Loading up your car with a suitcase, guitar, your albums and merchandise may sound like a familiar journey to musicians at the start of their careers. Relying on innovation, dedication and of course, their talent as they traverse the country or perhaps the world is certainly not uncommon. But for a musician of 20 years to embark on a tour like that is unique, to say the least.
Still, that’s been the reality of Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche. With an almost prophetic sense of what was to come, he left his home in Los Angeles for his native Norway mere days before statewide lockdowns swept the majority of the states, preventing most travel and entertainment from taking place stateside even today.
“I had an intuition that it might be good to go to Norway for a while, but of course I couldn’t have predicted just how intense and sort of f–ked up it would be,” he says.
A small stroke of luck in a year almost completely devoid of such a thing has afforded Lerche the opportunity to embark on the aforementioned edited tour across the country. His latest record “Patience” came out in early June, and an expanded edition, “Patience Deluxe,” followed in late October. By the time “Patience” hit streaming and shelves, every plan Lerche and his team had for it had been changed or cancelled entirely.
But as Norway was able to get their cases of the novel coronavirus relatively under control, Lerche was able to embark on a new kind of tour. Though he faced limitations due to restrictions aimed to keep cases from surging that made it hard to turn a profit on some shows with lower capacity, he says he felt fortunate to carry on in this way – and most importantly, to bring music to people in a time it’s needed most.
“It was quite the adventure. There’s something special about meeting the audience under such strange circumstances. For a lot of people, this was the first show they saw in months. Some people were probably afraid to go out and go to a show, so it was really important to me that we found a way to make it really safe. At the same time, you want people to be able to forget everything that’s been going on and to escape for once. It’s a challenging situation for me and for them, so it creates this extra special bond.”
Lerche recalls how one night, he did four shows in the same evening to an audience of 25 each time. The venue would typically be able to host 100 patrons, but due to restrictions was at a fourth of its regular capacity. Instead of only allowing such a small fraction of fans to attend, he scheduled four shows to meet the demand, share music with fans and engage in mutual moments of forgetting the world around them.
“When I was a kid, I played solo all the time,” he says of bringing back the simplified nature of touring to the road this summer. “I’ve done a lot of solo shows and tours here and there. It was sort of where I come from. So, I felt in a way that this is what I’ve been training for all my life. I really enjoy doing solo shows and [that part] doesn’t feel like a compromise to me. It’s a full, rewarding experience for me and hopefully it is for the audience too.”
In a similar sense, “Patience” also felt like something the musician worked toward for a long while. Its inception began seven years ago, and the title came to be four years ago. Lerche considers it to be a summation of his life’s work. Throughout the record, he embraced what he calls “radical sincerity.” That, paired with the title, seem to have foreshadowed a world he could never imagine needing his record more.
“It feels almost eerie, in a way,” Lerche says of the timing. “I’ve been sort of surprised and almost baffled by how it’s become this record that is needed. I haven’t felt that way before. I felt really good about putting this out even as things were escalating. I feel that this record actually makes more sense now. I’ve always wanted to make a soothing record, a record that felt like a safe space for you to unload. I had no idea that I would be unleashing that into a world where that was one of the main things that audiences needed.”
And soothing it is. Lerche’s calm but captivating vocals anchor the record, dealing with themes of love and connection – a back to basics approach, thematically, that matches well with what many have come to find important in times of international crisis such as what was collectively experienced throughout 2020. Now, Lerche hopes to build on the ethos of the original release with “Patience Deluxe,” while providing listeners with more to engage with and be soothed by.
“It’s definitely more challenging to keep a record alive when you can’t tour the world,” he adds. “I think one of the advantages of the streaming era is that you can be a bit more spontaneous, expand on things and continue to tell the story of the record here and now. I’m always looking for ways to share it. This is a special record for me, I want to keep expanding on it, and to share anything that can soothe or help people in this strange point in time that we all find ourselves in.”
“Patience” and “Patience Deluxe” are both available now on streaming platforms worldwide. Learn more about Sondre Lerche and the latest record at www.sondrelerche.com. Keep up with him on social media @sondrelerche on Twitter and Instagram.
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