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From Humanities to the Roskilde stage

Somewhere between their studies, rising Danish band ‘Santiago’ managed to release an album and debut at the legendary Roskilde Festival

Danish band ‘Santiago’ were one of the first acts to kick-off Roskilde Festival 2015, skilfully belting out soulful tunes to a packed room of festival-goers at the intimate Gloria Stage.

Over their five years together, the five-piece band have managed to produce an EP, deliver a quietly acclaimed album and generate buzz about their dynamic sound, which feels like a blend of American folk with Scandinavian melancholia.

All this, and four-fifths of them are still Masters students polishing off their degrees in Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University.

Singer Matthias Elkjær has been praised for his deep croon and dark lyrics (Photo: Lena Rutkowski)

Student lifestyle is great for making music

Balancing music and studies is “not that big an issue” says guitarist Jakob Andersen, who studies Modern Culture at the University of Copenhagen. “We practice in the evenings. You feel the pressure most during exams.”

“Although I always have music at the back of my mind, no matter what I’m doing” he says, as the others nod feverently in unison.

For guitarist Toke Andersson Dalsgaard Nielsen, who studies Global Studies at Roskilde University, a student lifestyle is actually conducive to being in the band.

“As a student, you actually have the time to concentrate on the music.”

Career or Hobby?

While the band’s current focus is music, the members haven’t ruled out exploring career options related to their studies in the future.

“It’s not an issue that you think about while you’re studying” says Toke. “It’s worth talking about when you reach the final chapter of your studies.”

He laughs. “Which probably means we should start thinking about it now…”

“I don’t feel like I have to give up anything yet”, says Jakob.

“Huge, Happy Momentum” at Roskilde

Booking mishaps meant that the band didn’t get the opportunity to tour abroad as planned after releasing their first album “No More Songs about the Moon” last year.

That’s why it means a lot to the band to perform for an audience at Roskilde, which averages around 160 000 festival-goers each year and is Northern Europe’s largest music festival.

“Playing Roskilde gives us the huge, happy momentum we didn’t get a chance to ride on after our first album was released”, says drummer Jesper Overmark Rasmussen.

“Roskilde has a sort of ripple effect. Hopefully it gets our name out there” says Jakob.

“Toke, I’m pregnant” – a fan holds up a sign dedicated to the guitarist. (Photo: Lena Rutkowski)

The Roskilde Show

At Wednesday’s show, the band packed out the indoor Gloria Stage with a solid, intimate performance, and even had the audience singing along at one point. It was a change of pace from doing small gigs in Copenhagen.

“It was amazing” says singer and guitarist Mathias Elkjær, who studies Comparative Literature at the University of Copenhagen. “We’ve never had anyone singing along before.”

“We’ve had a lot of energy building up over the last few days” says Jakob “It was great to let it out on stage.”

Future Plans

For now, the band are concentrating on making more music while they finish their degrees.

They played three new songs at Roskilde, teasing a new album planned for release next summer. “It’s still in process” says Matthias.

They also have an upcoming show at New Note Festival , which takes place north of Copenhagen on the 7th of August, alongside Danish names like Oh Land and Choir of Young Believers. And then?

“In three years we’ll be on the Orange Stage” jokes Jakob, referring to the festival’s largest stage, which forms the Roskilde logo. “I’m kidding, but hopefully we can play here again with a new album in 2-3 years.”

See Santiago’s music video below

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