The Copenhagen scene: Punk
We interviewed Sophie Lien Lake (Pleaser, Konvent). This interview is part of a series on KTOWN artists (LINK), including Kasper Deichmann (St. Digue, Hævner Motorsav, LINK), and Salomon Segers (Night Fever, our interview at this LINK).
The Pleaser concert was one of the great surprises of KTOWN 2023. Pleaser takes the stage with the intention to provoke. Sophie and Annie step onto the hardcore music stage dressed as brides, shouting their melodic punk, but secretly delivering syncopated beats that sound like black metal. Even if the more conservative punks are confused, they cannot hold back; the concert turns into a party and a playful mosh-pit.
Wearing a black hoodie, black jeans, and a Kill-Town t-shirt, Sophie presents herself in her metal attire.
Let’s dive into your music projects and get to know you better.
I’m a part of a Punk-Rock (-ish) band named Pleaser, and I also play guitar in a Doom metal band called Konvent. I used to play with a black metal band called Shamash a few years ago. Playing the guitar has been my passion for many years; it’s what I love doing the most. I don’t feel tied to any specific music genre; I just play what feels good to me.
Out of all your songs, which ones do you feel most connected to?
I’d pick “The Dream” and “This is how I die” from Pleaser.Both tracks are featured in our debut album (just lunched in Sept 2023, listen HERE). These songs truly represent me in music. I like to express melancholia while infusing a playful side into it. “This is how I die” holds a deep personal connection. There have been times in my life when I felt like my mind was self-destructing, and this song is my way of confronting that fear by imagining the worst-case scenario.
how did you first approach extreme rock music?
I was first introduced to classic rock by my dad. After hearing Led Zeppelin’s heavy guitars solos I deep dived into rock. Nirvana was my first big discovery, “Love Buzz” is still one of the songs I feel mine. Then I start to dig more into metal. I only got into punk later in my life, when I was around 20.
How did you first get into metal and punk rock music?
I was first introduced to classic rock by my dad. After listening to Led Zeppelin’s heavy guitar solos, I dived deeply into rock. Nirvana was the first big discovery for me; “Love Buzz” remains a song I hold close. Digging deeper eventually led me to metal. It wasn’t until later in life, around the age of 20, that I got into punk.
The metal scene is often male-dominated and can sometimes harbor traditional mentalities. Was it challenging for you to find your place in this genre?
When I started to play guitar, I knew that I wanted be part of heavy metal and playing in a band, but there were not so many female musicians I could relate to.
My turning point was the concert of Electric Wizard: when I saw guitarist Liz Buckingham I felt I was allowed to became part of the heavy metal scene. That was the first time I heard someone having this female energy and express it through extreme music in the same way I felt.
What personal touch do you bring to your music?
I like infusing atmospheric elements typical of metal into my music. I tend to create “chainsaw” guitar riffs reminiscent of those in black metal. When composing, I balance aggressivity with cute and edgy elements.
I saw how does it work, listening to your performance at K-Town, I noticed a combination of dark rhythms beneath the playful pop-punk layer. It left me wondering “What am I hearing?”
That duality well represents who I am as a person—my mind can be in a thousand places at once, and I reflect that in my music. Perhaps it’s a positive thing that my music has the power to confuse and intrigue people.
I like the positive energy, and you aren’t hesitant to share it…
To me playing with Pleaser is a journey of rediscovering my inner child and embracing playfulness. Growing up, I had set this side of me aside, and this project gave me a means to reconnect with that childlike spirit. This is an essential part of me that I wish to hold onto as I grow.
Which emotion do you connect with most while performing on stage?
I would say Strength, I really feel empowered when I am playing my music
Is there a specific message you aim to convey through your music?
Initially, playing in bands was just a personal journey to me. But over time, I found myself wanting to reach out to others. I hoped people could feel the empowerment that comes with playing music and be inspired by it.
How does this message resonate within the punk and metal community?
The audiences for punk and metal often consist of outsiders of some kind. Providing a sense of community is important. I recall attending concerts where I felt energy and confidence, as if the performers were outshining me.
K-Town, specifically the Ungdomshuset, is where I feel most at home. It’s where Pleaser began its journey. Still, at K-TOWN, I occasionally feel like an impostor act. K-Town is a very punk-oriented festival and there are so many nerdy punks in the audience. I can’t help but worry about being judged when bringing our distinct punk-rock sound.
Playing at Roskilde with Pleaser felt different from playing there with Konvent. When we joined with Konvent we were an established band, so we knew we had an audience to support us. With Pleaser, we had just released a demo with three songs, it was a gamble. The Roskilde crowd, largely unfamiliar with punk and extreme music, responded with enthusiasm. People were mind blown! The mosh pit during our performance was the biggest we ever saw at a Pleaser concert. It was an incredible experience to provide that for the audience.
