Dive Bar Wisdom with Sondre Lerche
Brooklyn-based Norwegian singer/songwriter/composer/guitarist Sondre Lerche put out a new record called "Pleasure" in March. BrooklynVegan had the pleasure of since premiering a remix of one of the tracks.
For the third edition of 'Dive Bar Wisdom' we caught up with Sondre Lerche to talk about his grandma and some of his favorite places to go in NYC...
BV: You've released a steady stream of albums since your first in 2001, the most recent being "Pleasure" in March of this year. How have your musical influences changed over the years?
Sondre: It's always moving around. I know where I came from, but never where I'm going. I don't see it as influences necessarily, more like appetite. You have a lot of cake, you're gonna start craving something else, vegetables or cheeseburgers, or just a cup of tea. It's always changing, but it usually takes a lot of time before it naturally seeps into my own work. With last two albums, Please and Pleasure, the process of writing and recording just became a lot freer, bolder and urgent - I needed it to, in order to keep me engaged, and to motivate me as a performer. My conception of what a song could be and how you arrive at it, has expanded greatly, and I am more drawn to the unknown, rather than what I already know. But I'll probably never abandon juicy dense chord progressions, that's just part of my orientation. And seeing as it's almost extinct in a lot of contemporary pop music, I'll gladly be a champion of that till my dying day.
Were your grandparents (or a grandparent-like figure in your life) music fans or even musicians? Did any of the music they liked or played influence your own musical taste or style of music?
My grandma Hjørdis Lerche wrote poetry and put a lot into performing it in her later years. We actually did some shows together at the local elderly hang out when I was 12. She took great pleasure in her performances and recitals and I think I always could relate to that side of her. But music was a thing I cultivated and enjoyed on my own in my teenage years. I picked up some stuff from my older siblings, my mom who sang along to her Pet shop boys and Eurythmics tapes in the car, but once I started playing and writing it was my private escape, my own world. Until I got into performing and my personality sorta split between the introvert songwriter and the extrovert performer in me.
What is some worldly advice that a grandparent or grandparent-like figure gave you that's stuck with you? How has that influenced how you think about life or music?
I don't remember a single moment or advice, but I always felt encouraged to do my thing when I was little, so I'm sure that influenced how I went about my vibes. Even my older siblings tried to humor me when I did my 15 minute long improvised instrumental guitar pieces at family gatherings when I was 10. I'm sure it wasn't pretty. But I always felt special.
What is your favorite place to see or play live music in NYC? Why?
I love Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall Of Williamsburg, both as performer and audience. It's ideal for what I do. I like intimacy - something changes when the audience just becomes this endless mass of people. Performing becomes more like work and routine, and you have to use a broader paintbrush. I thrive in a beautiful intimate room. And I'm grateful I get to play there regularly, ever since I started touring in the states.
What is your favorite Brooklyn dive bar and why?
I'm not the best at detecting what's a dive bar and not, it's a very American thing. I've played a few, and I don't love it. A show in Jacksonville, FL and one in Albuquerque comes to mind. But I go to Zablozki's sometimes. Is that a dive bar? And my neighbors Night Of Joy is cool. Although I'm not sure they identify as a dive bar. If so, I apologize in advance.
Zablozki's, pictured above, is at 107 N 6th Street in Brooklyn.
Night of Joy is located at 667 Lorimer Street in Brooklyn (at the corner of Meeker Ave).
We caught Sondre Lerche live at one of his favorite NYC music venues last month (and at his other favorite in 2015). He answered the questions in this interview from a car rushing through Montana. Catch him on tour.