Picture a dreamy blue haze, fog rolling out onto a stage as a crowd of couples slow dance below. “Northern Lights” by DoublePlusGood is the quintessential song for this scene: a hazy romantic melody, brought together by crooning vocals and idyllic lyrics. While the image of a classic ’50s/’60s prom/dance aesthetic unfortunately holds significant heteronormative weight, Erik Carlson seeks to rewrite history as a gay man who grew up with the sound of old radio ballads. With Carlson at the forefront, the music video for “Northern Lights” (directed by Ryan Linder of Small Million) depicts a passionate, soulful performance, showcasing the band in black and white to contrast the beautiful colorful backdrop of the song’s namesake: the Northern Lights.
Carlson is no stranger to the Portland music and art scene. Once upon a time, he ran local record label and gallery, SoHiTek, releasing music by acts like Hosannas, Fanno Creek, and Pocketknife, alongside co-founding/serving as Director of Education for the non-profit art space, S1. Carlson also teaches music lessons to children, and hosts a queer music showcase, donating proceeds to the local Q Center (a Portland non-profit in support of the LGBTQ+ community).
In DoublePlusGood’s upcoming release, Who’s Your Man, Carlson joins bandmates Shawn-Michael Thornhill (guitar), Cole Johnston (drums), and Jacob Marsh (bass) to reimagine a feeling of nostalgia, embodying a time long gone and often idealized, while also addressing the problematic tendencies of the golden age of rock & roll. Other songs on the album directly address hardships within the queer community, including having to hide or pretend to be someone other than oneself. “Northern Lights” focuses on Carlson’s personal experience with long distance relationships and the romantic notion of sharing the same sky with a loved one. Watch the video below, and keep an eye out for new music from DoublePlusGood.