Things are hectic with the record release just a week away, but I can’t complain! This album is four (!) years in the making, so having it all come together by hook or by crook, is pretty darn satisfying.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Squaring The Single”?
This was the first song I wrote after my debut album “To Walk Beside that Ghost” was released in 2012, where I felt I had something worth pursuing. I knew I wanted to make a new album that talked about the state of the world and looked outwards instead of being grounded in my own personal bulsh%t, but to be honest I was fearful it would turn out awful. I mean, how many political pop records that aren’t just bland and superficial do you own? Jenny Hval however, convinced me that it was worth a shot and also generously helped me make this song more than just dogma put to music.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I was reading about drone pilots in the newspaper, one of which had been jolted into realizing what he was actually doing. Killing people on sometimes dubious pretenses, in other words. That made me want to investigate the self-justification and element of “telling ourselves stories to stay alive” that runs through us all, but is particularly poignant in the soldiers of our modern wars.
It’s basically just me and my mom chatting about the song in bar, while it plays in the background. I can get a little carried away with grandiosity from time to time, what better way to come back to the why’s of it all, than explaining the whole thing to your parents?
The single comes off your new album What Comes After – what’s the story behind the title?
It’s taken form the last song on the record; I felt it summed the scope of the whole album well. I always love it when movies/films/music tell the story AFTER the climatic finale, when the everyday kicks back in gear. There’s been so many tumultuous world events of the past ten-fifteen years, some of which were a long time in the making, others that at least one the surface of things seemed to come out of left-field. This record is my take on what it might all mean and where we go from here.
How was the recording and writing process?
In one word, LONG. Or at least, the songwriting took time, as did the process of assembling the people involved. Recording-wise it was more instantaneous, we had three weeks of studio-time at Engfelt & Forsgren studios in Oslo. I initially thought that would be ample time (the previous album having been made in ten hectic days at The Seaside Lounge in Brooklyn, NY), but as the scope of both my own and my collaborators ambitions grew, it turned out to be more crunch-time than cushy.
You brought some special guests – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?
I guess seven years of living in New York (which is a constant hustle) has made me a bit bolder, I basically just asked both Hanne Hukkelberg and Jenny Hval (both of which I’ve admired for years) if they’d be interested. The worst thing that can happen is that you get a “no”, right? Jenny and I had bandied various lyrical ideas around already, so we quickly settled on certain songs with themes we found mutually interesting to collaborate on. Hanne Hukkelberg had been intimately involved in the production of her own records together with Kåre Vestrheim for years and had only recently decided she wanted to try her hand on doing it alone, so I guess when I asked, the timing was right for her.
What did they brought up to the table?
Perseverance, generosity, keen eyes and ears and whole new ways of both writing and assembling songs. They’re both very serious about what they do, and it shows in quality of the music they make. I basically had to re-think the way I not only write, but also how I sing. It kicked my ass a bit to be honest, but I believe it was needed to nudge the music onwards.
Why did you choose to go outwards with this album?
After a couple of pretty grueling tours of the States in the wake of To Walk Beside that Ghost, I was really tired of having to reach into my own personal darkness and emotional craziness every night. It left me both exhausted and feeling overly self-indulgent. Not a bad word about heartache and love songs (the best of which are basically the greatest thing on Earth, to my mind), but it was time to look elsewhere.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
In the politics of our day, the relentless neoliberal agenda being showed down everyone’s throats, misguided wars started by misguided but impervious people on the top and hypocritical solutions offered to us after the Great Recession in 2008. I was angry, in short. It might not be happy-pappy, but it feels a lot more empowering than just soaking in ones own sulkiness.
Any plans to hit the road?
Oh yes! I’m playing a few shows in Norway this September, before hitting the States in Oct/Nov, You can check out the schedule here:
What else is happening next in Racing Heart’s world?
Hah, not much beyond pushing the record out the door and putting a band together for touring. It’s a pretty all-consuming endeavor, to be honest. But there might jut be some radio performances and other tidbits in the works, I’d say to stop by http://racingheartmusic.com from time to time to get the latest!