What a GEM : We talk Norway, Thin Lizzy and Gangsters with Cartoon Shadows

Cartoon Shadows

For my final guest blog here on the Fresh On The Net site, I’m featuring up and coming Norwegian outfit, Cartoon Shadows.

Cartoon Shadows are well known to us here on #FOTN.   Not only were they recently featured by Tom Robinson on the BBC Introducing Mixtape, they were sufficiently impressive enough for the same man, to play them again, on his BBC Radio 6 Music show.  The featured track on both occasions, was their debut single GEM.  So, without further ado, why don’t you sit back, chillax, and familiarise yourselves with the music of Cartoon Shadows.  Lads n lasses, presenting, GEM.

Good isn’t it!

Talk Talk Time.  So who exactly are Cartoon Shadows and where did they spring out of #boing?  We sat down with drummer Gøran Flåtin and mildly interrogated him!

You guys are from Norway.  How did you meet? Are you childhood friends, or were you drawn together through music?

“Cartoon Shadows are myself, drummer Gøran Flåtin, and vocalist/guitarist, Abdi Baisa.  We both come from Akkerhaugen, a small town in Norway but didn’t form Cartoon Shadows until after we had moved to Oslo which was about seven years ago.”

What are your musical influences?

“Our main musical influences would come from the world of classic rock.”

What do you believe is a Classic Rock sound, and, which particular influential rock artists — past and present — do you consider to be creators of that classic rock sound?

“To lots of people, classic rock only means the three songs the DJ plays just before last orders in the bar or club, usually ending with “Don’t Stop Believing”. To us, it’s not about the irony, or the cheesy tribute acts that play classic rock.  It’s about the seriously catchy songs that were performed by real performing live bands.

Cartoon Shadows plays a style of music that is sort of a throwback to classic rock.  As songwriters, we try to come up with the catchiest songs possible.  As producers, we try to create the sound of a live band. That´s what we are aiming for in our future productions. We produce all our own work and having self-produced those first recordings, we realised that we were sometimes limited by the lack of means of how to get the “big” sound of a rock band. The thing is, that recordings are always muffled; live music brings the openness and space in which to share the energy of the sound”.

So having a live-performance feel to the music is key!  Who do you consider to have been THE rock performers who succeeded in achieving that energy and animation, particularly from that period in music when rock was at it’s peak?

“Those classic rock legends from the late sixties and onwards, up until the dinosaurs. We really dig Thin Lizzy and Redbone. And there are also some interesting interpretations of the legacy, especially by Justice. But Phil Lynott and Lizzy had fantastic creative output. Lynott’s imagination just flowed into the songs, which we so very inventive, yet often raw and simple.”

You live in London now.  Was that a deliberate move on your part?

“Yes, I moved to London specifically to set up and run a label through which we could release Cartoon Shadows music.  It had been an idea to come to London for a long time.  It originally seemed to big an ordeal, but in the end I decided it would be a move for the best.  London is big, hectic and very competitive.  It makes people very aware and kind of puts everyone in the same boat.  There´s actually a lot of friendly people here that are willing to help each other out.”

So you self-produce and self-release.  That’s a lot of work, job well done!  You write all your own material.  Tell me about the songs, what ticks the inspiration boxes?

“After I moved to London, I started to relate to hip hop lyrics that expressed a blatant opportunism, and that inspired me and our lyrics. In every song there’s a story of a transition, as in a transformation or a rite of passage for the protagonist. Sometimes she or he must pay a price, meeting the devil at the crossroads, making the deal and meet their fate.”

Ok so is GEM the first of a set of songs that been recorded for an album?  Do they have a common thread?

“Yes.  The songs will not be directly interlinked but they will often have a common lyrical theme.  The lyrics do not refer to each other or to necessarily the same thing.  We’re still working on the songs, refining the sound.  We haven’t decided yet, whether to release an EP or wait and do a full album.  We are looking at lining up some live dates though.”

Didn’t you play a festival this Summer?  How did that go? Fun in the Sun?

“Yeah.  We played Unsigned London in June.  It was great and the crowd were really responsive.  It got us a lot of recognition and promotion.  Shortly afterwards, we released GEM and that was when we were featured on both BBC Introducing and the Tom Robinson Show on BBC6 Music.  We are really grateful to Tom for putting out stuff (Fresh on the Net website) to teach us how to release music independently.  We’re also really thankful to him for giving us radio support.”

So what now?  You’ve just released a second track Love Gangster.  Are you planning on playing any more live dates?

” We’ll continue writing and rehearsing new material over the Winter.  And yeah, we do have UK gigs lined up.  The first will be in The Spice of Life in Soho, London, on September 25th, and, then we’ve one in The Middle Eight in Gravesend,on the 26th.  The next single is called Love Gangster, which is now streaming on SoundCloud.  We’re hoping to release that around November 2nd, showcasing it live with another London gig. We’re really looking forward to a busy end to 2015.”

We released Gøran from our clutches to let him prep for their upcoming live dates!  Who are we to stand in the way of musical progress.  So there you have it folks. Keep your eyes and ears open for more “gems” from Cartoon Shadows.  They’ve certainly a sparkling future ahead of them!  You heard it here first.

We’ll bid you adieu, leaving you to listen to the new Cartoon Shadows track, Love Gangster.


You can follow Cartoon Shadows on Facebook and Twitter.

Their single GEM is available now on Spotify and iTunes.

A sincere thank you (& big hugs) to Tom Robinson for graciously giving me the nod to guest blog on the website during the Mod Holidays.  Huge thanks also to Steve “Photoshop” Harris, Johnno “Hypelink” Casson, and the rest of the FOTN team, for their continued abuse, sorry, support and love.

The Mods will be back to BAU from 31st August, so spread the word and get YOUR music into us so we can spin a new Listening Post and get the world voting for those #FRESHFAVES.


Devotee of Music, Books, Art, Fashion & all things cultural. Keen interest in IT/Social media. Currently trying to plug musical gaps. With a special fondess for Nordic music, Derv has written for The Monitors, Ja Ja Ja and The 405, and blogs at DervSwerve.


  1. Tom

    Love it when I can’t decide if I like the verse or chorus more, I wanted to like the verse more on Gem cos it was cool and jagged but almost ashamedly found myself loving that innocent chorus!! great find, great read Derval.


  2. Thank you so much for the feature Derval, and thanks to Tom and the contributors on FOTN for helping out new acts like ourself. Tom, that song was acutally meant to be “shameless”, which sort of challenges listeners to feel a little ashamed, haha. Thanks for much appreciated feedback 🙂


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