats in a dreamy indie vibe. Along with fellow Danes Andreas Lund (Lukas Graham, Aura), Johannes Wamberg, Mikkel Riber, Thomas Edinger, and Susanne Rum, the album also includes North American musicians and singers Philip Lassiter (Prince, Erykah Badu), Aniya Teno, and Julianna Laine. It was written and produced by Alexander Grandjean.
Forests, mountains, lakes, and beaches can be seen in the scenery. The “Will You Still Be There” music video features mesmerizing stretches of nature that were repeatedly shot from various angles, giving the video a kaleidoscopic fish-eye appearance. Check out the exclusive interview with ALEXANDER GRANDJEAN below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
I’m from Denmark, and I started playing keyboard in bands in ground school. In my teenage years I was producing beats and tracks for local artists and then started growing my network in the music industry. Now I’ve produced and written songs for other artists for 10 years, and I’m really excited about having started my own solo project. Feels good to have my own playground! 🙂
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I’d say I’m 90% self-taught. I studied musicology at the university, and have taken lessons and courses in guitar, piano, singing, mixing and production along the way. But those are just the skills – creating and writing is the real work and the real challenge as an artist. I love learning, and right now I’m starting to play more concerts, so I’m trying to become a better live performer and guitar player.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘ALEXANDER GRANDJEAN’?
Alexander Grandjean is my birth name, and since the songs are quite personal, I didn’t feel the need to invent a stage name. My teenage influences were soul, hiphop and fusion artists like Sade and Fat Freddy’s Drop, but my parents have been playing folk, country and rock music at home – Van Morrison, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. In recent years I’ve been very inspired by José Gonzáles, Bon Iver and Amadou & Mariam.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
So, I feel like most of us are so distracted and un-present most of the time – and way too addicted to screens, information and entertainment. I’m trying to slow down the speed and create a space where we can be present together. I’d describe my sound as a dreamy and melancholic roadtrip soundtrack. It’s warm and organic guitars and horns mixed with dirty drums and distorted bass topped with airy vocals with lush reverbs.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
I think artists need to help move culture forward while being the voice of the people. To me, art and culture is extremely important, and I think it’s a problem that many ‘artists’ spend all their time making content and following trends instead of using their unique voice. Personally, I’m trying to use my voice to tell stories, touch souls, and remind people to be present in the world.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
From a creative standpoint I’m very fulfilled and inspired. Creating music and the universes around it (video, visuals, concepts) is extremely fulfilling in itself, but it’s also a struggle to be an independent artist. I’ve only worked on my solo project for two years, and I’m happy to already be on the radio and playing concerts, but I’m looking forward to having a bigger team around me and be able to take my project to the next level.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do you usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
It’s very different – sometimes lyrics come first, sometimes music. But usually there’s a calm moment followed by a burst of inspiration. When I’m in that creative flow, time goes by extremely fast and slow at the same time, and that’s when I’m the most productive. I write and produce all my own songs, so it’s easy for me to take a song from the guitar to the studio.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your music career so far?
I’d probably say the struggle of being an independent artist – the freedom is extremely rewarding, but it’s also just an uphill battle. You get a hundred ‘no thanks’ for each ‘hell yeah’ and there’s only you to pick yourself up and keep the wheels going. I love the freedom, but it’s definitely also a challenge.
10. On the contrary, what are you proud of in your music career so far?
Being a father and having a family while being on my 15th year of being an independent musician, producer, writer, and artist is something I’m very proud of.
Photo credits: Rune Svenningsen / Luisa Zanetti