Out of the Woods – A Q&A with Gidge

There’s something stroking dissonantly at the thin threads that separate music from nature. A creaking percussive part snaps like a load bearing branch, straining under the pressure of an icy wind blowing through synthesised corridors. Somewhere a piano is tentatively searching for a way to express what it’s feeling and the subtle sonic ambience breaks with reality, forhing ahead into an unidentifiably surreal landscape. Gidge, a musical duo, sits at the piano staring out at us from their wooded enclave somewhere in Umeå, Sweden, and although they’re obscured behind shrubs and firs, we sense their presence from our perch in a cabin in the woods. Somewhere, anywhere a video is playing over high bandwidth and we see a man staring out of that same cabin window, looking at something we struggle to define, but he lets us know its there as he falls asleep at the candle lit window and a door latch rattles off screen. Lampray personifies the music as something visual, as Lulin, an intangible myth created by the musical duo. Gidge paws at the door with their music echoing through the narrow forest trails and laptop speakers. The sound of the latch pulls into focus as something familiar from a recent experience. It’s a sound bite from Hon, the first of a two-track sophomore LP also called Lulin. The music opens up to a world of mystery and intrigue, hidden behind short impulsive musical expressions that linger amongst the soundtrack of the surrounding woods. Where does the music begin and the environment cease to exist? Where does the image influence the sound and the sound leave nature for a mechanical world? It’s questions like these we put forth to the artists now…

Can we start with an introduction? How was Gidge formed and what has been the intention behind the project?

We met in school at the age of 15, and realised pretty early on that we shared an interest in electronic music. There was never any intention behind Gidge as a project; we just wanted to make music. We were kids wanting to make the kind of music that we wanted to listen to ourselves. We never cared too much about what others liked or wanted, as long as we were happy with it.

I was intrigued to find that you were influenced by your environment on this release. Can you tell me a little more of how your surroundings played a role in your music?

Most likely we are all influenced by our environment, whether knowingly or not. But we’ve made a conscious choice of trying to incorporate a certain feeling or sound in our music that at least we feel is connected to the nature around us. We record a lot of our sounds in the woods, like hitting branches and rocks against each other, that kind of stuff. For us, having our forests as our main influence is just like Techno acts who are influenced by their industrial or urban surroundings, but that connection we are more used to hearing. It’s not that we’re trying really hard to do something different really, this is just what we know and happen to have at our disposal.

It feels like there was more of narrative to the music than a setting. Was this your intention and if so can you give us a synopsis?

Yes, in a sense. Lulin, this mystical, lonely being, is at the centre of the music. We wanted the music to be aimed at what she is feeling, or seeing, or thinking.

Can you tell me a bit more about the visuals accompanying the record?

We made a short film about this man in a small house, who sees Lulin, and we just pretty much follow him in his dealing with that fact. The whole concept came out of the idea of what you would do if you saw something weird, something you can’t really explain. Especially when you’re all alone, like he is in the film. There’s this moment in the film, where he reaches for the phone to call somebody, but kind of realises as he’s about to dial the number that he’s most likely going to sound insane. And that’s kind of when that feeling kicks in, what if he really is insane?

The music works remarkably well just on it’s own relaying that fact, so why add the visuals at all?

Well, it’s not really ”visuals”, like a music video or something. It’s an actual film, with an actual story, and there’s almost no music in it. The music and the film are separate pieces of art, which is important to understand. Or rather, they are made to be perfectly enjoyable separately, but are of course connected by this story of Lulin. But you don’t need to have seen the film to be able to enjoy the music, and vice versa.

What do you hope it brings out in your music if it is experienced at the same time?

We wanted the music and film feel like extensions of each other. The music is kind of what’s going on around the film, if that makes any sense at all. We want people to feel that the film and the music are connected, but that they are portraying different stories from the same world.

You opted to put “Lulin” out as two tracks, but it sounds very much like they are made up of separate tracks. Was that the case and if so what did you hope to achieve with the result?

Indeed, most of the tracks are made separately, but since the beginning we’ve always had this idea of just having two tracks. Both the film and the music are very slow and requires quite a bit of patience from the viewer or listener. And we wanted to create a feeling of being lost, like you don’t know where in the track you are and what’s about to come next. And if a track is 22 minutes, you really invest your time by listening to it, which we think is cool. We’re living in a time of constant immediate satisfaction, so this is something we wanted to play around with.

Turning these various musical compositions into two tracks suggests that they make up two distinct groups of music for you. Are there any differences in the concept between the two tracks?

From the start we knew this music would be best enjoyed on vinyl, so we never even had the idea of having just one track, as we knew it would have to be divided on the vinyl anyway. Plus, one continuous track of over 40 minutes might be a bit too much, even for us. We’re already testing our listeners’ patience by just having two tracks. However, the concept of the two tracks is the same. It’s Lulin’s world we’re listening to.

People often use glacial or arctic to describe music from Scandinavia. Do you find it an accurate description of your music and how would you describe the sound of music from the region in a more concrete way?

This is always a tough one for us to answer. As such a big part of our music consists of field recordings, recorded in the forest mostly, it’s hard not to take that into account. We try to make our music sound natural even though it’s electronic. But what people might mean when talking about the ”Scandinavian sound” is probably not actually the production, but more the melancholy that often can be found in music from the north. But honestly, it might all just be placebo – who really knows?

I personally find a spatial atmosphere in your music that reminded me of Sigur Ros at times, and Biosphere at others. How do you achieve this sense of space in your music and how much does your surroundings influence you in this regard?

Thank you for the compliment! For one, we’re not afraid of silence. Music consists of two things really: sounds and whatever is in-between the sounds. For us, the in-betweens are almost as important as the sounds themselves, because that’s kind of what completes the image. But also, in the quiet parts of our music, there’s almost always something there, like a field recording of ”nothing”, just a microphone in the woods. So it’s never actually dead quite. Oh, and reverb of course. Lots of it.

Which takes us back to the forest. It feels like winter with a low sun glistening through naked branches, for me (I live in Oslo). How would you describe the scene you’ve created through the music?

For us, we feel the field outside that cabin in the film, a foggy night just before dark. And the music slowly takes us from there and into the forest. That’s where we are when listening to the music, that’s where the energy is from. But it makes us glad that people see their own things, hear their own stories in our music.

What do you hope the listener will get from it without reading this interview?

A Swedish magazine wrote that Lulin is the perfect album to listen to if you want to feel like you’re the loneliest person in the world. It would be beautiful if people could feel that, and at the same time feel like they are sharing it with others. Feeling lonely is not so bad if you know that someone else is having the same experience.

Stream the film: lulin.se <http://lulin.se/>
Purchase the vinyl: atomnation.bandcamp.com/album/lulin
Forthcoming Gidge live dates:
15/04/2016 Bergen, Ostre
22/04/2016 Hamburg, Golem
23/04/2016 London, Corsica Studios
26/06/2016 TBA, Dublin
29/07/2016 Rättvik, Into the Valleys Festival
06/10/2016 London, Pickle Factory
14/10/2016 Rennes, Maitenant Festival