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Gus from Alt-J handles his jetlag with sausage rolls!

Δ (alt-J) are four guys from Leeds who met in university and make excellent pop. They consist of Gwil Sainsbury (guitar/bass), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums). We had a talk with Gus!

Hey Gus! Right now, what do you feel like eating?
Well I just had lunch, which was a cold sandwich from a motorway service station, as we’re on the road, so I’d love my next meal to be hot.

I’m glad to see Way Out West have booked you! What do you know about Sweden and Swedish food?
I don’t know a lot about Sweden, except that it has a good music scene. And the capital is Stockholm. Swedish food, as I understand it, involved a lot of fish, which sounds great to me.

What’s the deal behind your name, it’s ∆ but everybody says alt-J? You were also called FILMS and Daljit Dhaliwal? Do tell.
When we started the band we used the name Daljit Dhaliwal, knowing that one day we’d probably have to change it – so when we thought of the name FILMS, we did. But then it turned out there was another band called The Films, so we had to change again. ∆ was a keyboard shortcut discovered by Gwil, our guitarist – we thought it was pretty neat, and would make a cool band name. A lot of people think we’re fixated with triangles, but we’re really not.

You mentioned that you play an Nordic keyboarded Mac on stage. Care to tell us why?
Well, I used a keyboard made by Nord, a Swedish manufacturer. The only keyboard I used to have was an old Yamaha that was very limited. I used a lot of piano when making the album, so I knew that I’d need a keyboard which offered decent weighted keys and good piano sounds. My Nord does that and much more. It’s definitely a grownup keyboard.

Ah, I misunderstood that completely then, that’s what twitter does to you! It’s not easy trying to put Alt-J (∆) into a genre, have you made one up or how would you describe your music?
We don’t like genres very much, so we shy away form defining ourselves. However other people are welcome to have a go! We have been described as folktronica, which we actually thought was pretty cool.

You mentioned in an interview that you had a sausage roll after a flight back from NYC, is that the best cure for a jetlag? Can you explain to us what a sausage roll is exactly?
I think the key to avoiding jetlag is definitely food. A sausage roll is basically sausage meat wrapped in puff pastry. It’s very greasy but delicious. They vary hugely in quality though, so watch out for that.

What do you have for breakfast, have you gotten into the whole porridge trend?
I get bored of food routine very easily, so I like to vary my breakfasts. Right now, my girlfriend and I are very into fried egg sandwiches, but that could soon change. As for the porridge trend, this must have passed me by.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us? Maybe a soup?
This is a great soup – cheap, tasty and very filling. Sweat some chopped carrots in butter with some cumin seed, then cook in vegetable stock till they’re soft; liquidise, then add a bowl of rice cooked in salted water; reheat then stir in 2 egg yolks; season and serve topped with paprika and chopped parsley.
Trust me, it’s amazing.

So, when’s the album out?
May 28th!

∆ on Spotify.

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Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie) prefers his morning coffee to fish uteruses.

We sent our new French-Canadian writer Éric Morrissette to meet a feverish Phil Elverum at Truckstop Alaska in Göteborg, where his one-man band Mount Eerie was opening for Earth. Robin joined in but sat back while Phil chatted with Éric who offered him some Swedish food: senapsill [pickled herring in a mustard sauce] and gravlax [raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill] on knäckebröd [Swedish hard bread].

I should tell you guys that I eat this almost everyday. I grew up with this stuff around. In Seattle, near where I live, there’s a lot of Scandinavian immigrants and my family is Norwegian, many generations ago. In the last 10 years or so I got more into it and I eat this almost everyday, not the herring necessarily but this Wasa [knäckebröd]. It’s so good and you can put anything on it.

These days, what does your diet mostly consist of?
Well, I’m on tour so it’s rough. Hotel breakfast in the morning. I usually eat the muesli, and yogurt and egg and coffee and juice. I usually eat a bigger breakfast because it’s free at the hotel or it’s paid for so I usually try to eat as much as I can, because we don’t usually eat lunch. But yeah, mostly a lot of rice cakes and cheese and water and juice. I like to have grapefruit juice always going on tour for the immune system although it failed [laughter]. And then dinner is usually at the venue or like here tonight they cooked dinner for us and it was amazing but sometimes the venue people will take us out to a neighbour restaurant.

