Secret Treehouse is a pop band based in Bergen, Norway comprised of five members - Anja Bere, Sveinung Fossan Bukve, Trond Espen Teigen Bjoland, Tormod Smith Svanevik, and Marius Mathisen. We connected with the band for an exclusive interview to discuss their brand new single “Fear of Frogs”, as well as to learn more about the pop music scene in Norway, and so much more.
After reading our Q&A with Secret Treehouse, be sure to connect with the band on their social media and website. Also, stream and share “Free of Frogs” on Spotify!
Congratulations on the release of your new single "Fear of Frogs". Tell us about how the song came about, and when will the visuals be dropping?
Thank you so much! “Fear of Frogs”, both lyrics and melody, is written by Sveinung Fossan Bukve, guitarist in Secret Treehouse.
It was actually the first song we recorded for this album. When we sent the demo to our producer, Stamos Koliousis, he was stoked, so we have always felt safe that “Fear of Frogs” would be on the album. The melody is unchanged from the beginning and the synth bass was also there from the start. The whole song was pretty much ready from the start, and did not give us any challenging creative dilemmas, really. We decided quite recent that it would be the first single, basically because it is the most “pop” song on the album.
When it comes to the visuals, we have already dropped the beautiful cover art for the single, which we couldn’t be happier about. The cover art is made by Achilleas Gatsopoulos, who have made art work for Pet Shop Boys, Steven Wilson and Tim Burton, among others. The video will be dropped approx within the same month as the song. We are really happy with the video, and it takes place in different scenes around our home town Bergen, covered in winter frost and dark mystic light.
Is the new single indicative of what we can expect on your upcoming debut album sonically and thematically?
Yes and no. This is definitely the most pop song that we have on this album. We think that you can expect more indie vibes, and a bit more darkness and melancholy from the rest, but at the same time we do see ourselves placed solidly in the pop category. We try to create a grand sound, a wall of sound, but at the same time hold on to the organic feeling. We do not want to sound cold, or aim for a “machine driven” sound of pop. We always have Sveinung’s guitar in there giving it warmth.
“Fear of Frogs” is about the fear of holding someone that you love back, and the feeling of wanting to run because you're afraid you'll end up doing damage by staying. Thematically, the complexity in close relationships, either if it is a friend or a romantic interest, is something that permeates the album.
Tell us about how you five came together to form Secret Treehouse and what does the band's name mean?
Sveinung (guitar), Tormod (bass) and Anja (vocals) started making music together in 2004. We were students and Tormod and Sveinung studied sound- and ,music production. We had some members come and go over approx. ten years, until we became Secret Treehouse with Marius (drums) and Trond Espen (keys) in 2015. We are quite a diplomatic and democratic group, and it works really well.
Secret Treehouse is about a form of escapism. It can be exemplified in an organic secret treehouse where it is life and creativity in a desolate cold urban place. The place you retreat to when you need some distance and escape from reality. We like to describe ourselves in contrasts, the dark versus the light, the urban and dead versus the green nature. We like to think that there is a green creative hope in the midst of all the darkness and find creativity in these dichotomies.
We as a United States based music blog are proud to say that we've featured a lot of very dope Scandinavian pop artists and bands over the past year. Describe the pop music scene in Norway.
The Norwegian pop music scene is relatively internationally oriented, and many artists and bands are working towards an international music scene and collaborations across country borders. As a result of this, the pop music scene in Norway is doing great internationally with strong artists and bands such as Susanne Sundfør, Astrid S, Aurora, Sigrid and Highasakite. We have had many strong female Norwegian artists who have had success internationally lately.
With five members in the band, how do you all go about providing input when it comes to developing new songs? Also, when do you definitely know that a song is done?
For this album Sveinung has written all of the melodies, and most of the lyrics. He sometimes has a vision of what direction it is going in, but all the arrangements and input from the rest of us is valued equally. We arrange the songs together, and decide on the result together. We are not afraid of bringing new ideas to the table, both when it comes to our own instrument, or one of the other’s instrument. While making this album we have created a lot of the arrangements in the studio with our producer and we did not have any pre-production first. In that sense he has been a sixth member in this process. We have also created songs together based on ideas and melodies from the other members, but none of those were prioritized for this album. However, we will probably focus more on each other’s ideas when we go back to making new stuff again. We choose the songs that work and that we get energy from, no matter where the idea comes from.
In some ways it can be difficult to say stop and to be sure that a song is finished. It is always tempting to add another element, but sometimes, and often, it does not make the song any better. It is often better to hold back and say “enough” and stick to the core of the song. Also, it is great to have a producer who can say that enough is enough, while having that outside perspective.