Interview :: Gnome
April 24th 2012
Nick La Rosa
Brother and sister duo Freya and Elias Berkhout, collectively known as Gnome, were named after Old World treasure gathering wizards. They also know a thing or two about creating fresh atmospheric soundscapes. With a new focus, new instruments, and considerable genetic similarities, Freya (formerly one half of kyü) and Elias share their inspirations, innovations and idiosyncrasies with the Flog.
Zoe: Let’s start with the name, where did Gnome come from?
Freya: I fought for it really hard. I thought it fitted because we wanted something short, a singular word. We looked up the meaning of “gnome” and it’s got a really cool background! In old literature gnomes are wizards, they gathered treasure and protected people.
What’s it like being a brother and sister duo?
Freya: You need boundaries. It’s no different than working with your friend; you still fight with your friends. I’ve never met a band who’s happy all the time, because it’s hard work. It’s important to balance the creative side of things with social stuff.
Elias: We make sure the music stuff doesn’t piss us off afterwards – what happens in practice stays in practice. We don’t let band stuff seep into our social lives. It’s important to remember that you’re friends at the end of the day.
How would you describe Gnome’s sound?
Freya: In terms of a comparison with other bands, it’s loosely a combination of Brian Eno, The Knife and Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan Stevens is a huge influence on us both, we love his music. Our sound is poppy but it’s a different kind of pop – it’s glitchy, electronic and we want it to be catchy yet layered so people can get something new out of it every time they listen to a song.
What influences your creativity and musical outlook?
Freya: Our music isn’t about story writing – it’s very conceptual –it’s about time, travelling, going away and immersing yourself in another culture. It’s abstract yet relatable; stuff everyone has experienced before, just identifiable human experiences that make up everyday life.
How would you like people to react to your music?
Freya: Making a different kind of pop, we’d like it to be enjoyable and to resonate immediately because that’s what pop does, but we also want people to notice something new when they listen to it again. Being able to hear something different when you listen for the third, fourth, or twentieth time is a great thing; to recognise the layers. We want it to be accessible and not too weird to engage with upon first hearing. Importantly, we’re focusing on creating a different sound than kyü’s, hopefully a bit more poppy and accessible.
Elias: We’ve invested money in new instruments like synths, keyboards, and a cool drum machine. Freya was very aware of how at kyü shows they had heaps of gear, so we’ve made an effort to have a small set up so touring in the future is easier. We can carry our stuff in one keyboard case!
What are three words you’d use to describe your music?
Innovative, atmospheric and poppy/glitchy.
Freya and Elias are well Gnome around Sydney…
How many songs should we expect to hear on your debut EP?
There’ll probably be five tracks on our first EP, which we hope to have recorded by the end of May.
Any idea of what it will be called?
No, not yet. It’ll be something that sums up the sound of the EP, or what we want to convey. It’ll probably come to us when we’ve finished writing and recording.
Do you think you’ll have any ‘star’ appearances on your future EPs?
In terms of writing, we’re not really sure yet. But we have talked about getting some friends to do remixes of a few songs, which would be cool.
Have you guys got any gigs lined up?
Yeah! We’re really looking forward to playing our first show! We’re on the bill at Dirty Shirlow’s in Marrickville on May 5 withTelafonica and Haunts. We had a listen to St Jambience, who are on the bill as well, which spurred us to write our opening song. It’s kinda jammy.
Is the creative process between you two evenly shared?
Yeah it’s a completely collaborative creative process. We both sing on every track, and possibly in the future that might change depending on ‘lead parts’ but it’ll always be an equal process in terms of the compositional load.
So is this a full-time job for you, Freya?
Freya: Absolutely, I’m focusing on this full-time, both with Gnome and other composition projects, and we’ll be touring this year. Elias is still at university but we’ve struck a good balance between writing/practice and his work load. We’re working really hard though, because the live thing needs to be awesome.
Do you identify with any other brother and sister duo?
Definitely The Knife more than anyone.
CATCH GNOME LIVE:
Who: Gnome w/ Haunts, Telafonica, St Jambience & One Of Us
When: Saturday 5 May, 8pm
Where: Dirty Shirlow’s, Marrickville
How much: 15 bucks
Like Gnome’s facebook page for updates and band news.