What can we expect to find on your rider?
We’re opening for Earth so it’s their usual stuff which is cheeses, meats, crackers, bread. I usually don’t eat that much of it. Some fruits, some juice when I can. It’s difficult on tour to not eat all the candy and chips that are just constantly available because that’s what is around and when you’re feeling like you want a snack, the first impulse is to put that chocolate in your mouth. But after a few days of that it feels horrible, so yeah, carrot sticks, celery, grapes, things like that. But that’s tour, I should be clear that’s not what I eat at home!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten while being on the road?
Japan is where I’ve eaten the weirdest stuff. Sea food, but a very broad definition of sea food, like anything that comes out of the sea. I told the people who I was touring with there, ”hey I wanna eat the weirdest possible stuff, I am here, I want to experience Japan in its fullest”, and so they were ordering me things, I ate caramelized crickets, just whole crickets, crunchy. Also some fish reproductive systems, like human brains kind of. I was like ”what is this?” -”Oh, it’s human brain, eat it”, but of course it’s just fish uteruses, which is pretty gross as well.

Was it tasty?
Hmm, no. I was focused more on trying to swallow it. I didn’t eat a lot of it. I ate some cow heart once. I gotta draw a line somewhere, though. Like for example in Norway I was at a place where I could order whale or seal and I didn’t want to take it that far for some reason. Meat eating is so arbitrary, the ethics of meat eating, it’s so, I guess personal. But for me, whales somehow feel more intelligent, more godly than me so I shouldn’t eat them. I probably wouldn’t eat a bear either.

What food from back home do you miss the most when you’re on tour?
Vegetables. I mean it can just be hard to get fresh vegetables when traveling. Fresh vegetables of any kind, salad, kale, you know this vegetable kale? It’s a very intense green leaf. You wouldn’t eat it raw, you have to steam it. It’s really thick. It’s very rich in iron and calcium. And it grows all year round. Snow can’t kill it, it’s just so tough. It looks like a dinosaur’s skin. Super dark green. Sometimes it comes in purple. It doesn’t look like food, it looks like something you would see in the forest. We use that a lot, put it in sauces with rice. It’s very nutritious and good. We have some in our garden. So I guess I miss that. I’m a shitty gardener so that’s the only thing in my garden, everything else dies, but kale, you can’t kill it. I’ve tried!

What’s the best food to take on an excursion to the top of Mount Erie [mountain in Anacortes, Washington, Phil’s hometown and current residence]?
It’s a small mountain so you can walk up in about an hour. So, maybe something fancy, some sushi would be good. Yeah, I’d probably take some sushi and some coffee or tea. I don’t know why.

I was told that here in Sweden, people place some Knäckebröd in their pants when they go into the woods in order to protect their legs from the bites of nasty badgers. Are you as creative in Washington when it comes to badger protection?
[laughter] That’s seems like a total myth! That can’t be true. Badgers are not that big of a problem for us and we probably wouldn’t use a cracker for protection! [laughter]. Yeah, no, we haven’t had to face that yet fortunately.

So badgers in Washington are more well-behaved that in Sweden?
[laughter] Yeah, we have really gentle badgers, meaning non-existent badgers! There are no badgers there, as far as I know. Maybe deep in the mountains somewhere there’s one or two. They might be more of a Rocky Mountain thing.

So maybe if you had badgers you would actually put crackers in your pants?
Yeah, maybe i would, probably not though. It doesn’t seem like a good idea. There’s plenty of better weapons.

You have collaborated with ex-Montréaler Julie Doiron on ”Lost Wisdom”. Has Julie introduced you to the national French-Canadian meal ”Poutine”?
Julie hasn’t, but I am married to a French Canadian and she has. So I have experienced Québec through her a lot. It’s good. I love it. It’s intense but I think I tend to like over the top-food. I feel like this is intense in flavor, powerful food.

You find it over the top?
Yeah, because you have all these fries and gravy and cheese and all this intense stuff mixed together.

[Robin]: It’s the fattest thing I have ever eaten!
Yeah, exactly, it’s intensely unhealthy. What, you think its just an average everyday meal? [laughter] No way. I’m surprised you’ve survived if you grew up with it! [laughter]

You have covered Björk in the past [”All is full of love” on the Microphones’ album ”Blood”] and more recently referenced her song ”Undo” [on ”Voice in headphones” on Mount Eerie’s album ”Lost Wisdom]. What would you cook for her if you were trying to convince her to collaborate over a dinner?
[laughter] I probably wouldn’t try to convince her to do anything. I feel like she’s the one who invites people. I don’t want to be annoying. I would probably collaborate with her if she asked me, it sounds fun to me. But if I had to make a meal with her, it’s a good question… I wonder if she has any dietary restrictions.

