ERIK WØLLO

interview 1998
by Rafa Dorado, Spain.
"Margen Magazine"


- Musical background, influences...?

- I STARTED TO PLAY THE GUITAR AT THE AGE OF 11. LEARNING ROCK TUNES FROM THE RADIO. I LISTENED TO
BANDS LIKE LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE AND PINK FLOYD. MOSTLY ROCK AND POP BANDS WITH LOTS OF
GUITAR LICKS! AFTER SOME YEARS I BECAME MORE INTERESTED IN JAZZ INFLUENCED MUSIC. LIKE WEATHER
REPORT, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, CHICK COREA.. I ALSO TOOK LESSONS IN CLASSICAL GUITAR AS WELL.
I PLAYED IN MANY DIFFERENT BANDS, MOSTLY OF JAZZROCK TYPE. TOURING FOR SEVERAL YEARS AROUND
NORWAY.
AROUND 1983 I WANTED TO CONCENTRATE MORE ON COMPOSITION. ALL THE TIME I HAD BEEN STUDYING AND
I TOOK LESSONS. I ALWAYS HAD BEEN INTERESTED IN ELECTRONIC MUSIC, AND I WANTED TO SET UP MY OWN
STUDIO. I STARTED TO BUILD AND COLLECT EQUIPMENT FOR A STUDIO, WHICH I NAMED "WINTERGARDEN
STUDIO".

- Your first works "Where it all Begins" and "Dreams of Pyramids" were both very fusion influenced (a personal jazz rock in my opinion), including "atmospheric melodies" and ethnic percussion (I love the Inge Norum work).
However, your next album "Traces" is totally electronic. (although the use of the electronic instruments is very
"acoustic" in my opinion). What are the reasons for this change?

- AROUND 1984, I GOT NEW INFLUENCES FROM ARTISTS WHO WORKED IN A MORE ELECTRONIC STYLE.
I WANTED TO BRING THESE ELEMENTS INTO MY MUSIC. I CHOOSE ONE CONCEPT FOR EVERY ALBUM. SO THAT
EACH ALBUM HAS ITS OWN UNIVERSE.
I DONT WANT TO LIMIT MYSELF IN ONLY ONE NARROW STYLE. I WANT TO GET INSPIRED BY OTHER TYPES OF
MUSIC. APART FROM THAT, I THINK THE COMPOSITIONS ON ALL MY ALBUMS ARE VERY MUCH THE SAME,
THOUGH. I LOOK AT INSTRUMENTATION AS THE SURFACE OF THE MUSIC. LIKE A PAINTER WHO USE DIFFERENT
TECHNIQUES. (OIL ON CANVAS, GRAPHICH ART, VIDEO ART....)
-GENERALLY I DONT LOOK AT MYSELF AS AN ELECTRONIC ARTIST ONLY. BUT I WAS ONE OF THE FIRST
MUSICIANS IN NORWAY TO USE ALL THE NEW ELECTRONIC MIDI INSTRUMENTS. I AM OFTEN CALLED THE FIRST
NORWEGIAN TECHNO ARTIST!

- With "Traces" and "Silver Beach" you developed a new and original style, a perfect mix between minimalism,
ethnic rhythms and magical melodies. How did you conceive your personal style?

- I HAVE ALLWAYS WORKED VERY RHYTHMICAL IN MUSIC. ALL MY ALBUMS ARE BASED ON RHYTHMIC AND
MELODIC PATTERNS. I THINK MY STYLE IS A RESULT OF MY INFLUENCES, WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCES I HAVE
MADE IN MY MUSICAL LIFE. INFLUENCES FROM ROCK, JAZZ AND WORLD MUSIC. ALSO CLASSICAL MUSIC, BOTH
OLD AND MORE CONTEMPORARY STYLES.

- TRACES IS A VERY SPECIAL ALBUM TO ME. WITH TRACES I FELT I REALLY GOT INTO SOMETHING NEW. AT THAT
TIME I WAS VERY INFLUENCED BY MINIMALISTIC COMPOSERS, LIKE STEVE REICH. THESE IDEAS I HAVE USED
ON SEVERAL ALBUMS SINCE.

