Early years/The Tivoli Garden Boys´ Guard
Morten Friis has always known, that he wanted to be a musician. At the age of 4-5 he started playing the drums. At that time he already had a drum set, because his mum was tired of him always nicking the pots and pans from the kitchen!
Uffe Savery was halfway through high school when he was certain, that he wanted to pursue a career in music. Still he started playing the drums when he was 7 years old.
Morten and Uffe met each other when they started playing in The Tivoli Garden Boys´ Guard in 1977. Back then Morten was 7 and Uffe was 9 years old.
Some great friendships were formed in the Boys Guard and to this day The Tivoli Garden still means a lot to Safri Duo. They have stated, that their basic musicality was founded during this time.
Morten and Uffe became close friends and spent their past time together; jamming and doing boys´ stuff.
Their first "real" concert was during a carnival in Copenhagen. They got so hooked, that they wanted to try their luck outside Illums Bolighus on Strøget (Copenhagen). Sadly the manager of Illums did not share their enthusiasm and they were (kindly?) asked to leave!!
With the years in The Tivoli Garden Boys´ Guard, Morten and Uffe celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2002!
The Royal Danish Conservatory of Music/Classical Period
Morten and Uffe were admitted at The Royal Danish Conservatory in 1985. In 1985-87 they also played in Hafnia Percussion Quartet.
In their 3rd year of study they formed "Savery Friis Percussion Duo".
Safri Duo 1988 (courtesy of PJ percussion)
One of the professors at the Conservatory, Bent Lylloff, recognized their talent and encouraged them to combine forces. Even though they were both in a time of individual progress they decided to give it a go. In the Concert Hall of The Conservatory, on September the 30th 1988, they performed a classical concert in front of approx. 50 people, where they had transcripted Bach and Chopin from piano to marimba. Of course they could not keep their hands completely off the drums and also did a Japanese piece originally written for 4 musicians!!
People were wild with joy and gave the Percussion Duo a standing ovation. The first of many....
Bent Lylloff handed Uffe and Morten a note in which he suggested changing the name Savery Friis Percussion Duo to something shorter and more catchy; like Frisa or Safri.
They wrote back with a note that said: "Safri" to which they had added: "Duo".
When they decided to put their energy into Safri Duo, Uffe and Morten turned down many gigs and practiced their skills, playing both as a duo and separately.
In 1990 Safri Duo released their first classical album "Turn Up Volume" on Klavins Music, where they played Bach, Chopin, Ravel, Leth, Pape, Barfoed and Miki.
In 1991 Uffe appeared, along side other Danish artists, on the CD "Dissing Synger Bellman"
In 1992 Uffe and Morten received their diploma as janitshar (percussionists), and were both admitted to the soloist side; Morten chose to study conducting.
At the diploma exam Uffe and Morten tried to get permission to do the exam as a duo, but that was not allowed. Still they both received the highest grade: 13!!!
They have played with The Danish Symphonic Orchestra and The Royal Orchestra. Morten also played drums in The Tivoli Big Band and in Circus Benneweis!!!
They were both employed by The Conservatory to teach, while playing all around the world: Lincoln Center in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Sydney Opera House and The Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, to mention just a few.
On the classical scene Safri Duo were pioneers. When they performed they liked to involve the audience in the show; something they still like doing! (and we aren't complaining). Safri Duo had people with different kinds of musical backgrounds write works for them. They didn't limit themselves to playing just traditionally classical music, but also played music by for instants Stochhausen, Fuzzy and Per Nørgaard.
In 1993 Safri Duo appeared on the childrens´ CD "Åh Abe" along side other famous Danish artists. They played the marimba on "Lille Peter Edderkop" (Itsy Bitsy Spider) and "Jeg Har Fanget Mig En Myg" (Trans:I have caught myself a mosquito).
In 1994 they appeared yet again on a childrens´ CD: "Pa-papegøje". This time they played marimba in the song "Hønsefødder og Gulerødder". (Trans:Chickenfeet and Carrots)
It was also in 1994, Safri Duo continued releasing their classical works. "Works for Percussion" was the first CD to be released from the label Chandos.
In 1995 they released "Lutoslawski/Bartók/Helweg" soon to be followed by "Percussion Transcriptions of Bach" the same year.
Safri Duo became aware of the possibility of the visual aspect in music when they performed Fireplay, a STOMP-inspired performance, in collaboration with Alexander Kølpin, a famous Danish ballet dancer. Fireplay was performed in 1995 and again in 1998 at the Bellevue Theatre in Copenhagen.
