Diablo Pussycats interview with Martine Madsen, Marie Louise “Søsser” von Bülow and Trille Sejr

March 12, 2014

Diablo Pussycats interview with Martine Madsen, Marie Louise “Søsser” von Bülow and Trille Sejr

I have been in love with surf music since I was a kid and
heard the theme song to Secret Agent Man for the first time which lead me to
discover Link Wray and Dick Dale.  It’s
hard to find modern surf bands that are capable of living up those early
discoveries though, so while I’ve been into surf for almost twenty-five years I
don’t keep up with too awfully many surf bands. 
Recently though there have been more and more bands popping up that are
taking the finely tuned traditions of yesteryear and turning them on their
heads with a new found sense of energy and individualized focus.  Diablo Pussycats are one of those bands,
carrying on a long and proud tradition of surf-rock music but making it wholly
their own and refusing to cave in to the repetitive nature of the surf-beast
that consumes so many good bands.  With
the release of the We Are The Diablo Pussycats album last year (2013) Diablo
Pussycats caught my ear after I heard of a stream of their album and kept finding
myself trying to dance in my chair, bouncing around like some YouTube video in
the making.  I can hear a lot of really
great R&B, funk and soul going on here as well as some jaw-dropping dead
ahead garage surf-rock.  La Luz instantly
come to mind but Diablo Pussycats are a nearly completely instrumental outfit
and tend to push a little harder with more psychotic rave ups and even more
infectiously catchy lead guitar lines than they do.  This band might be three chicks but they’ve
got balls.  Songs like “The Scarlet Gold
Fever Itch” and “Doctor Love” are perfect examples of the soul influences,
while there are others like “The Phantom Riders” that are completely
Morricone-esque without a doubt.  We Are
The Diablo Pussycats
had me interested enough that I managed to get all three
founding members, Martine Madsen, Marie Louise von Bülow and Trille Sejr to
tell me everything that there was to know about the band.  Between busy schedules, sick kids and hard
drive crashes this one has been a long time coming but I am more than proud to
present to you the rumbling awesomeness that is, Diablo Pussycats!
while you read: https://myspace.com/diablopussycats
What is Diablo Pussycats’ lineup currently? Has it always
been just the three of you or have you made any changes to the band since it
first started?
Martine:  The lineup
is me, Martine Madsen on guitar and vocal, Marie Louise von Bülow, aka Søsser,
on bass and vocals and Trille Sejr, our fragile little flower, on drums and
vocals; the same as it always was.  When
we play live, it’s only guitar, bass and drums, but on our album, We are the
Diablo Pussycats, we added a little bit of organ and bells.
I love playing music connect the dots but I have to admit
as much as I love playing games nothing beats cheating sometimes ha-ha! Are any
of you in any other active bands at this point? Have you released any music
with anyone in the past? If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Trille:  Well, we’re
not the monogamous kinds…  When it comes
to our work and music.  We’re all
involved in a lot of different bands and projects all the time, and we’ve made
a bunch of records.  At the moment
though, I’m mostly writing, working on my first book.  A small collection of poetry, with the
working-title Songs of Hai-Medai-Ku. 
Sort of a rewriting of short poems I made through the years.
Søsser:  I spend a lot
of time touring in Poland with a Polish-Danish act called Czeslaw Spiewa.  We’ve released four albums, and we’re about
to record a fifth this spring.  And for
the last ten years I’ve been in a lot of different bands, recording and
performing live, both as a full blooded member, and as a side-woman.  I love the diversity of working with
different people, on various terms.
Martine:  I’ve also
worked and recorded with many different bands the last ten years.  Søsser and I have made two records together
with a band called SpaB, and I also released an album with my solo project,
C’est Tout Martine.  Right now I’m
working with an Icelandic girl called Disa while I’m recording with a new band
named Norr.
What was the local music scene there like when you were
younger? Did you see a lot of shows when you were growing up? Do you feel like
it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way that you play
Søsser:  I’m from a
small and neat suburb of Copenhagen where the local music scene is
non-existent.  I think there were two
people at my school playing music, and they were my brother and his best
Trille:  I moved
around a lot when I was a child.  We
usually didn’t stay in the same town for more than a year, so…

Martine:  Okay, I win
this one!  I grew up on a small island
called Falster in southern Denmark and went to a very small school.  But despite its size, it was a town with a
lot of musical and creative people, and I think that everyone I knew played an
instrument.  The local music scene was
very strong, and the local bands had extremely good conditions.  We rarely had any famous bands coming to
town, but the first time I went to a big concert was actually in Falster.  It was Ace of Base the world famous Swedish
pop-band.  I was so scared and ecstatic
and the same time.  And I had mascara on
for the first time in my life; blue mascara! 
It was a big day for me.

