For Folk’s Sake Interview: The Dø

FFS: So, the story goes that you met each other whilst recording music for a
Jean Reno film – how did you go from there to starting a band together?
We recorded our first song the day we met, and since then we’ve kept on
working and composing intensively for other soundtracks and contemporary dance.
There was no plan to put together a band in the first place. We just had so many
songs that it was logical to start our own project and give it a name.
FFS: There are also a few other tales floating around as to how you came by
your name, so we were hoping you could clear that up for us once and for
all: is it formed from your initials, or it is a nod to the first ‘do’ on the
musical scale? Or is it a fiendishly clever combination of both?
It’s both – simple as that!
FFS: How does the process work when the two of you get together to write and
record? Do you find that you have distinct roles, or is it constantly
changing? Who writes the lyrics?
It depends, but when we’re in a rush, or touring, I [Olivia] write the basis of
the songs with the lyrics, and Dan arranges them. But when we have the time,
we get locked up in our own studio and we record everything we can, in no
particular order or logic, and we end up with fifteen songs in an hour or
FFS: How do you manage to combine and layer such a range of
instruments on many of the songs – do you play them all between you?
Dan and I played most of the instruments on the album, far from perfectly but
we’re really sensitive to new sounds, so we usually manage to get something
out of them. Only the strings are played by professionals.
FFS: The album is fantastically eclectic and versatile – how do you move
from making songs like ‘Queen Dot Kong’ to current single ‘On My Shoulders’?
Firstly we had no idea that we were making an album until quite late. Then
every time we’d finished a song, we wanted the next one to be totally
different. Mostly because we were trying to make songs that would surprise
us each time we’d listen to them. And it was also a lot about messing around
in the studio…
FFS: ‘Playground Hustle’ is very probably the coolest song I have ever
heard. I think it should be played in all schools and to all new families to
remind them of the ridiculousness of gendering toys. How did such a song
come to exist?
That’s funny…it’s one of the first tracks we wrote together,  and maybe we
needed something like an anthem to start our collaboration.
FFS: Given your Finnish-French roots, how did you come to the
decision to sing (mainly) in English?
Since I [Olivia] started writing, it was always in English. It’s in the music I’ve
listened to, it just came out as the most natural thing.
FFS: It’s been said that there’s a wider movement to sing in English amongst
French groups at the moment, do you think that’s true? Is it to do with
making the music more accessible to an international audience?
I think it’s more about the musical culture of pop artists. French
singer-songwriters have been hindered for very long, but the internet
definitely broke the rules. We are so much freer now. But I would have never
changed my musical language to please the record labels or radio
FFS: You’re due to be playing quite a few festivals over the water this
summer, and some very soon in Australia, are you looking forward to these?
We came back from Australia a month ago, it was quite a challenge, but it
was great. We’re always looking forward to playing in new places, for new
audiences. You never get bored.
FFS: What’s the best thing about playing live? Do you enjoy it more than
being in a studio recording?
I guess we’re more of a studio band, cos that’s where you can experiment
stuff. Sounds drive us crazy, and we love to try all sorts of combinations.
On stage the conditions are so stripped down, it’s great too, you can’t fake
it. But as a duo it’s quite limited.
Interview: Jo Legg.
Catch The Dø at the Secret Garden Party this summer.