Text: Cristina Lazar // Photo: Rikke Sønderby

 

I will talk about two nice guys from Aalborg, both students, friends who decided to start up an underground rap band with a strong message for the audience. So, listen clearly because these dudes talk about the general societal issues we all know about, but usually choose not to talk about and the unbalanced power hierarchy that makes some of us crave for more material possessions rather than a rational and peaceful way of living with each other. In order to better understand Jakob and Martin’s message and background, I met up with them, on a foggy Saturday and had a laid back and very fun interview with them. They are really funny and open-minded, I think you’ll like them. Listen up!

“So your band’s name is Zen in Vivo, what does that mean exactly?”

M: “Well, ‘zen’ is the word for balance in general and in Buddhism, and ‘in vivo’ is a medical practice, where tests are done on living organisms, so mainly our aim is to put ‘zen’ in the body and encourage balance in general. So, we want to make people relax through our music and be more socially balanced.”

“we want to make people relax through our

 music and be more socially balanced”

J: ”Yes, that is the main message we are trying to transmit through our music.”

When you talk about balance and equality, are you referring strictly to the Danish society or also to the ones happening worldwide?”

J: ”It is mainly rooted in the Danish policies, politics and social behavior.”

M: ”If we could spread it outside the border too, of course it would be brilliant, but it is in Danish so nobody understands it, haha, so mostly Denmark concerning issues.”

If you could detail more your music’s message and for example pick a song which has a strong theme and elaborate it a bit.”

J: “We have a song called ‘Dyreringet’…”

“Ah yes, I listened to it!”

M: ”Well, listened without understanding a word, nice!”

J: “So, as I was saying, in this song we are trying to indirectly compare actions of politicians with the ones of the animals and we are for example talking about where the empathy lies: is it with all the people or only with your friends and is it with all animals, or just your hamster, Speedo?”

M: “And very importantly, where and when does it stop?”

J: “So the question we are asking ourselves in this particular song is where did the humanity feeling go and are we just animals?”

M: “We are talking about how we are using our power to inflict evil, instead of doing some good.”

“We are talking about how we are using our power

to inflict evil, instead of doing some good.”

Would you say that these frustrations were the starting point of your band? What made you start this, except for women and fame of course, haha. ”

J: “We didn’t like that like there is a lot of hip-hop where they mainly talk about…”

M: “ MONEY!!”

J: “…fame and money.”

But you don’t want that?”

J: “ We don’t want that image.”

M: “ Well, we want some women, but haha…”

J: “ I think it’s boring to listen all the time to music about money, women, guns and clothes and stuff like that, it doesn’t really have a deeper message and with our songs, we wanted to break that cycle.”

But did you experience something in your lives that made you become more aware of what is going on in the modern society nowadays, as we all know there are issues to be handled, but not many actually doing something about it.”

M: “I kind of got a bit mad, taking into consideration the Danish people’s attitude, because we have every goods we could think of and still we can’t empathize with refugees, for example. The main objective should be telling truth and enlightening people, as opposed to just making money and gaining publicity, as it is in reality. We live in a luxury state, nobody here lacks any goods, so I got frustrated about this and I know that Jakob is really frustrated too, haha.”

J: “Yeah, so mostly starting with the media and politics.

M: “I just think it is a shame that we have reached so far with science and using knowledge and you then log onto the social media, where many people form important debates with uninformed comments and closed minds. And that was really clear with the recent American elections, where it got pretty real that all of the sudden, a person without anything that looks like solid argument can become the leader of the most powerful country on Earth.”

Considering that you are directly addressing to Denmark and Scandinavia, and thinking about the youth stereotypes present here, do you think your messages manage to break through and make them think about change?”

J: “If some people understand something out of our music and lyrics, our job is done. It is alright if they do not agree with some of the points we are making, but if it at least starts a discussion about some real issues, it means our music worked as a trigger and helps them broaden their perspective.”

 

“If some people understand something out of our

music and lyrics, our job is done. It is alright if they

do not agree with some of the points we are making, but

if it at least starts a discussion about some real issues, it

means our music worked as a trigger and helps

them broaden their perspective.”

 

Do you have some artists that have inspired you with their music or that you look up to?”

