“Bohrs is more than a collective, it’s a phenomenon.”
The artists (in the short-term future) formerly known as JKD & The Bastards recently released their new album. Bringing an ode to the place where they meet, practice, fall in love and get drunk, the record has been named Velkommen til Bohrs. Getting ready for diner, or in this case a taste of the wide variety of flavours the band has to offer, has barely been brought with so much joy. With the announcement that the band has moreover changed their name to Bohrsdagbarna, the mystery around the apartment on Bohrs Gate 2 gets even bigger. With a healthy dose of curiosity, I confronted four members of the band with the phenomenon that is build around their home place, their motivation behind the music, and their hometown Molden. After a lively conversation, the message of the band was clearly painted in front of my eyes: Bohrs is a place where all the love and unity that lies within each of the members of the band comes together.
JKD & The Bastards started off in Molde, where it released their first album in 2009. Back then the band name was a bit more specified, with the notion that two of the band members were identical twins. Their album Kudos, released in 2009 under the name of JKD & The One-Egged Bastards, represented a gathering of styles. With funk, rap and rock being put into place, the album showed a wide variety of different genres and flow. The original formation of the band releasing Kudos split up, and part of it found each other on a fourth floor of an apartment on Bohrs Gate 2 in Bergen. Over the last four years members of the band have been living at Bohrs Gate 2, and the phenomenon Bohrs is growing by the day.
You describe Bohrs as the most beautiful apartment of Bergen, what defines this place for you?
“Bohrs is the apartment we’ve been practicing and making all the new songs”, says Jørgen, the man behind the fast lyrics defining a large part of the tracks. Over the last four years several members have lived at the place, which made it the logical place to practice. “We’ve been meeting each other here every week for the last two and a half years. And we’ve been making music with all of them, all the time.”
“But it is a lot more than the practical stuff, Bohrs is the heart of the band. It’s the place we fall in love, brake up, have sex and get drunk. Everybody can come in and hang out.” The sincerity with which Jonatan, the male singer of the group, pleads for Bohrs says a lot about the connection all band members have with the apartment. “The group, the music, the people, it is not like everywhere you go when you move to another city, you necessarily just have a family. If I could use one word to capture it all, it would be Bohrs.”
Jørn, by the other band members considered as a musical master mind, states that the group could be considered as a collective, an extended family. “We’ve got a lot of people who help us, which has been so from the start of our band. There are people taking care of our cover art, the photography, and there sound and light engineers. “Bohrs is more than a collective, it’s a phenomenon.”
With the release of Velkommen til Bohrs, the band has entered a new form of identity. However, the group still performs with songs from the album the band released in 2009, Kudos. The old formation broke up, and after the reunification at Bohrs, there have not been a lot of changes. Jørgen explains: “We used to play more songs from Kudos during our performances, but right now it are only Dreamin and Hockeysveis og Gymsokk. We just had to look at the album to see what was valuable for our new project. Not all our old songs fit with our identity. With a new identity comes new songs, and by adding songs that suit us better, the old ones are eliminated.”
Just recently, at the concert you had last week in Hulen, you announced your new band name: Bohrsdagbarna. What is the motivation behind this change?
“That also comes down to our identity. The new name is closer to the form we have reached as a band right now. Besides, I didn’t want it to be like JKD (an abbreviation of Jørgen’s full name) and those guys anymore.” Jonatan can agree with that: “For instance with the first album Kudas, the name was JKD & The One-Egged Bastards. The rest of the band was mentioned on the pamphlet as ‘the hangarounds’. With this name we try to equalize all the members.”
Comparing Kudos with Velkommen til Bohrs, there seems to be a bit more harmony between the songs, do you agree with that?
“I think so, absolutely. Since the group has been the same for some time now, we have developed and become more stable. It’s not especially conscious that we do that, it just goes along like that,” says Line, together with Jonatan providing the variety between Jørgen’s rap lines. Reaching more harmony within the group is accompanied with a search for more development. “We always try to develop new aspects of ourselves as well. We’re just trying, and see what the opportunities are. We want to do the things we want to do, and that’s what we’ve done all the time.”
“However, as Jørgen states, we do focus on the fact we’re not going too far. There have been stages in the process where it just got too much. And that’s the moment Jørn stops us, and says we just can’t do that.” Jørn tries to cut through when he sees things get out of hand. “When we are developing new songs, I think it is important to not put too much fancy things in them. Developing a stable platform, with clear parts of the songs, gives us space to later add stuff. But although I take action when I disagree, I keep focus on the fact that everybody does his or her thing. Let them do the things they are good at, and try to mix that together. And that’s what makes the sound, when everybody can do what they feel comfortable with.”
