Mikkel of Yung Talks Musical Past, New Record, and Christian Bale

Meredith Schneider

Mikkel

photo by Fryd Frydendahl

Yung Shord (Mikkel) is on fire. Having been in several different bands since the age of 16 in Denmark’s small–but thriving–garage/punk/indie music scene, he has just released his latest with Yung, a solo project-turned four piece band. At the ripe age of 21, he is also doing quite well with his own record label, Shordwood Records, which aims to bring great indie music to the masses by releasing physical copies on cassette and vinyl.

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He’s living the dream, A Youthful Dream, as heard on their album. Take a listen below, and then check out what Mikkel had to say about his musical endeavors (and Christian Bale).

If you could make a grand entrance, how would you do that?

I would tell them that my name is Mikkel and I love playing music and I love writing music and I love putting out music on vinyl and cassette. That’s basically just my passion, I guess. It’s really just that simple. I’m not doing it because I want to make money, I’m doing it because it’s hard for me not to do it.

When did you decide that music was something you wanted to pursue?

I tried to avoid it for a long time because my family is very musical. My da has always played in a ton of bands and my mom has worked at a bunch of venues in my hometown. My uncle is an active musician. He has a couple of record labels and used to have a record store. Music has always been a big part of my life, so for a long time I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I listened to it, but I didn’t play it. I played a bit of guitar, but I always did that in my room. I didn’t want to play music because my family did that, but when I was 16 I met the right people and we formed a band. After a while, I realized I love playing music. It gave me a very wonderful feeling every time I played live or wrote a new song. So then I realized it was all I wanted to do.

You’re only 21. When did you start with the idea of your own label?

I started playing music when I was 16. After a year or two, I was in like three bands. We wrote a lot of music and we wanted to put songs out. We didn’t want to just upload them on soundcloud or bandcamp, we wanted to release physical copies. But we couldn’t find any record labels that wanted to put us out, so after some time we realized it would be much easier to put out tons of records and cassettes if we had our own record label. I started my first label, Shordwood Records, when I was about 17. I started it with my friend Casper, who is out of the picture now. I played drums in a band with him, and he played the bass and sang. We wrote shit loads of songs, so we made the decision to put them out.

Were you in school during all of this?

Yes, I was in high school. That didn’t go to well (laughs). I didn’t like going to school, but I graduated.

Where did the name Shordwood Records come from?

My nickname is Yung Shord. Casper actually came up with that nickname, and his last name translated directly into English means “wood”. So we just put them together and it sounded great.

What’s the process for deciding who you want to back with your label?

The first one we did was a 7″ record with a band called Bed Bugs. They started playing a short while after Casper and I formed Fright Eye. They started playing because they met each other at our show. They were really excited about going to punk rock shows and they wanted to form a band, but neither of them knew how to play any instruments. We brought them our gear and they bought a practice bass. They started playing a bit, but they were absolutely horrible. They literally couldn’t play. But after a while, they started to pick it up and it sounded better and better so after a couple of months they had four songs that were really, really good. So we told them to find someone who could record it and promised to put it out. So they recorded it and we put it out. The music is so fragile because when they recorded that 7″, they had only just played as a band for about two months. I feel like that’s part of the charm in it.

After that, we put out a couple of cassette tapes with my band Yung and a 7″ record with our own band Fright Eye. We’ve actually put out one cassette tape and two records with Fright Eye.

What I want to do with Shordwood is put out my mates’ music and to put out my own stuff. Someone recently asked me if I wanted Shordwood to be a big, mainstream label and that’s never been the goal. A lot of my friends play in amazing bands and I have this platform where I can actual put out physical copies. I just want people to hear the music that I really love. It’s also important to me that I have a relation to the band because I want to support my friends. It’s really just that simple.

For the compilation ‘Collision With an Insignificant City‘, what was the song selection process like?

