On a Wednesday in October, we met with Kim Kix Jeppesen – frontman of Powersolo, for a talk about being a musician in a turbulent time, hosting a pirate cycling race, starting his own cycling team and how speaking his mind seldom has been to his own advantage.
We met Kim in his house north of Aarhus, Denmark. The hexagonal Bialetti pot was on the stove, brewing this day’s first cup of coffee. A tour around the house tells the obvious story of a house that exudes creativity. A vintage piano owns the dining room, an acoustic and an electric guitar stand next to a record collection that would fill any man with envy. Kim grabs his upright bass and soon, the house is filled with blues and rockabilly licks.
Tell us about your band Powersolo.
For 25 years, we have been touring the world and blasting from speakers everywhere, indoctrinating fan after fan into our demented world of Donkey Punk. Powersolo has shifted between being a trio and a quartet for 25 years. My brother has been in the band for 19 years and more than 20 people have been through the band covering four nationalities. We had our breakthrough in the mid-noughties, where we were “inevitable” on Danish P3 radio…
...We go on tour for two to four weeks at a time, travelling all over Europe, the US, South America and Africa. We typically play on scenes just below the radar. Cool and wild places. Places that do things “con il cuore” (with the heart) as they say in Italy. We have played everywhere from small villages, where we were saluted as heroes, to hipster places in Bordeaux. Places where the audience must be tamed before building them up. Sometimes, we play at venues where nobody knows us and the atmosphere is bored. But then, we are like “Let’s make this a Tuesday they will never forget – and make sure they never forget Powersolo!”
Are you mainly a tour band or do you sell records as well?
If we were to rely solely on tour jobs, we would work ourselves to death. Our income comes from records sales, merchandise, tours as well as royalties from commercials, films and TV series. Our record label recognised the opportunity of syncs (music sold for commercials, films and TV series) at an early point and our music actually fits this part of the music business very well…
…We have participated in over 70 Hollywood movies, TV shows, video games and worldwide ad campaigns. It has never been about money to us. It has always been about what we can give to the audience and what we get back – the energy. But the sync royalties pay the bills and make it possible for us to commit ourselves 100% to creating music.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the entire music business. How do you see the future?
We have always been a touring band and overnight, we went from having a tour with 74 shows in France, Spain, Germany, the UK and US to having no shows at all. The current restrictions as to the size of the audience at concerts make things very difficult from a business perspective. The music industry has its own ecosystem of sound technicians, stage builders, food and beverage, light technicians, venues and planners that take share in the pie. With the small audiences that are allowed at the moment, it just doesn’t make sense to go on tour. It's not even possible at the moment...
...The calendar is empty for the rest of 2020 and the next booking we have is in October 2021. But we are reptiles. We go into hibernation mode. We reduce our costs to a minimum in order to ease our bodies and minds, and new opportunities will come - I recently got the opportunity to create music for an upcoming animation series and that’s what I will be doing for the following months. It’s all about finding new ways to explore music. It’s about seeing the picture in the horizon and focusing. Then, it’s just a question of getting there. If the picture is blurry, you are truly fucked…
We heard that you have your own cycling team?
I met Jakob Kristian Sørensen (Il Dottore) back in 2010, where we lived in the same building. We quickly developed a friendship out of our common interest in the Spring Classics. Cycling that is! In the summer of 2010, we drove my old Volvo Amazon to Paris to see the final stage of the Tour de France. On our way back through Belgium and after numerous conversations about cycling, Jakob asked: “Why don’t we just start our own team? You could be the captain and I could be the owner!” Gruppo Sportivo Velopresse (GSV) was born…
...It was a rebellious time. We needed something to happen, and nobody should tell us how or why. We wanted to celebrate cycling in our own way and create a social club with a retro approach to pay homage to both the past and the present.
At the time, the city of Aarhus had a long tradition for hosting a cycling event with a huge audience support during Aarhus Festuge Race (Aarhus city festival bike race). The tradition had come to an end, since the politicians stopped granting permissions for the race. So, we decided to start our own pirate grand prix.
How did that come about?
We made a stage A and B and published the stage two hours before race start. We wanted a maximum of 99 riders and had “naughty nurses” (real nurses dressed pin-up style), balloons, barriers and beer - everything we needed to host a street race as well as a party. We even had a doctor present. We never had any accidents but one of the spectators went into cardiac arrest three times before the ambulance arrived. Everything is paid by GSV – there are no sponsors involved, only in regards to our jerseys...
...Today, we have everything in order in terms of permissions and everything and we are the largest unofficial cycling event. We have riders coming in from all over Denmark - amateurs, semipros and Pro Tour riders, even though there is no payment for participating or winning. It’s a big party with a broad audience. People open their windows and yell when the riders sprint down Ingerslevs Boulevard. Everything is done with a vintage approach and with huge respect for cycling, and that is what makes this event so fascinating. It’s like in soccer - some pluck their eyebrows and some play without shin guards...
...We are old-school, we like cobblestone roads and to us, the grand prix is the culmination and the justification of GSV’s very existence. It’s more or less the only time a year when all team members meet. We are nine riders on the team and attending the grand prix is mandatory.
Are there any rules for the riders on the team?
There are many! You must shave your legs - everything else looks sloppy. Your muscles must be shiny – it is a matter of aesthetics. If the temperature is +10 degrees, “the pipes” are off and you must ride in shorts. You must hold the door for the ladies, and you pay the coffee for il Dottore and me...
...All riders have signed irrevocable contracts! You can’t quit your contract, but you can get fired from the team. You must honour the GSV jersey and you don’t act out while wearing it. You don’t show off by stating altitudes, watts, Strava or shit like that – it’s just bad style. Follow the etiquette while wearing the jersey – it’s as simple as that. Some members have shown poor judgment and we have had some 3 in the morning layoffs.
Learn more about Gruppo Sportivo Velopresse and Powersolo at the links below:
On the pictures Kim is wearing our:
- Pieve Nale Waistcoat
- Bacco Melton Blue Shirt
- Vinci Enok Jeans