Unto Unreality

Story online since:  07.09.2008 / 03:42:30

Directly or undirectly, seriously or unseriously, I would guess at least a great bunch of you AGM readers have heard of Kim Sølve before. Apart from visually working with cutting-edge bands from all genres, the man has also given birth, over the years, to a vividly strong body of musical work. Ambient, experimental, electronica, neo-industrial, disharmonic metal, ballet composition - you name it, you got it. At first my intention was to specifically cover his more metal parkways, but you can't limit such a diverse artist to one side of the coin. Swarms and Pronounced "sex", for example, are two of his bands which recently got released world-wide, but so much more is brewing at night as we speak. So please do follow our steps, and let's see what you'll find out among these unreal worlds.

It's such a pleasure to welcome you on board Kim! With the summer strongly burning down our parts of the world, how is everything for you?
I'm doing good, thank you. There's always something happening somewhere and always something that needs to be started or finished. So I'm satisfied.

You've always been lurking somewhere behind all the Oslo circus, breeding your own stuff, which is to compose, among other things, some really edgy metal music. How can you then explain that we never had a chance to finally hear what it is you're musically conveying? Is it a question of methodology?
Methodology? Nah, it's a curse. And it's about me being an obsessive, restless perfectionist and overly ambitious part time-loony that doesn't have the sense to finish one thing at a time. I've also spent many years searching for the right companions to fulfill my plans with the different projects. The drums on M's debut album were recorded by 5 different drummers from 1999 to 2005, if that tells you anything (laughs). I've been working non-stop with music for 15 years, so there are unreal amounts of music ready to be launched from several projects in the near future...
And from your point of view, how do you choose what to release first, knowing that there's so much in the vault?
It's not a matter of choice. I work on the different albums when I am in the right place mentally, as I need to connect with the material.
You recently offered the few people who go to your Delirium Bound myspace page a chance to hear one short snippet, entitled Godfaced Dogs, which I think is a really badass song, not without a certain twisted touch. Could you try to explain what you find yourself achieving with this particular band, musically and conceptually?
Delirium Bound comes very naturally to me. It's in my hands and my mind and I'm assembling it all the time, replaying parts in my head over and over and over again, solving the puzzle, birthing songs.
So the ambition is mostly introverted - to get it out of my system, taking out the Thrash.
I don't have any social ambitions; I have no classic goals like touring, signing major record deals, having street teams, 50.000 Myspace friends or meeting anyone's expectations in any way. Delirium Bound is me being as honest, immediate and direct as I can, following that special feeling... Metal to me isn't about ignorance, intolerance, leather, ugly tattoos, beer and replica swords. Fuck that. I want Delirium Bound to smell like damp basements, burnt skin and mental disorders.
(Laughs) Do you sometimes feel as if a new wave of more cutting-edge Norwegian extreme metal related bands is currently popping up around you? I think it's quite refreshing to have all these bands such as Konstriktor, Yurei, The Konsortium, The Ghost Conspiracy, Organ:, etc. Though you've been doing this for a long time, don't you think it's kind of inspiring to see this happening, almost 15 years after Ved Buens Ende, Thorns and Fleurety?
New Wave of Disharmonic Norwegian Metal? I'm sure you are the first one to name it a new wave of anything. I hadn't given it a thought until you mentioned it. I've known these people and their work for years, and we're probably addicted to the same medications.
Sure, it's inspiring in a way, but it would have meant more 14 years ago. Some of us were around and working with a similar kind of music already, as depraved teenagers on the rebound from Black Metal. Since 1994 and up until the late 1990's this was what mattered the most to me, I was making this kind of music and breathing it 24/7 together with my friend Anders B. of Babyflesh. But to my surprise no new bands emerged, the old ones didn't continue, the audience was too preoccupied with retard Black Metal copycats to catch on to what bands like Ved Buens Ende, Voivod and Thorns were doing, and the record labels didn't want us. Nothing happened.

Have you ever thought about how bands like these seem to be cursed? For example: Thorns never really recorded much until after 2000 (for obvious reasons), Ved Buens Ende never made it to their second album and even their reunion a couple of years ago fell apart, Virus spent several years trying to finish their debut album and have spent many years on the new one as well (again, for obvious reasons), Rex spent years on their demo then disbanded before releasing anything, DHG spent almost a decade on their last album, Fleurety had huge delays when releasing their Departments-album and haven't done much since then. With M we have been trying to finish the recording of our debut album since 1999 and the Organ; album is taking forever too. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Another example: 4 years ago I started collecting artists for a compilation album. Everyone I invited said yes. All the artists were contributing with exclusive material. The line-up was: Thorns, M, DHG, solo song from Mr. Fixit of DHG, Ved Buens Ende and/or Virus, Rex, solo song from Czral, Yurei, the project that later on became The Konsortium, Zweizz, Fleurety, Smile Carved Sour and Organ. Only Fleurety, M, Organ, Smile Carved Sour and Czral managed to record their contributions, or at least parts of them. Then, during the Easter of 2005 Czral had his accident which I'm sure you all know well enough by now. Then other things started to go wrong too, delay upon delay from most of the artists, studio equipment getting fucked up, people getting fucked up, me getting fucked up. And it's not like I don't have enough to do already, so I had to put the compilation to rest. It's sad but in perfect tradition with the bands it was supposed to contain. But I'm digressing here. I'll move on to the next question now.
If you had a loaded gun pointed to your head, and suddenly were forced to define what the hell is Disharmonic metal in itself - what would it be, or what would you say?

