“I think it was kind of always around my house. Everyone in my family plays a few different instruments on some level, so they were kind of just lying around for me to fiddle with from a very young age.” opens Nils Martin Larsen, one half of Norwegian duo Apothek, who tells me about his earliest memory of getting into music. “I have vague memories, and a very cute photo, from my first ever piano recital at four years old. I played some super Norwegian folk song I think.”
Arriving on the scene with their self-titled debut album, Apothek have caught the attention of many influential music taste-makers with their first two singles. Hitting the road this month, Nils sounds excited to be on what could be called a taste of a European tour, as both he and songwriter Morten Myklebust take to London, Hamburg, and Berlin.
Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1) is a fan, as are Noisey, Clash and Spotify, who tipped them for big things on their ‘Spotlight for 2016’. All of which is topped with the release of a debut self-titled on Norwegian founded, London-based label, Propeller Recordings.
Norwegian music is on the rise, as are Norway indie artists in general. Olso being a capital city ultimately provides more chance for like-minded people to meet. “Oslo has a rather small (but really great) music scene, so if you hang around in it for a while, you kind of get to know everyone.” says Nils when I ask about Apothek formation. “In that sense, it was inevitable I guess, but we met through friends and quickly found out that we had some likes and dislikes in common – and some really funny opposites as well. We decided to meet in my studio, and then we made ´Family´ in that first session.
“It was recorded in a few different phases and lots of different locations. Most of it was recorded in my studio in Oslo, trying to make all my synths make sounds they kind of didn’t want to make, and then making all my acoustic instruments sound warped and strange. Then when we felt we had a record we went to Lars Horntveth of Jaga Jazzist who produced the rest of the record with me in his Pooka Studio in Oslo. That was the last phase that tied it all together.”
Nils continues about the album, that listening to new music just does not work for his creative process. Instead he finds influences in “other forms” or the musician around him; ”I am really inspired by finding a new technique or a sound source that seems new to me. That can quickly turn into a song. Like the track ‘Departure’ – that all started with me patching a few effect pedals in an order I didn’t really want to patch them in. Turned out to be that noisy, screaming synth hook in the chorus. Stuff like that.”
A name like Apothek also leaves a question as to it’s uniqueness? Yet Nils put it as simple as Morten sitting a bar in Berlin; “we had been discussing names for a while. I think I just got a text saying ‘Apothek?’ and I replied ‘sounds good’. let´s go for that” and that was it.”
The media have really got behind Nils and Morten on the record and the singles from it. Such acclaim can only lead to positive possibilities in the future you would imagine. “It really is. There is just so much great music being released all the time that it feels great to have someone go out of their way to say they believe in what you do.”
There is a lot of great music coming out of Norway right now, especially in a scene that Nils earlier described as “a rather small (but really great)” scene. “Yeah. There is. People are really stepping up their game here now – which is really cool to see. I would describe it first and foremost as hard-working and innovative. People want to make something different – at least in the scene I relate to the most. They want to try to contribute something new – either a new style or a new influence in pop music – and that’s really inspiring to me.”
Looking ahead to London and those dates lined-up in Germany, things look promising for the guys; “Yes! We cannot wait! Hoping to see a lot of new faces at The Pickle Factory. Also looking forward to hearing Toothless who are playing before us.”
Apothek embark on a series of European dates in October, with a performance at London’s The Pickle Factory on 25 October 2016.