January 2004
By Steven M. Housman

Junior Senior: Ready to Pop

Gay artists are finally breaking the barrier in pop music. Yes, we have our Elton’s, Melissa’s. George’s and k.d.’s. But the difference this time around is that they are making it big while being “out” opposed to the previous artists who came out after their big break. Their name is Junior Senior. Junior is Jesper Mortensen and he is straight, and Senior is Jeppe Laursen, and yes, you’ve got it, he is gay. Their music is creating a global buzz with their unique blend of dance, new wave, Motown, a dash of hip-hop influences with a big gulp of pop. By the end of the summer, Junior Senior was already making waves on the east side of the Atlantic with their single “Move Your Feet” spending nine weeks in the UK Top Ten. Now, here in the US, their video to the same name is in heavy rotation on MTV and VH-1, and have been named the best new band of 2003 by several national and international publications.

I had the absolute pleasure of speaking quite frankly to Jesper and Jeppe about their sexuality, the role it plays with the audience, their desire to meet the boy and girl of their dreams, and most importantly, what got them here in the first place, their phenomenal music.

First of all, how did the two of you meet?

Jeppe: We met when we played in a band called Ludox in 1995. We started out like a high school band and Jesper joined and he was a fan of the babes. (Laughs).

Congratulations on the single “Move Your Feet.” The song has had amazing success in the UK and now it’s getting its due in the US. Was it your choice for the first single?

Jesper: We really don’t know how the American market works, so we let the label deal with that. In Denmark, we had a say, because we know what the market is like over there. So, we put out the single “Shake Your Coconuts,” to break the ground. Here, in the US, there are going with the most commercial songs. We’re not interfering with their plan, because we feel they know this market better than us.

Did the fact that one of you is gay and the other straight ever become an issue?

Jesper: No. It’s a part of our personalities. It’s definitely not an issue. We see things differently sometimes, I don’t think Jeppe is the stereotypical gay man, and I don’t think I’m the stereotypical heterosexual person, so I think we actually compliment each other. We agree on a lot of the same things and then again we disagree in other areas. I think it works well.

Jesper, how do you feel about your very large gay following?

I always take it as a compliment. I think it’s pretty cool. I think a lot of gay guys are much nicer than straight guys when you meet them. If I couldn’t handle it, I wouldn’t be in a duo with a gay man.

Jeppe, Is it true that you thought this was a crazy way to meet guys?

Yes, and Jesper said the same thing about girls! (Laughs). It can be a crazy way to meet guys, but we’re not really taking advantage of being the ones on stage. We’re really bad at picking up people. (Laughing).

I understand you are both looking to meet somebody special. Have you met the man and woman of your dreams yet?

Jesper: Well I haven’t! Jeppe: If they even exist. (Both laughing).

Your music seems so autobiographical. Do you always write together, or do you write separately?

Jesper: It’s only the two of us. Our lyrics are simple but it definitely describes the kind of people we are and what goes on in our little world. That’s basically what we try to put on paper and what we sing. Sometimes when you meet someone from another land, they have their own kind of language, like we have in Copenhagen. That’s why when we write, we sometimes like to be silly with our words. I like to be funny with words when I try to describe the kind of relationship Jeppe and I have, and what we like to do.

I noticed a reference to Sonny & Cher in the song “White Trash.” Were they a duo you admired?

Jesper: Yeah, yeah, yeah! We definitely admired their music. We always loved everything about Sonny & Cher. They were so famous for their outfits, they always had the funny one and the pretty one, not to put that in our context, but I was always fascinated by them.

Speaking of admiration, what musical influences did you have growing up, and who are they now?

Jesper: There was so much we were both inspired by, but it was always different from the Danish music we grew up with. I think I (Jesper) speak for the both of us. As a young teen I realized there was a lot of underground music, alternative music, and I just started listening to that and from there I kind of think we both try to dig into what our favorite bands were. One of the first bands was Nirvana. I really started getting into Black music from the 60’s. Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, a lot of Motown. Also the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys. I guess it what you call “oldies” now? They were such good songs. Crazy good songs with such simple language with great messages.
Jeppe: Our mission was to really make it simple and concentrate on the melody and the rhythm as well. A lot of people use twenty chords to a song, we tried to keep it to a minimum of three, four or five.

Both of you really sound like you’re really having fun. Are you having as much fun as your music is projecting?

Jesper: Yeah! I think before we made the record we didn’t have anything to do, so we were basically having a lot of fun, going out drinking, it’s kid of what we lived for. Hoping that one day the music would work, but I never really thought that we would get discovered. We were basically just going out with friends having a good time. We do have fun with the music. We just recently played in Central Park and we couldn’t really party because we had to get up early the next day to do a television show. We don’t have the kind of party fun anymore but we still have a lot of fun with the music. We’re not too serious.

If you HAD to pick any favorite songs off this CD, what would they be and why?

Jeppe: I think we both agree we love the entire project, but I suppose if you’re forcing us to choose, at the moment it would be “Move Your Feet.” I also really like the “Shake Me Baby” song.

When do you continue touring the US?

Jesper: We had a small ten-day West Coast gig in September. We played Seattle, Portland, then down to San Francisco and L.A. We are preparing for a Mid-West, East Coast tour that will run from mid October through the first week of November.

Do you enjoy touring over the studio or vice versa?

Jesper: I definitely prefer doing the songs in the studio. The creative process of the studio really works for me.
Jeppe: Right now I’m not a great fan of the creative process. It’s always great fun for me to go out and play live.
Jesper: Even before we started getting the fame, I preferred to stay at home, while Jeppe would have to come over and drag me out of bed to go play. Now its just part of the business and it’s fine.

You must be aware of all the publications and critics that have been praising you as the “next big thing?”

Jeppe: Yeah, I just read some articles this morning that gave our new album five stars and “A’s” and all the best things they could say. We’re getting the full-page treatment.
Jesper: I didn’t even know, really? That’s good news!

That’s great news! Congratulations on your success and all of your future endeavors. I think you have a long, bright road ahead.

Jesper: Thank you so much. Your kindness means a great deal to us!

© 2004 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.