Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is at the centre of the highly adventurous Danish underground scene. Everyone wants a piece of his attention, rumours are picking up, brandishing him difficult or disobliging, as much music-wise as personally. Rønnenfelt has been the leading mastermind behind the avant-garde project Marching Church since late 2013. On their latest album, Telling it Like It Is, Marching Church turn the wildness down a notch in favour of cohesive song structures with an experimental twist. In preparation for their visit down to Belgium we had a chat with Elias to talk beauty and the violence thereof
Skype interview by Brenda Bosma
Photos shot by David Brandon Geeting in NYC, USA
If we could talk beauty for a minute, is there anything you see around you now that strikes you as beautiful?
Beauty? It comes in many shapes. I don’t know. I think most things have the potential to be beautiful, but it depends on whatever state of mind you’re in, whatever hormones are racing through your body – I don’t know how the brain works. You can look at the same thing on two different days. One day it would be clear and beautiful, and the next it’s plain ugly. I don’t know how these kinds of things work.
The mood sometimes hits you and sometimes passes you by, that kind of thing?
Yeah, but doesn’t everybody get mood swings?
I guess so. How come you’re in NYC? Did you move there?
No, I live in Copenhagen. I’m killing some time in between tours at a friend’s apartment, with lovely company.
Maybe that’s where the beauty is, in the company.
Yeah. [Laughs] When I look around this room there are quite a few things going on. There’s a bunch of white rose petals scattered everywhere, because we had a little incident. I have my friend here who I don’t get to see very often, but it’s always a pleasure.
That sounds both sweet and dramatic.
I can show you on the video. [Turns on webcam]
So many rose petals! You make touring look good. Do you enjoy the constant change of scenery?
I’ve come to a point where I rarely miss home as much as I just wish the touring routine would stop. I think being on the road is like an autopilot-inducing lifestyle. You’re kind of trapped in the calendar. Touring is not normal life, it’s a routine that goes with driving, soundchecking, drinking, playing, drinking and sleeping, and repeat that about 30 times. It’s not a life, but living can go on anywhere. I’ve been in NY for the past couple of weeks, it’s just life continues somewhere else. But Copenhagen is where I’m based and where I want to be, because all the playmates and collaborators that I’ve spent years getting to know are there. You can’t just find that anywhere, I’m dependant on those people. They helped me achieve the things I want to do.
I like the idea: the idiot who can’t see himself through other people’s eyes, who has deluded fantasies about himself
Is there anyone in particular that you’re grateful to?
I think I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can make records and go play. Grateful… I don’t look at success that way, I don’t think the amount of people that take interest in you is an indicator. I mean, it’s tempting to start being thankful for where you are, but instead you should be focusing that energy on the craft.
You’ve called yourself the ‘King of Song’.
Yeah, I did call myself that. I think I’m the only one who calls himself that. But it’s not really me saying that I’m the best singer in history, it’s more about delusion and megalomania. It’s hardly about any kind of reality. I like the idea, though: the idiot who can’t see himself through other people’s eyes, who has deluded fantasies about himself. I wanted to create something that could either draw people in or repulse them. I like it when things can go both ways.
Marching Church plays Different Class at 019 in Ghent on 26 August. The festival is free for members. Join here.