- Do you feel that your composing of moods and textures is equally as important as coming up with rhythms or beats?

- RHYTHM AND BEATS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT AS MOODS AND TEXTURES IN MY MUSIC. THIS COMES FROM MY
ETNIC INFLUENCES, I THINK. TOGETHER, OF COURSE, MIXED WITH MELODIC AND HARMONIC ELEMENTS FROM
MODERN WESTERN POPULAR MUSIC.
-I HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH GREAT PERCUSSIONISTS AND DRUMMERS HERE IN NORWAY.
BOTH NORWEGIANS AND MUSICIANS FROM AFRICA AND INDIA, WHO LIVE HERE. FROM THESE I HAVE LEARNED
AND STUDIED PERCUSSION. I ALSO PLAY PERCUSSION MYSELF, TO GET THE RHYTHM INTO MY BODY. TO GET THE FYSICAL FEEL OF THE RHYTMS. I USE THESE IDEAS WHEN I COMPOSE MY OWN MUSIC.

- In the last years as a composer, how have your writing changed? What elements have remained? Do you think the music you make today is more accesible than your early music or vice versa?

- AS THE YEARS PASSING BY, I GET MORE SECURE ON THE FORMAL ASPECTS OF MY COMPOSITIONS. AND HOW
THE ARRANGEMENTS ARE DONE TO BEST ACHIEVE WHAT I WANT TO EXPRESS.
IT SEEMS THAT I AM RETURNING TO MORE ACOUSTIC MUSIC, LIKE I DID IN THE VERY BEGINNING OF MY CAREER.
I HAVE JUST FINISHED A NEW ALBUM, CALLED "GUITAR NOVA". IT HAS JUST BEEN RELEASED IN NORWAY, AND IT HAS ACHIEVED A LOT OF POSITIVE REVIEWS.
IT IS MOSTLY IN THE SAME DIRECTION AS MY PREVIOUS ALBUMS. -BUT WITH A BIG DIFFERECE. IT IS ALL DONE
ON ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS. I AM USING DIFFERENT ACOUSTIC GUITARS TOGETHER WITH MODERN STUDIO
ELECTRONICS, TO MAKE NEW AND EXCITING ENSEMBLES. ALLTHOUGH IT IS ENTIRELY ACOUSTIC, I THINK IT
HAS MUCH OF THE SAME MOODS AS ON MY ALBUMS "SOLSTICE" AND "IMAGES OF LIGHT".
IT IS MELODICAL AND AMBIENT ACCOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC, WHICH SHOULD HAVE HIGH APPEAL ALSO TO
ELECTRONIC MUSIC FANS!

- Do you have different creative approaches to writing? Are there any usual procedures? Is improvisation an
important element in your writing proccess?

- I TRY TO USE DIFFERENT METHODS IN WRITING MUSIC. TO GET VARIATIONS. BUT ALL THE TIME I TRY TO USE
IMPROVISATION. THE VERY FIRST SEEDS IN MY COMPOSITIONS OFTEN COME FROM IMPROVISATION. THE BASIC ELEMENTS IN A COMPOSITION WILL BE WRITTEN OUT IN MINUTES. BUT THE NEXT STEP, RECORDING AND
ARRANGING, WILL TAKE WEEKS. SO IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THEN TO KEEP HOLDING ON TO THE ORIGINAL IDEA. TO NOT FORGET WHY YOU KEPT JUST THAT SPECIAL TUNE.

-What is the key elements in your music?

- THE KEY ELEMENT IN MY MUSIC MUST BE MELODICAL AND RHYTHMICAL ELEMENTS, ARRANGED TOGETHER
WITH A SENSE OF LYRICAL ATMOSPHERE. ALL THE TIME VARIED WITH DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTATIONS.

- How do you know when a piece is really done and finished? Have you ever looked on a finished album with
regrets about a particular piece?

