Circumnavigate are a Pop/Jazz/Folk ensemble who are based in London but hail from Oslo in Norway, they have been described as;
“Their music drifts you away and glazes listeners into a musical haze as though they are viewing the beauty of the northern lights without seeing them.”
After reading this, we were super keen to learn more about them, we caught up with ahead of the Sidmouth Fringe Sessions to chat about supermusic, supergroups and superpowers, read on to see how it went....
Just so people know a bit about the band, please describe your music to us and share with us any interesting facts or information that not many people know (party tricks, sword swallowing, fire eating etc)
Our music is an infusion of Pop, Folk and Jazz; It's sometimes cinematic and mellow, and other times driving and upbeat. A few of our tracks have been written to certain briefs for films (yet to be released) and we love the inspiration and diversity it has given us! Mostly our songs theme love and conflict.
Interesting fact: We started out as a High School hobby band and have been together for more than 10 years. We expanded in 2013 with bass and drums which finally completed the band and launched it in new directions.
Useless fact: We are quite good at impressions of animals; Sigrid does a pretty good monkey and guinea pig impression although only her closest friends have ever heard it.
You’re based in London these days but hail from Oslo in Norway, do you find that because of this you attract a more diverse audience to your live shows?
Definitely; We feel that the Scandinavian aspect of the band already diversifies us and adds an element of mystery to our shows, before we even play any music; We have a lot to thank for other Scandi bands who have set a great precedent in the music scene here in London, allowing us to be creative, without judgement, but more intrigue from the UK music goers, which has helped expand our fan base.
We're also extremely grateful to have the support of BBC Introducing, which allows us to extend our reach and diversify our listener base even further, aside from our native Norway and other Scandinavians living in London, of course.
Can you describe a typical live show of yours?
What's the best way to put it? Lots of delicate lows and epic highs within the music, set in a surrounding of on-stage lights and visuals, often accompanied by a string quartet. We like to take listeners on a bit of a musical journey essentially, and walk away feeling like they've experienced something meaningful and exciting.
Circumnavigate is an interesting name for a band, how did the name come about?
The band is influenced by a range of different artists and styles of music, and we often find it hard to describe what or who we sound like. The jazzy trumpet pulls us in one direction; the haunting vocals or folky guitars in other ones. The name then makes a lot of sense to us as we try to circumnavigate the traditional musical genres and create something unique. That...and we looked through a dictionary many years ago in the hopes of finding a cool name!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Collectively, we settled on flying. Who wouldn't want to be able to get anywhere in the world without restriction?!
You have a great love for motion picture, which movie do YOU feel has the best soundtrack ever made?
The Intouchables (Ludovico Einaudi) as voted by Carl & Sigrid;
The Crimson Wing (Cinematic Orchestra) from Ross.
I read that the band have recently been tied to numerous Hollywood productions, can you elaborate on this or are things still ‘under wraps’?
Things are pretty much still under wraps unfortunately so we can't officially confirm anything, HOWEVER, we can tell you we have written and pitched a song for a movie called 'The Swimmer' which is due for release in 2017, starring Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild, The Girl Next Door). Watch this space... The song will also feature on our forthcoming album, due later this year.
You’ve played amongst many talented performers over the years including Foxes, Adam Lambert, Sigala, Romans, Gabrielle Aplin, Maverick Sabre, Crystal Fighters, who would you say you learned the most from and what was it that you learnt?
Sigrid: It was really interesting to be in the studio with Crystal Fighters on their second album. They are so unique in the way they use and record vocals and it was so great to part of that creative process!
Ross: It would be too difficult to pick just one who has had a great influence on me, but I think the most important thing I realised is just how small the music industry actually is, and how everybody achieves so much more in the support of each others work!
What would you say is your biggest 'claim to fame'?
I think our bassist Charlie wins this one; He is currently on tour in the US supporting Coldplay with the lovely Foxes. (This is also the reason for his lack of answers today!)
James Santer of BBC Introducing stated that you sound “Every bit as atmospheric live, as on the record”, how long has it taken for you to hone your live sound?
It's been a bit of a trial an error process over the last few years; I think as we have matured as musicians, we have discovered the best way to tailor our sets. This includes newer technology, with the use of backing tracks and triggers in order to really replicate the sound we have settled on for our album, finding a healthy balance of organic instruments and those which we live sample.
You’re based in London, but you're from Oslo, where would you say is the BEST place to go for a night out?
