Tallsome’s Rued Riis talks about living tall, his favourite live-music venues, and the coffee shop that also sells light bulbs in Copenhagen in part one of his interview with American Tall Director of Brand Experience, Jake Rajsky.
American Tall: You live in Copenhagen, a city known for its food, fashion, design and culture and, increasingly, the stuff of wanderlust Pinterest boards. As a lifelong resident, can you give us outsiders the insider scoop?
Rued Riis: I’m very much in love with the neighbourhood I grew up in and that I’m living in right now. Copenhagen is divided into ten different districts and the names all have something to do with bridges. My neighbourhood— Nørrebro—translates to “North Bridge.” It used to be really dodgy: criminal, dark and dirty. Now it's a hub for students and young people, who moved here because the apartments are cheap. It’s transformed into a diverse, energetic, creative space with a flourishing start-up culture, all kinds of foods and many cafés. In Nørrebro, people socialize in the streets, rollerblading, playing football.
People use the street as their living room and spend all of their time outside. I think that’s very special. When I travel, I don’t often see this kind of culture elsewhere.
Something else that is pretty unique to us: we can swim in the water in the harbor just outside of the city. During the summer that’s a great thing; you can just jump in the water wherever you are. And people do!
AT: Is the habour where you swim right in the city or just outside? Can you walk or ride your bike there?
RR: That’s the cool thing about Copenhagen—it has everything located close by because it’s such a small city. I think we’re [a larger urban population of] 1.3 million people. You can bike from one end of the city to the other in about 30 minutes. Whether you want to go to the ocean, go shopping or hang out in the park, everything is accessible. Everything is close, but beyond that, it’s so easy to bike everywhere.
AT: Speaking of biking, do you have a specialty shop where you buy bikes for tall guys?
RR: One would think that, but I’ve always ridden really shitty bikes that don’t fit because no bike really fits me. You would have to go to—I think there’s an American, David French, who founded DirtySixer custom-made bikes for tall guys and girls. I think Shaquille O’Neal purchased one. But they’re like, $3,000 or something like that. So maybe once I’m out of school. But now I’m just riding cheap, small bikes.
AT: Where do you like to eat in Nørrebro? Where would you get a coffee, have lunch, get a drink?
RR: Right where I live. It’s very cozy and you can find everything in walking distance. So right around the corner, I’d say, there’s a café with super hipster coffee grinders who do special coffee all day. It’s called Nørrested. You can buy lightbulbs, lamps and coffee there. An unusual combination. It’s very hipster, interesting. And for foods I go just down the street to buy some kind of weird sandwich—whole grain, biodynamic stuff.
AT: If you had a friend visiting from out of town, what would you tell them to do in Copenhagen? Is the city bike friendly even for tourists?
RR: I see a lot of tourists who rent and ride these electrical bicycles that they can’t really control and they run down people. It’s actually a little dangerous, to ride a bike here, but I would recommend it because it’s a great way to see the city. There are a lot of good routes and designated lanes located away from the big roads and only for bicycles. I would advise visitors to ride down to the water and over the smaller bridges.
AT: It sounds like you are busy both as a student and running Tallsome, but is there anywhere that you like to go for a beer at the end of the night, or any music venues that you would recommend?
RR: Yes. I love music. I play music myself. I play guitar—I’ve played for ten years—and a bit of drums and piano, as well. I love to go to these music cafés, open jam nights at music bars and cafés like Drop Inn, LaFontaine and Kind of Blue.
They’re laid back early on, but get a little crazy as the night goes on. That said, the people who come to these nights are people who are interested in music, who like to drink a good beer, so though they’re enthusiastic, they eventually sit down and listen.
AT: You mentioned beer. Is that the preferred beverage of choice?
RR: There is a lively beer community here, for sure, with all kinds of microbrewers who are evolving the scene. Cocktails are very much having a moment as well. People are going crazy over just the right ingredients, while bartenders are winning competitions and awards and opening new spots that offer everything from the classics to crazy new recipes.
AT: Where do you go for a drink?
RR: I would head to Indre By—the “Inner city” or center of Copenhagen. The best cocktail place in the city is there, near the water. It’s called Zefside. It starts off as being more of a cocktail place, but then it gets pretty wild later on. It’s not a very classy place, but they have really good drinks and it’s fun and affordable and they have great music.