It's a blog!
It’s me again. Obviously, it’s my blog, so if it were anybody else writing here, you should call the police.
I spent my christmas moving my studio to a new place. In my book, christmas time equals moving time. It’s a tradition I started last year, when a water leakage El Maximus basically destroyed my whole apartment to the core (several thousand litres of water is clearly too much of a good thing). But enough about that. I may be used to moving from apartment to apartment, but what I’m even more used to is moving my studio. I’ve been trying to count how many different places I’ve rented as my working suite or studio since I started working profesionally as a composer. And I’m not talking about one of these fashionably portable laptop studios here. I’m talking about my main rig which contains a fairly sized truckload of stuff (increasing in size over the years, naturally).
So, I was only about to do a quick count, mention this as a part of some silly joke, and then move on to write about something more important. But I got stuck on this fascinating subject. Wouldn’t it be funnier if I do a complete summary of my chronicles of studio-moving adventures, with pictures and all? It may not be much fun for you, but at least for me it’s a nice trip down memory lane, which brings up some good and some less good moments. And I am the one running this blog anyway, so technically I can write what the hell I want. With this in mind, and with my not inconsiderable photo archive at my fingertips, I proceeded with writing my studio chronicles. I even decided to include a small map detailing all the actual moving trips from A to B (OCD, anyone?). A word of warning: Since I don’t know how to program this advanced stuff properly, with both big and small pictures scattered around, this blog entry will probably look incorrect and/or downright crappy on mobile phones. And due to the fact that no less than 63 pictures need to be loaded, better go grab a coffee if your internet connection needs some time to think about it. OK, here we go:
Spring 2004: Student life in Trondheim, Norway. Life before it gets serious. Me and my buddies in my old band Aladdins Cave build a great studio at Lademoen, with a huge recording room, vocal booth and living room. This is where we record all our stuff with the band, and where I record all of my solo material from the period, including the album Escapades. We build it all from the ground up, or at least they build it while I do a lot of videotaping to document the whole process. Me being the least handy of the bunch (to put it mildly), I quickly conclude that anything of this size I will never be able to build again, so better make good use of the place while I can. So much for my studies, in other words.
November 2005: In a daring move, I decide the time is right to abandon every safe pillar in my worryless student life and move to Oslo, the great and mysterious capital of Norway, to start finding some work. For the time being I set up a small home studio in my apartment at Kjelsås, and continue to go back to our studio in Trondheim for the occational bigger recording session.
April 2006: Working on finishing the Escapades album, and starting my work with the NRK children’s tv series JUBALONG, I move into a small room at SubTunes Studio, right in the centre of Oslo. This facility looks so funny when I look at it now. Hard to believe that I actually worked on this equipment once upon a time. An old Apple PowerBook G4, with one of those giant old monitors! After a while I finally buy a PowerMac G5 and some additional monitors, and I’m in business. Until…
January 2007: One day when I arrive at work, my studio looks like this. An intensely thick layer of grey dust is filling every thinkable surface in every corner of the room. The air is unbreathable, and practically everything is ruined by a great amount of bricks scattered all around my equipment. All this due to some construction work going on in the floor above, and the apparent existence of an invisible shaft making tons of heavy shit fall straight through the roof into MY studio. This is when it occurs to me that insurance probably would be a really good idea. Spending some weeks cleaning the whole mess up myself, I am also busy trying to raise hell for the landlord, who is trying his best to blame ME for the incident, and simply wants to ignore the whole thing. He’s not even interested in taking a look at the damage. I remember telling him he’s fortunate that I’m even alive – it’s only luck that I wasn’t actually at work at the time. I work a lot, you know. Upon which he responded quite angrily that no, it’s a real pity I wasn’t there – “because then I could have prevented this all from happening“. Right. You try that. Try preventing several gigatons of bricks falling from above, maybe with your hands, without crushing too many bones in the process. Seriously, what a dick. In the end, after putting his whole construction project to a halt, with kind help from the lovely folks at Plan- og bygningsetaten, and having Arbeidstilsynet on standby while threatening to make a tabloid newspaper celebrity out of him, he finally agrees to pay for my lost equipment. I still have to do all the dirty work myself though. I also need to concentrate on getting some actual work done, so I move all my stuff home to my recently aquired apartment at Grünerløkka for a couple of months. Astonishingly, important equipment like my main computer still seems to work – and no data is lost.
