Norway’s Razika is just full of surprises. Go ahead a try to make assumptions straight off their name and geographical location but this all-girl quartet is a far cry from the country’s famous black metal antics. Sure, they’ve got a touch of that Scandinavian wide-eyed sort of sparkle, but that’s probably attributed to the fact that they’re all only 20 years old more than anything else. Of all things this tight knit group of childhood friends melts together classic jangle pop with ska and flares of post-punk all sung in Norwegian and English–not an equation you hear everyday.
The girls recently released their debut Program 91 via the very awesome Smalltown Supersound, scoring reviews on Pitchfork and the like. Razika will be making their US debut at Cameo Gallery next week, and in anticipation I asked them a few questions about the genesis of the band and their disparate musical influences.
Some of your lyrics are in English and some are in Norwegian, do you prefer writing in one over another? Is it difficult to write in English or did you grow up speaking it?
We find it interesting to write in both Norwegian and English, we wouldn’t choose one over another. You express yourself differently in the two languages, which we think is something positive. In Norway you have your first English lesson when you’re six years old, so it’s not exactly difficult, just different.
Who are your influences? I definitely hear a lot of ska weaved into your dream pop how did you get into that sound?
Both new and old bands inspire us. The Specials, The Police and The Smiths on one side and The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines on the other. There are also two bands from our hometown that have had major impact on us, The Aller Værste and Program 81. The first time the four of us listened to their records together we knew what we had to do. Hehe.
Your black metal scene is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear about Norwegian music, but I’ve always wondered if its actually that popular over there. Is black metal a really widespread genre or just a loud minority?
Yes, black metal is popular over here unfortunately… We actually had to shear a rehearsal room with a metal band for a short period…
I’ve read that you guys started this band a number of years ago when you’re all in school–have you always had the same line-up? When you started the band how did you decide who played what instrument?
In the beginning we tried with Embla on bass and Marie Moe on drums, but we found out that it sounded best the other way around. Maria was determined on playing the guitar. We also needed a singer, so we asked Marie to join us. At that time Marie played piano and we only managed to play bad Bob Dylan- and Beatles-covers. She soon switched to guitar and eventually we taught ourselves how to play together.
Do a lot of kids start bands where you’re from or were you one of the only ones?
It was a few other bands, but not many, no. Especially not girls. We were kind of unconventional and people at our school thought we were really weird.
Where did you get the name Razika?
Razika is an african girlname. It was a girl in our school called Razika and we thought it was a really weird and cool name. It became kind of a codeword between the four of us when we saw a cute guy. So instead of saying “check out that cute guy” we would say “razika to the left” so it wouldn’t be so obvious. So when we were looking for a name to the band, Razika was a natural choice.
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