Jesper Lundager is the one-man-band Tusindfald. Following two releases under his own name, Macuti (2008) and Dying Lilies Brighter Colours (2011), Lundager created Tusindfald in 2013 while studying sound design in college. He invited some college friends to play and sing on his recordings, which became the debut Tusindfald EP, Kys (2013). After college, the bandmates scattered and started their own music careers. Lundager was once again making music alone, and it took six years before the next Tusindfald release, the EP Blik, which came out in December 2019.

Big Sonic Heaven contributor Rick Bourgoise recently spoke to Jesper Lundager from his home in rural Denmark. They talked about Tusindfald’s sound explorations on Blik, the coming together and dissolution of a band, and pursuing a more uptempo sound in the future.

Big Sonic Heaven (BSH): Your latest EP, Blik, came out late last year. How’s that been doing for you?

Jesper Lundager: Well, I must admit I have not been doing a lot of promotion, but it’s been spreading a lot organically, by itself. And that’s very, very pleasing.

BSH: It explores more of an electronic ambient sound. I was listening to the track “Blændet.” It’s got a Brian Eno vibe to it. It’s really, really cool.

Jesper: Thank you. When I started out, I wanted to be like my idols, like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. But, as I got older, I got more into electronic music. And it’s just been shifting in that direction the last decade.

BSH: Tell me more about this shift in your musical style. What were you doing, and what led you to move toward this more ambient and electronic sound?

Jesper: There’s a lot of these old bands, they worked a lot with the sound, with effects and stuff. I wanted to replicate that. I started studying sound design at the same point where I really got into how you can manipulate sounds. That’s kind of when it took a slightly different turn because I figured out how to replicate my idols. And, I wanted to go in my own direction. It just happened intuitively. When I think too much about it, that’s when it usually goes wrong for me. I just have to follow the music. It’s kind of cliché, but you just let the music take you where it wants to go. Sometimes it’s a good direction and sometimes it’s not, but that’s the thing that works for me.

BSH: How did you figure it out? What gave you this new revelation to replicate that sound?

Jesper: Well, that’s a good question. I found new ways to manipulate sound, and I got really into synthesizers at some point. I was using a lot of guitars before. When I was studying sound design, we had some courses in synthesis and stuff like that. That’s when I had the first revelation: “Oh, that’s how it works. Oh, now I can make these sounds as well.” It was just getting more into ambient music.

BSH: You said that you have been incorporating old effects, what are those old effects that we can now hear on this EP?

Jesper: I have a rack with a lot of effects from the 80s. It’s a Yamaha SPX. I also have a really old computer which I use as a synthesizer. I could make similar sounds on my modern computer, but there’s something about running it through these old circuits that just gives it some noise and color, which inspires me. Every time I turn on this old beast, I make something crazy. It’s always fun.

BSH: Give me an example of an effect that you discovered through using this old equipment that you really couldn’t replicate with new systems.

Jesper: “Alting Forandres” is made using that (old) computer. And, I put it onto an old reel tape. A shitty one. It’s falling apart. I found it at a thrift store for like $15 or something. I processed it with some effects on the computer. I actually wanted to expand on it, but I never got around to it. That track was something that started in 2011. I just could never finish it, and at some point, I just had to say: “That’s it. I got to back off.”

BSH: Let’s go back to 2011. You started off releasing music under your own name. Then, you migrated to become Tusindfald. How did you start making music, and then how did that become a band?

Jesper: I found out – this was the late 90s – that I could make music in MS-DOS with some really primitive software. That’s how I started. Then, music programs really evolved, and around 2004, VSTs were getting pretty good. I was just experimenting at the time making a lot of cheesy trance music when I was a teenager. In high school, I matured a bit and got into all these old shoegaze bands. I bought a guitar to make something that sounded like it. Years later, I moved away from home and started a few bands, where we played really loud noise rock and shoegaze. I started producing stuff at that point and made my own music on the side under my name, Jesper Lundager. There’s a lot of electronic artists out there using their own name. But I thought later, by creating Tusindfald, I could market it as a band. Basically, it was a continuation of what I was doing. My theory was, if I market this as a band, bands usually sell better. So, that’s what I did.

I was studying sound design and invited a few friends to play along with me. One friend played the bass (Mikkel Fabricius) and another friend of mine, she sang (Sofie Birch). I put a single out, and within two weeks, I was contacted by an indie label from the U.K. Before I knew it, I had the vinyl in my hands about two months later. It was a really great experience for me. I think it worked. I pushed it as a band, and I said “this is a band,” although it was just me in the studio.

 

(Photo credit – Karen Marie Kruuse)

 

BSH: That label went out of business.

Jesper: They did, unfortunately. After that, I finished college. It was a bit of a stressful period. I was moving around a lot (for work), but I still had my laptop with me and was still working on music. That’s why I went more electronic. My equipment was packed in three different cities at one point, scattered everywhere. I did not have my guitars, but you can always make something up on the computer. It also meant that I wasn’t finishing any tracks. That’s why it went so long between 2013, which was the first Tusindfald release, and 2019 (Blik). I was very busy with life.

BSH: On the first Tusindfald release, you were working with some college friends. Are you back to working solo again?

Jesper: Yes, more or less. On Blik, I used a lot of vocals from the first EP (Krys). On the track “Solstrejf” (from Krys), there is a backing vocal from Sofie. I used those samples to make the opening track on the 2019 release. “Gensyn” is made from manipulating her vocals, more or less. I added some synthesis too, but the groundwork was made by manipulating her vocals, so she’s still present there.

