Exposure: The Wintergreens
The Wintergreens - Death of Cities
Coming from Leith via Poland, Czech Republic and Iceland, The Wintergreens have a mix of cultures as rich as their music. All subtle electronics, and arrangements to build and tease with sparse, simple beats, they bring together such praised acts as Mogwai, The Knife and Bjork in an undeniably beautiful mix. The band tell all to The List.
How did The Wintergreens get together?
The current line up has been together for about a year. It started as a bedroom project in Barony Street around five years ago with Gunnar, Anna, and a broken Fostex four track. Around two years ago Steve and his effects pedals joined the band and roughly a year ago Robin started grating the Gibson. The current line up is more coincidence than anything else. Other people have been involved over the years but the four of us share a similar approach towards music. We are all very different people but glued together by the music we create.
You're based in Leith, but there's a wide range of backgrounds there. How do these differing cultures affect the music of The Wintergreens?
We like to think there is a lot of Leith in our music. You get a great sense of 'reality' down there and the place is full of interesting characters and not short of inspiration. We drink there quite a lot as well, and you might just see us there in 20 years, pint in one hand and a packed of Richmond Superkings in the other singing karaoke to Sunshine on Leith. The band spent important time in Prague a few years back, Gunnar is Icelandic and Anna is Polish, Steve is from Annan & Robin has spent a long time in Italy. We would probably like to consider our sound more European than Scandinavian.
It's a very beautiful, ethereal sound you have. What moods do you want people to go through when listening to your music?
We have always been true to our ideas and to our sound. We have worked hard on developing a sound of our own and to maintain our individuality. If people find the music beautiful or ethereal, fine. If they feel something else, just as good. As long as some people connect with our music in any way we are happy.
What's the process too of making that music? Is it a real labour of love?
We practice as much as we can, and by spending a lot of time playing together, song-writing has become more painless. We have developed a common view on how we want things to sound and that helps us in linking basic ideas together that eventually form a song. We try to work fast, take an idea and and build a basic arrangement as quickly as possible. If sounds right the first time it stays, if it doesn't we move on to the next thing. Lyrically it's a similar progress. Lyrics are born from a rough idea or a feeling. The average lyric takes about an hour to write and we are true to the reason the words are born from. That gives every song a individual character - gives it life, if you like.
What's the plan for the rest of 2009?
We have just released our first EP entitled 'Open Heart Surgery'. It is a limited release of 100 handmade copies and is for sale in Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk. Three years ago we went to Prague and spent six months writing and recording an album. We ended up with about 25 songs but the whole experience was quite traumatising and we never did anything with those songs when we came back to Edinburgh. That was our debut album that never came out. It took a long time to recover after the trip to Prague, and for months, or even years, we found it difficult to connect with our music. That's why our small EP is so important to us. Over the last year or so the passion and the enjoyment of making music has returned to us, and that's a great feeling. We will be playing songs from our EP as well as new material as much as possible for the rest of 2009. We have our first gig in the 13th Note in Glasgow in August that we are very excited about. But most importantly we will spend the rest of 2009 doing the same thing we have done over the last five years, push ourselves to write better songs and to grow as a band.
What's the nicest thing anyone's said about your music?
Gunnar says we are the best band in Edinburgh.
Why should people listen to The Wintergreens?
It's a music born from honesty, sometimes frustration and sometimes joy. It is real and individual. Our expression of everyday life .