Interview: Soda Fountain Rag

Soda Fountain Rag - Photo courtesy of Soda Fountain Rag

Soda Fountain Rag - Photo courtesy of Soda Fountain Rag

The story goes a little something like this:

Ragnhild Hogstad Jordahl, a Norwegian lady with a penchant for pop and more than a few things to say, decided some years ago to start writing songs in her bedroom, recording them as she went along. For fun, she posted them on the Internet under the playful moniker of Soda Fountain Rag, and eventually and unexpectedly caught the attention of a few little labels, who wrote her asking if they could release her music.

In the time since, Jordahl’s music has been released in various formats on a handful of labels: Yesboyicecream (Ireland), MyHoney Records (Italy), Cloudberry Records (America) and Anorak (France).

“It was really great when people contacted me…and said they wanted to release my songs,” Jordahl said, referring to when she first started sharing music with a more public audience. “[It was] like a thing that I had dreamed about but I didn’t think that it would ever happen.”

But as that attention took her project to the next level, Jordahl realized she too would have to step up her game. Naturally, she decided to bring long-time friend and musician Anders Kaasen into the Soda Fountain Rag fold.

“I have to have a really good guitarist, otherwise it wouldn’t work,” she said. “[And] I trust him. I know he’s a good guitar player, I know he has a good sense of musical style and I know him really well [personally]…so yeah, we get on well musically.”

However, Kaasen’s role isn’t just limited to playing guitar; he also serves as a a sounding board of sorts for Jordahl’s songwriting, helping her realize her vision a bit more clearly.

“For the songs that I’m recording at home, he does the producing,” Jordahl said. “So he usually makes it a little bit better and more tidy.”

Jordahl estimated she has somewhere around 30 completed songs, based on both official releases and self-made CD-Rs.

“I also have some songs just on the Internet because I want people to listen to the songs, so sometimes I can’t wait for a proper release,” she admitted with laugh.

And while Soda Fountain Rag takes on the form of a three-piece band live, Jordahl doesn’t write with that in mind.

“I don’t really think about that,” she said. “Usually I make the songs and record the song at the same time, if I’m recording at home. And then I don’t really think of how we are supposed to be able to translate it to the live show, so it’s sometimes a little problem. But [Kaasen], he usually finds a way to make it work.”

In addition to Jordahl and Kaasen, the band also consists of Stian Nyheim, who came on as the new bass player earlier this summer and has already joined the two at concerts in France and Germany.

With all the positive things happening for Soda Fountain Rag in the past five years, Jordahl admitted there is a downside, particularly with the need for members to work or go to school.

“I don’t feel I have enough time to do as much with music as I would like to do…[and] I would like to have more time really,” she said. “More time to write and record and travel, and more money to use on traveling really, because it’s expensive and we don’t earn a lot of money playing the music.”

Yet although she loves touring and meeting new people and hearing how they came to know and love her music, Jordahl said she is also simply content with the other side of that process: the actual writing of songs.

“I think the most fun is if you have like a whole day by yourself and you have this really good idea for a song and you can just record everything in one day,” she said. “And then, show it and be like ‘look what I made, I love it.’ And that’s a really cool feeling.”

Soda Fountain Rag plays Sunday at Wasserturm Kreuzberg in Berlin, as part of the weekend-long Indie Pop Days. The show begins at 15.00.

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