Darkwave Band Lust For Youth Is Done With Indie Artist Bullshit
Lust For Youth is a band that creates an authoritative initial impression: whether musically or in person.
The trio of Hannes Norrvide, Loke Rahbek, and Malthe Fischer is, at first glance, intimidatingly Scandinavian—tall, beautiful, and hard to read, with a penchant for monochrome, minimalist fashion accented with Versace jackets and knotted scarves. As they sound checked at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn, it was easy to cast them as prototypical Cool Minimalist Artists.
But, as the stress of a far-too-long sound check wore off and we grabbed a couple beers at a nearby bar, the seriousness the band had seemed to encapsulate minutes earlier slid right off. And, as you’d know if you follow the band on Twitter, what was left were three talented and often downright goofy artists.
Their origin story—by their own self-deprecating admission—is relatively boring. In many ways, the three stumbled their way into becoming a trio. In 2011, Norrvide started the project Lust For Youth simply as the moniker for his solo music. But by 2014, Rahbek and Fischer had joined, rounding out the ranks of the band—at least for now. Their latest album, Compassion, drifts their sound into an arena inhabited by the likes of New Order and Pet Shop Boys; a place that balances cold synths and warm vibes.
“I did it by myself at first, and then Loke started helping me play live for a while,” Hannes started, before turning to Rahbek to finish the story.
“Then we thought we should do the recording together,” Rahbek continued. “And at that time, Malthe came around and offered to record, and then slowly he just became part of the project.”
This kind of back-and-forth, the brotherly banter and finishing of thoughts, seems to stem (at least in part) from Norrvide being uncomfortable in the spotlight, despite his role as lead singer. Rahbek—as a member of a seemingly endless amount of Copenhagen-based bands, a solo artist, and the co-owner of record label Posh Isolation—prefers to do the talking. But no matter whose mouth is saying it, Lust For Youth’s message seems unflinchingly clear: you really should just listen to our music.
“We’re trying to make the project as real as possible, and not all this suffering white male artist bullshit that’s everywhere.”
Instead of possessing the machismo, aggressive, and outlandish attitude that’s prevalent in the indie music sphere, all three band members try to be as human and as sincere as possible. Nothing about the project is a put-on. “Isn’t joking around being the most sincere?” Rahbek asked. “Isn’t that sort of accepting that you feel all these feeling, it’s all there isn’t it? I feel like it’d be less sincere if we were wearing goth make-up—none of us are like that. We’re trying to make the project as real as possible, and not all this suffering white male artist bullshit that’s everywhere. The world doesn’t really need any more things like that.”
And after talking to them for a while, it became obvious that nothing about the band has been particularly planned out—even their Twitter account just came from being bored on tour. “It just happened pretty naturally,” Norrvide said while explaining how the beloved Lust For Youth Twitter came to be.”Because on tour you don’t have anything to do and you look at your phone all the time anyway. It’s become a way to waste time.”
Multiple times throughout the night, Norrvide confessed that the press portion of his job isn’t something he particularly loves—after which he would immediately smile and apologize. He loves to make music though. They all do. They’re three creative workaholics: juggling multiple bands, multiple record labels, multiple solo projects. Part of what keeps the sound of Lust For Youth so new is each band member’s dedication to making music outside the realm of a single project.
“Sometimes going up and playing the same music every day gets a little boring,” said Rahbek. “It’s like eating the same thing every day. No matter how delicious, it gets pretty tedious after a while. It’s good to mix it up and add a new hot sauce. Sometimes you can get bored and want something else.”
Since 2011, the project has released an album a year. In a world where Jai Paul only has two song and a follow-up to Beyoncé’s self-titled album seems to be years in the making, this kind of output is a bit out of the ordinary. But they see releasing music as part of the job description of being a musician. “All of us want to make music,” Rahbek explained. “If that’s what you say that you’re doing, you might as well put in the time and do it. We just enjoy making music.”
They pair this efficiency with a lack of specific direction. “We never really talk about any musical influences,” Hannes explained. “We never say before what we’re going to take inspiration from. Sometimes we’ll be making a song and someone will say, ‘Oh, it sounds like this!’ and then we can either move towards that or steer away from it.” Creatively, the band refuses to mimic the sound of anyone else because, as Loke believes, that’s how many bands “end up making shitty music.”
The Lust For Youth style is less about plotting specifics and more about letting inspiration hit. In doing so, they’ve ended up with six albums that grow and evolve as the band does—both musically and in terms of a line-up. Listening to their discography straight through, you could mistake each album for the work of a completely different band.
“We just sit and play whatever we feel like,” Rahbek said, explaining the band’s creative process. “Then we record it and then usually it turns out really, really nice. ”
“We don’t write beforehand,” Norrvide added. “We write while we record.”
“And it’s not like Malthe does one thing, I do another and Hannes does another,” Rahbek countered “We all do whatever. We all write lyrics, we all make beats, we all play synths.”
“We work more like a company than a band,” Norrvide joked.
“We’re like an advertising agency,” said Rahbek. Next year’s album should be called The Carousel.
All photos shot exclusively for Milk by Ben Taylor.
Stay tuned to Milk for more sexy Danes.