ERIK WØLLO

Interview 1998,
by Manuel Fco. Moreno Martinez, "Nuevas Músicas del Mundo Magazine", Spain.



- How did it all start with your music??

- 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 HEAVY 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.

- Are you educated in the Norwegian Music Conservatory or are you self taught as a composer?
Which composing techniques do you use when you compose? Pencil or computer? And what inspires you?

- I AM GENERALLY SELFTAUGHT. I STARTED AT THE UNIVERSITY, BUT I QUIT AFTER SOME TIME. BECAUSE I WAS
TOO BUSY PLAYING GIGS! TOURING ALL OVER NORWAY. I PLAYED IN MANY DIFFERENT BANDS, MOSTLY OF
JAZZROCK TYPE.
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.(AT THAT TIME I WAS LIVING IN OSLO).
SO , AFTER RELEASING TWO ALBUMS (MAINLY ACCOUSTIC), I WANTED TO MAKE AN ALL ELECTRONIC ALBUM,
WHICH BECAME "TRACES".THE VERY FIRST ELECTRONIC MUSIC RELEASE IN NORWAY.
SINCE THEN I HAVE MOSTLY USED THE COMPUTER FOR WRITING MY MUSIC.

- Your first recordings is only available on LP/Vinyl. Will these be released on CD?

- "WHERE IT ALL BEGINS" AND "DREAMS OF PYRAMIDS" ARE ONLY AVAILABLE ON LP. NEXT YEAR "WHERE IT ALL
BEGINS", WILL BE RERELEASED ON CD. THERE ARE ALSO PLANS ON RELEASING A COLLECTION ALBUM WITH
EXCERPTS FROM ALL MY WORK. ALSO FROM THESE, MY FIRST RECORDINGS.

- You also make a lot of music for Ballet, Theatre and Film. Will this music be released?

- MAKING MUSIC FOR RELEASING ON CD IS ONLY ONE PART OF MY WORK. AS YOU SEE ON MY CV, I MAKE MUSIC FOR OTHER MEDIA AS WELL. SOME OF THIS MUSIC IS RELEASED ON CD, LIKE THE "FOSSEGRIMEN"
PROJECT(MULTIMEDIA). WHEN COMPOSING FOR OTHER MEDIA, THERE WILL OFTEN BE CREATED PARTS WHICH I CAN USE ON MY ALBUMS. BUT I WRITE A LOT OF MUSIC FOR ACCOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS, WHICH WILL NOT SUIT
MY ELECTRONIC ORIENTED ALBUMS.

"Traces" was recorded and released on LP in 1985. Later it was released on CD on Badland Records in 1988
(France), including the "Wintergarden" Suite. Wintergarden is also the name of your personal studio. Tell me
about it?

- I STARTED TO COLLECT EQUIPMENT FOR MY OWN STUDIO WHEN I WAS LIVING IN OSLO. (ABOUT 1983).
SINCE THEN I HAVE MOVED TO A SMALLER CITY (FREDRIKSTAD), WHERE I HAVE MY OWN HOUSE. I HAVE BUILT
IT TO SUIT MY ELECTRONIC MUSIC, BUT IT IS ALSO GOOD FOR ACCOUSTIC RECORDINGS AS WELL. I HAVE
SPENT ALL MY MONEY ON THIS STUDIO! SO, IT IS WHAT YOU COULD CALL A HIGH END STUDIO, WITH ALL THE
LATEST TOYS.
BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME TO HAVE THESE POSSIBILITIES. TO HAVE A LOT OF CHOICES.

- I personally think "Traces" is some of the best and most impressive work you have done in the style of
electronic music. How is it possible to make these masterpieces like "Entrance " or Tide 2"?

- TRACES IS A VERY SPECIAL ALBUM TO ME. WITH TRACES I FELT I REALLY GOT INTO SOMETHING NEW. THESE
IDEAS I HAVE USED ON SEVERAL ALBUMS SINCE.


- In Spain today it is very difficult to find and buy music that is not made for the pop scene. How is the
alternative and electronic music scene in Norway?

- 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 INSTRUMENTS. I AM OFTEN CALLED THE FIRST
NORWEGIAN TECHNO ARTIST! NOW THERE ARE SEVERAL NORWEGIAN ELECTRONIC ARTISTS, AND I THINK IT IS
MUCH MORE ACCEPTED NOW.

- I also know the music of Oystein Sevag, who is also from Norway. You have been working with him a lot on
your first albums. Also with Celeste, (which also included Bendik Hofseth on saxophones).

- FOR SEVERAL YEARS I WORKED VERY CLOSELY WITH ØYSTEIN SEVÅG. I STARTED AN ELECTRIC JAZZROCK
BAND CALLED CELESTE, AND BROUGHT HIM IN AS THE KEYBOARD PLAYER.(AROUND 1982). HE THEN HAD TO BUY HIS FIRST SYNTHESIZER! SINCE THEN I USED HIM AS A COPRODUCER ON MY FIRST ALBUMS. I THINK HE BECAME VERY INFLUENCED BY MY MUSIC AND MY IDEAS, WHEN HE LATER STARTED TO MAKE HIS OWN ALBUMS.

