MEET NORWAY’S LATEST INDIE POP CRAZE, HIGHASAKITE

FOTO: HILDE MESICS KLEVEN

What started as a romantic duo between frontwoman Ingrid Håvik’s and drummer Trond Bersu, soon bloomed into a full band with added members Marte Eberson on synthesizer and Kristoffer Lo on guitar, percussion, flugabone and tuba. We could go on about how this band came to be, but their bio says it better than we ever could so check it out here: “Highasakite inhabits their own rare musical landscape, a place of long dark shadows, sudden flashes of glittering light, brooding silences and unexpected explosions of fierce percussion.”

Anyways, Highasakite — and no, as you will read below the name isn’t about drugs —is currently riding out their debut EP. Even with just a few songs out, the Norwegian-based just toured The States and tore up the sand at SXSW. I caught up with Eberson and Lo — in Williamsburg at Videology on Bedford (which used to be a video rental store, but now oubles a bar / small film watching venue), right as the band was finished with the madness of Austin. Somehow still up with energy, we sipped a few Coronas, talked about whether or not DJs quality as “real musicians” and had a great time before I sidestepped over to watch them perform to a packed crowd at Glasslands. I must note that the performance was a ton of fun. Seriously, Lo has the best stage moves I’ve seen in a long time. If I could move like that, I’d just constantly walk around dancing. Below, here’s what they had to say about what’s up now and what’s to come. — Rachel Eleanor Sutton

SHK: SINCE THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME IN THE STATES, HOW HAVE THE CROWDS BEEN RACTING TO YOUR STUFF?

EBERSON: Great, I think. I think we’re used to a crowd that doesn’t dance that much, and rather, stand and just listen to the music. In Texas, the crowds were very good at dancing all of the time… They would listen to the slow songs and would dance to the up-tempo songs.

YOU’LL LIKE TONIGHT GLASSLANDS IS ALWAYS FUN. EVERYONE DANCES. IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITES.

LO: Just the feeling of being here. There is no reason why people should come and check us out, like, we haven’t made a name for ourselves in the U.S. In Norway, we are sort of famous in a way and here we aren’t at all. So when sixty, seventy people show up to our first show in NYC you sort of get slammed in the ground by life. It’s amazing.

WHO CAME UP WITH THE NAME?

I guess… They were really listening to Elton John.

DO PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK YOU IF IT’S ABOUT DRUGS?

LO: Sometimes people ask. But we are non-drug people so… [laughs] We’re quiet and boring.

EBERSON: People in the U.S., especially, they can’t pronounce the name. Like they don’t know how it’s supposed to be pronounced, but they try.

WHY IS IT ALL ONE WORD IS THERE ANY REASONING BEHIND THAT?

LO: Maybe to make it more mysterious.

EBERSON: I think it looks better.

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SO TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW YOU STARTED AND WHAT YOUR DIFFERENT GOALS ARE IN THE BAND?

EBERSON: The band started out with the drummer and a vocalist — they were actually boyfriend and girlfriend — and they started making songs with the dream of making music together and traveling. They started making these songs and recorded these songs and they didn’t really have any plans, but this one song got them picked up from a record label and everything happened. They started recording the full album and realized that they needed a band, so they added a guitar and some synths. During this past summer, in the early summer, they asked an additional keyboardist to join. Then they had a session guitar player that played on the album that played on some concerts. He just wasn’t very reliable. We’ve known each other for eight or nine years, and they really wanted me and Muff to not be just “session musicians,” they wanted us to really be in the band.

AND HERE YOU ARE! WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU AREN’T IN THE BAND?

LO: We are playing in other bands in Norway. And we also have other jobs. I give piano lessons in high school.

THIS ALBUM IS SUPER TINY, WHAT’S THE PLANS FOR THE NEXT ALBUM?

LO: Giving out another EP in the fall and then an LP in 2014.

THAT LONG?

EBERSON: We are in the middle of recording our new album and we’ve got a lot of songs. We really want to make this album really, really great. We’re touring a lot and we’re playing all the time and we’re trying to getting recording sessions done too. We have enough material for an EP in August. People will just have to wait.

