Danish pop outfit Alphabeat have been filling their diaries of late, with any available slot seeming like an affront to their current work ethic.
This said, the group’s vocal duo, Stine Bramsen and Anders SG, seemed surprisingly relaxed as they sat in a dingy office above Cardiff’s HMV this week.
Surprising, that is, because their second album, The Beat Is…, was released on Monday, mid-way through their UK tour with chart impresario — and label mate — Lady Gaga, leaving them just enough time to squeeze in a spate of in-store performances around the country.
But this visit to the capital was markedly different from their last visit.
“We’ve been to Cardiff four times, I think, but we played down in a basement the last time we were here. I think it was the Barfly?” said Anders SG.
Anyone familiar with Cardiff’s club scene will know the sweat-stained walls of the Barfly could not be a further cry from their venue this time: Cardiff International Arena, where they open for Lady Gaga.
Dressed in a dazzling gold outfit, flame-haired female vocalist Stine Bramsen said: “It’s an ultra-quick set of about five songs or so. It lasts about 20 minutes.”
“At the big venues, we sort of just do what we usually do, you know?” chips in Anders.
“There’s a lot of people who have heard us, maybe on the radio, and they build up this picture of us. When they see us live, perhaps it changes. We do try to get people clapping and all that stuff.
“If you don’t know us, I don’t think we need more than 20 minutes to get the message across anyway.”
If the Silkeborg septet seem comfortable with this level of acclaim, perhaps it is because they haven’t rushed into things, taking success on their own terms.
In 2007, the band turned down the chance to support the Spice Girls on their UK tour because they felt it would be “weird” playing in front of such big audiences before they were well known.
When asked what had changed since then, Stine said, “We feel like we’ve worked our way up now. We’ve done so many gigs, about 190 in the first year, in bigger and bigger venues.
“We feel like there’s a big awareness of Alphabeat now in the UK and it’s also a good opportunity to get out to any doubters.”
This is certainly true: these plaudits have also allowed them to make the record they have always wanted. Their new release, The Beat Is…, moves away from the instrument-driven pop of their debut and looks more to electronic music from the early 1990s for inspiration.
Clearly relishing discussion of their new sound, Anders said: “When we started the band, this was the kind of sound we wanted.
“We slowly started to find out we had to make the sound ourselves. The big change was we started to make music on computers rather than just standing in a rehearsal space so that’s really developed the sound for this record.<
“That’s definitely something we always wanted, we just didn’t know how to do it.”
The difference between the two albums is quite stark, but the band’s commitment to live instruments is key.
“The fact we are still very much a live band means the new songs fit quite well into the new ones because they are all played live we don’t use any sampled drums or triggers,” Stine said.
It is not just a change of musical direction which has galvanised the group. Alphabeat left their original label Charisma, a subsidiary of EMI, and joined Polydor to release the new record.
Anders said: “There’s been a lot more confidence in the whole process of making the record, just being at Polydor is a lot calmer than our days at Charisma.
“People used to get fired every week and people would just try to impress you. It wasn’t a good time to be on that label.
“At Polydor it’s just the complete opposite.”
The subsequent acoustic performance the duo produced to a busy HMV showed why the band are able to utilise this new, comfortable professional environment to flourish.
Stine and Anders’s flawless vocals sounded just as breathtaking backed only by an acoustic guitar as they do by glossy synths and punchy drums: clearly now at ease with their current trajectory.