Tuvaband is the nom-de-plume of Norwegian singer-songwriter Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser. September saw the release of Soft Drop, Tuvaband’s debut album.
For a time, Tuvaband was a duo; Marschhäuser collaborated with British musician Simon Would, but now the artist is back working on her own.
There aren’t too many Norwegian musicians who have managed to break their way into the English-speaking market, but those who have can be counted on one hand; Jenny Hval, Boy Pablo, Rökysopp, and now Tuvaband.
Speaking of the dissolution of Tuvaband as a duo, Marschhäuser shared:
“We both felt for a long time that we were going in different directions with our music taste. When you’re a band or a duo, it’s hard not to compromise at all, but we came to a point where none of us would be happy enough with the music if we made more compromises.”
“I thought I would have to make a new solo project, but when we were gonna have our talk, he said I should continue with Tuvaband, as this was my solo project from before”.
Despite favourable reviews garnered from both Scandinavian media outlets and those from around the world, Tuvaband has managed to stay grounded in the midst of global attention.
Perhaps it’s because of Tuvaband’s Scandinavian roots that the album possesses an almost hygge sense of intimacy. The album as a whole is pleasantly overcast, it’s a rainy Sunday morning with no place to be. It’s a warm cup of English breakfast and a book you can’t put down. It’s sitting in front of a raging fire with a group of friends, mulled wine in hand.
The album’s opening song, Horses, blends shoegaze-esque guitar with effortlessly cool, perhaps even slightly melancholic vocals to create something that becomes more multifaceted the more times you listen. Soft Drop feels more unpolished than Tuvaband’s previous releases, something Marschhäuser was conscious of from the beginning.
“With the previously released songs, we were trying to make them sound like the drafts. With my debut album, I wanted to take this further. Instead of trying to create this sound in the post-production, I wanted to release the drafts. During the work process, the drafts got processed, with added instrument and vocal tracks, and I spent a lot of time on the sound after all”.
Tuva’s distinctly Nordic strand of minimalist folk does run the risk of fading into the background, but she manages to ground the album with her unique and captivating cover of No Doubt’s I’m Just A Girl. Tuva strips the satire from the song and replaces it with a sombre sense of vulnerability.
Vulnerability and alienation are recurrent motifs throughout Marschhäuser’s lyrics, which perfectly accompany the raw, atmospheric sounds of the album. Marschhäuser’s routine is to start with the lyrics and hope the music follows.
“I always write the lyrics before I create the music, so I think the lyrics give me some kind of conscious and unconscious vision for how the song and the production should be like. Producing my album in an untraditional way was a way to accompany my lyrics about alienation, isolation and group mentality”.
It’s one thing to listen to Tuvaband’s music, and a whole other thing to witness their unique live performance. Sonically, the two are very different. It’s almost as if they were two completely different acts.
“I think there is more happening live. There are different instruments and a more dynamic range. In the live set, there is also a viola, synth and a bass. Playing live the songs can suddenly go really loud and hard, but also be really quiet and soft.”
“When we’re gonna play a new song live, we’re not necessarily aiming for making it sound like it does on the recording. We try different things, and end up playing the song the way we think will feel and sound good on a concert”.
Soft Drop is a mature feat for a band’s debut album. It’s the kind of record that you can either put on repeat as it melts into the background, or press play and let your world stop for thirty minutes as you’re transported to another dimension. Whatever your intention, Soft Drop is paving the way for Tuvaband to make a name for themselves as the next big thing in Nordic folk-pop.
Hopefully fans won’t have to wait too long for Tuvaband’s follow-up project, as Marschhäuser is working on something new as we speak.
“These days I’m doing my last work on new songs for a new album, preparing them for recording with the musicians I’m playing with live. The plan is to make an album that will sound closer to the live sound. As I’ve played all the instruments on these new songs, I won’t use my drafts for the next album. The live musicians are, of course, much better at their main instrument than me”.
Soft Drop, released on September 7 2018 by Caroline Australia, is available now.