Phew, that question is way too much for me to handle in the heat we have here today. To me metal is about Delirium, Dissonance and Death. That's why this will be the name of the first Delirium Bound album.

Before we go elsewhere, what's the compilation's situation nowadays? Have you abandoned it to rot and decay?

The cursed compilation is decomposing. Its birth was too painful and filled with too many obstacles and now 4 years have passed already. Besides, I'm not as frequently in touch with all the bands as I was at the time. It's a pity, but like I said above, it is in perfect tradition with the bands I intended it to feature. Keep in mind that several of the few artists who managed to record something for the compilation have used the recordings on EP's or Myspace or something else in the meantime, so there's not much left of it and we would probably have to start from scratch.

You got yourself an amazing and very creative drummer to play with in the person of Bjørge E. Martinsen, also known as Bjeima. Tell me, how did you meet him? What's so congruent about both your styles of composing, once they get going one into the other?

It was about four and a half years ago, when I heard Rex. I wrote them a complimentary email and I soon found Bjeima inviting himself over. So we got drunk and listened to music all night like boys often do. He told me he had written to me in 1996 when my band M aka Taarenes Vaar was searching for a vocalist through a local metal radio show, but I never got the letter and he of course never got a reply. If that letter had reached me we probably would have been playing together since then. I played him the M album and since that meeting we've been working together. First he joined M, then Swarms. He also plays for Delirium Bound.
You're playing on The Silver Hour, first Swarms record, which has been released by Vendlus Records. I've heard there were two Swarms "versions": one of a band playing live instruments, and another one which is more like contemporary ambient/noise. Would you please not only talk about the said album, but also let us know more regarding the other Swarms manifestation?

Yes, The Silver Hour came out via Vendlus and Unreality this summer. It's a fluid, cinematic, ritualistic album and not very bright at all. It comes from a place of no good things. Its title refers to the hour between night and morning where nothing is what it seems and where I sometimes find myself suffering from a severe feeling of emptiness and desolation. I worked on the album to and fro for years, since then there have been numerous delays in getting it released. The details of the recording are a major part of the concept as the source sounds were recorded in an abandoned factory, a place that seems lifted from my own mind and where time seems to be standing still. I never tire of visiting that place and it has the perfect ambiance and resonance for this album. The album features contributions from my close friends in Babyflesh and Zweizz. Excerpts are on our Swarms myspace page.

Swarms is indeed a multi-faced beast. We use the tools and equipment we find necessary or want to explore, regardless of whether this involves electronics or traditional instruments. Most of the music is on the diffuse border where all of this meets, and where Swarms manifests itself like something more than the sum of our respective qualities or techniques. This is part of what makes us such a cinematic and versatile ensemble, which in turn has earned us a certain reputation as composers for modern dance performances. We have done 7 or 8 commissioned ballet pieces and are now working on two large compositions, one of them for a full evening performance premiering next year.
Swarms consists of Petter Berntsen on bass and engineering, Bjeima on drums, percussion and other instruments, Qeriq on vocals, me on guitars, electronics and other instruments and an increasing number of guest contributors on saxophones, flutes, percussion, vintage keyboards, vocals, etc.
We are now focusing on recording the first album with more traditional instrumentation, which will also feature many of our commissioned works.
Simple question for the uninitiated: what are the main musical and conceptual differences between M and Delirium Bound?
M is an open-minded, sometimes experimental metal orchestra. We do whatever we feel like doing, but in a metal context. The music is often slow, sticky and ugly, with a certain flavor of fine grapes. The main goal of our current existence is to finish and release our debut album which is insanely overdue.
Delirium Bound is a total black thrash assault, stripped to the bones, no artificial sweeteners, no time to slow down or smell the stink.
There are parallels between the expressions of these bands, but the differences will be quite obvious when the albums are out.

And could you ever bring those two bands on a stage or are they more likely to rumble only within secret studio areas?

Delirium Bound might perform live when our time is due. But it is time-consuming to prepare and rehearse so it's not a priority.

M however is doomed to remain a thorny, drunken and slow moving vessel of negativity drifting through time, not really caring about anything going on in real life. Concerts included.

