Interview: Kings of Convenience

The folk-pop duo (Bøe with childhood friend Erlend Øye) released their third album, Declaration of Dependence in October 20th, 2009. They were scheduled to tour through the US over the next few months, however they have postponed all tour dates and condensed them into a 10-day tour. Their new Chicago show is the last stop in the short US tour on June 10th at The Metro. All previously bought tickets will be honored, so the venue is close to selling out. This is their first US tour since 2004 and tickets are sure to sell out. The Kings of Convenience are making sure this tour is neat and clean. “We like to keep it comfortable,” Eirik added. In a brief February interview, I got to find out what is really important for the Norwegian team.

DH: Be honest. What did you miss about the States?
EB: I really love the people I meet in America. They have such a positive attitude that you can’t find in Europe. I noticed the biggest difference between the two. Whenever you talk to [Europeans] or present them with something they have never heard of… the European people are more like, “I’ve never heard of this. It can’t ever be good.” In America, I feel like everyone is so open to new ideas.
DH: So what is the new idea?
EB: We wanted to be very clear about what we were doing this time, something you could listen to in one go. We didn’t want those odd tracks which make the album confusing.

DH: You and Erelend Oye haven’t toured in almost 6 years together. What prompted the new tour with so many other projects going on?
EB: Well, we wanted to come back to the states. The last time we toured there we had a great time. We’re here to show the new album, but we don’t like to stress things. It feels natural.

DH: Any particular focus for the tour?
EB: We put out the album to be able to tour more, so we are going all over the world. We’re here and back home and in Asia. All over.

DH: Do you have any favorite spots in the US?
EB: And where are you?
DH: We’re based out of Chicago.
EB: Chicago then! (laughs) That’s something I really miss when I tour… the feeling of being able to walk out of the venue and there are just shops and cafes… you know, urban life? Good, old fashioned urban culture.

DH: What makes your live shows unique?
EB: We never make a set list. Between every song it’s, “So, what’s next?” or, “What do we play now?” We want to be the DJ. What is the mood of the crowd? What song can we play to enhance this mood?

DH: A few of the songs such as “Freedom and Its Owner” sound very acoustic in their approach. What inspired you to make this choice for this album?
EB: There are clearly the elements and ideas of bossa nova music in this album. The chords the guitar is playing are complex chords and the rhythm of the strumming is like a samba rhythm, the percussion at the same time. Just using just one guitar and the voice to create as much music as possible.

It’s funny how I feel… Sometimes I feel that I’m not being pushed by any outside source. I just love music, I just want to hear it more and more… I mean, I write songs about my own life. My inspiration is my life.

Declaration of Dependence received a kind, but unfeeling review from Pitchfork (7.9) and a rave review from BBC Music, yet they haven’t made a blip on Billboard magazine’s Top 100. With so many other investments and Erelend Oye’s many side projects (The Whitest Boy Alive and solo work), the two have not had much opportunity to come together for much new work together. However, the Norwegian duo have no regrets about the album or the response to it. “We don’t want to wind up superstars. We don’t want to lose our privacy.”

Written by: Blake Russell

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