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Bjørn Felle

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW BJORN FELLE, WHAT HAPPENED?

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

One of my earliest memories is of reaching up to press the keys on my parents’ piano. I was barely tall enough to reach so I’d only ever seen the front edge of the keys, but somehow I knew I was in.

Introduce us you and your musical history?

I’m a singer/songwriter and producer of electronic music. At the moment the music I make is variously industrial, synthwave, psychedelic and experimental. I’m really into making degraded sounds like the ‘broken VHS’ vibes of TVAM.  I’ve been making music in some form or another for pretty much my whole life, starting out with classical training on piano, and a bit of violin and cello, and a bit later, thanks to Kid A, electronic music on 16 bit and then other computers. Nowadays I play keys, bass and vocals, write lyrics, and produce weird idiosyncratic EDM.

What was life like for you before music?

I don’t really have any concrete memories prior to being aware of music and having an interest in how to make it. Learning about music has been a gradual process so the sense of there being a “before” is hazy. All I can say is that my use of music as a tool for processing and expressing things has become more intense the deeper I’ve got into it, both as a musician and a fan.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

When I was younger I was more focused on music than songs. I was playing a lot of baroque and classical piano and I found the interlocking nature of the melodic structures something I wanted to emulate. The music I make now sounds radically different to those pieces and genres, but many of the same principles still apply to the ways I write many melodic parts. As for songs, I’d say the work of Blur and Radiohead, with particular reference to their lyricism, definitely inspired a desire to write lyrical songs.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I’ve just signed a distribution deal with AnalogueTrash, a label from Yorkshire, UK. I feel like I won the label lottery to be honest. Although I’ve self-released two albums in the past, this new material will be my first release through a label.

So I’m in an interesting head-space of having a lot of experience hearing and making music, but also feeling like I’m just getting started. I’m about to release my first single, “Dopamine”, through AnalogueTrash, and they’ve hooked up some gigs for me in a few months time. I’m really excited to get out and support some of the wonderful artists on AnalogueTrash while blasting my music at people really loud.

Whats the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

I haven’t personally had a lot of contact with people in the industry yet. Looking to role models in artists I admire, I’d say the overall most important thing I’ve learned is to make the music I want to, at the pace I want to do it, and to avoid letting outside pressures impact how I make music.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you?

The literal English translation of my name is “bear trap”

I have never seen Die Hard

I have a tattoo of Courage the Cowardly Dog underneath my left foot

Bjørn Felle

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

I’d really like to play a festival. Something like Bluedot maybe. It seems like an opportunity to bring a party to an interesting crowd.

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

I worry about it somewhat as a social phenomenon, although I’m ambivalent about it in the wider sense. I believe freedom of speech is important, but I also feel there are things that probably shouldn’t be said.

Letting society self-regulate as much as possible is my preference if the alternative is progressively impinging on civil liberties. If somebody says or does something harmful and they fall out of public favour then I’m ok with that to an extent, but I’d like to think there’s space for forgiveness if a harmful act can be acknowledged and atoned for.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If no why not?

I believe there are conspiratorial things going on, but I think they’re things we can pretty much all agree on, like corruption in government. I don’t believe any of the conspiracy theories like flat earth or anything like that, mostly because I haven’t yet seen any compelling evidence in their favour.

What was the worst experience on stage?

The worst thing for me is feeling like I have to rush to get my gear set up. It’s pretty self-contained and doesn’t take long to rig up, but I’ve had a couple of experiences of not being given enough time to set up comfortably. It went fine, but it’s not a nice way to go into a performance situation.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?

The first gig I went to was Aerosmith at Wembley Stadium on the Nine Lives tour, like ‘99 I think. I guess it’s surprising because it’s not an obvious band for me to listen to given the music I make. Quite a radical experience for 16 year old Bjørn.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

I think the music I make is pretty weird and although there are obviously influences, they’re all quite disparate. I think I’ve turned  those influences into something that sounds quite different to any of the individual artists I admire.

My sound is also pretty eclectic – each song is like its own little monster with its own vibe and sonic landscape. One thing that pulls those eclectic sounds and influences together is my lyrics. Language is a huge passion for me and I love turning ideas and concepts into strange and evocative imagery.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

My new project is a double album and EP release. The whole thing is a big concept piece. The album “Extreme Hazard Planet” tells a story in rough chronological order of the growth in humans of a tendency for self-destruction, and has a more industrial sound. It’s angry. The ‘satellite’ EP “Paradise Moon” is more personal, more intimate.

It tells the story of a citizen of Earth who strives to get off-world to escape the toxic air in the vicinity of their municipal accommodation. On reflection Paradise Moon is an expression of a desire to escape from the situation described in the album. It has more of a synthwave vibe and I’m aiming for it to evoke more of a sense of desperation and disappointment. There’s joy to be found in these records, though more I hope through catharsis in the case of the album, and wistful nostalgia for a brighter past on the EP.

What was the recording process like?

After I finished Daddy Issues (my previous album, which I kind of rolled straight into after the prior “A Regrettable Agreement”), I decided to take a break from recording albums. It’s hard and it takes a long time, so maintaining motivation can be difficult. Imagine my surprise when I found myself putting together a track list for this monster.

It’s taken three years to record all 17 tracks (11 on the album and 6 on the EP), which is the longest I’ve spent on any individual project. It’s been gruelling at times, but I’m glad I gave it this time. I’ve learned a lot and been influenced by other artists throughout, and integrating all that into the process has ultimately improved the finished project.

Towards the end, a lot of the material hadn’t been touched for a year or more. Going back over all that stuff and bring it up to the standard of the newer tracks was hard. I was really ready to be done with the project by that point and going back to the earlier tracks felt arduous, even though I can see now that it was worth it.

I collaborated more on this recording than I have previously. “Your House Is On Fire” and “Progress” from the album, and “Nostos Algos” from the EP, were all co-produced with Dave Radfern, who also helped to jam out and develop some of the other tracks and mastered the whole project. This really helped keep me focused, particularly towards the end of the project.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

I really pushed the sound on this record. It’s bigger, louder, more saturated and more harmonically dense than anything I’ve done before. That meant working with a lot of really bright sounds and trying to make them more controlled without losing their character. This is really challenging from a sound design perspective.

Would you change anything now its finished?

I haven’t given final masters to the record label yet, so there’s still time and actually while rehearsing the new material a couple of tweaks have come to mind! Making music is different now we don’t have to pay for studio time to do it.

You can always go back and change things, and it can always be “better”. So nothing’s ever really “done”. I think it’s as good as I can make it right now. Later on, once it’s percolated and I’ve had some distance from it, I’ll no doubt look back and think of things I could have done differently. But I think that’s part of the creative process. It’s all a big learning experience.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I just can’t wait to get out and play these songs for new people. After working on the album and the EP for so long in the studio, taking it out and performing it with the spontaneity that live music allows will feel exhilarating.

Also, if you enjoy Dopamine, while you’re waiting for Extreme Hazard Planet later this year maybe check out TVAM, a band I have mad love for and whose sound was really influential on the  sound in Dopamine, and a couple of other tracks on the album and the EP coming later. There’s loads  of other truly talented artists on AnalogueTrash, so if you’re looking for new electronica definitely check out the roster.

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