- Do you often play liveconcerts? Do you like to act before the public?. Would you like to come and play
concerts in Spain?.

- FROM 1980 TO -85, I PLAYED IN MANY DIFFERENT BANDS. I DID A LOT OF TOURING. AFTER JUST WORKING ON
MY OWN, I HAVE DONE SOME CONCERTS. BUT ONLY FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS, LIKE FESTIVALS.
THIS SPRING I MIGHT DO AN APPEARANCE ON A FESTIVAL IN SWEDEN.

- Your album " Transit " includes stronger rhythmic moments than on your previous albums.
Some of the pieces even has straigth techno beats. Is this somthing you will continue to work and develop on
future albums?

- I HAVE ALWAYS WORKED VERY RHYTHMICAL IN MUSIC. ALL MY ALBUMS ARE BASED ON RHYTHMIC AND
MELODIC PATTERNS. ON "TRANSIT" I WANTED THE RHYTHM TO BE MORE UPFRONT. WITH A POP AND TECHNO
FEEL. I CHOOSE ONE MAIN IDEA FOR EACH ALBUM. EACH ALBUM HAS ITS OWN UNIVERSE.

- I HAVE JUST FINISHED A NEW ALBUM, CALLED "GUITAR NOVA". IT WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS YEAR. (1998)
IT IS MOSTLY IN THE SAME DIRECTION AS MY PREVIOUS ALBUMS. -BUT WITH A BIG DIFFERECE. IT IS ALL DONE
ON ACOUSIC INSTRUMENTS. I AM USING DIFFERENT ACOUSTIC GUITARS TOGETHER WITH MODERN STUDIO
ELECTRONICS, TO MAKE NEW AND EXCITING ENSEMBLES. I THINK IT HAS MUCH OF THE SAME MOODS AS ON MY ALBUM FROM 1992, "SOLSTICE".
IT IS AMBIENT ACCOUSTIC GUITAR MUSIC, WHICH SHOULD HAVE HIGH APPEAL ALSO TO ELECTRONIC MUSIC
FANS!

- The rhythmic elements on tunes like "Monument", "Abracada" or "Wonderland" are very delicate arranged.
How do you get these ideas?

- 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 MYSELF, TO GET THE RHYTHM INTO MY BODY. TO GET THE FYSICAL
FEEL OF THE MUSIC. I USE THESE IDEAS WHEN I COMPOSE MY OWN MUSIC.

- How do you see the current panorama of the electronic music?

- IT SEEMS THAT THE MUSIC HAS TURNED TOWARDS A MORE RYHYTHMIC BASED COMPOSITIONS. LESSER
MELODIC, AT LEAST IN THE AMBIENT/TECHNO ERA.
APART FROM THAT, THE 1990s HAVE BEEN THE TECHNO DECADE. I THINK WE ARE HEADING TOWARDS A MORE
ORGANIC 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.

- Are you currently working on any new material for CD? Where are you going next?

- I HAVE NOT STARTED TO WORK ON NEW MATERIAL SINCE "GUITAR NOVA", WHICH I HAVE JUST FINISHED. BUT I THINK THERE WILL BE A MIXTURE OF ELECTRONICS AND ACCOUSTIC SOUNDS, WITH MY DIFFERENT GUITARS
PLAYING UPFRONT....

- You have been working with electronic composition since the early 1980s. You are a pioneer in the New Age
and melodic electronic music. Which advices can you give to new artists, who has just started on their career?

- GENERALLY ARTISTS HAVE TO GO THEIR OWN WAYS. FOLLOW THEIR HEARTS. TO GET TO KNOW THEIR INNER
VOICE, TO CREATE SOMETHING PERSONAL. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, I THINK. ALSO THE MOST
DIFFICULT PART.
OTHER ADVICES WOULD HAVE TO START WITH LEARNING TO PLAY AN ACCOUSTIC OR ELECTRIC INSTRUMENT
PROPERLY. THIS IS TO GET A MORE FYSICALLY FEEL TOWARDS MUSIC. ARE YOU PLANNING TO MAKE RHYTHMIC
MUSIC, BUY YOURSELF SOME PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS.
I KNOW A LOT OF ELECTRONIC MUSICIANS WHO NEVER HAS TAKEN THE TIME AND PATIENCE TO LEARN TO PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT PROPERLY. THEY HAVE ONLY BEEN PROGRAMMING.
THIS IS A "SHORTCUT", AND WILL HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THEIR MUSIC SOONER OR LATER. IT IS ALSO A GOOD THING TO TEST YOR MUSIC TOWARDS A LIVE AUDIENCE.

- IT IS OF COURSE IMPORTANT TO HAVE GOOD TOOLS AND HIGH QUALITY EQUIPMENT WHEN YOU WORK AS A
COMPOSER/MUSICIAN, BUT IT IS EASY TO GET BLINDED BY ALL THE TECHNOLOGY. IT IS THE MUSIC THAT
MATTERS, AFTER ALL!