Interview with Mika Vandborg, known as one of the most talented and respected guitarists in Denmark

"The music defines some cultures and racial groups, I think it has always been that way. And there are still people making political songs, my feeling is however that it is not near what happened in the 1960-70´. But when that is said and I think about it, things are actually changing in that direction these years with the climax changes and the politic vibe in the world."

Mika Vandborg: Rock n' Blues Echoes

Mika Vandborg is known as one of the most talented and respected guitarists in Denmark. He has appeared on numerous recordings and has toured with some of the best musicians and artists such as Justin Hawkins, Love Shop, Gnags, Ida Corr, Mads Langer, Dicte and Claus Hempler to name a few. Mika first picked up the instrument aged nine after hearing Jimi Hendrix on the radio. Technically he is now a virtuoso and has experience in many different musical styles and always shows his versatility as a musician and guitarist. When Mika's not playing with some of the most respected rock artists in Denmark, he's releasing his own material or writing music for TV. “Wall of books” (2013) was Mika’s third solo album which stands out as a true masterpiece.

Another Mika’s project is the band of Electric Guitars. When Danish rock n’ roll band Electric Guitars released their debut album, it caused quite a stir in their homeland - to such an extent that it even made the news on national television. The two guitar virtuosos behind Electric Guitars, Soren Andersen and Mika Vandborg, had succeeded in bringing ten of the best Danish guitarists of all time on one track, called ’Hero of Mine’.  A homage to the electric guitar and some of the Danish legends who have played it. On the 10-minute-long track you can listen to solos by Tim Christensen of Dizz Mizz Lizzy for instance, Jacob Binzer of D-A-D, Billy Cross who played with Bob Dylan in the late 70s and not least Franz Beckerlee of the legendary 70s Danish rock band Gasolin’ - as well as, naturally, Andersen and Vandborg themselves. The track is an historic event, masterminded by two of the hottest Danish guitarists, who started performing together as Electric Guitars in 2012. Their last album titled "Rock N Roll Radio" (2017). Mika is former CEO at Trestokkfestivalen.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos © by Frank Nielsen, Per Lange, and Kasper Glintborg

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

To me it’s a heart thing! I’ve listened to Blues and Rock since I grew up and I feels right when I play or listen to that kind of music. I’m too young to have had the feeling of counterculture regarding this music. But I grew up with Hippie parents so I know that Blues & Rock has changed the world in many ways.

How do you describe your songbook and sound? Where does your creative drive come from?

Well, my base is Blues and Rock, B.B. King, Muddy Waters & Jimi Hendrix. So, I guess you can hear some echoes of the great masters in my work. The wish and dream of creating some new songs and records is so hard to describe…It is again a feeling something I feel compelled to do - It keeps me awake at night dreaming of band set-ups and recording methods and so on.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I remember opening for Robben Ford in Denmark and after my show I went to the dressing room. In comes Robben Ford and said: “Mika we need to talk!” To me it’s a big thing when a guy like Robben comes and tell you “you are an amazing guitar player Mika” And the he invited med to play with him and the band.

"Well, my base is Blues and Rock, B.B. King, Muddy Waters & Jimi Hendrix. So, I guess you can hear some echoes of the great masters in my work. The wish and dream of creating some new songs and records is so hard to describe…It is again a feeling something I feel compelled to do - It keeps me awake at night dreaming of band set-ups and recording methods and so on." (Photo © by Kasper Glintborg)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I don’t think I fear anything with the future and present music, there has always been music I don’t like, Music that seem so stupid. But I must respect that other people like it. I just turn of the radio…

I have had a hard time understanding the DJ scene, but the I went to a festival and got caught in front of a stage with some 30.000 people and a DJ. I must admit it was one hell of a party and the music touched me more than ones! There’s a lot of young guys emerging these years, and I think they have checked out the roots - to me it sounds like it anyway.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in Rock Blues Danish scene?

ALWAIS BE A NICE GUY. We have a healthy music scene in DK and we help each other for a example when Soren Andersen and I with our band ELECTRIC GUITARS wanted to make the world’s longest guitar solo song, we call up our own top 10 Danish guitarists to play on the song. One of them a legend who had not played for 20 years. Everybody said yes, not one of them said “ahhh let me think about it” - everybody just showed up. The song is on a debut album and of course on YouTube. It’s called “Hero Of Mine” (Electric Guitars - Mika Vandborg & Soren Andersen) - That´s 10 minutes of guitar!!!

Make an account of the case of Rock & Blues in Denmark. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

Right now, some really cool blues players are around: Mike Andersen, Thorbjørn Risager, Uffe Steen guitarist from Sades Of Blue, H.P. Lange, Paul Banks. The Rock scene has had different highs in the ´70 the group “Gasolin´” was the biggest and still has that “stamp”. Now a days Dizzy Miss Lizzy is a great hard rock band. D:A:D are the grand old band.

"To me it’s a heart thing! I’ve listened to Blues and Rock since I grew up and I feels right when I play or listen to that kind of music. I’m too young to have had the feeling of counterculture regarding this music. But I grew up with Hippie parents so I know that Blues & Rock has changed the world in many ways." (Mika Vandborg on stage / Foto © by Per Lange)

What characterize the philosophy and mission of Trestokkfestivalen? What touched (emotionally) you?

When we hired “Vintage Trouble” I hit the core of what I wanted - that was a great feeling. The mission was to present quality music in the middle of the woods in Norway. Primary Blues and Blues.  It has been great trying to be behind a festival making it and not “only” playing it, I’ve learned so much and I hope the festival will grow in the years to come.

What is the impact of music and Rock culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications? 

The music defines some cultures and racial groups, I think it has always been that way. And there are still people making political songs, my feeling is however that it is not near what happened in the 1960-70´. But when that is said and I think about it, things are actually changing in that direction these years with the climax changes and the politic vibe in the world.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would 100% be in Electric Ladyland studio when Jimi Hendrix recorded “Voodoo Child (Slide Return)”.

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Photo © by Frank Nielsen

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