Danish duo Joakim Nørgaard and Anton Falck Gansted came together for their first performance at the secretive Copenhagen festival Henrys Dream back in 2013. The two go back way longer, however, having met at Confirmation classes when they were just 14. Glamcult got to know the driving forces behind First Hate—who are actually much sweeter than their moniker suggests…
Listening to First Hate’s melancholy lyrics and digital sounds, a myriad of associations come to mind. While the gloomy vocals make us wonder if these two are the secret progeny of Morrissey, their beats couldn’t be further from The Smiths’ ’80s rock. Instead, First Hate’s danceable tracks show how imbedded they are in the present. And thus it comes as no surprise that these boys started making music without instruments, playing with music-making software Reason. A few years later, Joakim is becoming more familiar with synths and the band has traded Reason for Garage Band—“but the real skill is to just sit down for hours and get into a trance of producing something. We can’t really play any instruments.”
This “tactic” of fiddling around for hours playing with Garage Band at home is what eventually resulted in the first, self-titled EP. The tracks on First Hate weren’t made with the idea of creating an EP, perhaps unsurprisingly: “We didn’t make music for any kind of reason. Which is different now, because we currently focus on an EP as a finished thing.” Finding inspiration mostly in boredom and everyday experiences, without a strategic endgame, gave First Hate’s debut a sense of sincerity and irony, Anton explains. “You can find really genuine lyrics on it because it was made for fun—in a state of mind where you’re really honest because you don’t expect anyone to hear it.”
It was an encounter between Anton and a “really cute dog” on the streets of Copenhagen that inspired him to make the songs of that debut. “After that, I couldn’t sleep through the night for some reason, so I wanted to make a tribute to that dog.” That real and sincere vibe is something First Hate intends to maintain on the second EP, for which a lot of the material already exists: “In a way we’re reinventing the material, we’ve played it for so long already. It needs to get new life for us.”
First Hate’s latest output is the video they co-created with Esben Weile Kjaer for the song Warsawa. The video depicts every kind of First Hate merch conceivable, accompanied by light-hearted pastel backgrounds and props such as skulls, flowers and fruit. Taking a DIY approach, the boys created every piece of merchandise themselves. Inspiration was found in 16th- and 17th-century still lifes, reminding us of the changeability and temporality of life. The Christian origin of the vanitas, which plays with the idea of earthly life versus the impending afterlife, was the starting point: “We wanted to discuss life versus death and symbolize this through the merchandise.” To Joakim and Anton, this also links to the idea of the artist as star or idol: “One day you’re an icon and the next you’re not.”
Working on their new EP, First Hate is considering the way the songs work in a live setting. Although they believe “the experience of a concert should be something other than listening to music at home”, they’re currently challenging themselves to make more fun, danceable songs. “We want the EP to sound like 2020,” they laugh, as they attempt to shake off the ’80s influences that people constantly perceive in their work. “We never made the music with an ’80s vibe in mind, and we’re often surprised at what people hear in our music.” This duo isn’t planning to be boxed in to a decade: “We think it’s more fun to do something surprising than to make something that sounds exactly like it’s from the ’80s.”
Themes of time—and our experience of time—come back over and over in First Hate’s work, whether it’s through putting many hours of boredom into tunes or by reminding us of the temporality of our earthly stay. These subjects can also be found in the story behind the band’s name. Hate, to Joakim and Anton, is a logical consequence of something else: love. “Real hate can only occur when you’ve lost something to a person. Or they’ve taken something away, which you want to take back. So hate is also an expression of love somehow, the feeling you get after someone breaks your heart,” they explain. In this way, the moniker perfectly explains the feeling First Hate’s music evokes: it’s melancholic but not sad. It’s the experience of heartbreak, boredom and disappointment without ever forgetting the wonderful moments lived.