In actual fact, he is all but unknown, and not just in the realm of rock. Two-thirds of his life was spent about as far away from the modern world as you can get. He was one of 3,000 inhabitants of Qaqortoq, a town in southern Greenland, an anonymous splinter of the world where even the electricity to power local radio towers had a hard time finding its way there. But the story begins in 1982, when Hans entered the world in a village outside Ålborg.
When he was just four years old, his parents – both of them schoolteachers – decided to pull up stakes and move to Greenland for a year. However, the opportunity to start and build up a high school in Qaqortoq proved to be too great a temptation. One year stretched into two, and then three, and after a while the idea about moving back to Denmark faded more and more into the background. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when a change of scenery was needed, that 19-year-old Hans and his family headed south, for good.
He returned with a trunk-full of cultural and mental experiences, something most people never attain. Up in Greenland, music quickly became the hub of Hans’ life, after his sister just happened to open the doors to a hard-hitting electronic universe. He started writing songs, and at a frantic pace that almost reached Wagnerian proportions he continued to do so. Hans never skipped a beat and developed the ability to create songs at will.
He puts a couple of chords together without effort, and the words just seem to flow. It would be something of an exaggeration to say that you can hear the Greenland in his songs. Greenland, the picture we have in our minds of vast, snow-covered expanses, tiny hamlets, ice and more ice, seals, kayaks, exists in tales and reality, but not really on Hans Mortensen’s first album. On the other hand, 15 years in Greenland touched the young songwriter’s soul.
He confronts loneliness, angst, doubts and belief in love on the set’s 14 tracks. These are admittedly heavy subjects, but Hans always looks for a way out of the blue moods. So it’s appropriate, and not pure coincidence, that “escape” is the very first word he sings on the album. His intro to the vibrant opener, “Problems,” reveals the track of his life: “Escape is my destiny / And that can’t be changed.” Just as he is a captive, but grapples with boundaries, in the related song, “You Can’t,” the lead single from the album.
But it’s also about believing in yourself, to the point of being self-centred, which is the theme in the slightly sarcastic, “Me And Myself.” Even though a sense of restlessness is evident in several songs, love is also at the core of a couple of songs: the painful in “Why It Hurts,” and the joyous in, “Love.” You could call it equal portions of fire and water, but the album—which is like a cycle of songs—ends on a positive note with, “Ghost”: “I’m gonna live this life / Till it’s worth dying from / I won’t be afraid / And I will not complain / The sea and the sun / Has got me on my knees /I won’t be a ghost no more.” The lyrics are rooted to the many years in Greenland, where you can only survive 15 years of isolation if you have the courage, desire and strength to try to find light in the darkness, to find a way out. It breaks many people, sometimes with fateful results. During Hans’ school years in Qaqortoq, he was confronted by 10 suicides, two of them close to home. Things like that scar the soul, but the emptiness that filled him when he returned to Denmark, and the divorce of his parents, hit harder.
That’s when he realized that the secure framework that had always surrounded him and was taken for granted—partly the tight little community in Qaqortoq and partly family life—had been broken and he would need to find solid ground once again. He found himself free-falling into a void, but slowly—by putting his experiences into words—he began to ascend. He succeeded, for Hans is a fighter, a survivor. He knows what he wants, and when he puts his mind to something, nothing can stop him.
Now he is ready to go the distance with his music. Alter Me is his baby, the outlet for his thoughts and talents. This where he gives his songs wings and lets them fly. Hans Mortensen fills a lot of space in Alter Me, but it is a band consisting of: Kasper Rasmussen (guitar, organ); Nicolai Westh (guitar, organ); Jesper Van (bass); and, Adam Winberg (drums).
Kasper Rasmussen has played with Claus Hempler, but the rest of them are new faces on the Danish rock scene. New single Love and album The Fall out now! Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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