I met Marius Drogsås Hagen a few years ago in Norway, in a small town north of Oslo. The common denominator which got us talking all night was, of course, music. In spite of Jaqueline, his 'main' band, starting to get a lot of exposure at the time, he was developing ideas for two projects (one a solo project called Team Me, the second a band, SiN, started with Tord from the Wombats). Three years and many written songs later, I followed him into a hijacked school he turned into a studio for a summer, to shoot one of the recording sessions. He gave me a bit of his time to answer some questions about seasons, Sufjan Stevens, and to play a nice word-association game. Read below! Happy New Year! It started super well for you – you got to play at the final of the NRK Contest in Trondheim, previous to that you also played at a radio session.. Congratulations! How was that whole experience for you? Happy new year to you as well! And thank you so very much! The whole Nrk contest-thing has been an amazing start for us, we couldn’t have asked for a better start actually. Nrk c-listed us on radio and that basically means heavy rotation on radio for a month or something..so we are very pleased!! thank you nrk! The whole production of it was so big and professional, that actually scared the water out of us. I guess it was the indie-do-it-yourself-attitude that kicked in or something.. hehe. The coolest part was playing our debut concert after the contest, feeling the good vibes from my bandmates and of course the after-party! I remember having a chat with fredrik from datarock after about 12,000 beers or something, it must have been a disaster, good thing I can’t remember what we talked about. I do remember him being a really nice guy though! We did two acoustic radio sessions, both for nrk, and they went very well. Although the band is more of an electric act rather than an acoustic one live, the songs were written on acoustic instruments, so doing acoustic sessions was just fun! If you had to pick one out of ALL the bands you’ve played in / projects you’ve had, which one would you choose and why? That one is impossible for me to answer, in fact there is no answer to that question. All the projects I play in mean the world to me, and I would rather give up music in general if I had to choose one project/band. What season do you think fits your music best? I would have to say both spring and summer, you know its the perfect medley! I guess some of the songs have that autumn-ish feel to them, in the sense that some of them are very quiet and melancholy, but I really don’t like autumns..they make me feel anxious. They can be quite inspiring, though. But I guess people have to listen to the songs and make up their minds. Alligators are green! I like Alligators too! Funny, some of your songs really remind me of winter actually. „Heart-shaped Silhouettes“ is perfect for me when walking around the city during a quiet snowy evening. How was that song created, do you remember the exact time and place? The lyrics were actually written while I was inspired by extreme weather, a book called Extremely loud and incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, a New York trip with my uncle and spirits. My mom and dad live in Lofoten, the most beautiful place in the whole wide world, that’s where the lyrics were written. The weather gets pretty nasty there sometimes. The melody and the chord structure on the verses are written together with my good friend Peder Jørgensen, the man behind the sound. He does all the team me mixing and at some point he will probably join the band live, if he isn’t too busy mixing, recording and producing other bands or artists. Lofoten and New York are very different places… Do you travel a lot? Yes they are different places indeed.. No I don’t travel around much, I’ve seen pretty much all of Norway through touring with Jaqueline, such a beautiful country! Doing shows outside of Norway would be awesome, maybe you could hook us up for a few shows in Italy or Wien or something? hehe.. One thing is sure though.. I need to see Tokyo, dress up as a manga character and party for a week. Maybe go to a Boris show if there was one while I’m there, that would would be cool. I could always try putting together a few shows.. We did one for Uno Møller last year and I’d love to see Team Me live. So, what’s your process in songwriting? Do you have a favorite place where you like to compose your songs or write your texts? Songwriting is a strange phenomenon, it kind of lives on its own. A process I don’t understand at all and hope I never figure out either, although early mornings and late night sessions seems to do the magic. It’s all about inspiration I guess.. I guess it’s similar in art. I also need late night sessions, but inspiration seems to come anytime and out of nowhere.. But okay, let’s play a game of associations now. first thing that comes to mind when I say… ..penguins! Simen Skari ..olympics! my sister ..cake! Frank Sinatra ..glow in the dark! Street Fighter 2 on Super Nintendo ..coffee! socks with stripes, one blue and one red. ..mattress! 2nd world war Hehe.. Crazy answers! I recently read a small feature about you where your music was compared to Sufjan Stevens’. How do you feel about that? Do you recognise yourself in his music, or are there other artists/musicians you can relate to more? I can only feel honoured by that Sufjan comparing-thing, he was one of the artists inspiring me to think outside of the box, his arrangements are always so beautiful, clever and unique! But I don’t think people are gonna get that Sufjan feel when they hear the other songs, or the album when its done. One artist that is really worth mentioning is Patrick Wolf and his beautiful album Winds in the Wires, that one blows me away every time I listen to it. The whole feel to it is pure magic! The norwegian band Truls and the trees is also worth mentioning, alongside with danish Efterklang. Everybody should go and see an Efterklang show, it’s just the most amazing live band, actually I get inspired just writing that name. Whales are in fact quite big! Animal Collective (strawberry jam, Merryweather post pavillion) Radiohead (everything except pablo honey) håkan hellström (everything) Bob Dylan (higway 61 revisited, the times they are a-changin’) Motorpsycho (everything) Tom Waits (Bone machine) Broken Social Scene (self-titled) Serena Maneesh (self-titled) Dan the Man Gillian Welch (hell among all yearlings) Ludvig Moon Uno Moller Ch Lars Lillo stenberg (De lillos, Oslo, å var jeg en sangfugl) Anathallo (floating world) The list never ends… I say as my good friend and bandmate Morten Wærhaug (Jaqueline, Begravelsesbyraaet) once said - he is like the man of the metaphors: “I’m like a sponge, absorbing everything around me”. HAHA! I like that one. It all comes back to mind now, Patrick Wolf was one of the first artists we ever talked about. Sweet! You just gave me an impressive list of records, I’ll have to make a mental list to listen to all the ones I don’t know. I was going to ask you next what you are listening to these days, actually. Any album in particular that stands out? I remember talking about Patrick Wolf and Björk, was that Flisa or Elverum? Was it Uno’s birthday party or that party at Vegard’s place? Anyway..Well, the latest Animal Collective album is awesome, can’t seem to get that record out of my CD player. Amazing sound, so catchy and at the same time so weird. Bluish, Summertime Clothes, My Girls, Daily Routine…I mean come on..those songs! I think it’s their best album so far. I think the night I am thinking of was in Elverum – but I could be wrong. We were particularly drunk… So. do you have a favorite album cover? That would have to be The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995), or maybe Angels and Daemons at Play (1997) by Motorpsycho, artwork made by Kim Hiortøy, a Norwegian multi-artist. I guess we’re coming to an end now. I’m going to finish off with a cliché question: plans for the future? (musical and non) Rehearsing, have fun with music in general, record new material, write new material, book some gigs, maybe make a music video, eat lots of homemade chocolate (Synne, the female singer in Team Me, makes the most amazing homemade chocolate), find new music, listen to new music, record new material together with Tord (SiN), write new songs with Jaqueline, See Efterklang at by:larm, see a Serena Maneesh show at by:larm, smoke less cigarettes, hang out with my girlfriend Elin and enjoy life, I guess. Photos (c) Simen Skari