What was your household like when you were growing up?
Was there much music? Were either your parents or any of your relatives
musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?
Martine:  My mother’s
also a musician.  She plays the accordion
and works at a church playing the organ. 
My brother plays trumpet.  There
was always a lot of music in our house.
Søsser:  Almost
everyone in my family is a musician, except for my mom who’s a mortician.  My dad used to play and sing a lot of music
with me and my brothers and sisters, they were often improvised songs that we
recorded on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. 
He taught me how to play the piano as well.  I used to play a lot of music with my
brothers and sisters, now we only play together at family gatherings.  But it’s still fun!
Trille:  I had an
uncle, Åge, who dreamed of being a shaman, and we always performed all kinds of
weird music and sang together.  He was my
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to
Trille:  Åge!
Søsser:  Going to see
my dad play concerts.
Martine:  I don’t
recall a time when music wasn’t a big part of my life.
If you had to pick one defining moment of music, a moment
that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music and changed everything
for you, what would it be?
Trille:  When I was
seven years old Åge, who used to call himself Tåge Åge which means Foggy-Åge,
took me to the woods in Sweden.  We spent
three days living in the woods, making instruments out of whatever we could find
in the forest; logs, old bones, grass and even using the water in the lake as
an instrument.  It was mind blowing for
me.  When I came back, I begged my
parents for weeks to sell the apartment and move to the woods.  Instead, we just moved to a new city and a
new apartment.
Martine:  I’ve played
music all my life.  When I was a child, I
thought “Yeah, this is fun.”  Then, when
I was twelve years old I started playing the drums and electric guitar, and
suddenly it wasn’t just “fun” anymore. 
It was all I wanted to do.  I
still play the drums, for example with Disa in the recording project I
mentioned before, but the guitar is my true soul mate.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and
performing your own music? What brought that decision about?
Søsser:  I wrote my
first song when I was five.  The song was
about my favorite kind of day, riding a bike with my mom and going to the
Tivoli.  It’s still a number-one hit at
my birthday.
Trille:  I started
writing poetry when I was about ten years old but I didn’t start writing music
until I met the girls.  Before that,
improvising was the only way I wrote music.
Martine:  I started
writing songs when I was twelve.  But it
was a big secret, no one knew about it. 
For some reason I was embarrassed about it.

Søsser:  Really?  I did that when I was about twelve too.  And then one day, my mom found some lyrics
I’d written but forgotten to hide away. 
I denied everything and said that it wasn’t mine.  Why was that so embarrassing?  That’s fucked up.

Martine:  Yeah!  Anyway… 
Two years later, I started playing in a funk band where everybody wrote
songs, and I started writing for real. 
Since everybody was doing it, the shame suddenly seemed stupid and I’ve
been writing music ever since.

