Three girls, three instruments. Unusual for an energetic, riff-oriented rock band, there are absolutely no electric guitars in Nelson Can. The band has had massive airplay, performed at the Roskilde Festival and is now heading for a breakthrough in Britain.


Sometimes drums, bass and vocals are all you need. In any case, it applies to Nelson Can, who make their “dogma rock” work without too many frills, but rely on a strong vocal, a catchy hook, an addictive bass guitar riff and a solid drum foundation.

Dogmas push creativity
Nelson Can was formed in 2011 by childhood friends Selina Gin (vocals) and Signe SigneSigne (Signe Wisby Tobiassen, bass) and was later joined by drummer Maria Juntunen. Inspiration came from the punk movement and the urge to do something else e.g. by means of a dogmatic strategy:

- Drums, bass and vocals create the framework for Nelson Can’s “dogma rock” sound. When we create music, we operate with several dogmas and a very noticeable one is that we have no guitars. The – on paper – minimalistic setup actually pushes our creativity and ways of approaching the music in new and unknown directions.

We talk to bass player Signe SigneSigne on a hot summer’s day. It’s 11.30 am, and she’s still eating breakfast, banana pancakes, while her favorite television show The Undateables is playing in the background. She claims that the band’s three motivation and inspiration keywords are sangria, mojito, and beer. Or, in other words, this is what inspires Nelson Can when writing new music:

- It sounds so corny, but… Life is bitch and then you write a song about it!

Cracking the code
Nevertheless, their musical aspirations are high, and they work hard to get the music just right – as was the case during development of the minor hit, “Break Down Your Walls”:

- We had been working on “Break Down Your Walls” for several years, before we finally cracked the code. It happened in the recording studio. We went in with low to no expectations and with no strict deadlines for a record release. That seemed to do the trick and we finished the song in one day.

- Another track that stands up on our latest EP is “Stonewall Frank”. It has a very punky feeling and story driven lyrics about hooking up with a giant woman named Frank.

The ultimate riff
- The essential ingredients to a good song… that’s easy. You just need a great hook, an addictive bass guitar riff and a catchy chorus. Then you sprinkle a charismatic lead vocal on top and make sure it is built on a solid foundation aka well executed drumming.  

That sounds a lot like Nelson Can, but in order to identify a good song further, Nelson Can highlight three songs they wish they had written:

- Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”. It’s a blues song written and first recorded by husband and wife Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie back in 1929. The Led Zeppelin version has the biggest and most amazing sound ever. We have tried several times to create the same kind of big open sound in the studio.

- Then there’s The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”. The ultimate riff. So simple, so iconic. And finally, the B52’s, “Rock Lobster”. There are so many amazing and crazy elements in this song. We definitely need more organ in our lives.

People have forgotten to listen with good sound
When it comes to good SOUND, Nelson Can is ambivalent compared to a new age’s ways of enjoying and listening to music:

- I love that all music is right at your fingertips. But I HATE the fact that people either have forgotten or never learned how to listen to music with good sound. I love streaming music, but either the quality of streaming or quality of the speakers is crap. You don’t necessarily need to spend a million bucks on high end speakers. People throw out really nice hifi equipment or you can buy good quality speakers second hand.

Moving on
In short, Nelson Can is not a compromise, and though they’ve established a name for themselves and a strong, unique musical expression, they’re always trying to evolve further and break new grounds. And this is exactly what they plan is going to happen in the future:

- World domination of course! Signe SigneSigne jokes, and concludes:

- But right now, we have set our sight on UK. It’s relatively comfy to be a musician in Denmark, so if we are going to evolve as musicians and artists we need to learn to go off the deep end. By the way, bonus info: Our lead singer Selina is half English and was actually born in the UK.

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Fotos: Dennis Morton, Mike Garnell, Curdt Christiansen.

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