- THAT IS A MATTER OF FEELING. BUT IT IS ALSO A MATTER OF TIMING. SOMETIMES I WILL JUST STOP BEFORE IT IS FINISHED. IN THAT WAY IT WILL BE MORE FRESH AND OPEN. BUT THIS WILL NOT BE (HOPEFULLY)
SOMETHING THE LISTENER WILL CONCRETELY BE AWARE OF.
MUSIC CAN BE OVERKILLED AND OVERARRANGED SOMETIMES, AND I THINK THAT IS VERY BAD. THE RESULT
WILL OFTEN BE ART CONCISTED OF ONLY ONE DIMENSION. IF I READ A POEM OR WATCH A FILM, I LIKE IT BEST IF THERE ARE CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF"DIFFUSION". ELEMENTS WHICH IS NOT SO CONCRETE OR OBVIUOSLY
UNDERSTANDABLE.

- All your music is very perfect done. But what I notice and feel, is that your music allways has a very strong
spiritual sense. Are you O.K. with this opinion?

- HOPEFULLY MY MUSIC HAS A SPIRITUAL SENSE. MUSIC THAT NOT ONLY SHOULD BE BEAUTIFUL, BUT ALSO
MAKE YOU WONDER. LIKE LOOKING AT THE STARS. I THINK THIS ALSO HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH MY
PREVIOUS ANSWER. TO TRY TO MAKE SMALL UNKNOWN STORIES BETWEEN THE LINES.

- How do you think the music will be in the next century? Are you searching for this questions with your music?
How do you view the current new music scene, and where do you see it going in the next 10 years?

- IT SEEMS THAT THE MUSIC HAS TURNED TOWARDS A MORE RHYTHMIC AND SOUND BASED COMPOSITIONS.
LESSER MELODIC, AT LEAST IN THE AMBIENT/TECHNO ERA IN POPULAR MUSIC.
APART FROM THAT, THE 1990s HAVE BEEN THE TECHNO DECADE. I THINK WE ARE HEADING TOWARDS A MORE
ORGANIC AND ACOUSTIC TREND AGAIN.
-I THINK THAT IN THE FUTURE THE ACCOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS WILL BE FURTHER DEVELOPED, AND THEY WILL
HAVE A RENESSANCE. WHAT I MEAN IS THAT YOU IN THE FUTURE CAN BUY VERY SOFISTICATED ACCOUSTIC
INSTRUMENTS. INSTRUMENTS THAT LOOKS VERY ORDINARY, BUT INSIDE OF THEM THERE WILL BE VERY
ADVANCED ELECTRONIC. SO WHAT WE GET IS A NEW MIXTURE OF ORGANIC AND SYNTHESIZED SOUNDS.

- The variety of moods and settings in your music is great. Your music is very dynamic, but also very
hypnotic.Tell me about this. Also, do you think your music can be a way toward inner peace and meditation?

- I AM WORKING HARD TO GET VARIATIONS: BOTH WITHIN AN ALBUM AND STYLISTIC FROM ONE ALBUM TO THE
NEXT. THIS WILL MAKE BOTH MYSELF, AND THE LISTENERS MORE EXCITED AND REFRESHED.
AND I ALLWAYS TRY TO MAKE MUSIC THAT CAN FUNCTION ON SEVERAL LEVELS. MUSIC THAT IS MADE IN A WAY
SO THAT THE SAME TUNE CAN, IN ONE OCCATION BE VERY INTENSE, AND IN ANOTHER SETTING IT CAN
FUNCTION AS MEDITATION OR EVEN BACKGROUND MUSIC. THIS IS A BIG CHALLENGE, AND I HAVE WORKED
VERY HARD TO ACHIEVE THIS. THE MUSIC THEN HAS TO HAVE A LOT OF "HIDDEN" INFORMATION. TO HAVE
ELEMENTS THAT IS NOT TOO CLEARLY UNDERSTATED. IT ALL DEPENDS ON A CERTAIN PSYCOLOGICAL SENSE
WHEN MAKING THIS MUSIC.

- At this point in your career as a recording artist, you've spread your stylistic boundaries further than most
would ever dream. What other musical realms await a sonic explorer such as yourself? What should we expect from your next works?

