Everyone Wants Elias Rønnenfelt to be Someone

Everyone Wants Elias Rønnenfelt to be Someone

VMAN caught up with the frontman of Iceage post the release of their new album 'Beyondless.'

VMAN caught up with the frontman of Iceage post the release of their new album 'Beyondless.'

Photography: Matthew Burditt

Text: ALEX KAZEMI

It’s been a decade since the Danish disruptors Iceage dropped their debut album New Brigade. The chaotic mythology built around the band and their emotionally complex front man remains why so many people in our transparent world are polarized by their mysterious convictions. It could be the union of nihilism and self-aware sarcasm coming from frontman Elias’s pout. It could be the purist intelligence behind their sound and lyrics, as sharp, dangerous, and present as ever on their latest album Beyondless.

Whatever the alchemy is that attracts or repels, something we know for certain is that Iceage is creating iconic rock-history moment by moment, and that is exactly why everyone wants Elias Bender Rønnenfelt to be someone.

I can buy you a shot, if you want.

You don’t have too.

It’s chill.  What do you want?

Really? Whiskey… Thank you.

[I come back from the bar and hand Elias a shot of whiskey by the pool table. He is finishing up playing a game with Johan in the middle of The Astoria in Vancouver…]

Do you usually get to play a game of pool before the show?

Every now and again, if available. I prefer billiards, but you don’t really have that around these parts.

Have you read any Bret Easton Ellis novels? 

I only ever read American Psycho way back when I was 14 or so, so I am perhaps not quite the right person to ask about Ellis. I recall being pretty blown away by how graphical the violence was. I was very interested in serial killers as a young teenager–I actually remember doing a class presentation on Ed Gein at the age of 11.

I feel like society shames artists and people who are difficult, or overemotional and sensitive especially young men….

Uh, I’m not sure I agree with that statement.

Really?

I mean, since I was very young I never had a big desire to fit in, whether that be society or social surroundings. I think not fitting in is also something you can take pride in rather than needing everyone’s acceptance….

To Me, "How can one kill an impulsion? When it's still kicking and breathing?” is a really intelligent line off Beyondless because I find impulsiveness to be one of the hardest thing to grapple with about being alive…

Impulse is the greatest instrument to lead me anywhere creatively. In life, sometimes impulses will lead me astray, and at times I’ve found myself under wildly impractical circumstances. But I’ve experienced that once you’ve been lost, there’s is usually something there to be found. Ultimately we aren’t in power of how we feel.

Are you at a point where you don’t care about the public’s reaction after making a record?

That was me at my starting point but now it does feel very gratifying to see that people connect and relate to your output. The music means a lot to me so it’s lovely when it also means something to whoever else out there…

Do you ever think about how multiple versions of reality are existing simultaneously because every perception has a different variation?

I mean sure, an individuals perception of anything is filtered through that persons entire upbringing, preconceived notions, mood, etcetera. But only to a fault. Thankfully we have the capability to experience in communal ways too. There’s a reason why the likeminded tend to gravitate towards one another…

Is it true you hate when people are texting or are on their phone when you are on stage?

I hope for concerts to be something that happens in the here and the now, and I figuratively strive to bleed for or with people in the room. Uh so yeah, it can be a little disheartening when you see someone who spends the majority of the show with their face bent down in the cold blue light of a smartphone. If that’s how you prefer experiencing live music, I suggest you do it by the bar.

Do you feel more powerful when you are writing alone or when you are on stage? Do you view concerts as a form of ritual?

I suppose there are some ceremonial aspect to playing concerts, it certainly has the potential to draw you into a transcendent state. The two are worlds apart. Creation and performance. Writing is great when you get to have these little epiphanies, It feels like carving something out of thin air. Suddenly there is something that wasn’t there before. In live music you’re not actively creating something, it’s a more direct form of expression.

Did you do any bizarre stuff for creative benefits during the recording of Beyondless?

The first album took three days, Plowing took about a week. We learned early that granting ourselves slightly less time than what feels necessary creates an urgency that is very stimulating for the process of recording, although so far we’ve needed a few more days for each record as the ambition of what we want to convey grows. For us, it’s best to trust our Immediate gut feeling in order not to get lost in the vast amount of options that comes with the studio, but we do increasingly allow ourselves more time for experimentation of various sorts.

What would you describe as a provocative act in 2018?

The only thing really provocative to me is the amount of garbage culture that you involuntarily get over exposed to in this world. I don’t ever think about provocation. I don’t consider what I do to ever be provocative, it may be to some, but it isn’t the intent or motivation.

Do you feel isolated from anything in our current culture?

I’m not sure if I feel isolated from everything or anything, but I don’t connect to a whole lot of stuff out there. I think we’ve always been outsiders in the musical landscape and I don’t mind that.

I feel like narcissism and LaVeyan self worship are substitutes for a lack of religion or lack of our ability to find connections to things beyond our solipsistic sense of self....

Look, religion is attractive in that it provides meaning where there can seem non, also in that it can provide a set of shackles to defy. I’m not sure what part religion or lack thereof plays in today’s state of self absorption, but I don’t consider a certain amount of narcissism unhealthy in itself. Maybe it all stops once the next generation grows up to cringe at their parents duck mouthed selfies…

Are you a very voyeuristic person?

Aren’t we all in some capacity? Humans have always had an obsession, since the early days, to adorn our temples in depictions of human bodies and faces by the thousands, we find it gratifying to look at one another.

What are darker things about human nature that you find yourself eroticizing?

I think beauty and perhaps even eroticism can be derived from potentially anything depending on the eyes of the beholder. The human psyche is quite fetishistic in nature.  At times going through the process of writing you face with having to revel in some discomforting state. I find entering the process into darkness quite freeing more than anything.

Do you think human beings become different people based off of their emotional circumstances? Like are you someone who can't can’t recognize themselves when you are in love?

No, I don’t think people mutate into someone completely different.

Being in love to me is an enhanced state where the world burns a lot brighter. There are many kind of loves, sometimes it involves another person and sometimes it’s life. Love can be devastating too, but in whatever shape or form it shows up, it will always be something to strive for…

Beyondless by Iceage is now available via Matador Records

Credits:

Photography: Matthew Burditt

Prod Co: Void Collective

Prod Asst: Andrew Vaughan at Void Collective

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