SXSW Interview: ZRN

It’s easy to find your listening habits run straight for a little while; you keep your head down and all the indie rock sounds the same…until you meet ZRN. They’re a doomy duo of ambient music billowing across the pond from Denmark. They’ve graced us with some thoughtful responses; the band plays March 13 at the Hideout.

ATH: Whats the name of the band/group? Where are you from?

ZRN: We are ZRN and we are from Aarhus, Denmark

ATH: Describe your groups sound.

ZRN: Like making your way through dense forest landscape on a hazy, Autumn afternoon, just before the sun goes down. Imagine some mountains on the horizon and beasts lurking around in the dusk. Then you hear a loud bulldozer approaching.

ATH: What was your most recent release? Any planned releases from 2019?

ZRN: We self-released an EP called “Full Body Mirror” in October 2018. This January we started working on our next album, and if our SXSW plans go as we hope, we strive to release our first track off of it in late 2019.

ATH: For most SXSW sets, you get 30 minutes to leave a lasting impression. Whats your plan of attack? You have a set list mapped out yet?

ZRN: Our stage performance is very heavy on improvisation as a tool to make our songs emerge like peaks on an unbroken line. We literally map out the course of action by doing a drawing of where and how we get to our songs and then play according to that. So, we always do our sets as one long journey where the songs get woven together, creating that feeling of everything being suspended “here and now”. It’s usually a very intense experience for both the audience and us. A lot of new things happen on stage in the moment and it really gets us going and makes us express those things that ARE planned even more intensely and vividly.

ATH: Lets say your band has been booked an official showcase at a pop up venue
somewhere in the middle of 6th street. The lineup features thrash metal, hip-hop, spoken word, and you. The sound is horrible, the lineup is not your style, and the crowd seems angry at the world. How would your band deal with such a situation?

ZRN: When these things happen we just focus on what we are there to do, and rely on our years of improvisation experience, and see if we feel like re-tailoring our set and set up on the fly, to fit the sound in the space, and basically just focus on blowing minds by juggling and shaping sound…. Maybe crank up the bpm on our drum machine slightly. Just to have fun with it. Also, we are control freaks so we always make sure to be able to control most things from the stage; Vocal reverb levels are rarely left up to the sound tech! Sound/genre-wise we may already be the odd ones out at our venue, The Hideout, on the 13th of March…! Gonna be so much louder than everybody else…(!)

ATH: There are tons of bands coming into town. Of the 1000+ bands coming into town, who would you ideally like to play with. What band friends will be here?

ZRN: There are a few bands that we have either played with before or met somehow with our other band (Tales of Murder and Dust): The KVB, Lowly, Greenbeard. Probably a few more from the Austin Psych Scene, we could imagine. It would be fun to play with Oh Sees!

ATH: What has everyone in the band been listening to, or, what plays in the tour van/car/bus?

ZRN: This is going to sound terribly conceited, but we are not really listening to anything but either the sound of silence, nature, general noise pollution…. or ourselves at the moment.When we are in the process of making an album it’s just nice to have some creative”hygiene” about it and shut out any chance of creative contamination from our go to artists… We do do small doses of Arvo Prt on a regular basis and Crime and the City Solution is always going to be played on a long drive. AND of course, regardless of trying to stay “clean” these days we haven’t been able to avoid Low’s new album “Double Negative”. But, it’s hard to listen to it because it’s so good it hurts!

ATH: Describe your perfect festival, real or not? Whos headlining? Wheres it take place? Etc.

ZRN: Although it would probably destroy the place for good, a festival on the ruins of Kaloe Vig Castle in Denmark featuring Swans, Einstrzende Neubauten, Low, Yo La Tengo, SunnO))) would be a good framework for a festival. It’s home to a flock of friendly cows who would make a great addition to the usual festival experience: They know how to stay quiet in a crowd.

ATH: Whats on the bands rider? If were bringing you food and booze, what can we bring

ZRN:Our rider always has coffee, tea, white wine and any kind of healthy vegetarian food. And a can of diet Redbull for Ess (lead singer, guitar). But she will be 3 months pregnant at the time of SXSW, so vanilla ice cream is trending at the moment as the go to fix. And now that you mention Tacos….

ATH: The band gets to create their own taco pop-up shop at SXSW? Whats the name, and
what sort of tacos will you have? Any sides?

ZRN: We actually had our first real deal tacos ever when we visited Austin for Austin Psych
Fest in 2014. Since then we have craved shrimp tacos for a very very long time. There
will be no time or space for sides.

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