Blue Foundation is a band from Denmark that mixes various elements of music and performers to create a sound unique.
They have been around since 2000, and I guarantee you’ve heard their music so far.
Here, I speak with Tobias Wilner about how Blue Foundation formed, how he feels about his song being used in Twilight and what the future holds for the band.
How did Blue Foundation form? Were you friends with the other musicians who take part in your songs or did you discover them through the music business somehow?
I had some years where I just messed around and experimented with sounds, until I met Tatsuki Oshima; a Japanese designer an artist that I began to work with. We had the same love for Japanese underground music. Names like DJ Krush, Friction, Blue Herpes. We also listened to bands like My Bloody Valentine, Stereo Lab, Broadcast, Can, Faust etc. This was around year 2000…
Anyway, I collected a few people. Among others, my little brother and Kirstine Stubbe Teglbjærg (singer on “Eyes on Fire”) recorded some songs and released the first Blue Foundation single on Moshi Moshi Records.
In that sense, do you consider the other musicians to be members of Blue Foundation or is the roster constantly rotating depending on what musicians you’ve collaborated with on a particular album?
I always see the musicians who play with Blue Foundation as part of the band. They all come with their personal expression and characterize the sound.
I have played concerts as Blue Foundation only with Tatsuki Oshima or Scott Martingell in Japan or England…The crew has changed from release to release and from concert to concert. But Kirstine Stubbe Teglbjærg, Tatsuki Oshima and Bo Rande have largely been the standard players on the last three records. Only Bo Rande will be on the new Blue Foundation record I’m working on these days…
Whom I like to work with changes all the time. This has not been entirely easy for me. Musicians are very sensitive and they easily mix things together. I just move forward in a desire to develop my music; I never do it for personal reasons.
What other bands or musicians inspire you? Has music always been your passion or did you first make a start when Blue Foundation formed in 2000?
Philip Glass, My Bloody Valentine, Coltrane, Neil Young, DJ Shadow, EPMD, Dr. Octagon, Carsten Nikolai, Mount Eerie, Smog, Savery, Autechre, Sonic Youth, Can, Mark Kozelek, DJ Krush, Damien Jurado, Xasthur, Faust…
I used to do music with my old friend Jonas from Mew. We also had a band called “Degenerates” (or something) when we were 14 -16 years old. I remember I really wanted to explore electronic and avant-garde music and the others in the band more or less hated most of what I did. Too noisy and weird. I’m still best friends with Jonas today and we actually started to do some music together again. Just for fun…I have been making a living out of music since I was 18 years old.
Who writes your songs? Where do you draw inspiration from? Has any life experience (s) in general helped to mold your ideas and sound in general?
I always write the main structure of the song and then the rest in a co-operation with the artist. In terms of inspiration, it is slightly different from song to song. There is a new song on the forthcoming Blue Foundation album which was written for my good friend Ryo Kato / DJ Klock. Although he had a son and a wonderful wife, he could not find peace; he took his own life. Sad!
I’m sorry to hear about that. I’ll definitely check out the song when the album drops… One of your most popular songs has become “Eyes on Fire.” How did you feel about it being on the Twilight soundtrack? Did you like how it was portrayed in the film?
It’s cool with me. Parts of the movie I liked, some parts I didn’t really like. But I have to say I love the feeling that the film expresses; a feeling that many young people and older people feel in life…The feeling of being different than others and the desire to be special. It is the same feeling that most superhero stories contain. And I think the movie shows it in a really nice way.
That’s interesting! What bands/musicians have you played with thus far? Any gigs in particular that meant a lot to you or shows that were the most memorable? Are there any bands/musicians you’d hope to collaborate with in the future?
I have worked with many artist over the years, but most memorable is my work with Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) and DJ Krush. I’ve been a big fan of their artistic pursuits ever since I was a teenager, so to be able to create art with them has meant everything to me. Also my work with Sara Savery (Ghost Society) has meant a lot to me. She has pushed me in new directions, and has in many ways been a mentor for me.
I would love to work more with Jonas Bjerre (Mew) if we could find some more time…
Also it would be great to do collaborations with artists like Mount Eerie, Yoko Ono, Karl Blau, Carsten Nikolai…the list is so long.
What is your favorite aspect of playing a live show? Do you guys ever do any covers?
It has taken me many years to learn how to play live. I feel that it’s only within the last year or so that I really can enjoy it; that I can interpret my songs 100%. Maybe I’m not so shy any more!
I have always changed the way a song will be played in the last hour. Often in sound check just before a show. Which is not always a good idea!
Sometimes I play a Damien Jurado or a Smog song. I have been thinking of doing “Beautiful Boys” by Yoko Ono.
I would love to hear it! I read in your blog where you came up with the band’s name. Have you always been drawn to music that leans towards the sadder or darker side of life? Do you envision yourself ever going in a different direction musically?
I want to reinvent the happy house scene!!! No just kidding. I was a sad kid who could not find his place on the football team. I stood on the skateboard and wrote sad songs instead. Was always unhappy in love …..
But you produce excellent music as a result! What do you feel is the hardest or most f*cked up part of the music industry today? Do you have any advice for up and coming musicians who are trying to make it big without losing their creative integrity? Moreover, when it comes down to playing music to survive, do you feel that there is a medium ground between playing music your way vs. “selling out,” as so many artists today do?
Right now we are moving from a running horse wagon to driving a car. So there are many who will lose their jobs. It is of course sad, but it is time to move on. I must admit, I do not have much faith for the music industry and many of those who work in it. There are few who have their heart in the right place and who are honest people, but it is an entertainment industry full of empty castles in the air… and fools.
I love the honest, hard-working artist who does not care about what people say he or she has to do, but follows their own mind and ideas. It’s the right thing to do. There is no formal. Do what you do and time will show. That’s what I have been doing…
Empty castles… I like that. How do you feel about the current state of the world today? Be as free as you want with this question.
Completely horrible! I’m glad that it is hard to hide anything because of the Internet, in terms of politicians who lie about the basis for going to war, and about dictatorships lying about how they brutally manage a population and country, etc…
Agreed! So what is in the future for Blue Foundation?
Right now I’m in the stages of “been there done that”…I don’t think me and Kirstine can write better songs then “Eyes on Fire” and “Watch you Sleeping” together right now. So I will break new grounds with the new record and focus on my very own songs and stories. I will also let productions stand as more clear and experimental; a bit like my Bichi project, just based more on the song than the expressive.
It is important to move forward constantly and not repeat yourself as an artist. There is no fixed formula in my world. If you have had success with something, it is time to move on and get out in deep water to swim with the sharks (arg!!) Learning from mistakes…
We will finish the new record in NYC in the Fall and start touring the States! I’m sure we will release the first single in Fall 2010. I’m also sure this will be the best record ever from Blue Foundation with a lot of great collaborations with some great, great artists…
I’ve also been ask by Apparatjik (new project by Jonas Bjerre from Mew, Coldplay-bassist Guy Berryman, A-has keyboard player Magne Furuholmen and Martin) to do a RMX of one of their songs. Plus me and Jonas Bjerre will try to finish an OK GO! remix…
Tomorrow, (5/1) I will fly to Toronto to Join the Film Festival Hot Docs. I have to play a Blue Foundation DJ-set and do some Q and A about music for the film. When I’m back I will finish a little tour with my other band called Ghost Society, and then back to the Blue Foundation studio…
It is a good idea to keep moving forward…I wish you luck in your endeavors! I can’t wait to hear the new album.
Keep updated with Blue Foundation through their MySpace or FaceBook.