- AS A COMPOSER, I HAVE WORKED A LOT TOGETHER WITH OTHER ARTFORMS. LIKE MULTMEDIA, THEATRE,
BALLET. IN THESE CASES I OFTEN MAKE WEIRD THINGS; NEW EXPLORED SONIC COMPOSITIONS, WHICH I HAVE NOT RELEASED ON ANY ALBUMS. RECENTLY I COLLABORATED WITH VIDEO-ARTIST SVEN PÅHLSSON. LAST YEAR
WE REPRESENTED NORWAY ON THE ART BIENNALE IN VENEZIA. CURRENTLY I AM WORKING WITH A PAINTER. TO MAKE A DOKUMENTARY ON NON-CULTURAL LANSCAPES.
APART FROM PROJECTS LIKE THESE, I WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE ALBUMS. I THINK, MUSIC THAT IS GUITAR
ORIENTED, IN A BROAD SENSE.

- Do you stay in contact with the musicians that you worked with earlier? Do you still keep in touch with
Oystein Sevag and Inge Norum, for example?

I STILL HAVE CONTACT WITH THESE PEOPLE THAT I WORKED WITH SEVERAL YEARS AGO. I HAVE DONE A LOT
OF PROJECTS WITH INGE NORUM. LAST YEAR WE PLAYED TOGETHER IN AN INDIAN SETTING WITH
TABLA/DJEMBE/VIOLIN/OBOE/ZITAR AND GUITAR.

- Tell me about your work as producer. I have some CDs from Origo Sound that you have produced.

- I HAVE PRODUCED SEVERAL ALBUMS FOR OTHER ARTISTS. MOSTLY SYNTHESIZER MUSIC. BUT ALSO WORLD
MUSIC AND FOLK MUSIC. I LIKE TO DO THIS KIND OF WORK. TO GET THE PERSONALITY OF THE ARTIST MORE
"VISIBLE". TO COLLECT ALL THE DIFFERENT INFORMATION AND IDEAS INTO ONE EXPRESSION.

- What is your opinion about the rave scene of electronic music (trance, jungle, drum'n'bass...)

- THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF GOOD THINGS HAPPENING IN THIS GENRE. I THINK ESPECIALLY JUNGLE IS
INTERESTING. ALSO A LOT OF REALLY BAD THINGS IS HAPPENING. BUT I HAVE GOT SOME INFLUENCES FROM
ALL THESE NEW GENRES. I HAVE HAD A DUO PROJECT TOGETHER WITH A NORWEGIAN DJ. WE CALLED THE
PROJECT "PACEMAKER". WE RELEASED ONE MAXI SINGLE (BEATSERVICE RECORDS) AND ALSO JOINED SEVERAL COLLECTION CDs. OUT OF THE TECHNO ORIENTED MUSIC CAME THE AMBIENT GENRE, AND PROJECTS LIKE
"FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON" AND "THE ORB" ARE IN MY OPINION THE MOST IMORTANT ONES. BUT THE TRENDS IN THESE GENRES TEND TO CHANGE TOO FAST, AND THEREFORE ALSO TENDS TO BE A LTTLE UNDERWORKED,
I THINK.
I DID AN AMBIENT/TECHNO PROJECT LAST YEAR. IT WAS A SIDEPROJECT; WHICH I NAMED EXILE. (THE ALBUM
"DIMENSION D", IS RELEASED ON ORIGO SOUND).

- Current projects?

- LAST WEEK I PLAYED LIVE ON A FESTIVAL IN SWEDEN, CALLED "EUROSONIC". IT WAS ARRANGED BY THE
WELL KNOWN GERMAN RADIOPROGRAMME "KLANGSCHAFTEN". I PUT TOGETHER ABOUT ONE HOUR OF
UNRELEASED MUSIC. IT WAS A SOLO PERFORMANCE ON GUITAR SYNTHESIZER TOGETHER WITH PRERECORDED
MATERIAL ON TAPE. IT WENT ON VERY NICE, AND I GOT VERY APPRECIATED BY AN ENTUSIATIC AUDIENCE.
I LIKE TO DO LIVE APPEARANCES LIKE THIS, ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS AND ARRANGEMENTS.