Music

20 Questions: Casiokids

Norway's latest dance-pop export has songs so catchy, they don't even feel they need to re-record their tracks in English to appeal to US listeners, and as this 20 Questions reveals, a love of all things Woody Allen, a penchant for stealing keyboards, and a wish to travel to Greece are just part of what drives this fascinating, delightful breaking band ...

Discovered by Of Montreal and yet embracing their own sort of joyous electro-pop sound, Casiokids may be the hottest dance act currently out of Norway. Although that statement might seem to be a bit insular, given that both Datarock and Annie have emerged from the same Bergen scene that this quintet have, that's quite the statement indeed.

Having petered out one tantalizing single after another in Europe while wowing audiences with their shadow puppet-filled, often downright goofy live show, it wasn't long before labels began taking interest, and only recently did Topp stemning på lokal bar -- their vibrant debut album -- finally get a Stateside release, all without making any sort of concession to rerecord the songs in English, instead merely giving the tracks a small studio revamp to potentially make them even catchier than they are now (as if that were possible!).

Although the group retains a slight aura of mystery around them, bassist Kjetil Bjøreid Aabø took some time to set us straight by answering PopMatters' famed 20 Questions, revealing a love for all things Pet Sounds, why he holds Smurf-related merchandise over that of Star Wars toys, and how the only tough decision he'd have to make is choosing a favorite film director: Woody Allen or Werner Herzog ...

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

I always get very emotional every time I see Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. There's just something about that film that gets to me, inspires me and touches me.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Woody Allen, although I'm not sure if he really is fictional. He claims that his persona in his movies is 100 percent fictional, but for me that's real enough. We're born on the same day -- December 1st -- which should be a sign. Though a sign of what I'm not sure. I just like him, his thinking and his films.

3. The greatest album, ever?

I must go with Pet Sounds by Beach Boys here, though I once wrote a paper where I proved with help of logic academic systems that Beatles could be called "the best band of all time" (my only A at university, which basically then shows I'm right. As a side note here, I'd like to mention that Fredrik in Casiokids once wrote an essay at school on the topic "the meaning of life" and got an A. That should mean that he too was right! Sadly he can't find this essay again, and the meaning, it seems, is now lost forever.) By the way we're going to play with Brian Wilson in September at the festival Rått & Råde, and I'm hoping for a brief meeting where I can thank him for such amazing and amazingly catchy music.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars, although neither of them have ever fascinated me particularly. Well, yes, at least I've seen all the Star Wars films, though I would never ever contemplate buying a plastic model of characters from neither of these two films and series. By the way, for the record, the only plastic model of any TV series or film I've ever bought was a model of the Happy Smurf (though when I think of it I actually did not buy it, but rather got it for free with a cereal box).

5. Your ideal brain food?

Ernest Hemingway, Werner Herzog, Woody Allen, Bill Bryson, Daniil Kharms and Amos Tutuola never fail to inspire me and give me some fresh brain fuel, though at the moment it is Klaus Kinski's Autobiography that is on my bedside table. It has a roughness and raunchiness to it that is very enjoyable and entertaining, and I'm eager to learn more about his background and thinking as I'm such a big fan of his films with director Werner Herzog.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

When I was three or four years old I found a marker and opened some of my parents' books and wrote them all over again. They weren't so happy with it, but I was suddenly the proud author of many literary classics.

7. You want to be remembered for . .?

I would like to be remembered for things I created, the writing and the music.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Writers like Daniil Kharms, Bukowski and Hemingway I really admire, and whenever I read any of their books I'm just bubbling with inspiration. There's something about Kharms' humor that gets to me deep down, and no other writer I think can make me laugh out loud like that.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I think 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favorite pieces of art of all time, though I don't think in a million years that I could have made it. Anyway, its a silly question to even consider, and I hope that instead other people's amazing masterpieces can inspire me to create my own.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

Whenever I mention my previous career as a tennis player many people act quite surprised, though I wouldn't say I was at any point particularly good.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

"When you decide to put your mind to do something, do it properly" my father used to say, and I often think about that phrase. I think I've followed it to the extent that I've quit doing a lot of things I was just doing half heartedly, and now focus on the essential things in my life that I really, really want to do.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Most of the Casio keyboards we use are actually just borrowed from friends, and as we've never given them back some might say we actually stole them.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?

I just bought a pair of purple jeans for 20 pounds at UNIQLO in Oxford Street that I am very happy with. I think the sale is still on if anyone's in the area. I was torn between the purple or the pink ones, but I went for the purple jeans as I think their mild purpleness compared to the risqué pink would be easier to get away with should I encounter any hooligans later that day.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I would go for Woody Allen here again, I just love him. His work speaks to me so clearly and fabulously. No one can inspire me and wake me from apathy or laziness like him, and I need my Allen dose weekly.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Year 3000 would be interesting to check out, though I think, surprisingly it would be disappointingly much like year 2000. I expect the year 2000-shaped sunglasses to still be in fashion (though with number changes of course) and also that there still would not be any flying cars. My guess is, if I dare speculate, is that people will by then actually go back to living in caves again as the cities will get so overpopulated.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

I would like to have yoga to choose from here, as It has certainly proved to be an ideal stress management treatment for me that I would highly recommend. The ideal work-out.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

Money, though it seems so hard to find most days! I hate money, but it brings me so much trouble if I don't have it available. I crave it most days, to buy some of the things there on your "essential to life" list.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Skopelos in Greece has always very much appealed to me.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

I would like to use the opportunity to cut him some slack and let him know I appreciate his work.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Well today we'rebuilding a couple of walls and painting in our new studio in Bergen, Norway. We're all very psyched about the location and the building the studio is in will house hundreds of artists and musicians.



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