If you are seeking to know Girlseeker, you will find no one. If you call "1-800-GREED," the title of their LP debut, you won't get an answer; but if you listen hard, you may just hear transmissions from the late Frank Zappa whispering the question you were aching to ask.
Girlseeker speak thru paradox. Even as I was conducting this trans-Atlantic gchat interview between LA to Copenhagen, their responses were sometimes more like riddles than answers. Their music is equally enigmatic, slipping between echoes of '80s hair metal, keyboards played in an empty gymnasium at a rural high school jazz recital, and a lone baritone voice summoning stray dogs from a far canyon. The melodies are familiar but unplaceable, emerging from a place where amnesia would seem to preclude memory. Here, you cry in order to remember how to laugh, crash ashore to remember how high the waves took you, seek solice in shadows to remember what the sun felt like. Without memory, there is no nostalgia. Without time, there is no apocalypse. When I asked Girlseeker to describe their music, they said it sounds like “NOW."
This I do know: When I first discovered Girlseeker, I felt like I hadn’t just discovered a new band, but a new emotion. I listen to them and forget where I am and what I am, but most of all, I remember why I listen to music-- to dwell in that lonely space between everywhere and nowhere, and render it beautiful.
Ad Hoc: Who am I talking to right now?
ENDURANCE: None of us.
Ad Hoc: Perfect. Where are you right now?
[ENDURANCE has gone offline and cannot receive messages.]
Ad Hoc: You are OFFLINE. How many girls have you actually found?
ENDURANCE: There are a lot in the streets right now, so hopefully some later, if we don't stay inside.
Ad Hoc: Have you tried calling the number 1-800-GREED? Maybe you will find girls there.
ENDURANCE: Did you try? 1-800 numbers don't work in Denmark...
Ad Hoc: What does this number mean to you if it doesn't serve any functional purpose?
ENDURANCE: Hmm, let us think. Its function is the easy way out. It's a comment on yuppie lifestyle and culture and so, [it's neither] good nor bad. The lyrics to the song of the same name should give an indication of what lies behind the digits.
Ad Hoc: The lyrics are kind of reverbed-out... I can't make out everything you say. Is that a comment on the yuppie lifestyle, too?
ENDURANCE: Yup. Yuppies mumble a lot because of coke actually. The lyrics are printed on the inner sleeve of the record.
Ad Hoc: Ah, ok. I am not a yuppie. I can't afford to buy a copy. I just have the mp3s you sent.
ENDURANCE: The lyrics are for yuppies only then I guess.
Ad Hoc: I will call 1-800-WEED and find out. The lyrics I can make out though seem like they are more personal... like about some sort of emotional dungeon.
ENDURANCE: Yeah, that's about a time when Alex went to a stripclub with his working-class plumber buddies. The sexual frustration. You know the feeling.
Ad Hoc: Yeah. Being a plumber seems like it lends itself to needing that kind of outlet.
ENDURANCE: Excusez-moi! He was kinda forced into it.
Ad Hoc: Sorry. Ahem. I meant songwriting outlet. Is songwriting a good way to let out sexual frustration? There is a point in the bridge of "Blue Clouds" that sounds kind of like an orgasm.
ENDURANCE: Sure. One thing we know is that personal experiences make for great lyrics. Sorry, that was an answer to the previous question.
Ad Hoc: No worries. Time isn't linear in gchat.
ENDURANCE: We like it vertical. Okay, let's get back on track.
Ad Hoc: Yes.
ENDURANCE: Hello, this is Girlseeker, with Taraka Larson.
Ad Hoc: Hi.
ENDURANCE: Taraka, you are recording with ZZ Top at the moment. How has the process been???
Ad Hoc: It's been a very enlightening process. What are you up to?
ENDURANCE: We are writing tracks for our new LP at the moment. It's coming along.
Ad Hoc: A new one, already?
