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MUSIC

Danish rock legend Kim Larsen dead at 72

Singer Kim Larsen, a true Danish icon, died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

Danish rock legend Kim Larsen dead at 72
Photo: Claus Bech
“Kim Larsen in his final moments was surrounded by his wife Liselotte and his six children Pelle, Sylvester, Alice Eva, Molly, Hjalmer and Lui,” his agent, Jørn Jeppesen, wrote in a press release. 
 
Larsen’s health had taken a downward turn as his prostate cancer grew worse, causing him to cancel a number of concerts scheduled in Norway over the summer. He was, however, able to perform at this year’s Smukfest but had to do so from a chair. 
 
With his captivating and sometimes banal pop lyrics, Larsen is perhaps Denmark’s biggest cultural icon. He has been one of the country’s most popular artists since the 1970s and has sold millions of records. 
 
Kim Melius Flyvholm Larsen was born in Copenhagen, where he grew up. In 1968, he became a primary school teacher before fully pursuing his music career. He moved to Christianshavn, where he met Franz Beckerlee and Wili Jønsson. Together with Bjørn Uglebjerg, they formed the group Gasolin’.
 

Gasolin' in 1976. L-R: Søren Berlev, Franz Beckerlee, Kim Larsen and Wili Jønsson. Photo: Allan Moe/Scanpix
 
The band achieved a lasting place in Danish rock history with its Danish-language lyrics mixed with an international sound, which resulted in still-wildly popular hits like “Rabalderstræde” and “Kvinde min’. 
 
 
In the 1970s, Gasolin’ was so popular in Denmark that the band simply could not reach higher heights domestically. They tried their hand at an international breakthrough, but their English-language songs failed to connect with a wider audience. 
 
The band remained massively popular after breaking up in 1978.
 
In 1973, Larsen released his first solo album, “Værsgo”, a milestone in Danish musical history. It includes songs like “Nanna”, “Joanna”, “Byens hotel” and “Hvis din far gir dig lov”.
 
Although Larsen dreamed of an international breakthrough and a career in the United States, he later embraced his Danish national hero status. 
 
“I thank the gods that I never ever got a breakthrough in America, even though I really wanted it back then. Just imagine being world-famous. You wouldn’t be able to relax anywhere,” he told Ud & Se in 2010.
 
In 1984, Larsen co-wrote and starred in the film “Midt om natten”. He also wrote and played most of the music from the film, the soundtrack of which is among the best-selling Danish albums of all time. 
 
 
Larsen fronted several different bands and released a wide array of albums, including “Forklædt som voksen” with hits like “Jutlandia”, “Om lidt” og “Familien skal i skoven”. That album is also one of the biggest sellers in Danish history. 
 
 
In 2006, Larsen declined the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog, saying that he disapproved of the notion of bestowing personal honours. Four years later, he performed for Queen Margrethe on the occasion of her 70th birthday.
 
It is hard to overstate Larsen’s popularity amongst Danes. His songs have been the soundtrack for the lives of several generations and are likely to live on forever.

MUSIC

The Danish death metal band that became reality TV stars

The Aarhus band Baest is poised for an international breakthrough thanks to a recent documentary and an injection of taxpayer money.

The Danish death metal band that became reality TV stars
Baest is Sebastian Adildsten, Svend Karlsson, Lasse Revsbech, Mattias Melchiorsen and Simon Olsen. Photo: Nikolaj Bransholm
Death metal is a genre defined by growling vocals, blistering distorted guitars and blast beats. The sound is typically accompanied by dark imagery that borders on the downright evil. In a music world dominated by sugary pop and hip-hop, it’s about as far away from the mainstream one can get. 
 
But a young Danish death metal band is upending all of that. The Aarhus-based Baest found its way into the homes of ordinary Danes nationwide thanks to a documentary series on public television that chronicled their attempt to make music their full-time gig.
 
The series, ‘Den Satans Familie’, follows the young band as they leave Aarhus and embark on their first real European tour. It paints an intimate picture of the five members’ relationships, both with each other and the families they left behind while on the road. Baest only formed in 2015, so the documentary captures how members Sebastian Abildsten (drums), Svend Karlsson (guitar), Mattias Melchiorsen (bass), Simon Olsen (vocals) and Lasse Revsbech (guitar) in some ways still seem to be working out how to co-exist, something that's not always easy when crammed inside a small tour van. 
 
The DR3 series meant that these young, long-haired, heavily-tattooed metal dudes were suddenly reaching a much larger audience, including many who were not necessarily fans of their sound but couldn’t help but be drawn in by their personalities and their raw struggle to make it in the music business. 
 
 
But getting featured in a reality TV show wasn’t the only boost for Baest. The band was named 'best new Danish act' by highly-respected music magazine Gaffa, which also declared their debut album Danse Macabre the best metal or hard rock album of 2018.
 
Baest was also granted 250,000 kroner from the Danish Arts Foundation, a state-run fund for supporting Danish arts abroad. The financial boost is likely to come in handy as the young Aarhusians prepare to hit the road again in support of their upcoming second album, Venenum, which is due on September 13. 
 
Following the band’s standout performance at Copenhell, the annual heavy metal festival in Copenhagen, I caught up with guitarist Lasse Revsbech to talk about the band’s whirlwind success. 
 
First of all, I really enjoyed your performance at Copenhell. What was that like for you? 
 
“We’ve never played a crowd that big before, it was amazing. We’ve been building up over the past few years in Denmark, so to see where it’s gotten to now makes it all worth it. At Copenhell, we shared the stage with some fucking true legends. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It’s insane.”
 
How do you describe Baest?
 
“Baest is an intense band, with high energy and raw power but with an enormous smile.”
 
How did the reality show come about? 
 
“Our manager was in a dialogue with [public broadcaster] DR and they decided to send a crew to cover one of our gigs at VoxHall in Aarhus. We told them we were on the verge of going on this tour and everyone just thought it would be fun to do it.”
 
The metal world can often seem overly concerned about image and authenticity and in the documentary you come across as this group of really nice, down-to-earth guys. Did you have any concerns about how this might affect your image? 
 
“We were definitely nervous about the metal community’s reaction and how things would be edited and presented but fortunately we really think that DR hit the nail on the head. There’s been such a great response. A lot of true metalheads and touring musicians have told us that it painted such an honest picture of the music industry. A lot of metal bands have a hard time with this concept of selling out but we’ve not been told once – not yet, at least – they were are sell-outs.”
 
You also received a grant from the Danish Arts Foundation. Isn’t it a bit crazy that public money is going to a death metal band? 
 
“Haha, it makes you happy to pay your taxes! It’s so Danish! But really, it’s all about people supporting people and it’s something I think other countries should do.” 
 
What are you hoping to achieve with the release of your new album? 
 
“First and foremost, we’re hoping it allows us to tour more. This autumn, we’ll be heading out for our biggest European tour thus far, as main support for an Entombed AD & Aborted co-headling tour. Entombed are one of the pioneers of death metal, so it’s insane to go on tour with those guys. 
 
“Even if the new album doesn’t make us explode, we hope it will get us one step closer to that. We’re a band that likes to dream big, so we want to play on the biggest stages all around the world. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction.” 
 
 
Baest’s tour in support of Entombed AD and Aborted kicks off on October 18 in London and will take them to 28 cities throughout Europe, including a November 1 stop at Vega in Copenhagen. Venenum will hit stores and streaming services on September 13 and lead single ‘As Above So Below’ is out now. The four-part documentary on Baest is available to stream here.
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