Music Interviews

Erlend Øye: “I’ve lived in London, and in Manchester. People in the north are warmer” – Interview



Erlend Øye

Erlend Øye

Norway’s Kings Of Convenience pleased indie fans and post-club party people alike on the way to notching up 130,000 sales of the Quiet Is The New Loud album. The hushed vocal duets and intricate acoustic guitar work on the elegantly finished songs led to critical lauding. But now one of the duo, the lofty and bespectacled Erlend Øye, is releasing a solo dance album recorded in 10 cities, with 10 producers.

When I met Erlend he seemed tired. Laid back wouldn’t be an appropriate phrase – he was almost falling off his chair, gangly limbs spilling all over the place. His answers featured the sort of pauses that’d have made even Harold Pinter cry. And he’s teetotal as well. On first impressions, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as chilled as Erlend Øye.

We started to chat about the album Unrest – and how exactly one goes about recording ten tracks in ten different cities with ten different producers. Surely it’s inviting trouble, I asked him. Is such a project contrived pretention, or is it visionary?

“It just helps me write, really,” says Erlend, before shuffling about, picking up my notes and leafing through them and then collapsing back into his chair. There’s a pause of what seems like hours, and, finally, he resumes where he left off.

“I set myself a deadline of four days to record each track – if I hadn’t done that I’d have re-recorded and changed it and it would have taken longer,” he muses. “It was really a discipline.”

The resulting record, Unrest, sees Erlend work with a range of up-and-coming downtempo producers and musicians, including Germany’s Schneider TM, Italian dance gurus Jolly Music and Soviet (who aren’t Italian at all). Given Erlend’s forays into the world of dance music with Röyksopp, it struck me as odd that they aren’t amongst the acts on Unrest.

“I did ask them,” shrugs Erlend – but he doesn’t offer any more information. Nor, after much musing, does he consider that he has a favourite track from the album. We do agree that Kompis‘s assistance on the single Sudden Rush produced a particularly fine song though – and one which provides a pointer to the album’s ambient-dance feel. These aren’t so much dance tracks as music to tap a foot to while you’re sat in a sofa with your drink.

I was also interested to know if Kings Of Convenience were still together, or whether Erlend was now a solo artist. What’s Kings partner Eirik Glambek Boe up to, I asked? Have they fallen out?

“He didn’t want to be as busy with music just now, and I did,” reasons Erlend, adding that his Kings pal wants to finish his psychology studies, started before Kings became famous.

This means Eirik is rooted to the spot – while Erlend is a man who likes to travel. “I’ve lived in London, and in Manchester,” he says. “People in the north are warmer, I think.” We talk about the relationship between Oslo and his own city, Bergen, and Erlend decides it might be a “capital city thing” that makes provincial city dwellers on the whole more approachable.

But he says he feels inspired by different cultures and atmospheres, and his travel bug accounts for the recording techniques employed on Unrest. He’s living in Berlin now – “it’s so cheap!” he says.

But he adds that after his flirtation with downtempo dance music he’s happy to make another acoustic-rooted Kings Of Convenience album. Kings fans old and new will in the meantime get to hear what happens when you combine an acoustic folk singer with a couple of synthesisers and electronic gizmos.

Erlend Øye’s album Unrest is out through Astralwerks.

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More on Erlend Oye
Erlend Øye: “I’ve lived in London, and in Manchester. People in the north are warmer” – Interview
Erlend Øye – Unrest