It was also during the performance of Fireplay, that Safri Duo invented the now so famous Safri Tubes! The Fireplay dancers were to be involved in performing the music and due to the fact, that marimba is a complicated instrument, Uffe and Morten went on the prowl through the theatre to look for something the dancers could use in the performance. In the basement Morten accidentally gave some long plastic tubes a kick, which resulted in an interesting sound.
The tubes turned out to be carpet roles. As true pioneers Uffe and Morten couldn't let an opportunity like this pass them by, and quickly discovered that the combination of mouse pads banged against the tubes made a pretty wicked bass sound!!! Later on they had organ builders cut the tubes into different lengths so they would have the right tone.
The Safri Tubes are now Safri Duo's cheapest and probably most famous instrument. A carpet role costs 30 Dkr. pr. meter. (approx. 4 dollars) and if you ask Morten: The Tubes make ONE HELL OF A BASS SOUND!!
The first time Uffe and Morten heard the word "techno" along with their name was, when the Danish singer Thomas Winding saw Fireplay and mentioned that it could be interesting to make some techno music with Safri Duo. He encouraged Uffe and Morten to listen to the works of Björk and Underworld, and when Underworld did a concert in "Den Grå Hal" Safri Duo went to have a listen. They discovered a connection between the way techno and classical music is constructed.
In 1996 Safri Duo released "Goldrush".
In the same year, on the 1st of April, Safri Duo was announced as the new State Ensemble; replacing The New Jungle Orchestra. This meant, that Safri Duo received financial support from Statens Musikråd and functioned as ambassadors of Danish culture for the next 3 years.
In 1998 Safri Duo released "Bach to the Future-Music for Percussion".
Uffe and Morten have always played without any sheets of music. Playing with 4 marimba clubs each also makes it pretty damn difficult to turn the sheets! Being buried behind walls of sheets would also dissociate them from the audience. And having a great connection with the audience was, and still is, very important for Safri Duo.
In 2000 Safri Duo were added to The Danish Encyclopedia:
"Safri Percussion Duo"
"Ensemble consisting of percussionist Uffe Savery and Morten Friis. The Ensemble has, during the 1990´s, embarked on an international career and functioned as the new State Ensemble 1996-99. The duo is known for its virtuosity, a dynamic stage performance and a diverse repertoire, which expands from compositions from popular, classical piano pieces to national and international first performances of, among others, solo performances with orchestra."
With this national and international success, Safri Duo could not be ignored!
Making the change/Episode 2
Safri Duo had reached a high level in the world of classical music, but a pattern was beginning to show. The interest for classical performers and classical recording dropped and more than half of the scheduled classical concerts were cancelled during a period of 2-3 years. Everything a bit out of the ordinary was dropped and as we all know Safri Duo is truly experimental and exceptional, so they began to see the writing on the wall.
On their way to Australia Morten bought a CD with Aqua, as he was walking through the airport. Fascinated by the concept, they saw the possibility of moving Safri Duo in that direction. Since Uffe and Morten have never been afraid to evolve and experiment with other kinds of genres, they chose to leave the wing collar behind and put on a t-shirt!
Safri Duo used the inspiration from rock/jazz clubs, where they used to hang out after their classical performances, especially in England. In the studio they began playing the drums alongside a programmed beat, and discovered something unique. (the beginning of Episode 2)
Their first Dance/techno performance was during "Kulturnatten" on the 15th of October 1999 in Vega, Copenhagen.
The following night Morten and Uffe performed with the Symphonic Orchestra in Radiohusets Koncertsal.
Their last classical tour was with the Irish flutist James Gallway in New York, March 2000. So the switch from classical to Dance/techno wasn't overnight.
For Safri Duo the Dance scene was more liberating, than the classical scene. The undying words of Morten Friis: "Playing classical music is kinda like doing a striptease in the dark....it's hard getting attention to the product!"
Now all Safri Duo needed was a hit.
But after 1 1/2 months they discovered, that making a hit can be QUITE difficult! It kept getting worse, so they decided to erase it all and do it all over again. And suddenly something new saw the light of day, that would become The Bongo Song: RAG-GA-DAG-GA-DOU!! Then Safri Duo knew they were on the right track.
With the slogan "No more Mr. Nice Guy" Uffe and Morten made the crossover to bongo and the response was mainly positive. They had a video made from their performance in Vega from October 1999 and handed it to some record labels in Denmark. This resulted in Safri Duo choosing Universal as their record label.
