Rosemary is a Copenhagen based Danish/Iranian electronic pop duo founded in 2009 by Sahar Pour and Lasse Martinussen. We had a chat with them about their passion for expressing themselves through music.
Can you tell us some personal facts about yourselves?
SAHAR: I was born in Tehran, Iran to the sound of bombs during the war between Iran and Iraq. I fled with my family across the mountains and ended up in what seemed like the other end of the world; Denmark in cold Scandinavia, where I tried to find my place in this totally different land. I grew up with unresolved feelings, while trying and trying, searching and searching. I somehow found a lost part of myself in my expression through music, where the boundaries were non-existent.
LASSE: I grew up in the suburbs of Copenhagen and musically started out producing hiphop and rap music for artists here and later in the US for acts like KRS-One, Akon, Arrested Development and many others. Then I got tired of that and started merging into other genres, trying to break down the barriers, which collided with Rosemary. Simultaneously I’ve been directing music videos, commercials and short films, which is a huge part of my life.
When and how did Rosemary start?
Rosemary started in 2009 around the same time as the Green Revolution broke out in Tehran, Iran. We were hugely affected by this new uprising and shocked by the extreme violence and unimaginably brutal murders taking place in the streets and, at that time, available almost live on Youtube.
We were sitting back here in Copenhagen totally frustrated, helpless and powerless, while friends and families were in the line of fire. Slowly the rebellion faded out because of the increasingly extreme process of the police and military.
At that same time Lasse had made this haunting musical loop, which he convinced Sahar to sing over. The frustrations and the turbulent feelings were immediately present on that very first recording, where Rosemary was born with the first track ever ‘Sleep Alone’.
‘Rosemary’ – is there a special story behind that name?
There are many qualities to the name. It’s visual and musical. It has this certain timbre. It feels right and it feels strong to compose music under that exact name.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s definitely based on electronic musical equipment and we like to relate to the template of pop – most of the time. We always like exploring places though, that’s our nature, we guess. In that sense it’s a form of electronic pop or electro pop.
How much does the lyrics mean to you as opposed to the chords?
Music and lyrics always work together on some level. They have to be just right in relation to each other, they have to give the right amount of space to each other in order to make a song complete. The words really have to have a great and personal meaning, as well as the chords or the notes or the construction of sounds have to be just as personal and fragile as the honest word.
Can you put some words on what your music is about in general?
Our music is fundamentally about expressing our shared personalities through our common name Rosemary. It involves figments of powerlessness, the difficulties of the past and the power of rising again. The lyrics, the melodies and the sounds all naturally come from this uncertain place and follow their own paths into complete songs. Music somehow gives us the belief of something greater.
What kind of mood do you wish to create with your music?
We’re just very specific with each sound that we produce and each word that we use, that it is something we really care about and something that moves us. We never made a conscious choice about creating a certain mood. The mood arises from the feeling and the personalities that made them. We are very present in the mood that surrounds our music.
What kind of music do you listen to yourselves at the moment?
We listen to a lot of different stuff at the moment, like Devendra Banhart, Ennio Morricone, Johnny Greenwood soundtracks, Pusha T, RZA, Blood Orange, Planningtorock, Nikolaj Nørlund to name a few.
Who would you collaborate with if you could choose anybody?
It should be someone able to relate to Rosemary somehow, on some level. I think Wayne Coyne would be one of our personal favorites that we feel we have a common understanding of. Or maybe David Lynch. Above all, though, the Iranian singer Googoosh would probably be the ultimate collabo. We could mention other artists, but we wouldn’t reveal any upcoming collaboration at this stage.
Do you have any new exciting projects coming up?
Yes, stuff will happen in 2014 – a release amongst other things..
What are your dreams with Rosemary?
We want to continue to rediscover ourselves in Rosemary and be able to visit unexplored areas. We want to always expand the expression, while holding on to the key and the core nerve of Rosemary. It may sound very pompous, nonetheless it’s the truth.
Check out Rosemary at their website: www.rosemarymusic.net
Interview by Emma Marie M. Johnsen