wears the trousers magazine

introducing kalbakken
August 4, 2009, 1:40 pm
Filed under: feature, mp3, voice on the verge | Tags: , , , ,


voice on the verge #36: kalbakken

visit Kalbakken on Myspace

Half-Norwegian brother and sister duo Kirsty and David Birchall Nyhuus have been making music together as Kalbakken for roughly four years now from their base in Manchester. Their debut album, Then I Saw Summer & Sun On The Earth, was released back in May through Little Red Rabbit Records, and belies the siblings’ background in punk and improvisational bands with 13 songs of red-blooded traditional Scandinavian folk. In a way, it’s an album that Kirsty and David were always destined to make and has a strong connection to their childhood and ancestry. Some of the melodies found here have been passed down from generation to generation of their family, while others have been reconstructed from transcriptions discovered in dusty old books belonging to the Deichmanske Bibliotek in Oslo. Wears The Trousers caught up with Kirsty to find out more about this most intriguing of duos, ahead of their UK tour that kicks off in Cambridge on Thursday.

* * * 

What’s your tipple?

Dark rum. Double please. I once spent a fortune in one night on shots from a bottle of dark rum worth over a hundred quid.

What’s your earliest memory?

Pottering around my dad’s workroom while he drew / painted / did arty things.

What were you like at school?

I evolved from an extremely shy conformist to a very opiniated person who occasionally tried to push the boundaries.

What would you tell your 18 year old self if you could go back in time?

To stop caring about what other people think or say. Essentially it doesn’t matter.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?

Unfortunately I worked in a factory creating the plastic makeup stands for Boots (I was paid £4.67 an hour). Until I got fired for taking a holday. Last year I worked for Royal Bank of Scotland entering data. Until I got fired for going on tour. I see a pattern developing here!

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

A random mix of ska punk, pop punk, Nirvana, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth. In more current days: Le Tigre, The Decemberists, Neutral Milk Hotel.

What was the first band you saw in concert?

Haha. Erm, Green Day. Is that embarrassing or not? I can’t decide.

What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your record collection?

Dolly Parton. Dan Bridgewood Hill got me into her Greatest Hits album, for which I am totally grateful. Dolly is a very underrated lyricist.

What’s your favourite song to cover and why?

Neil Young. In Norwegian of course. We actually played ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ at a Neil Young tribute gig in Manchester. Reactions to it varied from confused to intrigued.

What would you be if you weren’t a musician?

I would be what I am now, a primary school teacher (in training).

Tell us about your favourite instrument…

‘Tis my violin. She is from Romania, and as of yet nameless. It gives her an air of mystique I feel.

Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn? What’s stopping you?

Bass guitar. A hardcore band is currently under discussion…watch this space.

How would you describe your new album in 10 words or less?

Dissonant, intense, hypnotic, changeable, intertwining harmonies.

What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?

The Bookseller Of Kabul. Totally gripping account of life in Afghanistan post-Taliban by Norwegian author Åsne Seierstad.

What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?

Hmm, definitely my ’70s checked shirt inherited from my mum. I wore it for the entire Spanish tour and it served me well.

Do you have a tattoo?

I actually booked an appointment to get a tattoo of a music note on my wrist; however, I still can’t decide if it’s cheesy or not.

What are your pet hates?

I really hate rude people. And people who think its ‘cool’ to be in a band.

What’s your biggest fear?

Failure. And fear.

What are your views on feminism?

Women should have the same rights as men. Simple as that. However, women should also have free choice and not be convinced that staying home and being a ‘housewife’ is in any way inferior.

How are you most likely to die and what would you want written on your headstone?

Freak potato accident.

What kind of person would have sex to your music?

A disturbed one.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

I managed a class of 25 five year olds and none of them injured themselves or each other. Some of them may have even learnt something. That makes me quite proud.

Tick tock, tick tock. What you waiting, what you waiting for?

I’m waiting for the summer. A summer of travelling, touring and much debauchery ahead.

* * *

Alan Pedder


FREE MP3: Kalbakken, ‘Hvem Kan Segle’


Catch Kalbakken at the following venues this month:

06.08.09 CB2, Cambridge
07.08.09 Lewes Road Community Garden, Brighton
10.08.09 Venue TBC, Llanfairfechan
11.08.09 Hub, Leicester
12.08.09 The Shakespeare, Sheffield
13.08.09 Nexus Art Cafe, Manchester
14.08.09 13th Note, Glasgow
15.08.09 Tyne Bar, Newcastle
16.08.09 The Robin Hood, Nottingham 


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