ENDURANCE: The tracks on "1-800..." were recorded between Autumn 2010 and Winter 2011, so we've been doing new stuff for a while now.
Ad Hoc: What fake phone number is the new stuff inspired by?
ENDURANCE: 1-800-Fusion. We are trying to expand the tracks.
Ad Hoc: Nice. Calling it now.
ENDURANCE: You should probably get a waiting tone composed by Frank Zappa.
Ad Hoc: Are you recording it yourself? Or is Frank helping with the production?
ENDURANCE: No, we are doing it with some of our friends. Frank died in 1993.
Ad Hoc: But you can channel him through fake phone numbers...
ENDURANCE: We are not religious. The track you just heard was recorded in '85 and featured on Jazz From Hell or 1986. I don't know...
Ad Hoc: Dude. Get your story straighttttt.
ENDURANCE: Hey Taraka. This is Jonas from Girlseeker. Simon [is taking] 5.
Ad Hoc: Hi Jonas. I hear you all are working on a Girlseeker feature-length movie.
ENDURANCE: Yes, for sure. I think we all think very visually. We all run around with a huge back catalog in our brains of visual material to cut and paste.
Ad Hoc: What kind of stuff is in there?
ENDURANCE: Hmm... I don't think we really thought about our music as being directly cinematic, but I guess it's totally cool to read [it] like that.
Ad Hoc: Do you think of it as visual?
ENDURANCE: Maybe not so much when it's finished, but [when we're making it] there are definitely pictures being painted.
Ad Hoc: What happens to those pictures when it's finished?
ENDURANCE: Well, [it all] becomes something else. A song may consist of lots of different material, but it's all compiled into one thing, and has a life on its own that way. Like, you can perhaps get the feeling of a certain reference to culture, but in the end, maybe it's hard to point out specifically what it is.
Ad Hoc: Yes. [The person I was speaking to before] mentioned yuppie culture. And maybe plumber culture.
Ad Hoc: And stripclub culture.
ENDURANCE: We are really interested in all areas, yes.
Ad Hoc: And Burger King culture?
ENDURANCE: Most definitely.
Ad Hoc: Do you see songwriting as a cultural collage of sorts?
ENDURANCE: The world is open to draw inspiration from, no matter where you are.
Ad Hoc: What about emotional collage?
ENDURANCE: That too. A collage can contain both the happy and the sad face, but it's an amalgam.
Ad Hoc: The songs definitely come off as having a more personal, emotional side. How does this fit into your cultural collage?
ENDURANCE: Well, we all write the lyrics, but sometimes it's only Alex who wrote a text, or Simon, or me. Or all of us together. And it just becomes our own rendition of culture, and so, it's bound to be personal.
Ad Hoc: Do you all come from the same CULTURE?
ENDURANCE: Yes we do.
Ad Hoc: What culture is that?
ENDURANCE: Hmm, it's hard to put in words. We all grew up in middle class families.
Ad Hoc: So you are all yuppies.
ENDURANCE: It's hard to describe where you come from when you always relating to things outside your own bubble: mass culture, etc.. Yuppies dont have families.
3 days later... the person at the other end of the line switches to Jonas Frederikson.
Ad Hoc: How long have you been playing as Girlseeker?
Jonas: We had a tour in Holland and Belgium. Johann from Denim Hologram in Amsterdam was also the engine in getting the LP out. I think we have played since the beginning of 2010.
Ad Hoc: Were you all friends beforehand?
Jonas: Simon and I know each other from our home town, and we have been doing stuff since 2004ish. In 2005, we started the tape label Beyond Repair, which lasted until 2009, I think. We got involved with people who where doing stuff in Copenhagen, and it was cool. Finally some like-minded people, you know? So we met Alexander through mutual friends, and I think we'd known each other for about two years before starting Girlseeker?
Ad Hoc: There is a tension between dark and light in your music that I find really compelling. That shape somewhere between "a happy face and a sad face", or that bright side of dark, and dark side of light. Do you think songs that are written at night sound different from ones that are written during the day?