Carl: In Oslo, as in London, there’s a bar for (almost) every mood. Take a trip downtown to find the loud clubs and pretty dresses, or explore the walk along the river where hidden gems appear around every corner. The bars along the river resemble the Shoreditch feel; this is where the creatives go for a less polished, but way more interesting, night out. On the way home there’s a tiny place in Grünerløkka called Django, it might as well have been designed to serve as the perfect place for a night cap and live jazz.
Is it more expensive in London or Oslo?
Oslo, coming in at 3x the price. We'll see what happens after Brexit though... Saying that, London is more expensive in relation to income.
If you could form your own 'Supergroup' using ANY musicians, dead/alive or fictional, who would be in your lineup?
Sigrid: Jon Hopkins, Ludovico Einaudi, Frank Sinatra and Joni Mitchell.
Carl: Gerald Clayton (Keys) , Esperanza Spalding (Bass), Caleb Followill (Vocals), Olaf Olsen (Drums), Mathias Eick (Trumpet) & Øyvind Blomstrøm (Guitar)
Ross: Steve Jordan, Pino Palladino, Sia, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham & Mark Knopfler.
How do you approach the whole songwriting process, melody or lyrics first?
It's a very organic process; Usually Carl jams out a piano or guitar melody and Sigrid adds vocals. Most of the time the lyrics have been written before and just amended to fit the song.
Ross and Charlie then adds their parts or amend the song if needed. We use a lot of strings and most of them are written by our string arranger and producer Stephen Bentley-Klein but sometimes also by Carl or Sigrid. After this stage we start the production and work extra little touches into our mixes.
You have your album set for release in September 2016, can we expect a tour or a special launch party somewhere in London to celebrate the occasion?
There will definitely be a launch party, followed by a tour of both the UK and Norway, but as the album release date is not confirmed just yet, we're holding off announcing anything until the time is right! Keep an eye on the social pages for updates!
Do you all have similar tastes in music?
We love a lot of the same bands and are on the same page as to where we take our own music, but our taste varies a lot as well!
Let’s say that Michael Eavis wants you to provide 3 headline acts for next year's Glastonbury Festival, who would you put up on the Pyramid stage and why?
Highasakite – another great Norwegian band, who deserve to be headlining big UK festivals. They have already headlined Norway's biggest!
Ludovico Einaudi – Seeing music like the Intouchables soundtrack being played on that stage would be incredible.
Damien Rice – His songwriting speaks for itself.
Which act or band made YOU want to get a band together in the first place?
Coldplay, Damien Rice and Thomas Dybdahl; Our first year as a band mostly consisted in covering their songs.
In your opinion, what would you say is the BEST album ever released?
Sigrid: Damien Rice – O
Ross: Michael Jackson – Thriller
You’re performing at the Sidmouth Fringe Sessions on July 30th alongside Cave Mouth, Sculpture Music and Jonah Hitchens and his Superband, have you heard any of these bands before? Which are YOU particularly excited about seeing?
We try to keep an eye on the music scene as much as possible and have heard rumblings of these guys through BBC Introducing in Devon and thanks to James Santer.
We're looking forward to seeing all of these acts, as they are so varied; Sculpture Music, with their hang drums is definitely something unique, where Jonah Hitchens will hopefully be bringing the funk!
Staying on the subject of festivals, what are YOUR top three tips to surviving one?
Get in VIP camping (if possible – they have showers)
Bring a pillow and a toothbrush
Immerse yourself in every genre of music and you won't care about the above tips!
At this stage, we felt that the interview was going WAY too smoothly so we upped the ante a little and rolled in the big guns (aka The Quickfire Round), let's see how they'd manage under some serious pressure!
Whiskey or Wine? - Wine
Burger or Pizza? - Pizza
Oslo or London? - London
Electric or Acoustic? - Acoustic
Camping or Camper Van? - Camper Van
Finding Nemo or Finding Dory? - Nemo
Summer or Winter? - Summer
Bath or Shower? - Shower
Pub or wine bar? Pub
Xbox or Playstation? Playstation
Ghostbusters with men or with women? Women
Skiing or Snowbaording? Skiing
God or Google? Haha, Google!
We'd like to thank the band for agreeing to chat to us and we wish them every success for the future. We'll be at the Sidmouth Fringe Sessions on Saturday 30th July and will tell you all about their performance as well as grabbing some amazing pictures....
In the meantime, please feel free to explore the band in more detail, all of their social media channels are below;