Metal Magic holds a special place for me, given my ties to Fredericia. I’ve attended every Metal Magic since 2011, and it feels like a part of me. Although this year’s early Saturday slot, I felt honored to share my music at Metal Magic.
How do you establish a connection with the audience?
A single eye contact shared with someone in the audience can make me feel understood, seeing that special “something” in their eyes.
Can you recall a particular moment that made a difference?
During Roskilde, I repeatedly noticed a group of people doing a distinctive arm movement that seemed like a mind-exploding, enlightening gesture. In that moment, I felt I was returning the same feelings I’ve had attending concerts myself. I felt deeply fulfilled by achieving that!
When we initially covered Konvent on heavymetalwebzine.it, we noticed no gimmicks or elaborate outfits during your shows. However, there have been changes in your stage presence lately. Could you elaborate on that?
When I joined the band, we wore whatever we pleased. Over time, we discussed our attire more, realizing that specific outfits generated additional energy on stage. It became easier to identify us with our music when we wore more distinctive outfits. We’re now exploring stage shows as a means of self-expression, adding an extra layer to our music.
For instance, when I started with Konvent, I wore covered-up clothes—jeans and long sleeves. Recently, we’ve performed wearing crop-tops or bras. As I played more and embraced my identity, I felt more comfortable adopting a sexier or unconventional look during performances.
How does this connect with the playful style of Pleaser’s concerts?
This approach translates also in Pleaser’s shows. Our music is aggressive, yet we dress in cute and sexy outfits to create contrast. Sometimes, we wear playful dresses to break free from conventions. It’s also a functional choice in our interaction with the audience. We start off looking cute, only to surprise them with our heavy music!
For example, we dressed as Sailor Moon and bridesmaids for K-Town, deliberately provoking curiosity rather than conforming to the typical punk look of leather and spikes.
I noticed a picture in your home that says “female fronted band is not a genre” What’s something you dislike being asked about being part of a female-fronted band?
I’m open to any questions, but I’ve received comments and reviews that focus on our female identity as the main feature. Some people seem shaking by the idea of a female-fronted band playing metal music, which I think it is diminishing when describing our music.
So, what question should you have been asked about being in a female-fronted metal group?
I wish someone had asked how it feels to be part of a female-fronted group or a female metal artist. It’s a question I haven’t been asked, and I hope we reach a point where such distinctions no longer matter. Nonetheless, being a female metal artist today still involves breaking barriers to be part of a movement in which you are supported.
What barriers have you had to overcome?
In Konvent, we’ve discussed how, especially when playing at festivals outside Denmark, many people seem incapable to get over the fact that we’re an all-female band playing metal. While it’s not a negative thing, it can sometimes reduce our artistry to just our gender.
During my time with Shamash, I also faced uncomfortable situations. At a concert, some guys in the audience started shouting at me: “what the fuck she is doing here! Who does she think she is?”, as I was supposed to be someone else to be eligible to play my own music.
There have been occasions where fans have misinterpreted personal interactions due to gender norms. With Konvent, men would approach us to praise our music, but sometime also feeling entitled to physical contact, like grabbing and kissing. I’ve found such demanded interaction to be intrusive and uncomfortable, though I do appreciate genuine reciprocal hug.
What advice would you give to girls attending your shows and getting inspired in playing punk or metal?
The best thing you can do is express yourself and acknowledge your insecurities. Music can transform past insecurities, and even shame, into empowerment. Personally, this connection with empowerment drives my music.
When I began performing, mistakes made me feel ashamed and insecure. I worried people would judge my technical abilities. It’s easy to believe that every note must be perfect.
However, as I performed live more often, I realized that live music is about energy more than technical perfection. I quickly learned that even if I make mistakes on stage, people still resonate with the emotions I express, making perfection less crucial.
Who is the new blood in Copenhagen?
Some final impressions
Sophie shared an intimate journey into the world of extreme music, a path that remains profoundly relevant as she continues to evolve with new ideas and experimentations.
I am personally got caught by her awareness and determination fulfill her wishes in her personal way. When she joined the already established band as Konvent she created a space for her persona. Pleaser is her workshop to experiment: blending in her playfulness, heavy guitar and some childish plays in shows.
Personally, I was fascinated by her self-awareness and determination to fulfill her own unique path. Joining the well-established band Konvent she created a space for her persona. Pleaser is her workshop to experiment: blending in her playfulness, heavy guitar and express her child side in shows.
It’s inspiring to witness how she challenged and overcome the barriers in punk and metal. Yet she was embraced by these communities and become part of them. Her ability to effectively communicate her craft to a wider audience is nothing short of remarkable. I’m thankful for her efforts making punk and metal accessible to individuals with alternative ideas while challenging outdated stereotypes.
Acknowlegment: I thank Lara Szabowski and Davide Bonavida for helping preparing this interview, you assistance really got through!