Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, A Reason to Travel will release its third studio album ‘Concrete Sunrise‘ on February 3rd. “Concrete Sunrise” is an experience like no other. It is, indeed, made up of familiar elements to fans of post-rock, drone, and ambient. Still, the intense experimentation A Reason to Travel showcases makes it so beautifully different. You can read our review of ‘Concrete Sunrise’ here. Pre-order a vinyl on Bandcamp.
We caught up with A Reason to Travel to discuss the roots of this project, the upcoming album, and influences to date.
Hello! First of all, what was your reason for traveling when you took this path of music? Can you briefly introduce your project?
Sure thing! A Reason To Travel is a solo project that I started in 2017 after producing and releasing electronic music for many years. The aim was to record more organic and rock-orientated instrumental music, and over the years, the project grew into something that neatly sits in between post-rock, ambient, and drone music.
What were the main creative challenges you had to face? How have they changed over time?
There were quite a few challenges in making the switch from the more set and fixed structures of the electronic music I was making before. I continued using the same software I used before and tried to make my ideas work in those with a different perspective. So there was a lot of adjusting and relearning for me, and of course, trying to emulate a full post-rock band, which was kind of the plan, is rather challenging. But I think I have gotten better at it over the years, while I’m still definitely learning how to do things smarter, better, and in the end, more creatively working with those limitations.
Do you think it’s tough nowadays to come up with something original that sets you apart from other artists that belong to your musical niche?
I’m not sure, to be honest. Considering that basically all of mankind’s music is available at a click of a button, you can always find something or somebody doing great things that might be similar to one’s ideas and sounds. For me, ultimately, it comes down to creating something that I enjoy and would like to hear myself. I think that people can much easier connect with a creation this way instead of something that might try too hard to be unique, while you might lose something on the way to it. At the end of the day, I just try to create something to the best of my abilities that I can also appreciate.
What would you say about your music to someone who has never heard it before?
If you are into post-rock, slow and long build-ups with loads of moody ambient bits and pieces sprinkled with some noisy and heavy bits, then it might be something for you. Best to hear it for yourself!
What inspired you to put together your latest album, “Concrete Sunrise”?
After ‘Kingdom,’ I knew I wanted to continue the story I had in mind for that album. I just didn’t know where to go with it immediately and originally thought of doing a heavier and more war-like record that could continue the downfall of the kingdom. However, that did not work out as intended, and I wasn’t too happy with most of the demos and ideas in that direction. I did, however, work on a couple of more ambient-oriented ideas that stylistically also were closer to the previous album – while some of those songs still drive off in a bit of a heavier direction like the song ‘Buildings, Ruins.’ I think I finished two of those ideas and after that decided to include the song ‘An Empty City,’ which was previously released. After that, the pieces started to fall into place for the general concept and identity of the album.
When listeners make their way through your music and hear all the songs, what do you want them to feel? What kind of situation do you see your music accompanying? Especially when they will listen to your new record, “Concrete Sunrise.”
I love music you can get lost in, where the atmosphere is so present that it is easy to get carried away, daydream, or be lost in your thoughts. Both on ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Concrete Sunrise’ especially, my aim was to create a backdrop, a scenery if you will, that opens the door to this kind of experience. The album loosely tells a story through the different moods and styles, but ultimately nothing concrete or set in stone forces you to go in a certain direction with it. Everybody can have their own experience and journey through the album. I like to think of the album as a small escape, just to drop out of everything and visit a different place and plane for its 38-minute runtime. I hope listeners will see it as a journey, and I recommend taking a break with your good headphones and your favorite beverage of choice to experience the album in the best way possible.
More than anything else, music is a feeling that connects you with nature and places you in the universe. However, do you consider that the artist thinks about this perspective in their time of creation? Can this feeling become a vanity that might be taken advantage of?
I think many artists also think about the impact of their music while creating it. I mean, as described, I think about how a song can connect with people, but I am not sure if that is something one can take advantage of. I guess it is possible, as it is with everything, but I think doing it in a kind of precise and planned manner is probably a hard challenge that ultimately is not worth the effort.
“Concrete Sunrise” is such a melancholic journey, but at the same time, it goes along some very complex paths. What exactly is the theme, the message behind this album?
