On the Road, for the Record: Jakob Ogawa
A day into their first US tour and straight off the plane from Norway, we met up with Oslo based musician, Jakob Ogawa, outside of the Elsewhere Rooftop in Brooklyn. The band was jetlagged, with a muted level of excitement — an out-of-nowhere torrential downpour had just broken their brand-new, vintage SPD-SX sampling pad.
We stopped at an eclectic dive bar adorned with stuffed hyenas, Mother of Mary statues, and a motley crew of outdoor furniture to chat with Ogawa and his guitarist Georg Minos about their reading list, Los Angeles, and how to deal with stress while on the road.
Back in April, the band began their “Teen Angel” tour in Copenhagen, with a final show in Thailand. This time around, they’ll be sailing through the states, and wrapping up on the West Coast.
As the clouds parted, and the orange sunset began to shine through, we returned to the roof for their set. Manhattan became their backdrop, and crowdsourced “I LOVE YOU’s” took the space between each song as the band played through Bedroom Tapes and a jazzy, slowed-down version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”. Their energy was magnetic; the jet-lag wore off and the entire audience was under their spell. Before wrapping up their set, Ogawa reminded us with glittery eyelids, “Love is the key. We’re really searching everywhere but it’s right in front of us.”
It was a night of many firsts: their first time in New York, Ogawa’s first time hitting a Juul, and what seemed like, their first fully acoustic set.
We’re in New York, it’s the first night of part two of your Teen Angel tour – how do you feel?
Jakob Ogawa: I feel great. Well, we just got bad news…our drum pad is broken. So we have to do our set a bit differently, more acoustically, it’s going to be a bit different today. It’s a bummer because we’ve been practicing hard and stuff.
[Spoiler Alert: the drum pad was mostly revived before going on stage.]
When did you find out?
JO: Right now. The rain destroyed it…that sucks. But overall, I think we’re good. A bit tired, maybe. We just did an interview with Urban Outfitters.
What did you do in the past week to prepare for this tour?
JO: We did a show in Oslo two days ago.
Georg Minos: It was at one of the most important festivals in Norway, Øya – so that was very cool.
Do you prefer playing festivals or shows?
JO: Shows. It’s just more intimate, relaxed. It’s just easier, I suppose. When you’re at a festival and there’s like a lot of different bands and everyone’s just occupied with going places. So you don’t necessarily have an audience…
GM: It’s more of a social event.
Do you get nervous still?
JO: Yeah, sure. I do.
Are there any rituals or anything before going on stage? Do you have a lucky charm or do you need to listen to some specific song?
GM: The Beatles. Twist and Shout, and Helter Skelter.
Do you have specific dance moves to go along with it?
JO: Yeah, we dance a bit. We get a bit crazy before we go on. I think we need to do that today.
Nathan Bajar is opening for your band for the rest of this tour – how did you meet?
JO: Through my management. I heard his music, I liked it, and it just happened. He’s very talented, and he’s got a great, great vibe. I talked to him earlier, and he’s friends with some people I know in Oslo – Charlotte Dos Santos, a rapper I know named Ivan Ave.
Okay, so who is on tour with you? Who is the whole team?
JO: Georg our guitarist, Oscar on the keys, Axel on the bass, Louis on the drums. We have a sound engineer, who is also our tour manager, Runar.
Which show are you most excited about in the US?
JO: Maybe Los Angeles. We’re playing at The Echo. We’re staying for two weeks after the tour as well.
What was your favorite show on part one of this tour?
JO: Singapore was great. It was towards the end of the tour. It was a great crowd.
GM: Super packed, super hot.
JO: It was really steamy and there were a lot of people.
What differences have you noticed between the different crowds you’ve performed for?
GM: There’s definitely a difference. In Norway, people…
JO: People are really stiff there. They’re more introverted. They don’t necessarily let out all the emotion.
What’s your favorite show that you’ve been to most recently?
JO: I think it was Kirin J. Callinan at Sentrum Scene in Oslo. He was just standing on stage alone. He’s a crazy dude. He’s got kind of a weird “Eric Andre” type of vibe. It’s really interesting. He screamed and got the audience pumped.
What’s your favorite song to perform? Or is there one that you hate performing?
JO: Haha – I don’t know if there is a song that we hate performing, but I mean there’s definitely a few songs that…I feel like it changes. It’s strange because at times there is this one song that’s better. Today, we’re just going to play a song we haven’t played before. We haven’t even practiced on it, so it might just turn out crazy. It’s a cover, “Hey Ya” by Outkast. That’s fun to do. We like to do something new every time; never the same because you get tired of it.
What are the top three things that you packed on this venture into the United States?
JO: Clean t-shirts, underwear, that’s important. Books.
GM: Milan Kundera.
JO: I don’t have it with me right now, but I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird.
An American classic – do you typically read in English?
JO: Yeah, I like reading in English – especially if the writer is English. It’s just more natural.
Last question – what advice do you have for people that are going on tour?
JO: There’s a lot of stress and you have to find your own space in all that stress. So having people around you that are supportive, and are loving and caring; I think that’s the most important thing. You feel safe within that space. You can get really out there, and that’s not a good place to be. So just having a comfortable environment and having people that are supportive; people that are real to you and straightforward. Meditating, just closing your eyes and breathing, feeling your own energy, sort of.
Curious what the band is listening to as they trek across the states? Listen here:
Stay tuned to Milk for more from the road.