Interview, Fotos und Bericht: Corinna Sauer
Konzert am 30. April 2015 im Auster Club
Groenland – bei diesem Bandnamen drängen sich verschiedenen Assoziationen auf. Karge Landschaften, kalte Farben, abgeschiedenes Land und weites Meer. Als ich mich zur Vorbereitung des Interviews, das ich per Mail mit Sängerin Sabrina Halde geführt habe, Groenlands Debüt-Album „The Chase“ anhörte, mischte sich diese Idee, die ich zuvor von der Musik der sechs hatte, mit dem Eindruck von beschwingt Positivem, liebevoll Arrangiertem – das Blau wurde zu einer wärmeren Farbe, das Weite und Karge verdichtete sich.
In Kanada haben Groenland mittlerweile einen bemerkenswerten Bekanntheitsgrad erreicht und füllen größere Konzertsäle. Hierzulande ist diese Band noch ein Geheimtipp. Beim Konzert im Berliner Auster Club teilte ich mir den Platz vor der Bühne mit einigen wenigen, die wie ich wahrscheinlich eher durch Zufall auf den multi-instrumentalen Folk-Pop der Kanadier_innen aufmerksam geworden sind. Nichtsdestotrotz war das Konzert von Anfang an geprägt von unüberseh- und hörbarer Spielfreude der Jungs und Mädels und die positive Energie erreichte mit der Zeit auch die hinteren Reihen des Publikums. Sabrina Haldes Stimme, facettenreich und voller Kraft, Streicher, Ukulele, Trommeln und diverse andere Instrumente, die während der Performance Platz auf der Bühne und in den Songs von Groenland fanden, schufen einen unverwechselbaren Sound, die fortwährende Kommunikation mit dem Publikum ihrerseits eine intime und nette Atmosphäre. Groenlands Musik geht in die Beine und in den Bauch und ich erlebte ein Konzert, das mir in Erinnerung bleiben wird. In solchen Fällen habe ich meist das Bedürfnis, wenn sich die Gelegenheit bietet, meine Begeisterung mit der Band zu teilen und so plauschte ich im Anschluss noch ein wenig mit Sängerin Sabrina, die sich offenkundig ihrerseits über einen schönen Konzertabend freute.
Das Interview, das ich mit ihr im Vorfeld per Mail geführt hatte, gibt es hier zu lesen:
Let’s start with the basic stuff to get an idea of who you are: Where are you from and when and how did you form your band Groenland?
We are all from around Montreal, but we all met in the city. It all started when I (Sabrina) met Jean-Vivier once again at the University of Montreal, having lost sight of him after CEGEP (the school where you go between high school and university in Quebec). We quickly realized we had similar taste in music and that we both wanted to start a new project. It was meant to be an electro duo, but after just a couple of weeks, we knew we wanted a more organic sound. We then asked some friends to be part of the team. Jonathan (drums) is a multi-instrumentalist and knew Jean-Vivier from another band. We met Gabrielle (cello) through a part-time restaurant job, Simon (bass) from other bands and Ariane (violin) also from school. Jean-Vivier wanted to explore working with strings, and our sound felt complete when the bass arrived.
Listening to your recent album „The Chase“ it feels like a story is being told. Not even taking about the lyrics but about the way the songs kind of blend into each other and a bigger context is being created. For you, which story is told in „The Chase“?
I think it’s a story of celebrating the fact of being alive and together. I always felt that the music spoke for itself. I feel like we wanted to create a common space where people felt happy and safe while showing their vulnerability. It’s about surviving together, learning, going through life while dealing with fears and discomfort. And I feel that the story is being told in front of a beautiful natural landscape. Nature is a key point in our inspiration.
What are the advantages and challenges to write songs in English and not in your mother tongue French?
I chose to write in English because I learnt to sing in English. I feel like it is more natural to me. So one advantage would be to be able to feel like myself while singing. It’s also very convenient to know my parents don’t understand my lyrics, haha! Not that I am ashamed or anything, only because I can have my space outside of my everyday thinking and world. It is a challenge, though, to mold a different language and to keep it natural. But the language really came to us in the first moments when I was trying out some melodies. I could hear the words in English in my mind, and they came out in English as well. We never really made a conscious choice.