Jonas: Your sensorium is tuned differently during night/day of course, so you are open to input coming in from different angles. You still find pretty dark stuff during the day and bright stuff during the night. Well, it also depends on what kind of glasses you are wearing. Depending on what your telescope eyes (like the snail) sense, you see different stuff.
Ad Hoc: Would you say that music can act as the lens that focuses your eyes, so that you see things better?
Jonas: Good question. Music is a great tool for interpreting the world. I guess it's all about awarenes. I don't think music or sound making is the only process you can use to obtain this awareness. Taking a walk is enough. We are also occupied with things outside music, but it's still all connected. An image might produce the same sensation as a piece of music.
Ad Hoc: We were talking about night music. What are some of your favorite nighttime jams?
Jonas: We have been listening to Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" a lot lately.
Ad Hoc: What else?
Jonas: Hard for me to speak for all of us, but Frank Zappa's Jazz from Hell, Joe Zawinul's solo LP Dialects.
Ad Hoc: Do people ask if you're influenced by '80s music alot?
Jonas: Yes ;)
Ad Hoc: How true is that?
Jonas: True, but it's not just the '80s.
Ad Hoc: It's interesting that you listen to jazz stuff, because I don't hear that literally coming across in your music... Maybe a little infernal jazz.
Jonas: Things move in waves, and you may not be conscious of it, but you can trigger a certain reference point in people's minds, even if you're not meaning to. Maybe the jazz will be more present on the new record. At least fusion.
Ad Hoc: 1-800-FUSION. How conscious are you of different "eras" when you are listening to music or creating it? Like the '80s, for instance.
Jonas: I can't really tell, as I was born in '86, but it's easy to say that a certain sound seems like it's coming from a specific period of time-- if not [in the use of a particular instrument], then in the production, or the dynamics.
Ad Hoc: Are you conscious of that when you are recording?
Jonas: I think when we record it sounds pretty much like now.
Ad Hoc: To me, 1-800-GREED sounds dislocated from any one time. It has echoes of many eras, yet still retains a sort of surreal disconnect.
Jonas: That's cool.
Ad Hoc: Where is NOW?
Jonas: I think what I mean is that it's not our intention to sound like the bands people would refer to. We are not working towards a speficic sound, or being nostalgic, kitsch, or whatever... Everything is pretty open in Girlseeker. It sounds the way it does because it's done by us, and we have no limit.
Ad Hoc: Hmm... I never mentioned kitsch or nostalgia, but the fact that you bring them up means they are things you must be conscious of, even if only to turn your back on them...
Jonas: I know you never mentioned them, but others have. Sorry.
Ad Hoc: Is a NOW without kitsch or nostalgia even possible?
Jonas: Hmmm. Yes.
Ad Hoc: Really? How?
Jonas: I was thinking about a newborn baby. Maybe I'm getting in too deep here.
Ad Hoc: Go for it. It's gchat.
Jonas: For, example if you had all the gear that you have in the rehearsal space, but there was no record of how to use it... I don't really know how to articulate this...
Ad Hoc: I don't know if I can answer the question either. It's tricky... Sound is such a portal for nostalgia and memory.
Jonas: Yes, it's a gateway shooting at a million reference points... but it can also give you the feeling of something future.
Ad Hoc: Do you think it's possible to get future nostalgia?
Jonas: Yes. Why not? Fantasy.
Ad Hoc: Fantastic nostalgia. I think we just coined a new genre. Why do you think people listen to your music and feel nostalgic?
Jonas: Okay, it's not like everybody says it. I heard it maybe twice; maybe it was a bad term to use. I could have also used weird or futuristic. Ha, maybe it's the guitar, or maybe not. We need some PhD guy dissecting this.
Ad Hoc: That's a terrible idea. Do you think you are making music for future nostalgia?
Jonas: No, not really. Cool rock.