Emil Friis
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Emil Friis


Band Country Folk


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Singer, guitarist inspired by a folk expression close to that of Bob Dylan and the country heritage of Johnny Cash, Emil Friis, a dane, rises with a debut album, a 1000 miles from his predecessors . This 29 year old “songwriter” writes in English, gloomy and moving stories with a grace and sensibility, but not without force.

(Translated from the original french text) - PLAYBOY FRANCE


"Tennessee Theft", Nov 2008 (Southern Imperial Recordings)

"Mutineer", May 2007 (Darenne/PIAS, France), (Southern Imperial Recordings, Denmark)



Over the last couple of years Danish recording artist Emil Friis has established strong ties with the town of Memphis Tennessee and its artistic inhabitants. Local friends include Americana diva Amy LaVere, renowned movie director Craig Brewer and local guitar picker and Memphis Ambassador, Jason Freeman, whom Friis stayed with on his first visit and has remained close friends with ever since. It may seem odd that Friis should end up finding his musical roots so far from home. But to a man growing up listening to Elvis Presley, music (and love) has no boundaries.
Friis grew up in small Denmark with a father who encouraged the young lad to play guitar as toy guns were strictly off limits. Of course such restrictions in a young boy's life went down much smoother, with lots of Elvis for inspiration. As a teenager he fronted a blues band for a while, playing harmonica and singing. Later, in the mid nineties when punk rock had a big revival, he had a go at drumming but never really felt at home. So at age nineteen Friis moved to England in pursuit of his new big passion, film. Landing himself on the set of what was to be Stanley Kubrick's last effort, Eyes Wide Shut, Friis got to have a firsthand look at a true Maverick at work. After a year of film studies on English soil he moved on to the French capital. Some claim it was the Parisian girls that saw a 20 year old Friis in Paris. Whatever it was, it made him stay a good four years, doing much of everything and nothing to do with film making.
In 2002 Friis was back in Denmark where he met blues player Jesper Folke Olsen. They shared a love for much of the music released on FatPossum, the Oxford Mississippi based label. Especially the works of legendary Hillcounrty Bluesman R.L. Burnside. Before long the two started playing, forcing Friis to make use of his skills (or lack of) on the drums, while Folke Olsen picked away on his home made National style slide guitar, howling old blues standards. After a weekend of notorious recording and drinking, Friis named the outfit Backdoor Red And The Mississippi Front Lights and soon after a small label offered to release their rocking version of the Bo Diddley classic "Who Do You Love?". Unfortunately, disputes over copyright got in the way and the release was abandoned. Having never written anything let alone"poetry", Friis started work on suitable lyrics for this classic. Why?Just because, as he puts it. But Folke Olsen felt awkward moving away from the "traditional approach", singing Friis' original lyrics and so the adventure of The Mississippi Front Lights ended. However, Friis felt like he was on to something, rhyme and rhythm came natural to him. A visit to his parent's attic set more fire to the spark that was now already there, when he found an old Parlor Guitar given to his dad in 1956 by his grandmother. So he started putting chords and melody to the lyrics he'd already written. Before long Paris based label Q-TAPE showed interest in the demos Friis had recorded and the two parties agreed on making a full-length album. Around this time, Friis had gotten a band together, allowing him to work on his songs on a larger scale. By the time the record was finished and ready for release, Q-TAPE pulled the plug. Being mainly an Electronic label, recording a country band on tape, ironically, was too big of a challenge.
Receiving such a blow didn't put Friis down too much though. He went ahead and founded Southern Imperial Recordings with his brother and soon went to southern Sweden to record his debut "Mutineer", with his backing band whom he had named The Absolute Believers. Recorded at Varispeed Studios, the album caught the attention of PIAS in France and they released it there in May 2007. Playing shows with The Absolute Believers and as a solo act took Friis around France, the southern part of the US and the UK. All the while new songs kept piling up and he decided it was time to go back into the studio.
Mutineer was a debutants attempt at making a modern country record, performed and delivered with tight arrangements, much like the ones used by Canadian crooner Leonard Cohen, on his finest records. Judging from the reception Mutineer received in France, he succeeded. On the new album Tennessee Theft, Friis moves towards a more traditional approach to record making. Recorded live in the studio in just two days, with Swedish engineer Pär Davidsson running the Studer 2" tape machine and turning knobs, Tennessee Theft is a clear example of how a brilliant selection of songs stand out even more so with a great Singer fronting. That the band consist of some of the finest players from Denmark, Sweden and the US, only adds to the level of these recordings. This is heard most clearly on the piano driven Stumble & Fall. That it has taken Friis almost a year to release Tennessee Theft has little to do with lacking interest from various labels (He has turned down Nashville based DUALTONE, among others!), but is m