Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
To me collaborations, are a continuous source of inspiration. I think the times I discover new possibilities, or ways to go, it is often through collaborations. Of course it is also sometimes a disaster, when the referances are too far away to make any fruitful way of musical communication. But this is a risk I often take as the upside is so large.
File sharing is good for projects, but I feel that the direct communication when meeting physically, (if it is jamming, talking about ideas, or creating new material,) is much more likely to bring new discoveries.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule?
This year of Covid has been different ... Without any touring or concerts I suddenly had a very routine based life. Walking the dog, making food and working in my home studio. Normally without Covid, every day is different, tourring and travelling makes it difficult to maintain routines. But as a basic rule I try to avoid stress, because I don´t work very well in a stressed situation.
How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I guess I am a music nerd, so music is continuously on my mind, and also integrated in my life. Luckily my wife is also a musician, so there is a understanding of this between us.
I think my emotional state is important for how creative I can be. When I feel “greyish” (no highs or lows) it is seldom that my best ideas come ... but sometimes I feel a bit grey, and when I start to work, I can sometimes work myself in to a more inspired state.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
It is a bit hard to pinpoint a special moment because I think there is a series of important moments that together made me to who I am today. But if I have to choose one, I guess the work on my solo debut album “Électronique Noire” was an important point. If this had failed completely I think things would have been very different now.
It was the first time I was totally in charge of the decisions. Earlier I had always been the one who could suggest different ways to arrange a tune, or come up with different suggestions of what my input could be. While making the solo album I was the one who decided, having the final word about aesthetics, sound and compositions. Not necessarily making more options, but making decisions. This together with the idea to stay away from certain cliches in my playing, made this production an important experience; exhausting, rewarding and generally meaningful.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?
For me it is being relaxed, but wide awake, in touch with my senses and body.
What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I am trying to do qi-gong and some other physical exercises every morning, and this helps me to get in the right state of mind. And I also think just being conscious about the state of mind helps my focus.
Distractions is everything that interrupts, especially phone calls, emails, practical decisions which need an urgent answer.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
This is something I have been thinking about a lot but I am not sure what the correct answer is. I am sure music affects our physical and mental state of mind. A banal example is for instance the experience I recently had when being to a the dentist, when he put on music the pain was much less taking over my awareness. But I am questioning a bit if it is possible to make healing music for everyone.
Sometimes music made for relaxation and meditation, can irritate me, (not all meditation music but certainly some of it). This music is sometimes made up of what I find is boring, stupid cliches in sound, harmonies and melodies. This stuff is terrible to me, and yet the same music can be wonderful and healing to others ... So I guess the healing experience also have to do with personal preferences and cultural background.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Also an interesting question … on the one hand I think it is wonderful when I hear something that is appealing to me. I can taste it, let it inspire me, let it influence me. And I don´t think this is wrong ethically or otherwise. I think this is how music develops. But at the same time I am aware that there is more complexity to this question than my personal experience.
It becomes more problematic when money is involved, and culturally rich but materially poor cultures are exploited, and cash goes to the wrong pockets. Another thing is that I think it is very important to be totally transparent about what the sources of inspiration were.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I have a friend who sees different colors with different tones, must be very interesting to have this ability. I don´t have this. I can not feel a direct crossover like that, but I can feel that music increases focus on my senses, how my body feel, my perception of time.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I truly admire artists that have the mind and ability to say something important about life and society through their art, and have a vision for their role in society. Like for instance people like Laurie Anderson, Jon Hassell or Brian Eno. But I am very sorry, my mind is not that clear, so I have not been able to make those philosophical connections. My approach is to make something that I like, something that resonates with who I am, how I experience the world, it is a sort of introvert personal approach, but it doesn´t mean I am not politically or socially engaged, it is just that I don´t seem to be able to connect political awareness to my work.
When I grew up in the social democratic Norway in the 70s, I grew up with the idea that my work should be important for society. As I became a musician I had to go through a process with myself as it became clear to me that I do this because I like to do it, not that it is important for society or someone else. I think this is sad, because at this point in history, with all the political challenges we are facing, like climate change, echo-chambers on the net, conspiracy theories etc, we need visionary, politically oriented artists who can present new ideas about life and society.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music can fill a space, a physical room, a mental room, change the room. It can give you a hug, fill you with energy, inspire you. You can understand it without necessarily understanding the language.