© Julie Scheuermann
What was your first instrument? When and how did you get
Søsser:  When I was
growing up I played different instruments. 
Then, when I was sixteen, my dad died and I was the lucky one to inherit
his beautiful old double bass and I started practicing every day.  That was the first time I felt a real
connection to an instrument.  I loved the
sound and the feel of it, I couldn’t let it go.
Trille:  My first
instrument was a homemade bamboo flute that my grandmother made for me.  I was five years old and I carried it around
my neck, day and night.  It was about
that time my uncle took me in as his “trainee”.
Martine:  My parents
really wanted me to play music, so from the age of three I played the flute and
percussion.  When I was eight I started
playing the violin.  That’s when I
started looking at myself as someone who played an instrument.  I was very proud and practiced a lot.
What led to the formation of Diablo Pussycats and when
was that?
Søsser:  Martine and I
met at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in 2002. 
It actually took a few years before we became friends, but when it
finally happened, we started a folk/pop band together, SpaB.
Martine:  Then in 2008
we went on a trip to Chicago and we met Trille on the plane.  We both knew her by name and had heard she
played some killer drums, which proved to be true!
Trille:  I’m scared of
flying, so I had been drinking a few(!) cocktails.  And when I drink cocktails, I talk a
lot.  So I was telling the girls about my
passion for surf music and told them how cool it could be to make a band with
three chicks playing bad-ass surf-rock. 
I was really just babbling, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes
before Martine and Søsser started planning the set list for our first gig
Søsser:  Yeah, and we
played our first concert a few months after that.
Is there any shared, creed, code, ideal or mantra that
the band lives by?
Trille:  Do not forget
the rose wine!
What does the name Diablo Pussycats mean or refer to? Who
came up with the name? How did you go about choosing it?
Søsser:  We actually
use a title-consultant for our music, Simon Beck.  He also came up with the name Diablo
Pussycats.  At first we were pretty
skeptical about the name, because it refers to the fact that we’re all women
and the “woman-band” concept has always been something we all avoided.  It seems so silly for us that music should be
about gender, but suddenly we found ourselves in a woman-band without even
really realizing it.  Until Simon came up
with the name.  What the hell though, the
name is one you remember and it tells you a good deal about the band; it’s
feminine, it’s mean and we’re not to be messed with!
Where’s the band currently located at?
Martine:  Copenhagen.
How would you describe the local music scene where you
all are at?
Trille:  Variety.  There’re a lot of musicians in Copenhagen,
and I think people are quite good at experimenting with new constellations in
all kinds of crossover music.
Søsser:  But the
Danish people, as an audience, are too scared I think.  They don’t go out much, and when they do,
they go after the music that they know. 
And you can count me in on that unfortunately.  I play a lot of different music, but when I
go to a concert, it’s usually to see some of my friends.
Every time that I try and describe the way that a band
sounds I just feel like I’m doing them a grave disservice for reason or
another. Rather than me making some awkward attempt at describing it, how would
your describe Diablo Pussycat’s sound in your own words?
Martine:  Reckless,
old school, psychedelic surf-rock.
Trille:  The sound of
While we’re talking so much about the history and kind of
the makeup of the band, I’m curious to hear who you would cite as your major
musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than
just individually?
Søsser:  Well, as a
band I would say The Shadows, The Sonics, Dick Dale, West Coast Pop Art
Experimental Band and The Ventures. 
Especially The Ventures in Space.
Trille:  What about
Hawkwind?  And their concerts where they
locked the doors, pointing a strobe light at the audience, who was locked in,
playing extremely loud, while a naked woman covered herself in paint?  I mean, what’s not to like?
Martine:  Only, we
don’t have that kind of extreme live-show.
Trille:  …yet!
Can you tell us about the songwriting process with Diablo
Pussycats? Is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas that takes place
when you all get together to play or is there someone who comes to the rest of
the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and compose with the
rest of the band?
Trille:  It
depends…  Usually one of us will bring
an idea, big or small, to practice and then we work on it together.  Sometimes we merge several ideas and end up
with one song.
Søsser:  Our music isn’t
just about the melody, or the chords, or the lyrics.  Half of it is about the sound and the energy.
Trille:  And making
room for unexpected things to happen.
Do you all enjoy recording? As a musician myself I think
that most of us can appreciate the end result, holding that album in your hands
knowing that no one can ever take that away from you. Getting to that point
though, getting everything worked out and recorded can be a little bit
complicated to say the least. How is it in the studio for you all?
Søsser:  We all love
the recording and mixing process! 
Everything between mastering and release though, not so much…
Martine:  We’ve all
worked a lot with recording and mixing before, so we do most of the recording
ourselves.  Trilles’ brother has a studio
where we stayed for a week while recording the album.  It’s easier to focus on the music if you
don’t have to leave at 6 o’clock to go somewhere else or go home.  So when we record, we just play all day and
all night.  It works for us.
Do you do a lot of preparatory work before you head in to
record getting things worked out and sounding just the way that you want them?
Or is the recording process a little bit more flexible, where things have room
to change and evolve a little bit?
Søsser:  Before we go
into the studio, we get together a lot and work out the songs but there’s still
a lot of room for experimentation and for evolution when we finally meet at the
studio.  We record guitar, bass and drums
at the same time, in the same room, but we still improvise and try out
different stuff.
Martine:  We decided
when we started the band that it wasn’t going to be a daily-work kind of
band.  The most important thing was that
we have a good time.  And we do.  We drink a lot of rose wine, smoke a lot of