It’s the same with “Fallen” and “Mellem Det Og Nu,” both are built using her vocals from the first EP. The band is still with me, somehow. Mikkel plays the bass on a track or two as well. We did that online. I sent him some stuff, and he sent me some stuff back. I haven’t seen him for years, which is a bit sad. But, they’re still there in spirit. It’s great.

BSH: You’re in Denmark now. Have you always been in Denmark?

Jesper: I grew up in Mozambique in Africa, and I moved to Denmark when I was 11. My first solo album is named after where I grew up, “Macuti” (2008). That was dedicated to my childhood home.

BSH: How has that experience influenced your music styles?

Jesper: I’ve always been kind of a dreamer. In my music, there’s a lot of longing, yearning. When I was very young, we lived in Denmark, but my parents always wanted to go back to Africa. They always felt very inspired about Africa, so there was a longing there. When I was four or five, we moved to Africa. I knew that we were going to return to Denmark, so there was some longing there. And then when we moved back to Denmark, I was 11, I missed my home in Africa. There’s always been this longing and yearning. There is some sort of connection with all that.

BSH: What’s the music scene like in Denmark?

Jesper: It’s pretty cool. I lived in Copenhagen for six months, some years ago. I must admit the big city is not for me. I live in a quaint town by the fjord now where I work. I like the inspiration from nature better, and there’s not much going on here. I think it’s cool. When I was just moving away from home at 22, I quickly got into underground shoegaze. I made a lot of friends there that I still have today who are still involved with the music scene.

BSH: You’re working on some new music. What can we expect going forward?

Jesper: I always wanted to go back to where I started initially in a more uptempo trance direction. I’ve been listening a lot to Blanck Mass and Fuck Buttons and stuff like that, which I really, really like. But the thing is, every time I tell myself I want to go in this direction, something different happens. So, I don’t know, but right now I’m very inspired by these more uptempo things, and more ambient things. I would really like to make something that’s more a bit more up tempo for the pop songs, but also more ambient for the slower songs. I think the track “Mellem Det Og Nu” from Blik has this trance feel to it. I would like to go more that direction, but I really don’t know at this point.

BSH: “Mellem Det Og Nu” has little bit of a Sigur Ros sound to it.

Jesper: Definitely. I love them, and they were actually one of the reasons I got into all this. You know when I was a teenager I just discovered them. And I was reading reviews and the reviews were mentioning Slowdive, and I didn’t know Slowdive either, so I kind of backtracked from there. I saw Sigur Ros when I was quite young in Copenhagen. This was 15 years ago. It was amazing. Big inspiration for me throughout the years.

BSH: When can we expect to hear some new music?

Jesper: This year. I’m playing a small concert at a local festival soon. It’s going to be ambient. I decided I’m just going to play all the ambient tracks that I have for a half hour to 45 minutes. I’m not the main attraction, but I’m playing on a smaller stage by the fjord on the beach. It’s going to be amazing, I think. I really wanted to make some new material for that concert, but I haven’t had the time. But, definitely this year. I don’t want it to be six years again like the last time. That was the longest I’ve ever gone between my releases since I started, and I don’t want to do that again. I also think it’s realistic because I’m in a good position now with where my life is. It’s pretty sorted and calm.

BSH: When you’re playing live, is it just keystokes on a computer or are you playing instruments? How does that work?

Jesper: It’s actually pretty funny because when the first EP was released with Tusindfald, we had a full band of five or six people. We were all sound designers, and we were sitting in front of our computers every day for college and making music and stuff. But, we decided: “okay, if we do this live, let’s throw that away, and let’s just reinterpret all this with real instruments.” So, that’s what we did. We played some concerts for a couple of years, and it was a lot of fun. There was such an amazing chemistry with these guys because we knew each other from college. We were used to partying and having fun together. So, that was a lot of fun. I really liked the idea of throwing away the computer and just saying: “Fine, let’s reinterpret this. How does this sound live with a different setup?” But, now I’m on my own again. I wrote a couple of the old guys and girls from the band to see if they wanted to join. They live far away from me. Copenhagen is five hours by train from here, and it is just one show, so I decided to take my laptop and my guitar. That’s how I’m going to do it. It’s easier because it was really hard keeping track of five other people back then.

BSH: Might you ever bring the band back together?

Jesper: We all live scattered everywhere at the moment. I don’t think that initial setup will return because they also have careers now with their own music, a lot of them. Back then, I was a little bit older and maybe a little bit more ahead. Because of that, when I started college, I had my project going on. I think now they’re all invested in their own music, and they’re so talented, all of them. I’m happy for them. I think if I did it again, I would choose a different setup and invite more local people to make things easier.

BSH: Are you looking to book more live shows in the future?

Jesper: Not at the moment. I want to finish some more music first. And then after that, I might consider it. At the moment, making new music is kind of pushing. I feel that there’s a fire in there that has been reignited recently, and that’s really nice to feel that. When I was moving around during the past five, six years, it was gone. And that was kind of scary for me, because it’s always been there. But it’s returned recently, and that’s made me very happy.

BSH: I love the sounds that you’ve created, and we look forward to hearing more of it. I wish you continued success and all the best.

Jesper: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Listen to the complete Jesper Lundager and Tusindfald catalog:

Rick Bourgoise
Big Sonic Heaven Radio Contributing Writer

Big Sonic Heaven is a 24/7 Internet radio station dedicated to the ethereal sounds of shoegaze, dream pop, post-punk, trip-hop, etc. Listen to the artists featured on the blog and discover more by downloading the app for iPhone and Android or listen at bigsonicheaven.com.