Your music has a distinct orchestral touch to it, still sounding warm, organic and intimate. In what way do the six of you work together regarding the arrangement of the instruments and the sound?
There’s a couple of steps regarding the writing and arranging. Usually 85 % of the songs’ structures are written by Jean-Vivier and I. At some point, when we’re ready, we include Jonathan and try to figure out some arrangements together. Then, the rest of the band joins us, and we usually share our ideas about some musical lines for the strings and the bass. We try to give them a lot of freedom in the arrangements too, because they know their instruments and their talent much better than we do. We’re very happy when they feel like they’ve also contributed to a song. We are very opened to suggestions although in the end we have to make decisions ourselves, because six people can go in a lot of different directions.
What musical influences have you been brought up with and in what way does this background, that each one of you brought into the band individually influence the sound of Groenland?
When we were writing the first album, we were listening to a lot of indie bands such as The Dodos, Vampire Weekend, The Morning Benders, etc. I think each of us has a different taste in music, but we all pretty much agree on the greats: Radiohead, Feist, Beck, Chilly Gonzales,… For my part, I also listen to a lot of pop indie songwriters like Grimes, Lykke Li, Florence and the Machine, MØ, Ms Mr, Majical Clouds, James Blake, Sufjan Stevens, etc.. My background is pop and jazz, so I think it influenced Groenland’s sound for sure because I don’t think people can put our sound in a certain box or a category. Groenland’s genre is a mix of a lot of influences. Jonathan and Simon are more into “pop-rock”. We listen to a lot of bands like The Strokes, The Dears, The Do or Metronomy in the van !
You are about to start your European tour soon. What does touring and presenting your songs to an audience mean to you? Are you excited?
We are stoked. This is definitely what we hoped for Groenland. Traveling was always a big part of the dream. However touring has proven extremely difficult for me in particular. Being a singer means being under a lot of pressure, being tired a lot of the time, and not enjoying life as much as the other members can. So I have to prepare with meditating and I have a no cigarette/beer/coffee regime, among other things. But it’s still very exciting. I cannot wait to meet new people and to see new places. I’m always like a three year-old when I travel, haha! Presenting our songs at this point is a lot of fun, because we have been performing them for three years, so it will give them a second life. It’s kind of weird to be writing the second album at the same time; my mind has been elsewhere for a while. But it’s refreshing to go back to the old songs with a different perspective.
Do you think there is a difference between the European and the Canadian audience?
I feel like the difference would be how people listen to the show. Since they don’t know our songs, they pay attention and concentrate. During our first tour in Germany, I felt like they contained themselves more, but the fun is the same anyway, and it’s awesome to go back to square one and try to make them fall in love with us. I like to watch to see if there is a difference when we speak another language. Jean-Vivier and I realized I was more outgoing in English, while he is more in French. We complete each other well.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We are going to be writing the second album all year. We are playing a couple of shows in Quebec and Canada, but mainly focussing on the writing. Depending on how it goes, we should be recording in the fall and preparing for the release of the new album, making tour plans and everything.
Where do you see yourselves as a band in five years from now?
I still feel like everything we do is new. I hope we can lose some insecurities and gain some stability regarding our writing process, touring, salary, etc. I hope we get plenty of opportunities that inspire us. I would love to be a part of the great festivals around the world like Coachella, SXSW, etc., and I would love to collaborate with people who inspire me.
Sabrina Halde: Gesang, Ukelele, Keyboard, Percussions
Jean-Vivier Lévesque: Keyboard, Electros, Percussions
Jonathan Charette: Schlagzeug
Simon Gosselin: Bass
Gabrielle Girard-Charest: Cello
Ariane Gruet-Pelchat: Geige
2013 The Chase
Anstehende Shows Deutschland
06. Mai 2015 // Objekt 5 // Halle
08. Mai 2015 // Franz Mehlhose // Erfurt
09. Mai 2015 // Die Wohngemeinschaft // Köln
10. Mai 2015 // Haldern Pop // Rees