They were signed by the management company Goldmind.
It took Safri Duo 5 minutes to convince their manager, Michael Guldhammer, about their talent; all he had to see was Uffe and Morten playing the Safri Tubes in the video from Vega!!
When Uffe and Morten started playing Dance Music they knew nothing about the dance environment or any of the important DJs. A fact, which quite amused their record label!!!
When Safri Duo went in the studio they started recording separately. They soon discovered that this wasn't the way for them. So they recorded side by side and found that this created the real Safri vibe.
They tried doing samples, but found that they moved in the wrong direction. Co-producer Michael Parsberg recognized the quality of the genuine sound. Safri Duo is brilliant at what THEY do: Playing the bongos, live.
On the 7th of July 2000 Played-a-live debuted in Berlin at The Love Parade. 1 million ravers heard The Bongo Song and Michael Parsberg sent home an SMS to Morten and Uffe, with the words: "People went crazy - it was nuts!!"
In 2001 Safri Duo played live at The Love Parade
The first print of Played-a-live were 10 acetates (vinyl). They cost 800 Dkr a piece and are only given to the most important Djs. In a week they receive 2-300 acetates from which they only choose to play 2-3. One of the most exclusive Djs in England, BBC´s DJ Judge Jules chose to air Played-a-Live. Suddenly everybody wanted The Bongo Song, but since it was only available on vinyl a hype was created. Judge Jules has stated that Safri Duo is unique, because they play percussion, which makes a great dance beat. Safri Duo has a big sound and no one can play the bongo like Uffe and Morten!
It took Safri Duo 6 months to make it to the top in the Dance world. It had taken them 10-12 years to reach the same level, when they played classical music.
Safri Duo played with Aqua at the Eurovision Song Contest in Denmark in May 2001, which had 100 million viewers that night.
Played-a-live reached number 1 in 13 European Single and Dance charts and Safri Duo won numerous awards around the world. To name but a few in 2001:
Danish Music Awards: Club Hit of the Year, 3rd of March
German Dance Awards: Best International Act
Danish DJ Awards: Club Hit of the Year, Producer of the Year, Club Performer
of the Year, DJ Favorite of the Year, Artists of the Year
Danish Dance Awards: Club Hit of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Producer team of the Year
The Frederiksberg Artist Award 2001
MTV European Music Awards in Frankfurt Festhalle: Safri Duo won Best Nordic Act (the first Danes ever to win) in front of 1.1 billion people in 139 countries, Thursday the 8th of November.
It takes Uffe and Morten about a month to write a song. It took a year to finish "Episode 2", with an 8-10 hour work-day, working 7 days a week.
"Episode 2" was released on May the 28th 2001 and became a huge success.
With an international sale of 2 million copies, Safri Duo kicked off their world tour, bringing approx. 2 tons of equipment with them.
At the Danish Music Awards 2002, the 2nd of March, Safri Duo presented a brand new song "Sweet Freedom".
Originally recorded by Michael McDonald (a former member of the Doobie Brothers), Uffe and Morten had teamed up with him, to do a re-recording of the song with Michael doing the vocal.
Originally Safri Duo had made a cover version of Steve Winwood´s "Higher Love" but Winwood being unsatisfied with the result, did not permit Safri Duo to release it with his vocals.
So they asked Michael McDonald to do the vocal, which he accepted. But again this track could not be cleared with Winwood, and Michael McDonald suggested that Safri Duo could record one of his songs!
Safri Duo chose "Sweet Freedom" and at the annual MIDEM Conference in Cannes they met up with McDonalds manager to arrange it all.
McDonald went in the studio and recorded the vocals in an up-beat tempo, as he suspected, that Uffe and Morten wanted a faster version of the song!
Safri Duo listened to the song, thought it was good but asked Michael if he could speed it up just a little bit more, which he gladly did!
When Safri Duo visited Tokyo they booked some time at the Universal Recording Studio and made the recordings for the track in order to get it finished in time for their performance at the Danish Music Awards in March.
"Sweet Freedom" was released the same month on "Episode 2-remix edition"
Since then Safri Duo has received offers from other artist from both Denmark and abroad, who want Uffe and Morten to work with them.
Until now Safri Duo has won so many awards that even Uffe and Morten themselves are not sure of how many.
