Premiere: True Strength “Lyse Striber”

Lyse Striber is a track we haven’t been able to stop listening to for the last two weeks, and that’s why we’re incredibly excited to be premiering it to you today. Intimate and honest, it’s clear how much love and care has been put into True Strength, the Copenhagen/Melbourne collaboration between Ida Duelund-Hansen and Alexander Garsden, with the single being the first taste of the duo’s debut self-titled album due in December through Eastmint Records. As if the breathtaking song wasn’t enough, it comes paired with a timelessly gorgeous, slow-moving video directed by Hanna Chetwin.

Rather than gushing with more adjectives, we thought it might be better to ask Ida and Alex about it.

Congratulations on your gorgeous new single/video, Lyse Striber. Can you tell us a little about the song?

Ida: It was the first song I wrote for this band, and the first I wrote on guitar (my home is the double bass). I remember being a little nervous about showing it to Alex - I am a big fan of his songs, and my songwriting is much simpler than his. But he loved it, and thought its simplicity complemented the other things we’d worked on, and so I started writing more and more.  I guess this song was the beginning of the band as a fully collaborative project.

The video is wonderfully directed by twice MIFF-award nominated filmmaker, Hanna Chetwin. What drew you to her work? How do you feel it compliments the single?

Alex: Hanna’s work is stunning - particularly the five or six shorts she’s made over the last few years with Francis Plagne on sound.  She made a beautiful clip for Francis’ band last year, where the effect is of a single take revolving around a small group of actors which, through virtuosic lighting, framing and costume changes, replicate six or seven specific paintings (The Death of Marat and a bunch of others) in perfect detail and perspective. I think it’s a direct antecedent to how we approached the Lyse video. I think the song and the clip share a similar nostalgic quality… partly because of the way she folds domestic material into a dialogue with classical art, and partly because she works with film and avoids any distinctly modern trappings, but mostly insofar as she portrays the subjects in an captivatingly focussed, rich and intimate manner.

You’re both from opposite sides of the globe (Ida is from Copenhagen and Alexander is from Melbourne), how did you both come to work together?

Alex: Ida lived in Melbourne for about five years, until 2013.  In 2011 I saw her perform Schubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise which she had arranged for double bass and voice, and I guess was the seed of this band.

Ida: Alex gave me a bunch of his songs in early 2012, and we played a few DIY shows around Melbourne trying out different constellations - at first five-piece, later seven-piece - before we settled on the duo setup, which allows a focus and intimacy.

Alex: Yeah, which and in turn started influencing the kind of music we’d write together.  I think that once we incorporated the double bass it quickly transformed the project into something more collaborative and integrated.

What are some of the difficulties associated with this kind of physical distance?

Alex: It’s a bullshit situation, but we each have a ton of other projects that see us wedded to our home cities, so moving or constant touring aren’t options.  Ideally we’d like to perform and work for more than a week or two each year, plus we’re good friends and miss one another, but this band is one of many projects that are equally important to us.

Ida: I think there’s something to be said for the focus we have when we finally do get together and work. Because time is limited, we work full time and it’s always very focused. Also, it’s quite exciting to meet up around the world when the stars align. Last March, we played a beautiful show in San Diego when Alex was there on a solo-tour and I was there with my other band SILVESTER.

There’s something about Lyse Striber that recalls early baroque and renaissance influences, while still sounding incredibly modern and relevant to 2016. When putting your work together, do you consider how you might translate these quite historical influences into a modern day context?

Alex: To be honest I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of translating going on.  The whole album is pretty shameless on that front, and incorporates much more arcane material than what’s found in Lyse.  At least in my songwriting, and also in the album’s instrumental tracks, the allusions come thick and fast, and we’re unabashedly reverent to a broad range of source material.  Ida’s songwriting is much less oblique than mine, so provides a very welcome counterbalance.

Ida: I don’t actually consider it so shameless. Or maybe I just love shameless.. haha… referencing history is beautiful, like a shout out to our ancestors. I believe some act of translation happens naturally - we’re children of the 21st century, and no matter how much we listen to older or even archaic music, we’ll still be of the 21st century, and make music in the 21st century.

This is the first taste from your debut self-titled album coming out in December through the always wonderful Eastmint Records. Can you let us in on a little bit about the new record?

Ida: Evocative.…and associative. It’s like a walk in your memory. Does that make sense? I mean, we travel through long instrumental textures, different languages, and different historical times - that’s what people tell us when they hear it.

Alex: The album is a very even balance of the constituent components - five instrumentals and seven songs, with the songwriting split neatly down the middle (in both authorship and language) and moving between unaccompanied and highly arranged.  The whole thing was recorded in bits and pieces over the last four years.  We did a few sessions in Joe Talia’s Taggerty studio at the end of 2012, but most of the songs were done in a country house in rural Denmark, where we holed up for a week in mid-2014. Other bits and pieces were a result of endless emailing back and forth of the sessions, going right up until the start of this year.  

Follow True Strength over at their soundcloud.

FeaturesLee Hannah