I guess whale meat wouldn’t be a good idea.
No, maybe not whale. At the same time I feel like she could be into raw meat. Like a big plate of raw meat somehow.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
I like really over the top-ice creams. There was this Ben and Jerry’s flavor for a while that is discontinued now. It’s called ”Marsha Marsha marshmallow” and it was just so gnarly. It was like the Poutine of ice cream with this marshmallow cream and huge chunks of stuff. It was so concentrated and powerful. It was deadly and addictive. It had graham crackers and it was a little bit salty too, it was amazing.

Salty ice cream, eh? Have you tried liquorice ice cream in Scandinavia?
Not in Scandinavia, but I once had it when I was a kid and I remember loving it.

Do you have a favorite breakfast musician?
I almost always, when I’m at home, eat breakfast in the same exact place – in silence. I have a chair by the window and go and read and I eat the same thing for breakfast. I have one piece of toast with peanut butter and lingon berry jam. Silence is what I listen to when I read and I usually spend between one and two hours and I just sit there with a pot of coffee and sip it. Eat my toast and my egg and I read the paper. I love it. I just space out and my cat looks at me. It’s nice, I miss that. It’s the thing I’m most excited about going home for. Like my silence breakfast ceremony.

Whats the cat’s name?
Pierrette. My wife thinks it’s funny. She names lots of stuff after French names that she thinks is hilarious that I just don’t get. She’s really into ”Roger”.

Your music evokes nature a lot. What do you think would be the ultimate culinary experience while listening to Mount Eerie or the Microphones, while sitting by the bonfire contemplating the universe?
Wow. Well my favorite food experiences around a fire are always really primal, like meat-based. Just take some meat, put it on a stick and burn it. But I don’t know if that necessarily matches with my music. But that’s probably what I would choose. I love eating cavemen style. I don’t know how it would affect the experience of my music though.

It would be quite a polarizing experience.
Yeah, maybe like a really primal buffalo steak and then a huge bucket of spring water, ice water that you dump over your head and try to drink at the same time. I feel like a lot of times with my music what I’m trying to do is to create alternating feelings of confusion and cloudiness versus moments of clarity. So maybe if your in the smoke in the fire and you’re all gross and got meat juice all over you and then there’s this awakening water blast. That might be a good meal!

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Podcast #1. Lars guide to Primavera Sound 2012.

We’re gonna try something new, we’ve made a podcast. The first episode is with me, Robin, calling a friend who I met through various visits to the Primavera Sound festival.

First off is Lars, a German friend, whom I last met when we both traveled to London to see The Stooges play Raw Power a few years ago. Before that we had both been to a few Primavera Sounds. I suggest you download this free app and stream it in your iPhone on your way to work. If you don’t have one of those phones I suggest you listen to it while having your morning coffee (there’s no Android app yet I’m afraid).

If you wanna peak at what’s in store, you can check the thing over at MixCloud.

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Grimes likes Papaya and Borscht!

This year’s best album so far is in my opinion Grimes’ Visions. Grimes is a girl from Montréal and she’s performing at our favorite festival Primavera Sound in Barcelona at the end of May. We talked to her a bit, naturally about food. We did this interview together with the brand new Swedish online magazine Mint.

Hi Claire Boucher AKA Grimes, right now, what do you feel like stuffing your mouth with?

I read that you went down a river on a self-built boat, what did you eat on this great adventure? Squirrels?

Are you looking forward to eating anything in particular during the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona? I warmly recommend the pancakes with chocolate at the food court!
Anything with chocolate, haha. I’ve never had Spanish food, so literally anything.

What’s your favorite fruit?

What does your rider look like, is there any food on there, or is there only alcohol?
Haha, no just water.

If you’re inviting someone over for dinner, what do you make them?
I’m a terrible cook, but I try to make things like stir fry if I’m trying to impress someone. Maybe quinoa, veggies.

Do you bake a lot? If so, what?
Haha, never. Sometimes I try to make cookies. The only thing I can successfully bake is cornbread.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us? Maybe a soup?
Fry 3 onions in tons of oil and boil beets in water. Put the onions in the beet water with all the oil, add dill, carrots, potatoes, other veggies, let it stew for a while. Add cinnamon. Serve after like 8 hours with sour cream.

If you’re on tour, what do you miss from back home? Poutine?
I hate poutine haha, but I like the sandwiches at Casa del Popolo. Usually I just eat at home, things that are cheap and easy and in bulk. I don’t know how to cook meat – so generally lentils, potatoes, broccoli, various beans, fruits. Stuff like this. I don’t eat out much.