M: “Well, I listen to a lot of underground music. I like P.O.S., Aesop Rock, Malk de Koijn and more artists similar to that, so more abstract lyrics where the point is not presented directly. You have to think about it in order to understand and you learn to appreciate the symbolism. So, yes, I think it is way more interesting to listen to music like that.”

“You also try to do that in your music with your lyrics, right?”

M: “ Yes, sure, that is also one of our trademarks or at least we want it to be J.”

On your Facebook page, you have a description that says- Musik for dem der æder en gang pommes, og tænker: “Der mangler noget til mine fritter, og det er ikke ketter.”  Can you explain what it is about? Because if you translate it, it could also mean ferrets.”

M: “Maybe some people eat ferrets! But we were mainly trying to be funny, but now I don’t think it is anymore J So, you could interpret it in the way that you usually eat French fries with ketchup and we are saying that you should think beyond that, so maybe you could try some remoulade or something like that.”

J: “ You can say it can refer to our music as something that has a message which we think is missing in our world today, and that you should think outside the box and not go with the conventional attitude, take a stand.”

“ You can say it can refer to our music as

something that has a message which we think is

missing in our world today, and that you should

think outside the box and not go with the

conventional attitude, take a stand.”

Ok, I understand, I will choose remoulade from now on, ha. But you recently started singing, right?”

J: “We started about a year and a half ago, in the summer, by making a track called ‘Gyllerødder’, and then we did some more music when we moved in together. That really enhanced the process.”

M: “At first, I had some lyrics written and I thought that ‘hej, it could work out’ and since I knew Jakob is a pretty great musician and he also likes hip hop, we just did it. And he plays the guitar and…some other instruments.”

J: “Well, yeah, you needed someone to play the music.”

M: “I just had some ideas and then discovered he had the same frustrations as me, so yes.”

“So basically your frustrations brought you together, nice! What would you say is the other’s strongest point?”

M: “We think a lot alike about music and support each other really well and also, he is a really good musician, makes great beats, and has a totally different voice than mine. He sings a hell of a lot better than I do! And he also lets me write most of the lyrics and also makes a great soup J”

J: “Well, he said too much already. Martin is a really good writer and he has some important points that he wants to express, and he really nails it when it comes to writing it down.”

M: “Yeah, I really have a good handwriting.”

J: “Good handwriting and good rhymes, haha!”

What would you say it’s the biggest obstacle or struggle for young musicians in Denmark nowadays?”

M: “The main difficulty is to get your music beyond your own group of friends. We think we have some good messages, so we want to spread it out to as many as possible.”

“The main difficulty is to get your music beyond your

own group of friends. We think we have some good messages,

so we want to spread it out to as many as possible.”

J: “So, it is about getting there by creating a social network and having a lot of good contacts. Also, radios usually don’t play this kind of rap.”

How would you define your music in a few words?”

M: “Experimental, groovy, rebellious. It’s not that commercial, because we are addressing vulnerable themes, which I guess a lot of people might not dare to talk about.”

Would you say this issue of not addressing issues in society is part of the Scandinavian stereotype?”

J: “I think most people, also ourselves, think it’s easier to sometimes just stay in your couch and scream at the television instead.”

You just had a concert in 1000Fryd on the 21st of January, what do you have to say about Aalborg’s music scene?”

J: “I think that there are a lot of good bands, which make great music, but I think the problem is that there are not so many people willing to go to concerts and instead, they go to ‘Gaden’, where they mostly play pop music or German schlagers.”

You recently went to Brazil and had a concert there, how was it?”

M: “I guess we were pretty nervous before going there, because it was so random with a Danish rap band with Danish lyrics, and the people couldn’t really understand anything of what we were saying, but we were surprised that they could still feel the beat, and many people were coming to us saying that they had no idea of what we were saying, but they liked the vibe of it, so it was good.”

One last thing, if things go well with Zen in Vivo, are you planning to make a music career out of it?”

J: “I think we are making music, because we want to address some issues and send a message on how to solve these issues. Our intentions are not to make money and become stars.”

“Our intentions are not to make money and become stars.”

Thank you, it was super fun to have this interview with you.”

That being said, support the music industry in Aalborg and stay zen J