While it is, as you say, a rather melancholic journey, I also feel that there are a lot of hopeful moments on the album too. I guess the overlaying theme of the album is that even in destruction and devastation, there is always hope and that the sun will rise again, even in a concrete desert of ruins. It is a bit of a cliché, but looking at the last few years and the situation of the world right now, I think it is at least a relevant topic.
Where do you think your music will find its fulfillment and inner peace if it travels the world?
I really couldn’t say, I just hope that it reaches as many people as possible and that the album might offer some solace or comfort to anybody who might need it. That would be more than enough for me.
When was the last time you felt the need to escape from… everything? If there was such a thing!
Well, I don’t think I needed an escape from everything in that sense, but I definitely had a moment at the beginning of last year where I really could feel out of balance after the lockdown years. This led to me quitting my day job and putting my foot on the break, as everything was getting a bit too much. I was fortunate enough to do this and reorganize myself again – which ultimately made ‘Concrete Sunrise’ possible and definitely influenced the record.
Do you have any habits when writing a song?
Unfortunately, I think I only have bad habits when writing a song. I rarely sit down to write something; it is more jamming until something I like sticks with me. I can then spend a whole day layering parts and imagining how the song should be, only to do that then not and leave it for weeks without touching it again. I think many musicians can relate, but sometimes I don’t touch an instrument for weeks, only to knock out 2 or 3 songs in a weekend. So yeah, I definitely have a manic working style when it comes to my music, but I think it could be much worse, to be honest.
Does literature or any other art passionate to you at all? Can you recommend something on which we could be more focused?
Oh, definitely, I am a big fan of sci-fi novels, especially more dystopian books and authors like Philip K. Dick, Jeff VanderMeer, or Isaac Asimov. Still, I also have a great sweet spot for H.P. Lovecraft. My favorite author of all time, however, is Douglas Adams, who writes a bit on the opposite of the sci-fi spectrum – the Hitchhikers Guide will forever have a very special place in my heart. I don’t think I am in a position to recommend anything, but I think we should all try to slow down a bit, especially when it comes to appreciating good music, art, or literature. I feel like everything is getting faster and faster, but sometimes it is good just to read a book, only listen to an album or visit a gallery, focus on what is in front of you, and give it your full attention. I think the chances are quite high that you would enjoy it more.
What albums have influenced your career so far?
Oh, there are quite a few. When it to albums in the genre, which I aspire to create in, then This Will Destroy You S/T was probably one of the first albums that got me hooked on instrumental music and post-rock in general. Still, the follow-up Tunnel Blanket is a center point for me when it comes to blending genres like noise, ambient, and post-rock. That album was an eye-opener for me, for many other great albums I have heard since. I do also love Cloudkicker a lot, and his album Subsume especially has a special place for me. But there are also a lot of other albums, like the Summer Sessions trilogy from the Danish band Causa Sui, which I think is an absolute masterclass in how to build up songs, or the energy level of And So I Watch You From Afars S/T and Gangs, which are still wild rides for me even after listening to them a hundred times. I could probably continue this list the longer I think about it, there are quite a lot of records, but those are ones that always end up being played again.
People tend to listen to music when they do this or the other. What activity fits with your music?
I read a few comments back when ‘Kingdom’ came out that some people enjoyed it as the soundtrack for working and writing, which I think is pretty neat, and I guess ‘Concrete Sunrise’ will most likely get a similar spot for some people. It is not music for working out or partying that much is clear. But I also think it is great music for doing nothing and just getting lost in a daydream or your own thoughts.
How do you feel that you have evolved both musically and personally since creating A Reason To Travel?
All very subjective of course, but I think one thing that changed is my focus on making music, which is much more focused on what I am doing instead of what I think might be cool. In a sense, I accept the limitations that there are and the ones I have and work within them to create the best I can. I hope that I am also a bit more relaxed regarding all of those things and that my general perspective on music is wider than before. It’s again a bit of a cliché, but I t wake up every day and try to be a bit of a better person – and musician, of course!
Is there an ultimate goal for you as a musician?
I would love to bring my music to life and perform it, which I haven’t been doing so far, so that is definitely on the list. I also don’t think I am finished with the world that ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Concrete Sunrise’ happen, so I will expand on that with at least another album. But other than that I don’t have a goal apart from continuing as long as I can and still enjoying the music. The fact that there are people out there that can connect with my music and to whom it means something is more than I can ever ask for. It makes me incredibly proud and honored to be a part of their lives in that way. So cheers to all of you!
All photos belong to A Reason to Travel.
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