Knife Magazine

TRACK PREMIERE : DIRT BIKE, ROLL IN THE HAY

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Words by Jonathan Holst Bruus

Photos by: Konrad Eilenberger

While being a full-time member of the Danish noise rock outfit, Pardans, frontman Gustav Berntsen has quietly worked on his solo material under the moniker, Dirt Bike. The project shows a completely new and softer side of the vocalist, and it is with great pleasure that we can finally share his debut track, Roll in the Hay.

It's clear from the beginning that a lot of different inspirations has found its way into the song – and that's exactly what makes it interesting. The song is driven by acoustic guitars, begins as some sort of folky ballad, but then smoothly evolves into a dreamy and melancholic late summer track.

Roll in the Hay marks an interesting new chapter for Gustav Berntsen, and it is going to be exciting to follow the project in the future.

knife Congratulations with your beautiful new track! It's been on repeat in the Knife HQ since we heard it for the first time. Can you take us through the process of getting to this stage and becoming ready to release your debut as a solo artist?

Gustav Ah thanks a lot! Honestly, that makes me happy. I’ve been working with the Dirt Bike material for quite a while and up until recently, I haven’t let anyone hear the tune. It’s really exciting to put it into the world. I’ve always fiddled around with music that I’ve recorded on my own, but it’s never been a real thing, there’s been no name or platform and it all just ended up on an external hard drive. This winter I sat down with my guitar and wrote a bunch of songs. I was intuitively playing and singing, just having a lot of fun and these songs came to life quite easily. I realized I’ve never really given myself the freedom to write this way before, it felt so liberating and simple. I decided to record and produce the songs properly. I put the name Dirt Bike on it and now it’s suddenly becoming real, ready or not.

knife Dirt Bike (or at least the new single) is quite different from your earlier work in Pardans. Was it a conscious decision to distance yourself from your previous musical efforts, or did the musical choices occur more naturally?

Gustav I think we’ve gotten this reputation with Pardans of doing extreme live shows and I feel like there’s a strong culture around the band of kindred spirits that want to lose themselves in the welcoming madness, take it in and have fun. We facilitate this madness with intense almost physical music so for me, Pardans has become an outlet for certain types of feelings and musical aggression. I think Dirt Bike is born from other, less dramatic, thoughts and ideas. I feel it’s less of a theatrical or performative place to speak from and musically it reflects something else that’s also very true to myself.

knife Is Dirt Bike a solo-project in the traditional sense, or do you view it more as a collaborative platform with you as the leading force? It seems like there's been a great number of people who contributed to the track. The vocal harmonies, the string sections etc.

Gustav Being in a band is very giving, but I’m excited about creating this platform where I can make the artistic decisions and set the pace of things myself. I guess Dirt Bike is a solo-project in some ways, but on the other hand, I like to involve people in the process of recording. I worked on Roll In The Hay with my friend Søren Buschmann Friis who’s a talented songwriter and musician. One night I showed him the initial arrangement that I had made on my own. In a few hours, we had added a lot of layers to it, and it turned into something grander. I believe that these non-formal collaborations can result in something unique. It’s the fusion of ideas and this fresh ear on things that can be so valuable. I had the same feeling when I recorded vocals with Amalie Petri. She put down these amazingly light and airy background vocals with so much ease. We had never been working together before, but we had a really good time. It’s one of these moments where music is just fun and easy.

Knife What inspired the song, and how did it all come together? It has a punky almost psychedelic folk-vibe in the beginning, but then a beat is added, and everything evolves into a completely new experience.

Gustav I listen to a lot of different popular music. I wanted to mesh these influences. Make all those elements that I like to come together in one playful tune. There’s a bit of everything in there. The scenes are shifting all the time. Listening back I feel it’s a parade of my favourite things.

Knife How does the future look like? Can we expect an EP or a full-length now that the first single has been released?

Gustav There are more tunes on their way. These days I’m mixing with Jacob Günther, he’s the technical mastermind that helped me sculpture Roll In The Hay sonically.

Knife Any last comments?

Gustav If you’re in Copenhagen I’d like to invite the readers to my first show at Baby Baby Bar next Thursday.

Listen on Spotify.

Catch Dirt Bike live at Baby Baby Bar <3

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