Grimes live at KEXP.

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Fruit Bats loves food! And gives us a recipe for a chili!

Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats

Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats
On Friday the lovely Fruit Bats play our town’s best venue, Truckstop Alaska (only 100 SEK! Facebook). We got a hold of their frontman Eric D. Johnson and he gave us these lovely answers to our foodie questions! English? Why? Check the bottom!

If you don’t know Fruit Bats, they’ve been around for ten years, play folky pop and have released their fifth album, Tripper, on Sub pop this year. At the moment it’s on #19 in my Albums of the year. Why not listen to the single You’re Too Weird while you read the interview?

Fruit Bats – You’re Too Weird.

Right now, what do you feel like stuffing your mouth full of?
The one thing I consistently crave is spicy, spicy Asian soup – preferably Tom Yum or Tokyo-style Ramen, but any spicy noodle soup will do! Second choices being Middle Eastern food or Mexican food.

As you’re called Fruit Bats, I gotta ask; what’s your favorite fruit?
Definitely passion fruit, with mango being a close second choice. Most kinds of berries as well.

Do you like seaweed in your Thai? Or do you think it serves a better purpose between bloody teeth and smooth stones?
I love seaweed in my aforementioned spicy soups (especially my homemade miso noodle soup) better than teeth or smooth stones.

Do you sleep on a bed of mustard seeds?
Usually not, if I can help it. That sounds uncomfortable.

Spiders and snakes often pop up in your lyrics, have you ever eaten any of these?
I tried rattlesnake once, in Texas, of course. But never spiders. However, I’ve eaten alligator, crocodile, jellyfish, and kangaroo.

What does your rider look like, is there any food on there, or only alcohol?
Definitely food! Good cheese and bread is a must, as well as exotic fruits. Our rider food tonight in Malmö was most excellent (very good fresh made bread, Havarti cheese, goat cheese spread with beets, salami, very nice). But of course beer (micro-brews or local ales preferred) and white and red wine. We like to eat and drink.

If you’re inviting someone over for dinner, what do you make them?
It depends on the amount of people. If it’s a large group, I have a chili that I enjoy making (vegetarian or bison, depending on the group). If it’s a smaller group, I usually do a tapas-style spread or Mediterranean type foods, hummus, baba ghanouj, feta, olives, pita, pilaf.

Did you have a time to celebrate Thanksgiving before you crossed the pond to tour Europe? Also, what’s your favorite part of all the goodies?
No! We left the day before Thanksgiving, and sadly had to miss it. It’s my favorite Holiday, because the only real point of it is to eat. I enjoy the stuffing and potatoes best, but it the turkey is done properly (juicy and not overcooked) the whole thing can be pretty fantastic.

Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us?
Sure! Here is my chili recipe (the vegetarian version, but you can easily add meat by browning beforehand with the onions and peppers.) If you can’t find the ingredients here, you can approximate with what is around! Make it as spicy or not spicy as you like.

2-4 cloves of garlic
1 large white or yellow onion
1 large bell pepper, or several chili-type peppers like poblano, anaheim or the like
16 ounces of prepared black or pinto beans
12 ounces of well roasted New Mexico green chilies (you can use bell peppers as well, roast them in the oven first)
8 ounces of corn, removed from the cob (canned corn works quite well also)
3 large cans of crushed tomatoes
8 ounces of vegetable broth
1/2 bottle of dark Scottish or Irish ale
several large dashes of crushed cumin
several large dashes of salt and pepper
several dashes of hot sauce like Tabasco, to taste
small dash of cayenne pepper
large cube of salted butter
fistful or finely chopped cilantro
2 bay leaves

On high heat, heat butter in the pan. Add onion until soft, followed by the garlic and bell pepper, cook until well soft. Add some of the cumin, salt and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients except cilantro, bring to a low boil. Add more salt, pepper and cumin (to taste) and turn down to simmer. Simmer for several hours. Add cilantro before serving, or use as garnish. Add extra broth or a bit of water if it is too thick.

Serve in a soup bowl garnished with chopped raw onion, grated English cheddar cheese and sour cream. Serve with rice, macaroni, or tortillas. Wash down with Mexican beer and lime. Eat outside in bare feet if weather allows. Tastes even better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two and then reheated.

English-Swinglish! This site is in Swedish, but on occasion, when we interview people in English, the interview won’t be lost in translation. It’s so more people can read it and enjoy some cooking!