FolkWorld #52 11/2013
© Eelco Schilder

A Little Symphony

The first full length album of the Danish band Dreamers' Circus gives me a great excuse to write about Danish music again. Looking back at over fourteen years of reviewing and interviewing there have not been many Danish bands I wrote a whole article about. Strange, because I hear a lot of Danish music, lived in Denmark for a while, still go there once or twice a year and I’m probably the biggest Savage Rose fan outside of Denmark. So time to start writing, and the fabulous new album of this Danish band gave me more than enough reason to contact Nikolaj Busk and ask about the band, the new album and Danish music in general.

Dreamers' Circus

Dreamers' Circus @ FolkWorld:
FW#44, #52

Nikolaj Busk @ FolkWorld:
FW#30, #32, #38, #39, #43, #49, #49

Nikolaj Busk tells that music has been a natural part of their life for him, Ale Carr and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen. They all started to play instruments at a young age and were lucky to grow up in a surrounding where music was a tool to have fun. In a later stage they discovered they had some kind of special talent and started to realise that maybe music could be their professional job one day.

Busk: ‘But it's a funny thing, because even though we all three are now professional musicians, at least I didn't really realize it yet actually. I am 31 years old, but still practice every day and work every day to follow my dream of becoming a professional musician. And I forget that I actually am. I think it has something to do with the childish attitude again. Playing music is for fun and is not your job. I often say that you don't earn your money on stage but you earn your money before and after the concert, because that's when you have to work!’

‘All three of us have grown up with folk music. Ale is definitely the one who is the most "folky" one. His family is a great musicians-family where folk music is a very natural part of their everyday life. Rune also grew up with classical music and also studied classical violin at the Music Academy. He plays in The Danish String Quartet and has been the concerto master for Copenhagen Philharmonic. So he is the one who knows most about classical music.’

‘When I was a child I wanted to play jazz trumpet like Louis Armstrong. He was my biggest hero and probably still is. So I wanted to go that direction but somehow we all ended up playing folk music together, but with a great influence from all the music we have been listening to.’

Compared to other European countries there are relatively many Danish folk related albums released each year. I ask Busk what role Danish traditional music does play in the modern Danish society. Busk: ‘Danish folk music has been a underground scene for many years and most Danish people actually don't know much about folk music. But it is starting to change and the interest for the folk scene and roots music is getting bigger. We can feel that in Dreamers' Circus. More people are coming to our concerts and follow us.’

‘I have my own theory about the increasing interest which has something to do with the globalization. It has been very easy for us to explore other cultures from other countries. That means we suddenly can get a feeling of dancing tango in Buenos Aires or Salsa in Havana. Or eating sushi in Tokyo or Daal in New Delhi. I have been a person who has been taking a large bite of the cake and travelled around the world to explore all the richness from other cultures. But one day you start thinking "where do I actually come from?" And that question has started in Denmark a few years ago where Danish food suddenly became much more popular. And now the same increasing interest for our roots music has started.’

Dreamers' Circus

All three musicians have been working as a musician for some years. They met in Copenhagen about four years ago where Ale and Rune were playing as a duo. Busk: ‘They were sitting and jamming and I totally fell in love with their music. Next to them there was a piano so I asked them if I could join them and then we played till the next morning and that’s how Dreamers' Circus was born.’

Dreamers' Circus: Mozart cadenza in folk style

‘Six months later Rune had his debut concert from the Music Academy and he had to perform Mozart’s fifth violin concerto with Copenhagen Philharmonic. He wanted to add folk music into his performance so in the third movement Ale, Rune and I did a folky version of the whole violin concerto in the cadenza. So after that we were famous for playing classical pieces in a folk style so we did that for some years with many classical ensembles.’

‘We still play with classical ensembles and symphony orchestras but it has changed to be more our own music which many people describe as a mixture of classical and folk music. I don't know about that - I just try to play music without knowing anything about what it is.’

After a debut EP, now the full length album is released. According to Busk this album gives a clear picture of how the band was during the recordings. They dared to invite the guests they wanted and play according to their own vision on music. Busk: ‘The symphony orchestra project is a great challenge. We have so much fun with this project and meet great musicians who teaches us a lot. Since our music is made for three persons, there is a lot of space for spontaneous ideas when we play and that is an important part of our playing. It is harder to get to that when we you play with a 60 piece orchestra. Luckily the orchestrator Hans Ek, who wrote the arrangements for the orchestra, knows our music very well and knows how important the transparent and spontaneous aspect is for us.’

Dreamers' Circus: A Litle Symphony

‘I think we managed to create tracks that all have a story to tell. We try to give as much space to the music as possible and as little space to us as persons. So we have to pay a very good attention to the music we find. As soon as we find some music we try to remember it and then it becomes a piece of music. Some will call it a piece of music that we wrote but we like to call it a piece of music that we found! It was already there, but someone had to pick it up, and the question is just, who will be first! When you work in that way, you have to be very open and be very humbled to the music. It is a hard thing because we also have an ego who wants attention and disturbs the process. But it works if you train it :-) And the reactions we get from our audience confirms this method. The reactions have been overwhelming! We are very thankful about that.’

Now the album is released, positive reviews and concerts are given. What is the band up to at the moment? Busk: ‘I wish I was a cat with nine lives so I had time to realize all the ideas we have. In October we will play a concert at the Sydney Opera house. Rune will receive a cultural prize from The Danish Crown Prince Couple and at the award show we will do a performance. We are proud, nervous, excited and thankful! Now we are working on a big piece for Dreamers' Circus and choir which will be played on Nordic Song Festival in Sweden next summer. And we are recording an album with the Danish indie-rock artist Kristian Leth whom we played with on Tønder Festival this year. And then we will be touring in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden in the spring 2014. And we are working on new music as well... music that we find.’

Dreamers' Circus

Photo Credits: Dreamers' Circus: (1), (3)-(4) unknown/website; (2) by Caroline Bittencourt.

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