Razika

SKA-NDINAVIAN BABES

Speaking to Razika’s lead singer, Marie Amdam, over a fuzzy phone connection to Norway, it is clear that something is amiss. Having stumbled from bed to make the early morning phone call without so much as checking the news headlines, it only becomes apparent towards the end of our call, that this day of our interview, Norway was on everyone’s lips for all the wrong reasons; a massacre which left 77 people dead – many of the same generation as Razika’s four members.

Prior to this tragedy that struck her home country, Marie believes it is the relentless rain storms and intense heavy metal scene that placed Norway on the global map. The music created by the endearing female members of Razika could be no further from the dark sounds of metal from their homeland. Their snappy, breezy, classic pop tunes are as fresh and pure as the youthful faces of the band members who have succeeded in reaching a global audience with their melodies at the tender age of 20. Their debut album Program 91 is not in reference to the year they cut their teeth on the touring circuit, nor when they lost their virginity at a drunken party. No, 1991 is the year they were born. Try not to feel as under accomplished or incompetent as I did when I spoke with the delectably sweet Marie. It is not many 14-year-olds who dedicate their entire lives outside high school to fine tuning their musical abilities. And having played the breezy sounds of their debut offering on repeat since acquiring it, I for one, am glad they made such a sacrifice.

With their catchy, high energy Norwegian and English tunes, the girls have been compared to everyone from The Specials to The Slits. Just don’t call them bubblegum pop. Marie describes their sound as a unique mix between digital pop and ska. With such a diverse sound, the lead singer and songwriter claims their shows host a wide and diverse audience from teenage boys eager to catch a glimpse of the pretty quartet rocking out on stage to one enthusiastic 60-year-old man who once proclaimed them the best band he had seen live since the swinging 60’s. Teenage heartache, romance and young love are themes most people can relate to, even if a number of their songs are sung in their native tongue. “This is something that just happened naturally,” says Marie. “We started off writing all of our songs in English, but after a while we tried to write in Norwegian and it was then that people began to notice us more.” Despite pressure from their record company to pick one language and stick to it, Marie believes it is this unique combination of languages that helps them stand out, even if they do have to constantly deal with ardent fans and journalists attempts to decipher their lyrics resulting, quite often, in a case of lost in translation. “It is so funny for us when people write to us and try to understand our lyrics by using Google Translate. Although lyrics are really important, we are proud that the music alone can work for us; that people don’t have to understand the lyrics to like our songs.”

A tight clique since their prepubescent days, the girls formed Razika in 2006. Back then, in the early days, they learned their instruments by trial and error, they didn’t play by notes and together they explored a whole catalogue of music trying everything from The Beatles to heavy punk rock in attempt to define their sound. Striking a fine balance between jamming and homework, the girls were offered their first record deal at age 18, only to turn it down. “Our manager was really into the idea of releasing an album when we were young to capture our youthful spirit, but we just didn’t feel ready,” explains Marie. “We wanted to wait until our songs were good enough and we felt more confident.” Recording the album in 2010 took longer than expected, as with schoolwork, it could sometimes be months between bouts in the studio. What has emerged is 11 heartbreakingly good tracks with a youthful naivety that transports you back to those magical days when lying in a sunny park daydreaming about falling in love was enough in life.

No matter how mature and accomplished their record may sound, however, it is hard to forget just how young the members of Razika are. Their name was taken from a secret code they used to describe a cute guy when at school, and their website gallery is scattered with photos of the foursome as kids before they adopted their current American Apparel style image. On tour last year, between giggles, Marie admits to feeling more nervous about meeting her teenage idol, Alex Turner of Arctic Monkey fame than she was about Razika playing to an audience of nearly 2000 as their support act. While Alex Turner and co. may have moved on from their days of heavy partying with female fans, Marie makes a point of not ruling out groupies. With party invitations following every show and eager male fans falling at their feet, perhaps Razika are a little less sweet and a little more ska than they convey. One thing for sure, their ambitions are anything but fluffy.

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