Copenhagen’s Efterklang have been evolving as a band for over 20 years. Now, they’re preparing to release their sixth studio album Windflowers, their first release for City Slang, that’s out October 8. Named after the small blossoms that carpet the Danish forest, the making of their latest album was all about creative escape and indulgence.
Their new single “Dragonfly” uses the soaring insect as a symbol for love’s elusive nature. Over glinting string plucks and churning percussion, the track is particularly buoyant. Singer Casper Clausen revealed that, “the song is kinda trying to catch the uncatchable idea of love, between us, in whatever form, while to celebrate the flux of it, constantly moving, up in the air, always astray, like water or wind, light and unexpected warm wind on our chin that first summer’s day, there it is again, let’s celebrate it, let pass through us, realize it’s there, let it stay or fly away.”
Check out the blissful video for “Dragonfly” below, along with the rest of our chat with Clausen.
How did your fascination with dragonflies begin? Did you know you always wanted to write a song inspired by them?
Not at all, the song was all done and needed a name. I was juggling all sorts of lines from the actual song, which had been kinda demo titles, but it needed a definite one. I couldn’t quite feel at peace with the demo titles, so I started looking for an image or reference point outside of the lyrics. Dragonflies always fascinated me. I love watching them cruise around, like ancient drones, technically so significant and different from other flying insects—advanced and huge in comparison. And their colors! Those oily greens, like rainbows of all shades at once, they are just beautiful! They are flying or sitting still, no creeping around, no walking or slowly going from one place to the other. The song is kinda trying to catch the uncatchable idea of love, between us, in whatever form, while to celebrate the flux of it, constantly moving, up in the air, always astray, like water or wind, light and unexpected warm wind on our chin that first summer’s day, there it is again, let’s celebrate it, let pass through us, realize it’s there, let it stay or fly away.
I love the image of the dragonfly that you discussed—I didn’t realize they had legs. But I think that image is funny to contrast with a world where it’s exponentially harder to sit still. What do you think we can learn from the dragonfly?
To live and to love—the concept of love, what is it? What does that poor and extremely important word even mean? All colors at once, it stays around the pond if you like, it lives a whole life in such a restricted space and reality, at least in comparison to what a human being knows about the planets and outer space. Yet a dragonfly shines and flies around all the time constantly discovering the surroundings, avoiding their enemies and represents the fragility of life itself, and the word love, more as a portal into an infinity of light. And then there’s the eyes of a dragonfly, they see something like three or four times more things than our eye is capable of seeing. They see ultraviolet light without the help of technology.
How did all the layers of the track come together?
It started in a very jammy way. I found the beat on a sampler in my studio in Lisbon one evening, early in the pandemic. I liked that groove and that tempo, and I started playing around with harmonizing my voice using a harmonizer effect and a MIDI keyboard. It quickly felt fun and nice to add a bunch of different vocals, intertwining, answering, and flowing into the gaps of each other. Slowly over time as we started working on the song collectively, it grew into a mosaic of sorts. From the beginning, it gravitated toward a lighter feeling, like something up in the sky. We started recording friends’ voices and some acoustic sounds, like the Lithuanian string instrument called “Kankles,” played by our friend Indré Jurgelevičiūté that you can hear many places in the song. Indré also sings a lot on this song alongside Karen Beldring, whose voice felt like such a beautiful match in this song. Karen is the voice that sort of breaks loose in the middle section.
What are you saying in the intro? What was the inspiration behind veiling the voice in an effect?
Nothing in particular, it’s from the initial first jam, where I was more like playing with a harmonizer effect and formulating sounds more than meaning. Generally the lyrics and meaning are constantly shape shifting in my brain over time. I like to think I’m saying something like “Jeeeeesus, turning a wild storm in the blue” or something along those lines.
What place does “Dragonfly” hold in relation to the rest of the album?
It holds lightness, it’s a short song for Efterklang, with a light energy keeping it hovering above the field, somewhere around the middle of the album, like bubbles in wine.
I’m really curious about the stumbled-upon box of white clothes—sounds kind of like an eerie run in with fate and inspiration.
It was literally like that! We were picking up some gear on our way to the Danish island of Møn, where we shot the video, and also spent an entire week in a “summer camp” (summertræf) with our live-band (Indré Jurgelevičiūté, Bert Cools, Øyunn, Christian Balvig). There, in our storage, was this cardboard box full of white clothing, stored away from our opera “Leaves, the Colour of Falling” that we had totally forgotten about it. We thought, “Let’s bring it to Møn and see if it’s useful in some sort of way.” It sort of visualized that togetherness we felt while being in that summer camp together, and it’s fun to dress up.
I find it interesting pairing the song “Dragonfly,” something so fleeting, with the imagery of a kite, an object tethered to a string. Can you tell me more about the visual and maybe about how the song has changed (if it has) in your mind with the accompaniment of the video or since you’ve written it?
The idea for the video came out of an image Indré had. One night while recording, she described how she saw kites in the sky with her inner eye while listening to the song. Our other friend Søren Lynggaard Andersen, who shot the video and also shot our previous video “Living Other Lives,” films on old Russian celluloid 16mm/8mm cameras. We went on a road trip around the island of Møn, playing around with dressing up, kites, footballs, swimming, and having fun. It feels like watching a good old family summer holiday home video, filled with so much fun, nostalgia and good memories.