The passionate London-based band Mount Forel’s still relatively new track “Greenland” packs an amazing dose of emotion that feels primed to open the faucet of what you’ve got hidden inside. In a general sense, the group play a super passionate, alternative rock that freely draws from plenty of great stylistic trends from emo and indie to shoegaze, with some noisy, reverb-feeling elements. Most importantly, the band focus and funnel the pieces they work with into an emotional outpouring that feels direct, close to the heart, and like it packs an understanding of the real life situation in which you’re in even in the likely case of the band having never met the person actually listening.
Their music is richly textured, from the guitar portions to the more diverse tones, and listening to “Greenland” feels like getting plopped into an ongoing conversation with a loved one who you’ve known long enough to understand a large swath of their personality. Not that there’s anything wrong when the opposite is true — but this is not just a nice little ditty to listen to and forget. The musical and vocal performances feel drenched in passionate emotion.
The video the band have shared to accompany this track is itself very poignant and memorable. In the set-up, at least a couple of the band members are (not as themselves) participating in some kind of group therapy session. Mount Forel’s Takaco Iida — who in the real world is from Osaka, Japan — leads the session, and her character asks fellow band member Andrew Wakatsuki-Robinson if he’d like to share a song. He seems to do just that, and once the track — “Greenland” — begins to play, each of the group members around Iida and Wakatsuki-Robinson begin to visibly express intense emotions ranging from sobs to physically-demonstrated anger to flippant mischief to romantic interest. Ultimately, “Greenland” feels like an experiential accompaniment to the unique place we’re at in our most private moments right now in the world — it’s a really effective and poignant song.
Check it out below, and make sure to scroll to past the video to read some from the band about how it came together and how it fits into where we’re going as a society — climate change, political upheaval and all.
I read a piece where your new song is cast in the looming shadow of climate change, and at the same time, “Greenland” sounds intimate and personal. What are some of the key creative sparks that initially got this song going in the first place?
Ross Thompson: The music and melody came first and they weren’t things I really agonized over either. […] With the full band though it came together quite quickly actually in that we completely messed around with the original idea while keeping the dark element of the sonic soundscape. Those initial ideas were lyric-less and when writing the lyrics the dark and gloom of what we have seen over the last few years, and are seeing in Europe right now was a natural thing for me to write about, or at least to take pause to think about when writing them. I work in the area of climate change and it’s really a scary situation we are in – never mind all the others scary shit going on in the world of geopolitics.
In this song, there’s urgent emotion and also even towards the end some real sonic intensity, besides other elements. What are some of the highlights of how your sound came together for this song?
Andrew: We generally record as live set up; rather than track each instrument individually, we prefer to play together in the studio. It gives the song that extra urgency.
After putting down the base track, we saw we had a number of extra floor toms at our disposal, so we took them all into the courtyard of the farm-studio in Oxfordshire. The band created a drum circle, and smacked out the rhythms which glue the track together. The sonic intensity comes from this drum track underneath.
How would you describe where the finished work of this song ended up? In your perspective, what’s it “saying” overall?
Ross: This is a tricky question really. I think the end product is as intense as we were going for. The subject mater fits the dark and driving overtones of the music and I’d like to think that sonically this is reflected. I’m not sure that it’s “saying” anything in particular outside of what I’ve already mentioned. But if other people can interpret the song in some other way and assign their own meaning to it then that’s awesome. One thing I think is so amazing about music is that one piece of music can say so many different things to many different people, whether its about the lyrics or music and melodies. It’s open for interpretation really.
The video for the song is really compelling and I feel goes with it well. Broadly, how did that come together and what’s a guiding point you’d say defines it?
Andrew: We sent to the director, Mike Glover, a few tracks we were considering as singles, and he chose the song he thought would go most with his style. He had had the idea for quite some time but hadn’t had a track to work with: a counselling session where each of the characters’ inner issues are brought to their extreme through listening to a track chosen by one of the band members leading to chaos. Once he heard “Greenland,” he knew it would work.
In however much detail you’d like to share — how did you guys meet and come together as a band in the first place? I also read that you’re from very diverse locales originally.
Andrew: We’re from all over the place:
Ross is from Colorado and Northern Ireland; Pete – the North; Takaco – Osaka; Andrew is from the opposite side of the world. We all play music in London together. The boys were playing under a different moniker doing Americana-influenced indie-rock, but they needed a shake up. Takaco came along and shook things up.
Considering the way in which you kind of make broad concerns deeply personal on “Greenland” — how do you feel about the way in which we’re proceeding as a society, on any level you’d like to consider that question? Are you optimistic — or not quite? What are some of the key things that stick out to you as important in this context?
Ross: I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic, although at the minute it’s quite difficult to be optimistic at all on a number of fronts. Inequality is widening all the time, not just in terms of the wealthiest countries versus the poorest countries, but also within countries. Wealth is concentrating at the top in a manner that is even worse than during the Victorian era. This is staggering considering the global efforts on eradicating poverty.
Look at the UK for example, a decade of austerity has seen the National Health Service underfunded and it’s now under constant strain and threat, benefits for those who need it the most in society have been cut, food bank use has been increasing at the fastest rate ever while the government blinds everyone with Brexit – a pointless and undeliverable policy. It’s no better in the US with the current administration and the cluster-fuck that is Trump. Widen that to the comments from Putin on how the liberal agenda is out dated and weak — all this shit could really get you down, but on the other hand we are also seeing people move against this.
In London not that long ago over a million people took to the streets to say give us the last say on Brexit. Extinction Rebellion also brought parts of London to a standstill and the UK Government recently declared a climate emergency, although its unclear what this actually means. In the US we have individual states taking back control (see what I did) of environmental legislation and action on climate change in spite of what Trump’s administration are trying to do, and a move from within the Democratic party towards attempting to deliver universal health care – which by the way is considered a human right by the UN. So I think there are some reasons to stay optimistic, but at the moment you have to really look for them.