I've personally been waiting for your own label, Obleaque Presence, to kick off. What's up with that?

Well, it is more like an umbrella for all my own reality-escaping activities than a real, functioning record label, and it's not limited to music. The cursed compilation I mentioned earlier was planned on Obleaque Presence in cooperation with another label. I recently changed the name to Unreality and will be online with a simple site or blog at sometime this year to promote the release of Swarms' The Silver Hour. The site will function as a news source and display window for almost all my activities, including Swarms, M, Delirium Bound, Blitzkrieg Baby, my solo work as well as my visual art project.

The plan is to cooperate with other labels on realizing my releases. The Silver Hour is the first one, a joint release with Vendlus Records, and I'm currently in correspondence with a small, fresh and very exciting label. There will also be micro edition CDR's, art prints, etc.

Speaking of your visual art – I don't know if you already have, but would you want to present some of your solo creations in galleries, instead of collaborating with musicians, writers or magazines? How important is the Art World of galleries for you as an artist?
My debut exhibition was this summer at the RockArt festival in July. I exhibited a series of illustrations connected to Swarms and my solo project. Trine (my girlfriend and colleague) showed works from her Psykosedyr project.

I wouldn't say the art world is important to me as some kind of institution I thrive to be accepted by, but personal art work is something I plan to keep on realizing and hopefully some galleries will be among the places to display the finished pieces.

Working with Trine + Kim Design Studio has its limitations in the sense that we mostly express someone else's art. That is our specialty. We always blend ourselves into the mix whether we like it or not, but in the end what we do is to make a visual representation of other peoples artistic expression, be it musicians or choreographers or writers or whatever. It is a pleasing and demanding day job but I need more personal outlets in order to stay somewhat sane.

Pronounced "Sex" have released their first album on Interregnum Records. Now is this some sort of a continuation of Aphrodisiac, Sven-Egil's previous project? How would you describe the whole thing? I remember you guys talking about the famous Sundance Festival; did you finally go there?
Aphrodisiac was Zweizz and Mr. Fixit's project 12 or so years ago, I was never involved in it back then. When Zweizz and I started to work together on an album we briefly toyed with the idea of picking up the Aphrodisiac name for ourselves and even mentioned our cooperation as Aphrodisiac here and there, but soon scrapped the idea in favor of Pronounced "sex". That's all.
Zweizz, Thrawn and me did a recording session one infernal summer night 6 years ago, then Zweizz and I wanted to make something from the results, something we could work on together like we had wanted to do for a long time already. The music took on a life of its own and we are still amazed at how that album came into being; how it grew into an organism almost like we were just tools to give it a shape. The album is called XXX and is out now on Interregnum Records.
Last year we were approached by director and photographer Bruce LaBruce about contributing with music to his erotic zombie movie OTTO; or up with dead people, which premiered at the Sundance Festival this year. It's the perfect setting for our music.

Interregnum is a label to keep an eye on, by the way. Label head Andreas is a gentleman of proper taste and has nothing but disrespect for genres and labeling.

And is this something you'd want to even push further, such as to compose a whole soundtrack for a movie? Considering you have a very solid background experience with visual/sound art fusion, is it only me or working with movies could be a perfectly logical evolution in your creative career?

Considering Swarms' experience in making music and ambience for ballet performances I believe that crossing over into work for movies would be doable and attractive for us. Shorts, art movies and/or video art, horror and some forms of pornography would be ideal.

What is so visually fascinating with pornography? The Pronounced "sex” album, only by its very name, seems to be somehow connected to sexuality in some form or another.

Pronounced "sex” is a merging of Zweizz' and my respective and very different ways of working with sound, our imaginations, our tastes, our obsessions and our humor. We are very close friends, which is the basis for our cooperation. Our plan was to make an album that felt like summer. There will be more albums from us, for sure.

How was your experience at RockArt 2008?

The festival is held in an abandoned factory by the ocean. The place itself was absolutely perfect, huge concrete buildings by the sea, derelict and industrial, human-made but still inhuman. The sun was shining every day and the festival people treated us like stars.

I exhibited my images in a huge room that I shared with Trine and a sculptor/installation artist. The roof was cracking up, there was dust everywhere and the walls were coming apart when we mounted the pictures. I loved it. I didn't expect it to be so rewarding to exhibit my works and I'm definitely looking for more opportunities now, both here and abroad.

Well thank you so much for keeping up with the flow; it's been an honor sharing ideas with you, Kim. All the best to both you and Trine. I would like to end this by a simple question: what do you think is the most essential in your life right now?

I feel that filling each and every day with meaningful activities is what means the most to me now; commissioned work, private work, making music, private and social happenings, corresponding with and meeting people I treasure. Whatever puts a smile on my face.

Oliver Side

[Back to the stories]