cigarettes and have a lot of fun trying out every crazy idea that we come up
with.  And the process is just as
important as the final result.
Can you share some of your memories of recording that
first album? Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all? When and where
was it recorded? Who recorded that material? What kind of equipment was used? 
Trille:  Oh, this is
my favorite part of the interview!  We
used, of course, ribbon microphones and a Sennheiser MD 421.  An old Studer mixer, Universal audio 6176 and
Gyraf Audio Gyratec preamps and I also think we used the Avalon AD2044
compressor.  Oh, and of course a Space
Echo RE-201.  I could talk for hours
about this…
Does Diablo Pussycat have any music that we haven’t
talked about yet? Maybe a single or a song on a compilation that I might have
Martine:  In 2011 we
made the title-music for a Danish TV-show, Zulu Love Champs.  The song “Love Champs Song” was never
released, but can be found on our Facebook page and we also have a track on a
newly released surf-compilation, Monsters of Surf along with twenty-one other
bands, there’s some very good stuff on that comp!
With the release of We Are The Diablo Pussycats not too
long ago at the end of last year (2013), do you have any other releases in the
works or on the horizon at this point?
Søsser:  We’re in the
middle of planning our next album, which we hope to release by the end of this
year.  But right now Martine is expecting
her second child and we have this tradition, which you might have noticed, of
drinking a lot of rose wine when we record. 
Which means that we have to wait until the child arrives before we can
go to the studio.  Martine’s orders!
Where’s the best place for our readers to pick up your
Martine:  Well, for
now you can buy it on iTunes, or you can write us if you want to buy the vinyl
which includes a download code but we hope to be able to distribute the vinyl
through a European label soon.
And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up
with the latest news lie upcoming shows and album releases at?
Are there any major goals that Diablo Pussycats are
looking to accomplish in 2014?
Martine:  Hopefully
we’ll play a bunch of concerts this summer. 
But other than that, we’re looking forward to recording the next album.
Do you remember what the first song that Diablo Pussycats
ever played live was? Where and when was that?
Søsser:  I think it
might have been “Guitar Man”, by Duane Eddy. 
We played our first concert one or two months after we met, on a hippie
farm outside of Copenhagen, and we only played covers.  The Ventures, Dick Dale, good old stuff.  We still sometimes play some of the cover
songs.  Right after that gig, we started
writing our own music.
Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road? Do you
enjoy touring? What’s life like on the road for Diablo Pussycats?
Martine:  Actually, we
don’t play that many concerts, but we do love to play live!  I think some of our favorite concerts were in
Poland, where we went on tour a few years back. 
Nobody knew us, and every night when we came out on stage, the audience
would look at us like we were some kind of weirdoes and they wouldn’t make a
sound.  But from the first note we
played, they would go crazy, simply crazy! 
Jumping up and down and dancing all through the concert.  Maybe they were very drunk, I don’t
know.  But it was fucking great.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve
had a chance to share a bill with?
Trille:  The Danish
band, Bazaar.  They’ve existed since
1976, and they play a weird kind of mix of improvised jazz and world music with
bassoon/clarinet, organ and percussion/drums. 
You should check it out.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Trille:  David Bowie.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live
shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Søsser:  My favorite
moment is when we played at a funeral. 
Some guy who’d seen us at a concert, wrote to us asking if we could play
at his granddads funeral.  We thought,
“Oh, they want us to play something soft and mellow”, but oh no!  Apparently the dead guy loved surf-rock, and
they wanted us to play “The Boardwalk L.U.V.”, a fast and energetic tune from
our album, which is actually kind of “happy”. 
We played while they carried the coffin out of the church.  It was so extremely intense and beautiful.
Do you all give a lot of thought to the artwork that
represents the band like flyers, posters and cover art? Do you have a go to
artist for that kind of thing? If so, who is it and how did you originally get
hooked up with them?
Søsser:  The artwork
for our album is by a Danish guy named Mikkel Sommer, who lives in Berlin.  I met him a few years back at a concert in
Loppen, Christiania, a famous self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood, within
the city of Copenhagen, and we got to talking. 
Turns out he’s an artist and makes really amazing drawings!  Old-school and very expressive.  A perfect look to match the sound of Diablo
With all of the various methods of release that are
available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the
mediums that they do. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own
music? What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?
Trille:  Vinyl.  Always vinyl.
Søsser:  We released
our own album on vinyl.  First of all,
because we like the vinyl, and secondly, it’s the only true way of listening to
old school music like ours.  A lot of
people today don’t have a turntable though, so we also included a download code
with the vinyl.  That way they can put it
on the computer while looking at the beautiful big album cover.
Martine:  I sold all
of my CDs and vinyl.  I love vinyl, and I
always will, but it’s too much trouble. 
So I’m an all digi-girl now.
Trille:  Well, well,
that’s some kind of statement, Martine! 
Do you consider that to be good promotion for our album?
Martine:  Sorry, but
it’s the truth.  I still believe that
vinyl is the only right medium for our music, though!
Do you have a music collection at all? If so can you tell
us a little bit about it?
Trille:  I lived in
Italy for two years, and when I was there, I fell in love with Italian fusion
from the 70’s and I spend all of my money on records.  My favorite is Area.
Søsser:  I have a big
collection of Danish pop and folk music from the 70’s and 80’s.  I can get very sentimental when I listen to
it now; makes my heart bleed
Martine:  I used to
have a small, but good, collection of Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, before I
sold it.  But now I have an even bigger
one in iTunes, ha-ha…

