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By the time Sondre Lerche had released his major-label debut (2002's critically acclaimed Faces Down), the 19-year-old Norwegian was already a veteran of the music industry. Signed to Virgin Norway in 2000, Lerche released the chart-topping EP You Know So Well in February 2001. A commercially successful follow-up EP, No One's Gonna Come, was released in June of the same year, accompanied by numerous local performances and increasing industry buzz. Lerche's distinctive voice and natural talent for writing appealing pop tunes that were alternately sunny and melancholic quickly established him as a definite contender for significance throughout Europe and beyond.
Born and raised in Bergen, Norway, Lerche was weaned on the '80s pop that emanated from his older siblings' rooms. Compelled by a defining fascination for bands such as a-ha, the Beach Boys, and Prefab Sprout, Lerche began formal guitar instruction at age eight. Not satisfied with the lessons at school, he experimented with original tunes on his own, eventually penning his first song, "Locust Girl," at 14. Lerche performed acoustic gigs at the club where his sister worked while he was still underage, and was "discovered" by Norwegian producer HP Gundersen. Under Gundersen's mentorship, Lerche was exposed to diverse music genres, including psychedelia, '60s pop, and mainstream Brazilian music, broadening his appreciation for eclectic music styles. Around this time Lerche also met up with Oslo-based manager Tatiana Penzo, leading up to a deal with Virgin Norway.
The songs from Faces Down had been completed before winter 2000 but postponed for release until Lerche fulfilled several academic requirements. In the interim, he was named Best New Act at the Norwegian Grammys (Spellemannprisen) and performed locally in support of major acts such as Beth Orton. Faces Down was officially released in Norway in September 2001 and gradually throughout all of Europe. Lerche toured with various acts, including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share the stage with his longtime idols a-ha in Oslo. Autumn 2002 saw the release of Faces Down in America and Lerche's first major tour of the United States. He treated fans with the live/studio EP Don't Be Shallow the following year. Lerche got personal for his sophomore effort, Two Way Monologue, which appeared in spring 2004 and furthered the chamber pop sound of its predecessor.
For his next album, Lerche took a stylistic diversion and recorded an album of low-key, jazz-influenced tunes with a small mostly acoustic version of his Faces Down band. Duper Sessions was released in 2006 and reached number five in the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz chart. While touring that year with Elvis Costello, Lerche was inspired by Costello's energy and interaction with his group. This led Lerche and the Faces Down to record a batch of short, punchy rock songs for 2007's Phantom Punch.
Among the fans of Lerche's work was director Peter Hedges, who was looking for someone to provide music for his 2007 film Dan in Real Life -- someone to be his Cat Stevens (Harold and Maude) or Simon & Garfunkel (The Graduate). He chose Lerche, and the soundtrack featured a mix of songs from his back catalog and some newly recorded tracks. In 2009, Lerche released a new album, the sophisticated Heartbeat Radio, which doubled as his debut for the Rounder label. A self-titled album followed in 2011, featuring collaborations with Midlake percussionist McKenzie Smith and Lerche's longtime producer Kato Ådland. To celebrate his 30th birthday in 2012, Lerche released his first live album, Bootlegs, and reissued his first four albums on vinyl with bonus tracks. Before his next album, Lerche and his wife of eight years divorced, which gave 2014's Please a bitingly personal lyrical feel.
Sondre Lerche (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈsondrə ˈlærkə]; born 5 September 1982 in Bergen, Norway) is a Norwegian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has released seven studio albums total.
Growing up in Bergen suburb, Lerche was heavily influenced by the 1980s pop that emanated from his older siblings' rooms. Compelled by a defining fascination for bands such as The Beatles, A-ha, the Beach Boys, and Prefab Sprout, Lerche began formal guitar instruction at age eight. Not being satisfied with classical lessons, Lerche's teacher introduced him to Brazilian music (such as Bossa Nova) and thus formed the foundation of Lerche's vast array of complex melodies and chords throughout his music today. At age fourteen, Lerche penned his first song titled, "Locust Girl." Lerche performed acoustic gigs at the club where his sister worked while he was still under age, and was ‘discovered' by Norwegian producer H.P. Gundersen. Under Gundersen's mentorship, Lerche was exposed to diverse music genres, including psychedelia, 1960s pop, and mainstream Brazilian music, broadening his appreciation for eclectic music styles. Around this time Lerche also met up with Oslo-based manager Tatiana Penzo, leading up to a deal with Virgin Norway. His popularity in his home country increased steadily, and in 2000 he recorded his debut album, Faces Down.
