You may have read my ramblings about Didium and The Black Bonnie Picture before, in relation to their debut album Whimsical Beauty, which was a beautifully written, performed and produced piece of musical art relating to the life and loves of Didium. Now, this brilliant Danish Indie Pop collective have teamed up with Paul Schroeder to deliver their second album, A Valley, which we be released May 1st.
Didium and The Black Bonnie Picture started out in Denmark, back in 2006, as a seven piece act with a set-up resembling Dexys Midnight Runners and their characteristic blend of violin and saxophone. Members of the band have come and gone throughout the years, but the set up remains unchanged and gives the band a special style of pop music. Twenty-four year old Didium’s dark baritone tells stories of loss, loneliness, lust and love with an undercurrent twist of irony, giving the stories a life and soul of their own.
The band’s first album was released in the beginning of 2009 in Denmark and the Benelux countries. This year, their follow-up, A Valley, will come out worldwide and will be the first release on Schroeder’s own indie record label, Sureleaf. Before the actual release Didium and The Black Bonnie Picture released a four track EP, with songs from the upcoming album (free streaming here). See what Didium had to say in this exclusive R&RR interview.
Q: How did your Black Bonnie Picture get together?
A: Back in 2006 I’d finished high school and saved up some money waiting tables in a Norwegian mountain hotel. My old band fell apart as we graduated and when I came back to Denmark I spent most of the money I’d earned on going in the studio with a handful of my favourite musicians from previous projects and bands. After recording four tracks, we all soon agreed that the result was too good not to be followed by live performances. After playing a few gigs the whole thing started to feel pretty fucking good – pardon my French – and that’s how the Picture came together.
Q: Could you tell us a little about the progression between Whimsical Beauty and A Valley, and their influences?
A: When I was in the midst of writing Whimsical Beauty, I was madly in love with both Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright at the same time. I think if you listen closely to that record you can hear them fighting each other to win my heart [laughs]. My intentions with A Valley, from page one, was to rewrite our history and make a true rock album with booming choruses and ecstatic guitar riffs.
As a band, on this second album, we were all a lot more focused on arranging the songs in the rehearsal before going in the studio, and in general we spent loads of time just getting it right. As a result of this, these new songs all of a sudden demanded for us to make some changes, orchestration wise. To broaden our perspectives a little, I hired an arranger to help us rethink the girls’ violin and sax arrangements, which added a classical grandiose feel to it that suited us really well.
A: This past year has been a bit hard on all of us, now that you should bring this up. In 2008 we had an awesome year in Denmark, going from being a completely unknown act to being an award-winning upcoming act. We won loads of cash, toured the country up and down several times, and all because of our second EP, Bonnie Turned Black. However, in 2009, as our debut album was finally released and we had the financial support to promote it right, we experienced some rather surprising difficulties. Hardly any magazines, webzines or whatever wanted to review the record or write about us all of a sudden. The Danish radio stations hardly gave us any airplay and when they finally did it was mostly at night when nobody was listening. All this together undeniably makes you wonder about, or should I say dread, what the reaction is going to be like this time. Our main focus however, with this album, is not Denmark as much as the UK, Sweden or Germany.
Q: Has your connection with Paul Schroeder changed or shaped your style in any way?
A: I was quite surprised with the work he ended up doing on this album. Paul was in with us at most of the rehearsals last summer and didn’t interfere as much as I’d imagined he would do it. He basically let us work most of the arrangements out ourselves and only stepped in when we were completely unsure of directions. On the other hand, he told me to rewrite one particular song like three times and was not satisfied until I got it exactly right and made it rock 110%. In that way Paul is really all about making the right compromises and finding out what makes one particular song do the trick. He’s absolutely great at reading people’s reactions and understanding exactly what makes you a great musician. What amazes me the most about him though, is his ability to make you come in his direction without even saying anything.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams/aspirations for BBP and how do you hope to achieve them?
A: We’ve got a worldwide album release coming up soon and my ultimate hope is that the record is recognized in as many countries as possible, for the brilliant peace of work it is. My biggest dream of all is someday to have fans who are as dedicated to music as I am myself. Fans who follow you on the web, buy your records, look through the booklet – relating to your lyrics and talking to friends about them. If that one day should happen then my favourite dream of all will have come true. At this point, my manager and our label have got a lot of work to do in order to actually make this one float. Fingers crossed!
Q: Your other musical project, Le Cul, is also at a busy stage; does this clash with D & BBP much, or are they both in creative harmony?
A: Until now we haven’t experienced any difficulties whatsoever. Of course we sometimes have to reschedule and think ahead before planning tours and recordings and so on, but my heart is in both bands and there never really was a question as to whether we could work it out. Over the past few years, Le Cul has become deadly necessary to me. I guess I’ve got a Jekyll and Hyde complex going on that it’s too late to stop as it seems now [laughs]. Can’t wait to finish off the new Le Cul album now; we just recorded strings and piano on four tracks and it’s just amazing how friggin huge it’s become!
Q: Who would you be your favourite band to share a stage with and where?
A: My two ultimate favourite artists to go on tour with this year would by all means be The Veils and/or Patrick Wolf. Both of these bands truly are amazing and mind blowingly overlooked; just like us!
Q: Are you members of any professional music organisations?
I am a member of KODA here in Denmark, which is an organization that helps musicians receiving the right payments when we get played on the radio or do live shows. Asides from that I’m free as a bird!
More at: www.myspace.com/didiumnet