«It has been one of very few constants in my life the past ten years, that every Christmas as I return home — usually on Dec 21 or 22 — I will get together with my friend producer Matias Téllez (girlinred, Maisie Peters, Young Dreams) in his Bergen-studio to record a cover of a favorite hit from the year passed.
The ritual started just as I was about to finalize the recording of my Please album — which, for me, was a truly game-changing album. I remember recording the vocals for "Sentimentalist" earlier on the day we recorded "Wrecking Ball", the oldest recording on Understudy, captured in December 2013. We didn't have much time left that night, cause we had gotten carried away in this fantastic new process and collaboration.
These 10 covers run parallel to the explorations and temperaments behind the several albums that would follow, from Please, via Pleasure ("Into You" and "Hotline Bling"), Patience ("Bad Liar", "thank u, next"), onto last year's Avatars Of Love ("I Contain Multitudes", "Anti-Hero").
To me, these recordings depict Matias and I building a friendship and a language in the studio — a mutual infatuation with the possibilities of the studio and fun we have exploring together. Hearing all ten of them in sequence now, starting with the most recent one, and slowly moving backwards in time, almost does feels like time travel — in ways both deeply personal, and as tiny glimpses into the ever evolving path of large scale pop music.
As an independent artist and songwriter existing somewhat on the fringe of commercial pop culture, and nonetheless constantly curious about most things pop, I have felt much like an understudy as I've interpreted, dissected and made these enormous shared songs my own, if only for a brief moment. I've certainly learned a great deal from having these recordings be the very last thing I cross off the list before Christmas every year. The songs were all decided upon, learned, recorded and very roughly mixed in less than 24 hours. More than anything, these covers have taught me to trust that something good will occur when Matias and I get together. The ten songs track his formidable growth as a producer and all around master of the studio, and the inspiration my tight-knit cast of collaborators constantly provide me with.
The song from 2014, Sia's dizzying «Chandelier", also came with a premonition: this fall I get to sing it on stage almost every night as I descend into absinth-drenched suicidal tragedy, in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, here in Oslo. This past decade has been the most exciting, surprising and fruitful decade of my life so far. I'm anxious to see what songs I'll be lining up for Volume 2 of “Understudy”, ten years from now.» - Sondre Lerche
2 Kiss Me More
3 Rain On Me
4 I Contain Multitudes
5 thank u, next
6 Bad Liar
7 Into You
8 Hotline Bling
10 Wrecking Ball