Faces Down was a hit in Norway and received critical praise in Norway and the United States — Rolling Stone Magazine placed it in their top 50 albums of 2002. He toured in America and Europe. The songs from Faces Down had been completed before winter 2000 but postponed for release until Lerche fulfilled several academic requirements. In the interim, he was named Best New Act at the Norwegian Grammys (Spellemannprisen) and performed locally in support of major acts such as Beth Orton. Faces Down was officially released in Norway in September 2001 and gradually throughout all of Europe. Lerche toured with various acts, including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share the stage with his long-time idols, a-ha, in Oslo. Autumn 2002 saw the release of Faces Down in America and Lerche's first major tour of the United States. He released the live/studio collection Don't Be Shallow EP the following year. In 2003, he toured with another one of his musical heroes, Elvis Costello (they toured together once again in 2005).
In 2004 his second album was released, Two Way Monologue, also produced by Gundersen. The album displayed more of Lerche's ability to span many different styles—from pop-like and upbeat tracks to more mellow or melodic tunes. It was very well received, with positive reviews in Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. Devon Powers of Popmatters praised Sondre's "contagious musical sensibilities, exhilarating vigor and downright stupefying songcraft," and noted that "Lerche manages to both push himself and maintain an allegiance to his ways -- something artists twice his age have trouble doing.".
On 27 February 2006, Duper Sessions was released. It is a jazz album recorded in the fall of 2005 with his band the Faces Down and pianist Erik Halvorsen at Duper Studios in Bergen.
His February 2007 release, Phantom Punch, is a rock album with a more aggressive sound than his previous work. Lerche and the Faces Down recorded and mixed the album in Los Angeles in April and May 2006, with producer Tony Hoffer. He also composed the musical score of the movie Dan in Real Life.
In September 2009, Sondre released Heartbeat Radio, to critical acclaim. While it maintained the studio polish of his groundbreaking debut, there was also a sense of musical adventure that mixed acoustic guitars with grand gestures of orchestral pop, elements of 1950s Jazz, 1960s and 1970s Brazilian psych-folk, and state-of-the-art 1980s pop masters such as Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti and Fleetwood Mac. In his review, Mikael Wood of the L.A. Times wrote, "No matter what genre he’s working in — fuzzy garage rock, breezy vocal jazz, acoustic folk-pop — this young Norwegian singer-songwriter crafts catchier choruses than many musicians who’ve been working twice as long as he has." Allmusic Guide's Tim Sendra called Heartbeat Radio Sondre's "best work to date."
In June 2011, Sondre released the self-titled Sondre Lerche, on his own Mona Records. Praised by Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Stereogum, Filter, Spin, and Entertainment Weekly among others for its experimentation with contrasting musical sounds, this eponymous album contains Sondre’s most interesting arrangements and catchy songwriting to date, but also some of his most somber and introspective. But for this sixth album, Sondre’s prolific curiosity didn’t lead him to a new genre so much as introduce a new level of candidness in his work. From the gripping cut-to-the-chase opener “Ricochet” to the uber-catchy “Private Caller,” from the naked drama of “Red Flags,” the tribal-pop of “Go Right Ahead” and the sly folk of “Living Dangerously,” the self-titled album captures a raw, spontaneous, instinctive and heartfelt sound that results in a confident artistic statement.
In the studio, Sondre wanted to explore his new creative alliances in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn neighborhood where he’s lived on and off for the last six years. “Getting to work with my new friends was one of the highlights of this whole process,” says Sondre. The album was recorded – live in the studio – and mixed in a short but intense time period of three-weeks. The sessions included fellow musicians – Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith, longtime producer/collaborator Kato Ådland, Dave Heilman, drummer for Lerche-collaborator Regina Spektor, and co-producer, mixer and owner of Rare Book Room Studio, Nicolas Verhnes (Spoon, Animal Collective). “We recorded a lot of it to tape, forcing ourselves to either commit or burn bridges and move on. We were killing darlings left and right. It was truly liberating.”Blanford, Roxanne. "Sondre Lerche Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 March 2011. Powers, Devon (March 26, 2004). "Sondre Lerche: Two Way Monologue". Popmatters
In July 2005, Lerche married Norwegian model, actress and director Mona Fastvold. They divorced in 2013.
Sondre Lerche is the cousin of Norwegian rapper Lars Vaular. In 2012, they collaborated on the single "Øynene Lukket"Wittlif, Caitlin (2007-02-20). "Sound Bites". The Daily Texan. Retrieved 2008-03-14. "SONDRE LERCHE". Dailytexanonline.com. Retrieved 18 November 2014. Talseth, Thomas (4 May 2012). "Lars Vaular og Sondre Lerche: "Øynene lukket"". VG. Retrieved 7 April 2013.