Interview: Amy Bell
Gundelach is a really talented electronic producer and guitarist who is based in Oslo, Norway. Kai Gundelach spent his formative years as an underage DJ and guitar prodigy in Oslo’s nightlife scene before his debut release in 2015 with the single ‘Spiders’ drawing the attention of tastemakers and indie-electro fans across the world, including Wonderland and Complex.
Gundelach is repeatedly classified as a DJ turned solo artist—a characterization that is more of a credit to the impact he’s made on Oslo’s club scene rather than a fitting description of his musicianship. While he’s been behind the turntables for nearly a decade, he began singing in a children’s theater group at age nine, learned to play the guitar at age 10, and began writing songs back in 2009. For years, he kept his music to himself, and was “super, super nervous” to share it. But in 2015, he released his debut track, “Alone in the Night,” in Scandinavia, and not long after, Pharrell Williams played his second single, “Spiders,” on Beats 1.
We got to talk to Gundelach about music, his song 'Bolder', and his amazing collaboration with AURORA.
Hi Kai, Thanks so much for speaking to ReVamp, how did you first get involved in music and when did you realise you had a talent for it?
Hello! I originally thought I wanted to be an actor, so when I was 19 I went to acting school and later applied to the Norwegian national acting school, which is really hard to get into. I was incredibly nervous and unprepared and it is safe to say the audition went very badly. After always doing music as more of a hobby, it was at this moment that I decided to approach music as a career and pursue it more seriously.
Growing up, who were your inspirations and how has your music changed throughout the years?
I would say the first musician who inspired me was my father. He always played the euphonium and some of my first memories are of him practicing, which really inspired me to want to learn an instrument. Nowadays my music taste really changes from day to day - I try to keep informed and on track with all the music around me. I am really inspired by electronic music but also a lot of other genres such as hip-hop, pop and black metal. I listen to a lot of “dad rock” such as the Dire Straits. But in general, I try not to be too inspired by things, I want to keep a distance between my music consumption and the music I make myself. I try to have my own inner monologue as my greatest inspiration.
You wrote a song called 'Bolder' for the opening of the Munch Museum in 2020, how did that all come together?
Writing “Bolder” for the Munch Museum opening was a really cool opportunity. The songwriting process was different from normal because it was a commissioned piece with more strict deadlines to stick to. I made the song pretty fast – I had the whole rough idea within a week. It was my first time having a visual stimulus, and I chose the picture “self-portrait in hell” because it really resonated with me. Very enjoyable!
You released your track 'Riverside' what was the writing and recording process behind this song?
I wrote Riverside 10 years ago, and my life was quite different back then. I had just come out of a very heavy depression and was going through a painful heartbreak. Even though I wrote this song a while ago, I have never felt that it fitted on my previous records. Now it feels right and really feels at home on this record. It was a fun creative process to resurrect and reinvent it 10 years later, my band were heavily involved in the recording. We were all in the same room just playing around with the old vocal stems and a Rhodes sound, so it was a nice starting point to take it from there and make the song.
How did the collaboration with AURORA come about and what do you like about collaborating with other artists?
The collaboration originally came about after we wrote the song together as part of a song camp in Bergen – I think we wrote the song in about 5 hours. I am a big fan of hers and so it was really special to work together. I have never seen someone lay down vocal harmonies as fast and cleanly as she does. It is really inspiring when someone says they are a fan of my work and want to collaborate. It is normally a really quick process because when I work by myself it takes longer due to not getting that instant validation.
What is next for you?
There will be an album around Spring 2022! With this upcoming album, I have tried to avoid feeling anxiety and bad thoughts and instead have tried to be really fluid and have fun with friends and playing live instruments. My band mates have been a big part of the recording process this time, so you can expect a much more live approach, and of course I think the songs are pretty good!