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YOU HAVE A FULL ALBUM OUT IN NORWAY THOUGH RIGHT? AND WE CAN’T GET THAT IN THE US?

EBERSON: I don’t think so. It’s not available in physical form, but you can probably find it online. Not quite sure actually. It’s a well-kept secret. We’re actually nominated as The Best New Act for the Norwegian Grammys. We’re traveling back tomorrow and go straight to Oslo for the event.

“Indian Summer”

WHAT IS THE MUSIC SCENE LIKE IN NORWAY?

LO: It’s really nice. There’s a little bit of everything.

EBERSON: Norway is very lucky compared to other countries because we have music everywhere. There is money allocated for the arts, which helps the music scene grow because we get decent pay.

LO: Our sound systems are also amazing. Our sound engineer always talks about how the Norway sound systems are some of the best because venues don’t have to pay for them. The government pays.

THAT’S AMAZING.

EBERSON: The government won’t give you money, but they will give you equipment. It’s sort of, like, they loan it to you, but you can use it as long as you need it.

HOW DO YOU QUALIFY AS A MUSICIAN? HOW DOES A MUSICIAN REAP THOSE BENEFITS?

EBERSON: You play concerts.

LO: Yeah, I guess so. Everyone will say that for the most part we are educated as musicians. There are many schools where you can get an education in music. You can get your bachelors in classical, jazz, opera, et cetera. So it’s not just like a band “meets up as a friend” to start a band, we are really trained professionals.

DO THEY CONSIDER DJS MUSICIANS?

LO: That’s a tough one.

EBERSON: I think they consider them a musician, but I don’t think DJs are able to apply for the government assistance because they don’t tour and they get their money from being booked by a club or something. Everyone who does music, and goes on tour is suitable to apply for funding for that tour.

AHHH. I SEE. COOL.

EBERSON: So in this band for instance, we all received a bachelor’s in performing Jazz music. All five of us.

LO: She’s a jazz tubist. I’m a jazz piano player.

DO YOU EVER JUST, LIKE, JAM OUT TO JAZZ MUSIC?

EBERSON: People get so embarrassed, because we don’t do that anymore, so when we try to do it… We don’t know the songs. I think it helps us as a band because we are so used to improvising. We know when to take it somewhere and when to leave space. As a band, we are used to working together. It helps our dynamic as a group.

LO: Especially, since sometimes you have technical problems during a performance, we know that we can do something else that will probably sound good as well.

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WELL I DON’T SEE YOUR LIVE SHOW UNTIL TONIGHT, BUT I’VE READ SOMEWHERE THAT YOU LIKE TO DO DRESS-UP AND THERE ARE SOME THEMATIC ELEMENTS TO YOUR PERFORMANCE?

LO: Sometimes it’s more than others. Sometimes it’s not that much. We just do it so that we create our own world. Like we aren’t human, but we are characters.

EBERSON: I think it’s important these days — when people actually take the time to go out and see a show — you have to take them into your world and show them what you actually want to show them. There are no guidelines. We all dress the way we want to and try to bring the audience into our little world. We have feathers, we have lights and we have some makeup on. Everyday there is something different. We just want people to join in on what we feel and what we want to give. There are so many bands and so many concerts, so much free music and free art, that it’s sort of a responsibility to give the audience an experience.

LO: For myself, I think it’s easier to be on stage when I’m under the lights and done up. I feel like we are a complete package instead of an individual. I feel like we are a closer group on stage.

EBERSON: It’s a lot different when you’re in a jazz band because there’s always much more focus on individuals. Listen to her solo and his solo and whatnot. We are a group and that’s really important. Even though Ingrid does the vocals, it’s not her band. We are a team and we are together.

THIS IS SHK MAG, SO LET US KNOW ONE THING WE SHOULD…

SEE: The Norwegian mountains on the west coast.

HEAR: …(my tape player didn’t get this, but we think you should hear them!)

&

KNOW: If you are traveling from L.A. to NYC, you could travel from NY to Oslo in the same amount of time. So go to Oslo.

“In and Out of Weeks”

[ft. image via Tonje Thilesen]

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