“It’s never like we come to practice and I have written some text and Jørn has some music ready, and we’re like: play this,” Jørgen continues. “We develop our music together, it’s very jamming,” says Line.
Concerning the success of the band, how do you see your development from a national or international perspective?
“We have Norwegian lyrics, so our focus is primary on Norway. It’s difficult to say whether the language will be a problem, it’s quite depended on which countries you choose. There are examples where it doesn’t matter, and it’s mainly about how it sounds. But of course, there are people who want to know what the lyrics are about, and it might not be so easy to figure that out.” Stille, a single the band released in 2013, shows how the language might become an obstacle. “Stille describes uncertainty and depression, but for somebody who does not understand what we’re singing about, it’s mainly a happy song.” Continuing on the choice for lyrics and music, Jørgen gives some more explanation about Stille. “I wanted it to be like that, the song is about hope and getting somewhere. The contradiction between the lyrics and the music suits the idea I had when I wrote the lyrics.”
“I feel the need to say that the lyrics are a bit difficult. I think a lot of people, not even the Norwegians in the audience, catch up with all the lyrics. I don’t directly think that is sad, but it would be cool if they did get it. Jørgen writes a lot of beautiful lyrics. He has a lot to say and stories to tell. But I don’t even think all the people within the band know what all the songs are about.” Although Line agrees with Jonatan about the depth it has to offer, she does give some nuance to the story. “Not every song is like the deepest well, some are just about good times. And essentially it’s about the interpretation people give to the music. If they can make their own interpretation within a song of ours, it doesn’t matter that this is far from the interpretation we give to it. As long as it resonates with them in their way.”
Even within the band people give different interpretations to the music. “People focus on different things, me for instance are the kind of guy who listen to how our songs are arranged. But when I read a lyric, I can get an even greater understanding of the song. And the relationship with it strengthens through that. Most of the songs are so fast you don’t have the chance to catch the lyrics when you’re playing yourself. But even then you pick up some of the lines, and you get an abstract feeling what the song is about. And you just use that when you’re playing. Of course the music and the lyrics don’t have to go hand in hand, it can be interesting to have some contrast within our songs.”
Can you describe the difference between Molde, the place where most of you come from, and Bergen?
“Molde is like the girl you dump, but still miss. And when you get back with her, you’re like meh… But not long thereafter you’re like, oh fuck, I miss her again.” Jørgen’s opinion on Molde is clear, especially when it comes to the music scene. “There is a terrible music scene in Molde, eventhough there are a lot of people making music there and the fact they have a quite good music school.” “The problem is however, says Jørn, that a lot of these people move out to other cities. And the people who stay can’t make it due to a lack of audience. Besides, Molde lacks a good arena for artists. There is no such thing as for instance Hulen here in Bergen.”
However, and that is something all the band members can agree on, there is still a lot of love for Molde. “When we move to another city, like Bergen, and we cling together, we can get really patriotic about Molde. When we’re in Molde it is a little bit boring, you don’t want to live there. But with Bohrs we have our own Molde, here in Bergen.”
That Bohrs is more than just a beautiful apartment on Bohrs Gate 2 is reflected by the positive vibe that is present with all the band members. The music is more than just sitting around the table and concluding what the band should do next. “We play music all the time, listen to records, and we’ve done that for a lot of years. The band and making music is just what we do. It’s an extension of what we are. And I feel like we’re all very grateful for this.” Jonatan’s words perfectly describe the atmosphere in Bohrs, which gets even more evident with the latest song the group added to their repertoire. As an exception to their own music, the group covers an excerpt from Yeasayer’s song Red Cave. ”We sing that song all the time here in Bohrs, or when we’re going out on the streets. So then we were just like, fuck it, let’s use it. It really catches our identity.”
“I’m so blessed to have spent the time
With my family and the friends I love
In my short life I have met
So many people deeply care for”
The short introduction at Bohrs Gate 2 showed me great insight of the band, their motivation behind the music, and most off all their view on life. With love as the foundation of everything, the group has created a strong collective around a cosy and harmonious apartment in the city centre of Bergen. Using both their music and appearance, the Bohrs-mythology seems to have reached a perpetual growth. And as this mythology spreads throughout the souls of Norway, I can proudly say it has also found its place in my heart.