International Awards 2002 :
Best International Dance Single
Energy Radio Awards
Best Dance Act, Best Danish Act
International Awards 2001 :
Best Nordic Act
Dance Act Of The Year
Danish Awards 2002:
Danish Dance Awards
Video of the year (Baya Baya)
Danish Dance Chart
Producers Of The Year (Parsberg/Savery & Friis)
Remix Of The Year - Beatchuggers - "Baya Baya"
Label Of The Year - Universal - Our Record Company
Danish Deejay Award
"Danish Album Of The Year"
Danish Music Awards
Album Of The Year
Group Of The Year
Hit Of The Year
Dance Release Of The Year
Producer Of The Year
Radio Hit Of The Year
Danish Music Export Award
Danish Awards 2001
P3 - Prisen (Danish National Radio Broadcast)
Tuborgs Grønne Pris
Name of The Year
Skanderborg Festival (With 41 % of the votes on the website-election)
Danish Music Awards
Club hit of the year
Danish DJ Awards
Club Hit Of The Year
Producer Of The Year
Club Performer Of The Year
DJ Favorite Of The Year
Artists Of The Year
Danish Dance Awards
Club Hit Of The Year
New Comer Of The Year
Producer team Of The Year
8 times Platinum awards. 7 times Gold awards.
Personally Morten and Uffe have a wide taste when it comes to the kind of music they like to listen to. They like everything from Aqua to Beethoven. And they still enjoy listening to classical music when they return home from touring.
They not only strive to make their music exciting for their fans and supporters. They also work hard at making it as fun and challenging for themselves as possible. Often they write music parts for each other.
The undying words of Uffe Savery: "It is our universe -a Safri universe. We bring elements from all corners of the world. But how do you describe a record? It's like trying to describe a taste or a feeling."
In the Spring of 2002 Safri Duo went to Sardinia, Italy, where they made the video for "Sweet Freedom".
On the 3rd of May, Safri Duo kicked off their Mad Drums Tour 2002 in Roskilde. A tour, that took them all over Denmark with the final concert on the 10th of August in Helsingør.
During the touring, they also did a promo tour in Mexico, Costa Rica and Venezuela.
Safri Duo found they were a big hit and they returned home greatly inspired!
The Mad Drums Tour was a huge success and they broke several audience records during the tour.
In July, Safri Duo was confirmed as special guests at the Jean Michel Jarre concert in Denmark on the 7th of September 2002.
Jean Michel Jarre even appeared on stage during the Safri show at Grøn Concert in Valby on the 21st of July!
On the 31st of August Safri Duo returned home from a two-week promo tour to Asia. This tour proved to be both fascinating and culturally inspiring.
On the 10th of September, Safri Duo played their last European concert of 2002, in Vejle, Denmark.
From the 6th-17th of November, Safri Duo left for a promo tour to South America, which took them to Columbia and Mexico. Yet again Safri Duo was extremely popular and gained many fans!
On the 13th of November, it was officially announced, that Safri Duo had terminated their collaboration with the management company Goldmind Management due to financial mistrust.
Safri Duo has now signed with the booking agency Helter Skelter
Safri Duo are currently working on the follow-up to their mega selling release "Episode 2" and Uffe and Morten have once again teamed up with Michael Parsberg as the co-producer!!
In late March 03, the Danish newcomer, 13 year old Jay Kid, also from Universal recorded a cd with cover versions of old Jackson 5 hits. The tracks "Blame it on the Boogie" and "Can you feel it" are featuring Uffe Savery on the drums!
Sunday the 11th of May 2003, Safri Duo finally met Michael McDonald, when he gave a sold-out concert in Vega, Copenhagen. On the 12th of May all 3 of them appeared in an interview at the Danish Radio station P3 in "Strax", where they talked about the collaboration with Michael McDonald in the recording of "Sweet Freedom".
They wouldn't totally rule out the possibility of teaming up again in future projects.
On Monday the 4th of August 2003, Safri Duo released the first single "Fallin´ High" from the upcoming album.
On the 29th of September, Safri Duo held a release party in Pakhus 11, Frederiksberg in Copenhagen. Here they gave a knock out concert and presented a new line-up in the band, now with Andy Tracey on additional drums, Clark Anderson on vocal and of course Mads Storm and Peter Buch on keyboard and bass.
On the 30th of September, they released their new CD "3.0" where they have experimented with several vocal tracks featuring the 24 year old Clark Anderson from L.A.
In October Safri Duo were scheduled to go on a promo tour to South America, but this trip was sadly postponed.
On the 9th of November 2003, Safri Duo kicked off a tour which started in Europe (including 3 shows in Denmark!), took them to Indonesia and ended with a show in Malaysia on the 10th of December.
