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tfr2022 byNinaHorstInterview with

Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen (guitar, bass, vocals) from The Foreign Resort

THE FOREIGN RESORT, Post-Punk/ New Wave trio from Copenhagen, impress. Not only by means of the most astonishing music that grabs your heart and never keeps it in a firm grip but also because of their absolutely outstanding concert record being over 400 performances in Europe and North America. They are actually getting ready to start the US tour quite soon, but I somehow managed to catch them in-between, just after their return from Amphi Festival (Cologne) where they gave an absolutely phenomenal performance. THE FOREIGN RESORT released four albums (including the masterpiece ‘Outnumbered’ released in 2019). About their music inspirations, concert life, planned US tour, and more…

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You have just returned from Amphi Festival where you received a stellar reception from the audience. Tell me about the experience while it’s still new.
Mikkel: Hi Karo. Thanks for taking the time to interview us! Yes, we just got back from Amphi Festival in Cologne, Germany. It is really a great festival! We played at the Orbit Stage, which is on a ship. Usually, the ship is located right next to the festival area, but because of the low water level in the Rhine, the ship had to be moved to the other side, which caused some frustration among artists as well as audience. But once there, everyone had a great time. We noticed how everyone was dancing and cheering throughout the day and all the bands had an amazing time! Maybe there’s something magical about the ship. Or the entire festival. Or maybe we felt the joy of finally being able to get together and dance after two years of Covid. We definitely enjoyed it a lot and are thankful to both audience and crew at Amphi.

RoD: You actually played quite a number of concerts this year and there are still some on the way like in Jena or Helsinki - what was it like to be back on the move and play live? Tell me the best experience from the tour life so far.
Mikkel: We do have a lot of shows this year. Many of them postponed shows from 2020 and 2021, which were pretty dull years for us and everyone else who appreciate getting out there and meet people. So, the fact that we’re back on the road is amazing! We have been touring with EMPATHY TEST as well as playing festivals, which means that it was quite a bump up in audience, especially from the 15 to 50 people allowed during Covid to anything from 300 in a club to more than that at the festivals. We’re trying to keep the intimate feeling going even when playing the larger stages. We like to hang out with the audience when we play. Backstage is only for getting a new drink or food.

It is hard to say what was the best experience. Every show has different positive sides. Eastside Open Air in Halle, Germany was fresh and great as a new festival and the weather and location was nice. The same can be said about Amphi, but here we were on a ship. Different atmosphere. Touring with EMPATHY TEST, we played at clubs, which is always a pleasure since you’re closer to the audience while performing and playing smaller venues brings us even closer to people.

RoD: You finally managed to handle all the paperwork related to the US tour that will take place in Autumn 2022 - what can be expected of the tour? Which cities are you going to visit? How do you feel about the entire undertaking?
Mikkel: Our North American tour is next after we play Helsinki, Finland on the 27th of August. We are really excited about going! Last time in the US and Canada was in 2019. We are actually flying out on the vouchers from the tickets from March 2020, which was when our last tour should have happened. We will play 16 shows across the continent with our Italian touring pals HAPAX. For the first time we are working with a booking agent, Kami Fuller at Spektral Music in Colorado, which has made a lot of things a lot easier. Kami booked the entire tour and took care of so many details. We worked together from time to time finding good local support in various cities. Bands that we are super excited about sharing the stage with because we’re good friends and because we get the chance to see them perform live. One of the greatest benefits of touring! Where are we playing and with who? Here’s the list:

September 22 - The Middle East, Boston, MA w/ Avoxblue
September 23 - Bar Le Ritz, Montreal, QC w/ The City Gates
September 24 - Handlebar, Toronto, ON w/ Girlfriends and Boyfriends
September 25 - Cold Waves Festival, Chicago, IL w/ a whole bunch of amazing bands!
September 26 - miniBar, Kansas City, MO w/ Emmaline Twist and Slights
September 27 - The HQ, Denver, CO w/ Plague Garden
September 28 - Aces High Saloon, Salt Lake City, UT w/ Mortigi Tempo (without HAPAX)
September 29 - The Badlander, Missoula, MT w/ Vanilla Sugar (without HAPAX)
September 30 - Substation, Seattle, WA w/ Fotoform
October 1 - Fox Cabaret, Vancouver, BC w/ Wire Spine
October 2 - The Coffin Club, Portland, OR w/ The Secret Light
October 4 - Elbo Room Jack London, Oakland, CA (w/ To Be Confirmed)
October 5 - The Virgil, Los Angeles, CA w/ Bizou
October 6 - Kensington Club, San Diego, CA w/ Secret Attraction
October 7 - Absolution Fest, Tampa, FL w/ a whole bunch of amazing bands!
October 8 - The Red Party, New York, NY

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RoD: Tell me more about the general concept of THE FOREIGN RESORT. I know you combine your daily work with music making. How does it work out? How did it all start?
Mikkel: Well, we each have our day jobs. Spotify has not helped improve our personal economy. On the contrary. So, we work and then we use the remaining time and energy writing music, rehearsing, recording and booking shows and many other things. We are all privileged to have pretty flexible employers. It does get quite exhausting at times, but we love the outcome: Great music and meeting great people. That’s our drive. The band goes back to before 2010. At first it was a hobby, just some guys getting together, making music and drinking beers. Then things got more serious as we started touring and putting more effort into the song writing and got more ambitious. You could say, we smelled blood. Except, instead we smelled the touring life, which, as mentioned, has a great appeal to us. It has become our “foreign resort” on the go.