The sampler came out recently. It’s a live compilation featuring thirteen bands. I know all of the people in the bands and the scene. It’s a small, dense scene with about 20 or 30 people who are active in it and play in tons of bands. The first couple of releases we did were basically just our own bands.

The record was recorded live at a festival in our hometown called Pop Revo. So in May when it took place, we had thirteen bands play there. We had a two hour slot where all thirteen bands had to play and we had to record it in that time. Each band had two minutes to set up their gear and five minutes to play. There were a couple of hardcore bands that played and they could play like, 200 songs in five minutes. Then the heavier bands played one song in five minutes. Some bands have three or four songs on the record because of this.

Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy the evening because it was super stressful. But in retrospect, it was amazing.

What’s the origin story of Yung?

I met Frederik (Nybo Veile, the drummer) and Toby (Tobias Guldborg Tarp, the bass player) at Pop Revo in 2012. I played with my first band and they played with their first band Snare Drum and I just started hanging out with them because it’s a small town and we bonded over rock music. I had already been working on Yung for years, but maybe a year after I met them I decided I wanted to play live with my work. I wanted to play with people i hadn’t played with before. Those two came to mind because I knew they were really, really good musicians and luckily they wanted to join the band. About a year after they joined, I wanted an extra guitarist and knew Emil (Zethsen) from my time in high school. We didn’t talk to each other back then, but we knew of each other and he came to shows and stuff so he seemed like a great addition to the band. Luckily, he was. It was actually really easy. I’m glad those three guys are in the band.

Your album ‘Youthful Dream’ came out recently. How does it feel to have that done? 

It’s great that it’s out. We’ve been working really hard on that album for a very long time. I’m proud of it and people seem to like it, so that’s great. I couldn’t really ask for much more.

What was the process like in writing the album, and do you have any personal anecdotes from the process?

 

“Pills” was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, I think the very first one was “Sound of Being OK”. But when I demoed that song, it came out kind of weird. When I wrote “Pills” I felt very good about the lyrics in that song, so we used it as a point of reference for the rest of the album.

Before I started working on this album I wrote songs for the sake of writing songs. I didn’t think much about sound structure. Obviously I thought about lyrics but they always sort of came out of the blue. With Youthful Dream, I thought a lot about the process and song structure. It took me more time to write the lyrics. I feel like there’s much more thought in the album as opposed to the older stuff.

What’s your favorite venue to play?

We just played at this venue in Leeds, the Brudenell Social Club. We played there in the fall as well. It’s such a great venue, the people are absolutely amazing and they always have really great bands on the bill. It’s a great vibe and I really love playing there. The room itself doesn’t stand out, but the overall vibe is so amazing. I really like being there. But that’s a straight up venue, I really like playing tiny shows in basements and practice spaces. It’s completely different because the energy is so amazing with the crowd right in your face.

What is your favorite song right now?

Last night I was quite drunk and on the way home, I put on my headphones and played this song by Sean Nikola Savic called “Premises” from his most recent album. I had the best time ever. That song is absolutely amazing. I listened to it again this morning, actually, because I was so stoked about it. It’s super poppy and so catchy.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Oh shit. I think it’s Batman, but only in the films with Christian Bale. That specific Batman is great because he’s so dark and authentic. He stands out, and he’s probably not the normal perception of a superhero. He’s different and intentional. I like his take on Batman.

I saw the trailer for the new one recently. I was gutted.

You’re taking over the world at age 21. What’s up next?

Hopefully as much touring as possible, especially in the fall. We want to do another tour in the states, so that’s a main priority. Then I’ll start working on new songs.

Tour Dates
Jul 15 – Welcome to The Village 2016, De Groene Ster (Leeuwarden, Netherlands)
Jul 16 – Kliko Fest 2016, Patronaat Haarlem (Haarlem, Netherlands)
Jul 21 – Nefertiti (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Sep 1 – JAZZHOUSE (Copenhagen, Denmark)

A Youthful Dream is available now via Fat Possum.

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