Karim Theilgaard is not an imitating wannabe rock star, despite possessing a Brian Molko (Placebo) voice and Yannis Philippakis (Foals) appearance; he is a multi-disciplinary artist with an admirable intellect, an educational background and a self-motivated inquisitive personality. His open-minded and observational view on the world and its oddball places has been fuelled by his wanderlust travelling and a refusal to be defined by one strict nationality or job title.
Currently laying his hat in the creative music and experimental film capital Copenhagen, he has previously wielded keys to apartments in London, Paris and New York and lived his early years with his parents in Switzerland and this bag-packing has made him very educated about cultural differences and additionally created a fascination with contrasts. His current label on website LinkedIn lists him as a host and producer at Fashion Beat TV and this sums up his approach to art, as the channel “explores the crossover that exists between the worlds of fashion, film, art and music”. His musical universe is seemingly still under construction with just three songs on Spotify, two of which have high polished and attractive music videos with underlying messages.
Although it was the first single he wrote, “Love Stains” is his third release and the conceptual construction around its creation is themed on contrast. The promotional film directed by London-based Michael Beddoes embodies contrapositive-social-commentary, examining the underestimated similarities between the technical abilities of theatre dancers and pole dancers. Although the professionals perform in an environment on the opposite sides of the integrity spectrum, Theilgaard uses the video to explain that both dancers are talented and it’s the eye of the beholder and perspective of appreciation that makes them appear worlds apart.
Yet Theilgaard is not a judgemental character; he prefers to just undertake voyeurism on subjects, as illustrated by a sitting stance in the film. The bar scenes were shot in Brixton and the video was inspired the neon lights of cities that Theilgaard explored, such as New York and London. The video is vibrant and effective and is accomplished at hiding the fact that it was shot on a low budget and with problematic production issues.
This could be as a result of Theilgaard technical knowledge of movie-making and cinematography, as well as enthusiasm for creative problem solving and obstacle-bashing. The song itself abides to the rules of contrast, as it begins patient-paced with lush jangly guitars and slow-tapped drums before feedback-filled energetic roar from the electric guitar possesses the chorus. The bridge contains explosive rocking-out but is followed by a sweet xylophonic rest period.
Theilgaard’s first single “The Way We Used To Be” is an indie rock amalgamation of early-Muse, Coldplay, Nirvana and Radiohead and its hook is the subtle positive piano that exists within the layers of noise. The surprising direction of the track leads us to a fuzzy, space fireworks-filled electronic crescendo that could potentially be reminiscent of Robert Miles’ “Children” if it was fuelled with a faster BPM.
Like “Love Stains”, the video, directed by Portuguese, London-based street/fashion photographer Joao Retorta, has immediate sexual connotations but again things aren’t as straight forwardly erotic as they appear to be. Ropes and blindfolds on the participants could be metaphors for temptation, struggle and freedom within relationships. Furthermore, the physical violence in the battle of the sexes could be a visual interpretation of a communication problem.
Although after listening to radio interviews with the musician, it’s easy to get persuaded by his philosophical mentality and that it could an interplay within all of this work. Additionally, the Chinese Mandarin on-screen subtitles are a typical ambiguity that Theilgaard likes to possess in his art and lyrics, allowing listeners to fill in the gaps with whatever emotion or relevant life experience he or she uniquely owns.
The other single release is “Strangers on The Floor“. The demos were made in Copenhagen but it was produced in London at Konk Studios, which Theilgaard points out in his behind-the-scenes interview on Youtube, was a musical home to legacy band The Kinks. The content itself is also nostalgic as a portion of the song has a classic rock shred guitar. It is a very authentic sound for a rocker that started off learning the drums.
The lyrics sound self-destructive and sentimental of heartbreak: “tear me apart and destroy me, they don’t dance like we used to”, which is helped by the piano and electric organ flavour. Although remembering Theilgaard’s deep explanations, it could easily be a reference to a relationship with himself, considering he moved to Denmark to go through a self-discovery awakening process, following from an exhausting period of impulsive “yes man” networking.
It’s not too surprising the lack of musical adventures thus far, considering Theilgaard’s diary is action-packed with other endeavours such as commentating on fashion and acting in/producing short films (a passion which began as a child with 8mm manual editing, blossomed by performing as Danny Zuko in a school production of Grease, and has now come back into his life) and clips of said films can be seen on his YouTube channel. You can really see the in intermixing of sound and film particularly in the film Mudbirds here.
I caught up with Karim Theilgaard to ask him for a quick summary about his plan for 2015 in all project fronts.
What is your plan for 2015 in music?
We’re conditioned to answer with “I’m fine” or “everything’s great” but I’m not gonna lie, this year has been rough. I have recently experienced the culmination of some personal issues that had been growing within me the past 18 months or so. After surviving the blackest moments in my isolation I began to think about that whatever you’re going through, make it count. It is often when we have our backs to the wall that we are at our best.
So I started picking myself up and revisited the recordings I had begun many months earlier and since abandoned when I felt I had lost my inner spark. I rediscovered what had excited me about them and thereby rekindled my spark and confidence. My plan is to release an EP or album this year. It’s not fully certain whether it will be under my own name or an artist name. Regardless, music lovers can stay up to date via my Instagram and Twitter where they will be the first to know either way.
What is your plan for 2015 in fashion?
I’ve slowly been re-building the Fashion Beat TV brand the past few months after having left it dormant for a couple of years due to my university schedule. I love being able to provide a platform for new artists and creating that first piece of content as I know first-hand how hard it is to get that important first bit of press and acknowledgement. This goes for whether you’re in music, fashion, film or any other art form. At the moment I’ve mainly been photographing music but I plan to shoot more fashion-oriented content as well.
Alongside that, I’ve had some exciting offers of collaboration and will hopefully be returning in front of the camera soon too. There are some brilliant fashion photographers and inspiring designers in Copenhagen. Thomas Cato is one of my favourite and a dear friend. I’m always keen to meet new artists so I invite photographers, designers and other artists who are interested in being a part of Fashion Beat TV to follow @fashionbeattv on Instagram and Twitter.
What is your plan for 2015 in Films?
There are several things in the works, which I can’t talk about too much yet. However, I am really excited to announce I will be playing the lead in the film ‘Lost Angeles’ being shot over summer in L.A. It is being produced by Belle Époque Films, with whom my first collaboration was actually composing music for their animated logo and teaser video. It was a mix of vintage swing drumming and more eclectic elements. I really enjoy experimenting and working with sound-for-picture. I’m also writing on a couple of other feature films, which we will begin development on soon. If you’re in LA over summer and want the chance to join in on ‘Lost Angeles’ get in touch on Twitter!
Words by Matt Hobbs // Photo Credit: Thomas Cato