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Wednesday
Sep082010

Casiokids

Image courtesy of artist.

Kidding around with Casiokids' Ketil Kinden Endresen.

By Tyler Trykowski

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Norway is a hotbed of artistic talent. It’s hard for any overseas act to break into popularity in America; that the country has produced artists as successful as Lindstrom, Data Rock or Annie in recent years is remarkable. When it comes to dance acts that shed drug-soaked rave pretentions, Norway’s carving out a niche for acts that would simply rather focus on fun.


Most of these acts sing in English, though. This would make it doubly surprising that Casiokids, a friendly gang of five guys from Bergen, can both sing in their native Norwegian and actually make money on a U.S. tour. But listening to their music will reveal the reason they’re slowly blowing up on our shores: deeply catchy dance-pop that will infect you with the urge to dance. See them live to observe the effect in action. Their energy moves roomfuls of stand-still-hipster twentysomethings who wouldn’t dare itch their nose to Panda Bear into full-on convulsions, booty drops and spastic arm maneuvers. They’ve done the same for audiences aged 5 to 65, too, proving good dance music has no prejudice in age.

It might be something in the water, because Norway is consistently producing acts with talent for miles. Casiokids go the distance, and after five years as a band, the world is taking notice.

Tyler Trykowski for UR Chicago: I heard you guys like to steal stuff on tour and you have things stolen from you, like I heard somebody tried to steal these action figures from you on stage?

Ketil Kinden Endresen: Well, yeah. [laughs] We do a lot of visual projects live and have a theater group with us at times, and also use a lot of props. For instance, this plastic flute instrument and plastic animals, other things. We were on tour and I remember in Edinburgh these two boys were fighting over these small props – there were so many people there dancing, so the audience started stealing our props from the stage and our drummer had to crowd surf during one of the songs and go take things back. And he got most of the things back before his drumming in the song started.

UR: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had stolen on tour?

KKE: We had a giant orange puppet with us on tour when this theater group did a tour with us in the UK two years ago, it was actually stolen off the stage even though it’s three meters high and three meters wide. Massive! So it disappeared, if anyone’s heard about this giant orange monster puppet please let us know. Still missing.

UR: I’d imagine you’d want that back, it sounds pretty awesome.

KKE: Yeah, well, it’s quite amazing someone managed to get away with that. It’d be easy to spot if anyone sees it. You should be able to see it on Google Maps street view, if you were to search the world on Google Maps.

UR: You guys are known for doing shows for kindergarteners. Do you do shows for nursing homes as well?

KKE: We have them, yeah. We often do kids’ shows and respect them as much as we respect the older audiences. Many people think that we started by playing just for kids because of the band name, but that’s not true, we started playing for kids almost as a coincidence. After our first Norwegian release we decided to have the release concert in a kindergarten. Apparently it seemed like nobody else was doing that sort of thing in kindergartens in the area, so there was suddenly a rush of offers for us to do kids’ shows, and it was hilarious and so much fun that we traveled around to each kindergarten in this old donut sales van, setting up the gear in one of the bigger rooms, and the kids would just go wild, dance and sing along and have lots of fun. So we combined the concerts with fan workshops that we did after the shows, where we made songs together with the kids. Over the years we’ve done many projects with kids including dance projects, puppet theater projects and various workshops. The last kids’ project we did was in February, where we made music and visuals for an opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

UR: What was playing a show in a hot air balloon like?

KKE: It was more frightening than I thought, because the captain of the balloon didn’t have too much control, there’s only so much you can do in a hot air balloon. You can’t control where you’re going, you can only go further up or further down, and apart from that you really have to trust the wind. I think we were all a bit nervous… you can find footage of that on You Tube.

UR: If you had one dream venue to play, where would you play?

KKE: I always had this dream of doing a tour in a sailboat, sailing around the world using the boat as a stage, and not be in a van, just be out on the sea, and play all the harbors, like the Mediterranean, North Africa… sail across the ocean to do the U.S. and South America… that would be amazing, I think. That would be an experience.

UR: Are there any particularly crazy fans at your shows?

KKE: There’s certain characters that I can spot in the audience many places around the world, and sometimes it seems like it’s the same person that’s traveled around when I look closer. It’s a different person every place, but they seem to be up front, and have printed out a lot of photos of us that he wants to get signed, and he is also secretly taking a lot of pills.

UR: What’s the oldest or most unusual Casio you use?

KKE: The Casios we still use, we actually borrowed from friends when we started out the band, and none of them are actually ours so we sort of stole them, in a way. They still work but there’s like keys missing and knobs that don’t work, so it’s a bit of a challenge, a bit of excitement and nervousness whenever we fly somewhere and open our keyboard cases again. You never know if they’re gonna work or not. Amazingly enough they seem to be pretty long-lasting, most of the Casios we use are from the late 80s, so we have about ten Casios, they all have a special feature on them. It’s quite amazing that every Casio seems to have one strange or exciting thing about them. Some of them you can sample, some you can arpeggio, and we try to utilize those specialties of the Casio whenever we can.

UR: Yeah, it’s things like that that make it a really unique brand.

KKE: Yeah, they’re amazing. There’s really a lot of nice sounds you can get out of them as well. I don’t think Casio was ever intending for Casios to be played at a stadium in front of 30,000 people, but there’s actually quite a nice sound to it when you plug it in as well, and sometimes a lot of noise but we try to use that as a feature in the music.

UR: Are there any acts coming out of Bergen you want people to know about?

KKE: I really like The Whitest Boy Alive and Kings of Convenience. Also, this DJ and dance musician named Thom Thorske.

UR: Well, let me ask this, now: do you guys have any styling products you like to use… to achieve your famous Casiokids style?

KKE: Well, we just don’t use shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle. We don’t combine them in the same package, we use two packages.

UR: It’s more natural that way.

KKE: Yes, better. We’re actually in the process of designing our own Casiokids shoe, so we’re working on that now with our Finnish designer, who also did the cover design and all the design for us. He’s working on that now so we’re excited to see how that turns out.

UR: So if you could release any product, ever, what would it be?

KKE: Casiokids watches. That would be something we all use and can be practical merchandise. That would be something.

Get the Casiokids full-length album Topp stemning på lokal bar [ED SP] on Polyvinyl.

 

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