The new year started up with a single when "Rise - Leave me Alone" featuring Clark Anderson was released on February the 20th. On the 21st Safri Duo played a show in Mexico, followed by a gig in Chile the day after.
On the 23rd of March, Safri Duo were award presenters at the Experientarium in Copenhagen, where schools all over the country had competed in making alternative and creative sounds......so who else to present the award for the top 5 best entries? On this occasion Uffe and Morten kicked off the event by playing a few songs.
On the 7th of May, Safri Duo took part in a huge event in celebration of the wedding between Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson in Parken, Copenhagen.
40.000 people were there and it was also transmitted live around the country.
On the 8th Safri Duo kicked off their huge Danish tour starting in Svendborg.
On the 10th of May the song in support of the Danish soccer team was released. "Hvor´ vi fra" featured not only Safri Duo, but also B-Boys, Birthe Kjær and the entire Danish national soccer team.
Photo by www.thomashendrix.dk
On the 21st of May, Safri Duo returned to where it all began....in Tivoli, Copenhagen, for another fantastic concert. It was also a very special show for Clark Anderson, whose mother was to be found among the enthusiastic crowd.
Photo by www.vordingborgfestuge.dk
On the 8th of July, Safri Duo broke a record, which, until this date had been held by the band Bamses Venner.
It was the audience record at Vordingborg Festuge (Vordingborg Partyweek).
Safri Duo blew Vordingborg away with over 21.000 people, so now Bamses Venner has quite a job in store for them if they return in 2005.
On the 19th of July, Uffe and Morten attended their first "Safri Duo - Meet `n`Greet Day" at Damsborg, Moen, Denmark, hosted by The Safri Zone. Not only fans from Denmark attended; also fans from Germany and Sweden were there to celebrate Safri
Duo. Fans of Clark Anderson were also present, since he had also been invited to join in the fun.
In the middle of their drum tour Safri Duo put down the drumsticks for a few hours and put on their soccer outfits! -Because on the 4th of June and the 13th of August they played on the Showstars soccer team for charity, against a local soccer team.
On the 4th, only Uffe attended the event, bringing his wife Tanja as support.
-But on the 13th the duo was complete and had teamed up with actor Mads Mikkelsen, comedian Amin Jensen, singers Poul Krebs and Michael Falch, famous chef Henrik Boserup, soccer stars Michael Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel to name but a few.
Photo by www.showstars.dk
Still.....on the 13th in Vejlby, Safri had not quite left their drum sticks at home, but started off the event with a short gig and also played at the Showstars after party
On the 27th of November the Safri Duo tour ended in Thy, Denmark.
Without much of a break Uffe and Morten headed to the studio to start work on their next album scheduled out in 2005.
In the meantime Clark Anderson returned to The States to work on his solo album, while negotiations began for Clark's future collaboration with Safri Duo.
In the beginning of March Safri Duo, the band and Clark Anderson had a blast doing a show on The Canary Islands and on the 2nd of April 2005, Safri Duo took part in the huge 3 day celebration of the Danish author H.C Andersen. Uffe, Morten and Clark played in Parken Copenhagen; a show, which was transmitted all over Europe and has more than 300 artists participating from all over the world.
During the Summer, Safri Duo, once again with Clark Anderson, toured Denmark.
A new page
On the 17th of November 2008 Safri Duo released their new CD "Origins" after almost driving their fans mad, waiting and wondering about the the future of Safri Duo.
"Origins" presented a new path for Safri Duo, moving further away from the dance/techno scene and introducing a more alternative, dreamy sound, with violins and opera.
5 years had gone between 3.0 and Origins, but Uffe and Morten had worked very hard on finding a new direction for themselves. And also taking a mental break and some time off from each other. It took them a long time shaking off the success of the previous CD´s and didn´t want to make a CD like the previous two "dance/percussion" CD´s. They wanted something new, and Uffe and Morten spent a lot of time recording sounds and experimenting. When they finally found the right direction, it took them about a year making "Origins"..
The plan with the vocals on "Origins" was, that it had to be sort of abstract and in order to do so, they decided to have vocals in foreign languages. Uffe and Morten spent 3 days in Senegal with Youssou N´Dour, recording his vocal for "Twilight", which is about a spirit from Senegal.
Safri Duo got in contact with the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, through their management from the classical days, and Villazón would gladly participate, luckily...since his management had initially said no to Safri Duo.
Taken from www.rolandovillazón.com