INTERVIEW: NELSON CAN
When I went to HAVEN Festival last month I got the chance to talk to Nelson Can, the upcoming rock band consisting of Selina Gin on vocals, Maria Juntunen on drums and Signe SigneSigne on bass.
Their set at the festival was simply fantastic and the band are bound for greatness in the coming year that's for sure, especially if recent singles ‘Miracles, 'Move Forward' and ‘Break Down Your Walls’ are anything to go by, All three songs are taken from their third EP which is fast approaching release later this very month! (September 29th).
It was a pleasure getting to talk to the aspirational trio and we had a great conversation about their beginnings, their new and upcoming music as well as a very topical discussion about the role of female musicians in festivals currently and you can check it all out below.
Hey! Thanks for answering a few questions, So how did Nelson Can begin, I hear it’s quite a story?
SIGNE: "It started out when we were in high school, we all really wanted to be in a band so we started telling people we had one, at the time we never thought people were going to book us anyway, so we thought that we were free and in the clear but then we got booked for a few shows, so we thought 'ok, f**k it! we are going to do it!' and then of course we did".
SELINA: "so basically, it started out as a lie".
SIGNE: "so many great things start out as a lie though".
SELINA: "but then we had to do something about the lie, because people thought we really had a band and you know, you don’t ever want to get caught in a lie".
Are there any particular artists you would say have influenced you as a band?
SELINA: "I think that’s quite a difficult question because we keep changing our view on that, of course there’s influences and there is also the fact that we couldn’t play the guitar and that kind of made the band how it is now, because we could play the bass and the drums and we had the vocals, so I think that’s a huge part of our sound but of course the music we’ve been listening to for throughout the years has played a part".
SIGNE: "I think in many ways, a lot of our sound is more coincidence than it is well thought through all the time, saying that though, I think a lot of bands have inspired me but more in terms of how they approach music and how they make music".
"The White Stripes and Gossip were definitely some very important and early influences for me, because they were so different and didn’t let themselves be limited by the fact that maybe they didn’t have the best drummer or the best bass player or the best guitarist. but they had the best idea and a lot of the time music is just ideas really".
"Something that I know we used to talk a lot about, is that we also like to really work with the space in the music, the empty space, the more simple you make the music, the more you allow people to imagine the fullness of the sound, I’m not sure if that makes sense, but if you just fill the song up with synths and guitars and everything then you don’t leave anything to the imagination of the listener".
SELINA: "Yeah also actually the space in the songs, because we are only three people in this band, so there’s a lot of room for everyone and their sound".
MARIA: "I think the way we function as a band and as musicians, you have nowhere to hide, when you’re playing like a big sample then there’s lots of guitars and somewhere you can blend in, hide and just not stand out, that's both a positive and can also be a negative but here with us, it’s bass, drum and vocal and you have to do it, have it, take the lead, f**king own it or else… it will fall apart".
SIGNE: "you have to believe in it because if you’re on stage and you don’t really believe what you’re playing then your kind of f**ked".
For anyone who hasn’t seen you live before what would you describe your show as, is it quite heavy, is it interactive with the crowd?
SELINA: "Yes! I think we always kind of describe our live shows as very powerful and there is a lot of energy that comes with that but the energy changes from show to show I think, so if it’s a good day then it’s that kind of positive energy and if it’s a bad day it can be something else entirely but it will always be interactive with the audience".
SIGNE: "Yes, it’s nice to be able to look the audience in their eyes and just like you as a band want to be seen and heard, I think in many ways the audience want the same thing and I think that a really, really good show is when you kind of break down that wall that is between the stage and the crowd and it all just becomes one, because if the audience is not there then we would not be there at all".
MARIA: "Precisely, We feed from the audiences energy and they also feed from our energy and our music, so when the stars are aligned in just the perfect way, it’s like a really good interaction, maybe not like going and dancing with the audience but that energy exchange that’s there, it’s why it’s so f**king amazing playing live, I hate being in the studio (the other girls laugh), I’m not a studio person, It’s an artificial way to make music, It’s just difficult to me that way but when you’re on the stage, the performing part, that’s the f**king drug of choice".
SIGNE: "I don’t know how many people know this but the bass and the drums on all our recordings, well at least 95% of them are recorded live. we play it together live so it’s not like a layered recording".
ME: So, you get the same sort of energy?"
SIGNE: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, try and keep it high on energy, I think that energy is such a fluffy word though".
