Don't you ever wish you grew up in the hippie heyday of the 60s and 70s? Think about it. You could frolick naked in the fields all day with friends, lovers and everyone in between; listening to stoner rock all day (whilst stoned, of course) would be a legitimate activity; you wouldn't have to shave, ever. Okay, so maybe that's a little bit too much of wishful and stereopytical thinking—but it's still the vibe we get from Fribytterdrømme's video for their 20-minute hazy epic of a track, "Fribytterdrømmen".
In the video, the band is playing to a field of swayers, chillers and loungers staring dreamily up at the sky and smoking things—a combination does a pretty convincing job of reviving the lovey vibe of the hippie era decades behind us. In fact, it does such a good job, we thought we'd have a chat with the band's singer, Lau Pedersen, and get his thoughts on the current momentum that's returned to the Danish psych rock scene.
Noisey: Hey, Lau. Danish psych rock seems to be booming right now. How would you describe the psych scene here?
Lau Pedersen: Very broad. There are many Danish bands playing some kind of acid, psych or noise rock—whatever you want to call it. The scene has really grown over the past five years and it’s now a big umbrella term to capture a lot of genres. Some of them might not even be psychedelic, but it’s really nice that there are many Danish bands who enjoy playing rock ‘n roll. A lot of bands have even started to sing in Danish, and that’s nice to hear.
It does seem that singing in Danish is coming back. Why do you think that is?
Before, a lot of music in the Danish language was restricted to pop or hip-hop. There were very few rock ‘n roll psychedelic bands who sang in Danish. I thought we should use the Danish language to do something different to music than you can with English. It has nothing to do with nationalism—it’s just that there’s a lot of exciting stuff you can do with the Danish language. Although English has many more words available, some of them have lost their value. For example, how many times have you heard the word ‘love’ in English songs? There isn’t the same profound meaning with hearing the word ‘love’ in English as hearing the word ‘elsker’ in Danish.
Both the name of your band and the name of this song come from poet Tom Kristensen. What makes him so infuential to you?
Fribytterdrømme is the name of his debut poetry collection which came out in 1920. It’s some of the main expressionist poetry written in Denmark around that time period. My band is from the south of Funen and Tom Kristensen died on one of the islands down there. So it’s like digging in to the history of Danish poetry as well as hippie rock ‘n roll from the 60s and 70s.
This epic song in our catalogue is simply called "Fribytterdrømmen", which means buccaneer dreams. It’s very lyrically dense, and the last four verses are the complete opening poem of Kristensen's debut poetry collection. This song has been a part of us for a long time and we finally got the chance to publish it and make a video; it will be a 12” vinyl single later this fall. I can’t really think of any of the newer music history of Denmark doing a 20-minute song, so it’s a nice feeling to get it out there.
Since Copenhagen Psych Festival is tonight, how do you feel about the festival? Do you think festivals like that have played a role in the revival of psych music in Denmark?
The gig we played last year at Copenhagen Psych Fest was how we got our breakthrough in the scene; we played a pretty crazy show and after that, the audience has been with us all the way. So yeah, I think the psych fest gives the scene momentum. It’s nice that the people who arrange these pretty genre-specific festivals make psych music known to the general public. That said, it’s still a broad festival.
Exactly. Looking at some of the bands playing at Copenhagen Psych Fest, I wouldn’t call some of them ‘psych’ music. What do you think of that term in general?
The term psych rock is very vague now, especially in Denmark. It’s alright to use because it narrows it down for the listener and introduces it to new listeners, but I don’t want to think about it as a genre—I just want to think about it as fucking rock ’n roll. We’re rock bands. We just like to freak out every once in a while.
Catch Fribytterdrømme this Friday night at Copenhagen Psych Fest—or check out the whole festival, happening Thursday-Saturday.