Yung are a four member band from Denmark, a country that suddenly seems to be coming up with a lot of great music lately. Splicing together punk and melody, Yung are causing a stir with their new EP, Alter, due to be released on March 2 on Tough Love Records. Comprised of 20 year old frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær (guitar, vocals) Aarhus -Frederik Nybo Veile (drums), Tobias Guldborg Tarp (bass) and Emil Zethsen (guitar), they will be touring in Europe this spring. “Nobody Cares” is the first single and offers up an urgent cry from the clash between the wish for freedom and the banality of everyday life. Northern Transmissions was able to talk to Mikkel Holm Silkjær.
Northern Transmissions: Congratulations on your upcoming debut in London! Have you guys done much touring outside of Denmark? Any plans for North America?
Mikkel Holm Silkjær: Thanks! We’ve toured in Europe and Scandinavia a couple of times last year. Hopefully we’re going to tour North America sometime soon.
NT: How would you say your music has evolved from the release of your first album S/T-Cassette to Alter?
MHS: I think my song writing has changed radically since I recorded the songs to the cassette. When I recorded the songs to the cassette I didn’t realise that Yung would ever play live, it was sort of just this side project I had. Yung pretty much started out as a bunch of demos that didn’t fit to all the other projects I was involved in and after a while I had quite a lot of demos so I figured that it would be fun to play them live with a band. When I wrote the songs to Alter I knew that Yung was playing live, and therefore the songs turned out more energetic. We’ve never played any of the songs from the cassette live.
NT: What’s the inspiration behind the artwork on Alter?
MHS: Cheap wine and boredom I guess. I was hanging out with some good friends of mine, and we had been hanging out at the beach all day. We had been filming to the Nobody Cares video. When the sun went down we headed home to Veronika (she filmed and edited the video). We got drunk and decided to surround Markus with candles while he lay on the floor. I took the photo after he had been lying there for a while. I’m really glad about how it turned out; the photo is kind of enticing. I mean Markus is a handsome young boy and the whole scene on the photo kind of make you think about what’s going on. There was this weird surreal vibe while we did the whole thing and I guess that reflects the lyrics on Alter in some way.
NT: Is it a tough for artists to make it in Denmark? Part of the Danish culture doesn’t seem to encourage people to stand out.
MHS: We have this thing in Denmark called The Law of Jante and that certainly doesn’t encourage people to stand out. Basically The Law of Jante criticises individual success and achievements. It has this saying: “You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.” The Law of Jante is probably more integrated in the Danish society than we want it to seem to but it’s not something I experience when I’m playing at Danish venues. Whether it’s because I don’t pay attention and think about The Law of Jante when I’m out playing, or if it’s because the law just isn’t as present in the groups I’m socialising and playing in, I don’t know. But I do think that The Law of Jante is present everywhere in Denmark, at least to some extent. I don’t know what you exactly mean by “make it” but if you’re a mainstream pop phenomenon you will have an easy time “making it”. People listen to shitty music in Denmark as well, so in that way we’re no different from the rest of the world. When it comes to the kind of music we play it’s different. I mean there’s like three or four cities in Denmark where it makes sense to play, at least if you want anybody to show up. It’s not like it isn’t any fun to play here, I’ve had lots of great experiences but after a while you do know what to expect. But people tend to be very dedicated to their respective scenes, and I think that’s really important for the development of bands, artists, labels etc.
NT: Can we expect hear more tracks similar to “Falter” and Nobody Cares” on the new album?
MHS: I think all the songs on Alter are in some way connected. I wrote them during a short period of time, so some things recur. Nobody Cares is actually the oldest song on Alter so it was kind of there it started. But I wouldn’t say that the other songs on Alter are a lot like Nobody Cares. At least not the structure of the song.
NT: You recorded the album just two months after the band formed. Was there a sense of urgency to get it out? How well did you guys know each other?
MHS: When Tobias and Frederik joined the band I had quite a lot of songs that I wanted to play. Within the first four months we had recorded a 7inch EP, an album and we went on a short tour in Europe. I guess that we were anxious about playing in a new band, and we just kind of wanted things to get going. We didn’t really know each other that well when they joined the band. We met at this festival in our hometown named Pop Revo. I played at the festival with another band and they played with their band Snaredrum (still active). When I decided that I wanted to play live with Yung it just kind of made sense to ask those two guys because I had seen them play live, so I knew that they were two really decent musicians. Emil joined the band last summer and I met him through a friend of mine.
NT: Has the success of your band and other groups like Iceage and Lower, been an inspiration for a lot of younger people to start playing?
MHS: Well the source of music is inspiration from other bands and artists, so it sure would be nice if we had inspired other bands to start playing. I don’t know about that though, I mean we haven’t played too long yet. Within the last three to four years a lot of new bands a scenes have popped up in Denmark so something has certainly happened. It might because of the success of certain bands but it’s hard to say if that’s the case.
NT: Did the piece in NME have a lot of impact on the band?
MHS: I guess it made some people find out about the band, and they probably wouldn’t have found out about us if it weren’t for NME.
NT: What are the five albums that are inspiring you the most these days?
Tense Men – Where Dull Care Is Forgotten EP
Swell Maps – Jane From Occupied Europe
Weed – Deserve
Human Abfall – SNG EP
Everything with Tile Breaker