I grew up around my dad’s collection of music which is
exactly what’s inspired my love in physical music. I was encouraged from a very
young age to dive into the music and listen to whatever I wanted. I would just
wander up to these enormous shelves of music when I was a kid, pick something
completely at random, kick back in the beanie bag, read the liner notes, stare
at the artwork and let the entire experience transport me off to another
dimension. As a result of those experiences I don’t know if I’ll ever shake my
addiction to physical music; but that’s okay with me ha-ha! Do you have any
such connection with physically released with music?
Søsser:  Well, that’s
the beauty of vinyl, isn’t it?  It’s
almost like playing an instrument.  It
stimulates your ears and eyes, your whole body and your imagination, in a way
digital music never will.  It’s another
tempo.  I listen to a lot of digital
music but it’s so easy, that it often makes me wanna skip to the next tune
before the first one has ended.
As much as I love my music collection there’s no denying
the ease and portability of digital music and when you team that with the
internet you have a real game changer on your hands. People are being exposed
to an entire world of music that the otherwise would have never known existed
and it seems to be levelling the playing field somewhat for artists willing to
promote and harbor a strong, healthy online presence. On the other hand illegal
downloading is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the
chocked digital jungle out there today. As an artist during the reign of the
digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Martine:  I’m totally
in to it.  The world is so much bigger
now.  As a listener, you have amazing
access to all kinds of music, from all over the world.  And as a musician, it gives you a world of
opportunities to spread you music globally.
Trille:  I agree.  Except that mp3s sound so crappy, it makes me
wanna cry.  Mp3s are too big a
compromise, in my opinion.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly
can but with all the amazing stuff that’s going on right now there’s just not
enough hours in the day to keep up with even one-percent of the awesome stuff
out there! As a result I rely on people like you to be my eyes and, well I
suppose mostly my ears ha-ha! Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?
Søsser:  Monkey Cup
Dress, WhoMadeWho and Cliff Waters.
Trille:  Ooh, they have
a really cute lead singer!
What about nationally and internationally?
Martine:  Last summer
I heard a band at Roskilde Festival called Unknown Mortal Orchestra; so
cool!  And right now I’m also listening
to a Japanese band called Nisennenmonai a lot. 
They’re fantastic.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me! It’s
been a real pleasure getting to know the band and so much about you all. I know
this wasn’t short and I don’t assume it was too easy to remember all of this
stuff so thanks again. Before we call it a day and you all ride off into the
sunset, is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to
take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?
Trille:  We dress
Martine:  Thanks for
your time.  It was a pleasure talking to
Søsser:  Hear, hear!
(2013) Diablo Pussycats – We Are The Diablo Pussycats – 12”
– Gateway Records
(2014) Various Artists – Monsters Of Surf Guitar – CD –
Dingdong Records (Contributes the track “Square Head Round Peg” from We Are The
Diablo Pussycats)

© Julie Scheuermann

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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