Sometimes, you hear quite by accident a track that literally bowls you away. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I was trawling various social media sites to find something new and good to listen to. I can’t quite remember now how I came across ‘Barcodes’ by Oslo based Making Marks, but I’m delighted I did.
Making Marks started out as mylittlepony and played all over Scandinavia and Europe, releasing a couple of albums in 2008’s ‘Think too much’, a record that won Best International Album at Spains Premio Pop Eye the year after. It was followed by 2011’s ‘Making Marks’, which prompted the name change to match. The band is made up of Marie Sneve Martinussen, Jørgen Nordby, Nina Bø and Ola Innset
The band makes the sort of charming Scandinavian Indie-Pop that I for one absolutely can’t resist. Kooky – goofy sounding even, but soft and memorable and melodic. If new track Barcodes is anything to go by, then the album is going to be one of the best of the year.
We decided to find out more, and we spoke to Ola from the band.
[Backseat Mafia]Hey – thank you for speaking to us….So, how did you all meet?
[Ola, Making Marks] Jørgen and I were in school together in the sleepy town of Moss. We found Nina and Marie when we moved to Oslo.
And the things you had in common were? Did you bond over the love of one song, or artist?
Well, Marie and I once attended the Norwegian championship of Beatles trivia. This was in 2004. Marie won the whole thing, she is in fact the Norwegian Champion of Beatles trivia. We bonded over that.
If you had to pick a song or band you were trying to sound a bit like?
We always try to sound like all different kinds of songs and bands, and then we fail at it and sound like ourselves. But other songs and bands inspire us very much. The opening track of our next album sounds a bit like us trying to sound like “Only in my dreams” by Ariel Pink. What an amazing song!
The scene in Olso, is that vibrant or are you pretty much on your own? Is there some bands we should check out?
You should check out Nomber 5s, Cold Mailman, Sunturns, The Little Hands of Asphalt, Einar Stray and many more!
And you started out as mylittlepony – what were your original goals when you set out? Was it just to play a show, or release a record, or do a tour??
The goal was just to play for fun, and we were very excited to find out that we were quite good at making music and could travel around with it, release albums and all kinds of fun stuff!
But instead you released a couple of albums, and did hundreds of shows across Europe?
Do you enjoy the touring, or is it just a necessity of being in a band and trying to earn a living? Or both!
We enjoy it very much, but we definitely don’t earn a living. We’ve been playing the new Making Marks songs for people for over a year now, so we can’t wait to get our album out so some one have actually heard our songs before they come to the shows again.
So why the name change?
We just didn’t really want to be associated with all that toy and cartoon stuff anymore. We were a bit sick of it, and didn’t know how big MLP was back when we chose the name. So when mylittlepony’s fifth member decided to leave the band we took advantage of the opportunity presented to us and became a “new” band, with less people, new songs AND a new name.
How did the deal with Fika come about?
We were actually tipped about FIka by another label, and we were lucky because they had been fans of mylittlepony and were very eager to release Making Marks. We’ve never had a record label before, so It’s been great having someone supporting us and covering our corner with us.
So anyway, the important stuff – you’ve got a new album coming out in September? Is it all done?
It sure is! Mix, master and everything!
Can you give us a heads up – what themes and influences were in your minds during the recording?
Well, some things fell into place when we found a twelve string Rickenbacker electric guitar in one of the studios we were using. I think it belongs to Bill from Allo Darlin’, and I had been playing loads of jangly guitar parts and overdubs on lots of tracks. With the twelve string it all came together without combining so many parts. This is to say that there are a lot of guitars on it, kind of jangly melodic ones, making a pretty neat soundscape together with the vocal harmonies and some subtle synths. I guess that’s not a theme for an album, but it’s fun playing the electric guitar anyway, and it sounds good.
And any tracks that really stand out for you on the record?
It’s really hard to choose. The next single will be a track called Barcodes, and then we’ll have one more out before the album release, but we still haven’t decided on which one. We think it will be either one called Bruises, that there is a live video of from our gig at NYC Popfest on Youtube, or one called Lemon Sheets. It’s a tough call!
Making Marks -Bruises (live)
And is it a major departure or major step forward in terms of style and songwriting – is it like a newborn baby at the moment, you’re very parents at the moment?
It’s not a baby, it’s an album! I definitely think it’s the best one we’ve made, and we’re very proud of it.
Where did you make the record? Was it over here in Britain, and who helped you with it production wise?
We made about half of it over in Soup Studios in London with Simon Throught, Giles Barrett and a few others. The other half was made in Six Feet Over here in Oslo, where we made our previous album, with Sjur Lyseid, who has produced all our other albums. He’s mixed it all together too.
So, what are your plans for the rest of the year??
We have some festivals coming up, both Secret Garden Party and Indietracks and also a short UK tour with The Ballet from New York City. We also have some festivals in Norway and Sweden, so we’ll be pretty busy. Then we’ll have a bit of a touring break around the album release, maybe a few shows here and there, and then maybe some more tours again after Christmas.
And some for fun –
A track that makes me cry?
I cried when I heard Neil Young play “The Needle And The Damage Done”, at a big field in Kent in 2006 I think, which is strange, because it’s not even one of my favourite Neil Young songs. I guess it was just the thrill of actually seeing him live, and then that was the song that was supposed to make people cry. So I did. I do what I am told, however subtly.
The best track made by one of my friends?
The Little Hands of Asphalt’s “Oslo” is a great song, and a bit of a classic over here.
You’d be surprised to learn that I am moving to Italy!
And, the best record I’ve heard this year is..?
I just started listening to Laura Veirs’ July Flame again, after a few years of not listening to it. It’s amazing. Maybe the best one I’ve heard this year, even though it’s not from this year.
Look out for the album, coming out on Fika records in September. I know we will be….