Danish four-piece folk band Basco will find natural common ground when they head to the UK for a string of dates.
They bring tales from their homelands – tales which often exist within our own Anglo-Celtic traditions, as band member Andreas Tophøj explains.
‘We are in the folk category, and it means that we take stories out of the Scandinavian and Anglo-Celtic music scene. We write our own tunes but some of the songs that we sing are also English folk songs. Our lead singer was born in Aberdeen and grew up in Australia. He is very mixed culturally! He still has a British passport. So I would describe our music as quite a multi-cultural musical experience. We draw mostly our interest from Celtic and English and Scandinavian, but there is also jazz and I would even go so far as to say pop music. There is also classical music.
‘And some of the songs are exactly the same between us, things like the song The Two Sisters. It’s just a song about two sisters that are both in love with the same man and the older sister kills the younger sister, and a musician comes along and puts her in an instrument. The story is there in Scandinavia, but it is also there in Britain and it is also found in some parts of China. These stories travel with trading and sailing, but the instrument changes. In the Scottish version, the sister is put into a fiddle. In the Danish version she is put into a harp.
‘Often the stories are less grim in the Scandinavian versions as the church has influenced them and they will often have some kind of moral with the bad guys being punished and going to hell.
‘But it certainly gives us a shared ground to travel with, culturally speaking. Once we know we have got that link, we can use it to deliver the music. It gives us a platform. We have been to the UK many times in the past two or three years, and the funny thing is that in the UK we are being perceived a lot as a Scandinavian band, but when we are playing in Scandinavia people think of us as more of an Anglo-Celtic sound.’
The Danish four-piece are playing dates in England and Scotland in support of their sixth album, Interesting Times.
‘The band started in the middle of Denmark but now we have one band member living in Sweden, one living near Copenhagen and the other two living in the south. We are actually entering our 13th year now. We started out because we were all going to school together, studying at the music academy in Odense. We were all studying for the folk degree, and we developed from there. It started off because we were playing at a huge Celtic folk music festival, and we were playing as part of the show with the conservatory, and from that our lead singer was put in charge of making some music for a couple of sets for the concert. We then decided to start a band. We changed our guitar player back in 2011 or 2012.’
It all adds up to a fascinating mix as fiddler/mandolinist/singer Hal-Parfitt-Murray explains. ‘I learned the Scots fiddle repertoire from the old, bearded gentlemen at folk festivals. Ale Carr (cittern) grew up in the Swedish forest to become one of the leading exponents of Skanian music. Andreas (violin/viola) and Anders Andersen (accordion and trombone) came out of the Danish polka and waltz tradition.
‘But on top of that, there’s string quartets, prog rock, minimalism, The Beatles. They’ve all planted seeds in our mind and you never know which tune they’ll choose to bloom in.’
Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Wednesday, January 23