RoD: You do not mind playing very small (like 20 people) concerts right next to playing big scenes. What does making music and playing for your audience mean to you?
Mikkel: As explained earlier, we like the interaction with the audience and meeting other bands from around the world. There’s also the creative output. Steffan and Alioscha actually all have their own bands SMADR and NATURAL DISASTERS, which is their creative output next to The Foreign Resort. There’s just this music inside us that has to come out. Performing that music in front of audiences is just another privilege that we’re very fortunate to have.

RoD: Could you tell me more about your most important releases? Is ‘Outnumbered’ of 2019 your number one? Are there any new ones on the way?
Mikkel: Every release paved new roads for us. Our 2011 EP ‘The Foreign Resort’ changed our sound to the more 4-to-the-floor beats with massive guitars, ‘New Frontiers’ took us more in the post-punk direction with John Fryer producing and also opened a lot of doors for us with regard to touring. ‘Outnumbered’ was the first album on Artoffact Records, which put us in the company of many really cool bands. And yes, there is finally a new album on the way. We will release a new single in September called ‘Overturn’, which is the first song featuring our new drummer Alioscha playing. His drumming style is taking us in a new direction sound-wise, which we are very excited about. Mood-wise we’re staying in the gloomy, drone feel with explosions here and there.

RoD: What are the topics that you find important enough to make music about?
Mikkel: There’s always politics, which is a hot topic. But these days it has also become a very sensitive topic. We obviously have songs about love as well as moods, which are mostly sad songs. After all, we’re part of the goth genre and like melancholy and sad stuff, which makes both us and our fans happy and dancing. Sometimes new topics pop up from everyday situations or changes in society. A current topic could be the division in society during and after Covid. The post-factual era, which we are living in right now, could also be an inspiration for lyrics.

RoD: I absolutely love the subtle note you take like in ‘Fall’. It’s one of my most fav tracks. What inspired it? What is it about? What kind of a fall?
Mikkel: That’s funny. Fall as well as summer was an attempt to add four seasons as instrumental intermezzos to ‘Outnumbered’. What a cliché! Anyway, we ended up with two seasons only. Fall is actually the song ‘In Gloom’ in an ambient version - ‘In Gloom’ as NIRVANA’s ‘In Bloom’, so there’s your third season on the album. Listen for the piano themes and the basic chord progression. Yes, that’s inspiration from NINE INCH NAILS’ ‘The Fragile’ right there.

RoD: ‘She is Lost’ is super energetic, and dancy, having the most fantastic “run crazy” vibe to it. Do you like making people vent their energy during your concerts?
Mikkel: Also funny. We didn’t consider it a fast song until Alioscha joined. The slow chord progression makes it seem slow. But with Alioscha playing the drums, it has a more punk feel to it, which we like a lot too. And yes, we love to make our audience dance and move, showing their appreciation that way. That’s the biggest compliment you can get as a band.

RoD: Your music is absolutely exquisite guitar and vocal - the combination can leave not a soul indifferent. I must say the hypnotizing effect you give is unbeatable! What does it take to get that “perfect” sound?
Mikkel: Thanks so much! Not sure where the sound comes from. It’s all inspiration. Of course, there’s capturing the sound, which in the case of ‘She is Lost’ is due to Bo Karlsson and his recording equipment as well as the band performing. So basically, a classic cooperation between artist, producer and engineer.

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RoD: The video for ‘Obsessing’ is in black and white, minimal and yet impressive. Are you planning any new video releases?
Mikkel: We are indeed. For the song ‘Overturn’. We have teamed up with Arian Soheili and Megan Sutherland again who did the videos for ‘Flushed’, ‘Alone’, ‘Suburban Depression’ and ‘Hearts Fade Out’, so our expectations are sky high (no pressure, Arian!).

RoD: Do you feel comfortable while on stage? Do you ever experience stage fright?
Mikkel: Steffan is not afraid of anything and Alioscha is also pretty chill. But I (Mikkel:) do get a bit anxious from time to time. Sometimes it is hard to tell if it is hangovers or excitement. Either way, it goes away instantly once we start playing. Performing is purging all the good stuff, producing good energy to us as a band and projecting that energy to the audience. We feel great on stage!

RoD: Your music makes an impact, sonic impact, it makes one think about it days after, ponder upon it. It features the message, emotion, and substance. What does it take to make such music? Is it a reflection of your own sensitivity, world view?
Mikkel: Thanks again. We try to produce meaningful music and lyrics. There’s probably a lot of energy inside us that wants to come out. Just like our energy on stage. It is hard to say where it comes from. It is just inspiration and can’t really be chosen or controlled.

RoD: Are there any shows or festivals you’d like to play in the future?
Mikkel: We played our first shows in Poland and Hungary this spring, which went really well. We are actually embarrassed that it took so long for us to get there. We were set to play Return to the Batcave in Wroclaw, Poland this year, but our North American tour made that impossible. So that’s on the list for 2023 as well as Castle Party in Poland, which we heard many good things about. There’s also Fekete Zaj in Hungary, Extramuralhas in Portugal and many more that we don’t know or forgot about. We try to explore the European map more and more - both venue-wise and festival-wise.

RoD: Any message that you’d like to share with your fans?
Mikkel: Be kind to each other and let’s try to keep the shows going this winter! Last winter was really boring.

RoD: Thank you very much for your time!
Mikkel: Thank you too and see you sometime soon!

Pictures by Nina Horst & Helge Roewer

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