Caspar and My Heart the Brave
Caspar Hesselager, aka My Heart the Brave, has had one eventful year. Releasing his first single back in February and enjoying the summer by playing at Danish festival greats such as Roskilde and Spot Festival, Caspar is definitely a man to watch. Making the successful move from producing to creating, drawing on inspiration from eclectic influences and a dream of playing on the Jimmy Fallon show, it's no wonder Wolf was keen to sit the guy down for a chat to find out more.
How long has your musical persona My Heart the Brave been alive?
As an idea in my mind - a long time. I released the first single 'Keep Me From It' in February, and as the live version, which features three other musicians, we did our first live show in November last year. So it's a fairly new thing although I've been working on my own in the studio for quite some time.
What's been happening with your music over the past year?
A lot! I released an EP in June and the band and I played a lot of good shows. We were fortunate enough to play the Spot Festival, Offspring and Roskilde Festival here in Denmark as well as opening for Danish band WhoMadeWho on their tour of Denmark.
" I think he's a true genius and one of the few artists today whose music I think people will still be playing 200 years from now "
What gets you excited to play a show or write music?
To me, they are two very different things. When I'm writing music in my studio it's all about channeling a million ideas and possibilities into one whole finished piece of work that will stay like that forever. That's how I think of it. I do a lot of experimentation and recording and sort of carve my way through all of it and end up with a song. Picasso said 'I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else'. That's sort of my mantra, when I make music. There's a lot of freedom in that way of thinking, and that's what excites me.
Playing live is completely different from that. There's an energy that you could never get from listening to any recording, and at the same time, the excitement comes from some sort of survival-instinct kicking in, I think, and knowing that this moment will never return. Also, seeing how other people react to your music is really interesting.
We recently interviewed the Swedish duo Trummor och Orgel who spoke fondly of the nature of records and how each time you listen to them, the plastic wears away so no single track is heard the same twice, your response made Wolf think of this, and so was wondering do you work with vinyl? Would you consider it? And how do you think a vinyl sound works with modern electronic sound?
Well, I like the idea of releasing vinyl and will probably release my own stuff on vinyl at some point too. Mainly because it offers the possibility of making an album feel more 'real', because it's so physical and it sort of drives you to listen through whole albums - in world where everything is about singles and playlists. That said, I'm not a collector of vinyls myself and think the idea of the whole superior sound quality a bit romanticised, to be honest.
What was a defining musical moment in your life?
The earliest one was probably getting a small keyboard for my 7th (I think) birthday, when all I wanted was a drum set! That combined with finding the 'Synthesiser Greatest' cassettes my parents (for some reason) had lying around the house.
Where you parents fans of Giorgio? What is the greatest thing the synthesiser has given you as a musician and music in general?
No, I can't imagine they were! The more I think about it, the weirder it seem to me that they would have those tapes. I suspect it was some impulse shopping based on a TV commercial! Synthesisers just keep sounding 'new' to me and always have. It's somehow the sound of the future that never is, even though they've been around for decades. I love the physicality of turning knobs and trying to get something new out of them each time. At this point, I feel like mentioning that I hate when synth based music is referred to as 80s inspired. I don't feel particularly inspired by the 80s. And, we're also past the point of calling every electric guitar band 60s-inspired. Glad I got that out of my system!
Greatest show you've ever seen?
Sufjan Stevens, 'The Age of Adz' tour a few years back in Copenhagen. I felt like a lot of people at that show thought afterwards, "What the hell just happened??" He played for like three hours, and it was just an insane roller coaster ride. It really made me understand that album in a much more profound way. I think he's a true genius and one of the few artists today whose music I think people will still be playing 200 years from now.
Greatest musical influence?
A combination of many influences defines me. I used to study classical music and that was probably the greatest influence on me as a teenager. A lot of Bach, Chopin and Rachmaninoff for sure! Later on bands like Radiohead, Interpol, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake. And in recent years, Moderat, Niki And The Dove, Miike Snow, Phoenix, Hot Chip, The Radio Dept.
Your based in Copenhagen, does the city add to your creative process?
Hard to say. Most likely it does in some subliminal way. The whole music community in Copenhagen is rather small, and everybody pretty much knows everybody. That creates a certain intimate vibe, I guess. Although I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be somewhere else, it is a great and very comfortable place to live, and a good environment for being creative.
You used to produce a lot, whats the best part about being on the other side?
Following your own pace. I can spend an entire day working on the sound of a snare drum, or make an entire song in half an hour. Nobody tells you to move on, and you don't have to agree with anybody. You just have to know what you like, and then work at it until you do. And, the satisfaction of building something 'with your own hands' or in this case, ears.
What is your favourite track of your own production?
I have a special relationship with the first and last tracks of the EP, 'Keep Me From It' and 'Promise (Burns)'. The first one was the first track I finished as My Heart The Brave. It came very easy to me, and was just there all of a sudden. All the elements that are introduced along the way, were pretty much thought of exactly as they happen 'chronologically', which is kind of unusual. But I have to say 'Promise' also, because as a song in a 'classic' sense, it's my favourite. And, it's the last song I did for the EP, so it marks some sort of closure.
Where would be your dream place to be to play?
Haha, this is going to sound silly! I know I'm supposed to say Glastonbury, The Chinese Wall or some other gigantic place, but I'm gonna go with Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show! I love that guy and watch the show all the time!
Promises (burns) music video
KEEP ME FROM IT music video
Words & interview: Ash Francisco
Photography: Stephanie Staal