Listening to Liima
We first discovered Liima after Stacey was invited by Jean-Robert of Saintil Communications to their London Residency in conjunction with Fritz Hansen. At an intimate gathering in the basement of the London Edition Hotel, she stepped into Liima’s ephemeral music studio—entering into an evening that promised unique sound filled with deep passion and integrity. Simply put, the music was transformative.
We love that Liima is communal, by nature. The band consists of Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg—members of the Danish act Efterklang—and Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. The way they compose also involves community, by having direct audiences in the studio.
We had the chance to hear the results of their unique creative process in person. Their show was hypnotic and intriguing. Wanting to discover more about the artists behind the music, we sat down with Liima member Casper Clausen, for an in-depth discussion about the band’s inception, creative process, brilliant collaboration and love of audience participation—the components that have resulted in their avant garde work.
(re)vision society: Casper, there is so much to ask you, but I must start with your band name, Liima, which is Finnish for “glue”. What led you guys to choose this as your name?
Casper Clausen: We wanted to do a Finnish name for our band since our fourth member is from Finland. There are a lot of difficult words in Finnish—beautiful words, but difficult. We tried to hunt down that one word that was universal, that everyone would understand, something that people could connect with quite quickly. And at the same time, Liima has this slightly exotic flavor to it and the two “i”s give it a little twist. We fell in love with the sound of it and the look of it and that it could be easily delivered to people, in a way.
rs: I agree, it is very beautiful phonetically. Your band is a collaborative effort, combining Efterklang members and percussionist Tatu Rönkkö. What made you guys come together to create Liima and do collaborative work?
CC: Well, Efterklang is still around but we have been in Efterklang for a really long time and we wanted to do other projects, see new ways to do work. We had been playing music with Tatu for a couple of years, and it actually started from our Finnish friend who asked us to do a collaboration together for a music festival in Finland. So he kind of gave birth to Liima in some sort of way. We were by a lake in Finland and we would go swimming, then go in the sauna, then inside the house to make music. We spent a week doing that and then presented this new material at the festival at the end of the week. With Liima there is this pure love of making music together.
rs: That sounds like an amazing environment to create music. I also heard that for your debut album, ii, you guys travelled around and recorded in various locations.
CC: Mmm, hmm. We did the beginning of it in Finland, and then we went to Berlin, Istanbul and then Madeira in four different seasons. In every place we made a bunch of songs and then picked out the best ones and put them on the album. That’s just the simple form of it.
rs: So how did the locations influence the music?
CC: One of the things I love about the music we made for ii is that I can remember exactly how these songs were born and where they were born. The songs that were born in Finland, the first residency, reflected a lot of the nature of the quiet outside. Then we went to Berlin where most of us were living at the time, which has a different kind of vibe. I guess Berlin has a bit more of a clubby vibe, and our songs on the album “513” and “Russians” are influenced by the studio in East Berlin that we were staying in, so they kind of have this grey, very concrete German vibe to them [laughing].
It could also be that we just had a talk about something. Like for “Roger Waters”, which was born in Istanbul, we were at lunch and we were all talking about a concert by Pink Floyd and we were all excited about it. We went back to the venue and we started the song by using synthesizers.
rs: I can hear the differences in the songs and I think it’s so interesting how these different places can influence your music while still creating a fluent album. Do you picture Liima continuing this process, moving forward?
CC: Absolutely! We’ve already had two residencies since we’ve finished the album: we did one in London at the Edition Hotel, where we basically invited the audience to come and be part of the process. So people could come and visit us while we were making the songs. And in the end we would make a concert and have all the audience there. We did the same in Copenhagen, same format, people would come around and watch us work. Then we would have a show in the end. It’s just something we really like. It’s a nice way of working because we write music collectively, it’s not like songwriting where someone comes up with a song. We really get together and start improvising with our ideas, but we always do it together. When we go away from that residency, we don’t think too much about it anymore until the next time we create. So it’s more like these islands of work and that works really well for us.
rs: Do you tend to think about the audience in the process of producing or do you more so produce the music for yourself and hope your audience receives it well once it is complete?
CC: With Liima we have this hook that there is a show at the end of creating, so in a way, we do kind of work towards the presentation for the people. It works best when you acknowledge that you have a deadline but you are focused on making good music. We enjoy the company of people and we also enjoy the verbal inputs, or to see if people dance when we think they would want to dance, to see how people receive the music, how they use it. It’s very important for us to have this social space when songs are born, and you sort of reflect differently on the songs when there are other people in the room. When you play music for friends, you can feel it instantly whether a song or section is working or not.
And that is something that fascinates me, the energy that links back to you with producing and to work with that form of communication. I love that way of communicating—it’s wordless. You can feel whether people receive the energy. There is communication, but it is rather abstract.
rs: I think that is what makes it so beautiful and so globally receptive. You know? Anyone can listen to music and really appreciate it. There really aren’t language barriers.
rs: You guys have such a unique sound and obviously a unique way of producing, which is really intriguing to me. Do you hope to have an influence on the music industry in general by the way you produce music, as well as through your sound?
CC: Oh, that’s difficult. I think, for me, there is kind of a strict line between the business and the creativeness of music. I like both and I also like to create work and set up concerts and work with albums—try to spread the love about new albums. But when we create music together, I think the best music we make comes out of authenticism, an authentic place.
We like to collaborate with people who are good at selling music with the right intention. But it’s two very different things. I mean personally, the key for me is to work with good people. And to work with people I respect and people that respect me.
rs: Ok my last question for you is about your upcoming show in London. Is there anything in particular about this show that you are really looking forward to?
CC: I’m just looking forward to playing in London again. We played there in January and London is this sort of interesting place. We want to perform a good show because of all of the artists in London that we really respect and all of the business people we want to seduce [laughing]. And all of the cool kids are in London. What I am hoping for is to be a little relaxed about things and to be able to deliver a show that has a kind of peace to it. I am hoping for a show with that special communication with the audience—I’m just hoping we can create a little special moment. We’ll bring our best.
Join us this Monday, 11 April 7.30pm at Rich Mix London to experience a one-of-a-kind performance of Liima. We hope to see you in the crowd!
For other performance dates check out www.liima.net
Interview by Kristin Agnes