SELINA: "It's a state of mind I think, I also think that, when we tried playing shows after we’ve had like a bad day or the flight was late, or the gear didn’t arrive, or the sound was s**t or something, it kind of gives us fuel to be even better on stage, I don’t know why, but when it does, it turns out to be the best concert ever".
SIGNE: "I think a good concert isn’t whether you played like perfectly or hit ever note pitch perfectly, it’s more if you feel in touch with your audience and your band of course".
Your new single ‘Break Down Your Walls’ was released today, it’s really good, is that the sort of feel the rest of the E.P. is going to take?
SIGNE: "We have 3 singles out from the E.P. at the moment, (‘Miracle, ‘Move Forward’ and ‘Break Down Your Walls’) I think they are all quite different and there’s a few more surprises we have left on the E.P".
SELINA: "That’s a part of our sound".
SIGNE: "That’s the thing, when you only have drum and bass, your music ends up taking many shapes, and that’s what makes it fun and I think that even though now we’ve already released 3 singles from the E.P., I feel people will still be in for a surprise when they hear it".
I’ve got quite a topical question, over in the U.K. there’s a big discussion about women in rock music, about how many female acts are not being placed at festivals, so it’s quite nice to come to Haven and see the likes of yourselves, Feist, Lisa Hannigan all getting quite prominent slots, it’s fairly 50/50 on the line up gender wise over here, do you think that’s more of a U.K. issue or festivals in general?
SIGNE: "I think that it’s a big topic in Denmark as well, a lot of the big festivals here do not have many women on the programme, it’s really difficult being a woman/female musician in that discussion because nobody wants to be booked just because they are a woman, we want to be booked because we make good music, but of course I think In a way these festivals do have some sort of responsibility not to just book female acts but to show young girls that there are a lot of female musicians and give them someone to look up to and be inspired by, so that hopefully in the future there will be more girls and women playing music, I think a lot of the time the excuse is that there aren’t a lot of female musicians to choose from, there is".
ME: "There definitely is a lot of female talent out there".
SIGNE: "I feel like sometimes as a female musician, you can feel a little bit captivated in that debate and you don’t really want to be, it feels like, I’m on the outside of it".
MARIA: "Sometimes it does take focus from the music and us as a band, and turns us just into “a female band”. I think all of us want to be f**king good role models and show young girls and young boys that f**king females can play rock but yet again we just want to be considered a normal rock band, it’s like a balance, we are very conscious about it and talk about it a lot of the time, we get asked a lot of times if we want to appear in these debates, but we think it can take focus away from the music".
SELINA: "It’s good you asked the question though, I think that’s the next step, we just need to talk about it".
ME: "There’s definitely a lot of good female acts around and it’s not just that they are female as to why they should be booked, they should be booked on musical merit".
What’s it like to play the first ever Haven Festival
SIGNE: "It’s f**king amazing!"
SELINA: "It feel’s good".
SIGNE: "To be honest, I think that this is the festival in Denmark which has had the best line up this year".
SELINA: "It feels like we are part of a movement, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s like everything here is different, it feels good, people are nice to each other and there’s a happy atmosphere".
And finally who are you most excited to see at the Festival?
MARIA: "IGGY, IGGY, IGGY!"
SIGNE: "Bon Iver and Tinariwen".
SELINA: "Our trailer is next to Iggy Pop and it’s very important to get a selfie with him and Maria".
ME: "You haven’t bumped into him yet then?"
SIGNE: "No but we will hunt him down!" (laughs)
MARIA: "I think he’s lying in his coffin and sleeps still, he needs to wake up and get some blood and then he will rise, the sun needs to go down before he comes out".
SELINA: "I really wanted to see Iceage as well but I think they are playing at this moment, they are Danish, so I guess we can catch them some other time".
SIGNE: "F**king brilliant band, I heard they’ve just finished their next album as well around last week, inside information for you". (laughs)
ME: "Thank you very much for talking to me guys!"
NELSON CAN: "Thank you!"
If you want to check out Nelson Can over in the U.K then you’re in luck, the band are supporting JAWS on select dates this November, check out the list below and grab your tickets now so you don’t miss out.
17th November - Reading - SUB89
18th November - Southampton - Engine Rooms
19th November - Exeter - Phoenix
21st November - Cardiff - The Globe
22nd November - Bristol - The Fleece
23rd November - Norwich - Waterfront
Buy Tickets Here (https://www.seetickets.com/tour/jaws)