March 2007: When I finally move back to my small studio room at SubTunes (after thinking long and hard about going back there at all), it’s a bit of an upgrade – funded by the money from the landlord, fittingly. Look, finally flat screens! New Yamaha HS-80 studio monitors! I actually manage to finish a whole new season of JUBALONG here with almost no interruptions.
July 2007: For several reasons though, it was not to last. In another daring move, I join up with some music production colleagues to move in to a larger studio facility at the top of Grünerløkka. This was a bad idea from the start. Once again the wrath and trickery of sleazy landlords lay upon us, like a veil of darkness. We were aware of construction work going on nearby, which made quite a bit of noise. The thing is, we were assured by our landlord (gotta love those guys) that this would be over in a couple of months, and that our entire floor was being refurbished and everything was going to look SO AMAZING. I like to believe that people are good and decent and don’t lie me straight in the face – but of course, I’ve learnt since. The very same day we move all our stuff inside our new estate, we start getting some really bad feelings about this whole deal. Since nobody is providing us with the information we need to regain our faith in the project, we have to do some detective work ourselves. After actually getting to speak to some of the construction workers directly, it becomes clear that we are not talking about a couple of months, but more like THREE OR FOUR YEARS. And what about those plans to make the whole place look amazing? Plain and utter lies. Award winning interior design or not – the noise we can’t live with. So, basically, we’re fucked.
August 2007: After roughly a month of legal mumbo jumbo, trying to find some ground on which to attack these bastards and get our money back, in or out of court, we start growing real tired of the whole case. There are no easy solutions in sight, and the landlords won’t budge. We’ve wasted so much time on this sad chapter already, and we all have work to do. So we go our separate ways, I move my stuff back home to my apartment again and get started with my work on the fourth and final season of JUBALONG from there.
September 2007: Luckily, a new possibility quickly opens up at Lydbadet, in the same building and floor as SubTunes Studio. A great little studio where I had a lovely little vocal booth and everything. Lots of fun is had in this studio, including the majestic final season of JUBALONG, and the recording of the classic Fireworks EP by my friends in the band The Generous Days (as seen on these pictures). And so I lived there happily ever after? Not really. Only because it is the most natural thing in the world, some executive smartass decides that my studio (and my studio only!) is to become… wait for it… a STAIRCASE!
June 2008: My saviour this time turns out to be legendary Norwegian producer and live sound wiz Lars “Klokker’n” Klokkerhaug (who sadly passed away only a year later). By this time I have joined up with my friends, music producers and composers Nils-Egil Langeland and Kjetil Lunde. And Lars just happens to have a room for us in his studio complex Subsonic Society located in Calmeyers gate – actually the old studio of the legendary Tommy Tee. So we check in, quickly naming our suite Calmeyer Studio. This appears to be a colourful environment, as the building itself is an old synagogue, and the floor below us is housing the Jewish Museum of Oslo, and – naturally – a gay sauna. And all this while Lars is recording the latest Satyricon album and I’m working on ANGKOR-MYSTERIET for NRK Radioteatret, playing scary samples of Tuvan throat singing really loud so that the whole backyard can hear it. Because of the building’s poor air conditioning, or lack thereof, we have to have the windows open at all times to basically survive in there. So, the Jewish Museum’s visitors are hearing a loud mix of black metal and ancient Tuvan rituals while seeing lots of sharp dressed men walking in and out of saunas. Good times.
Calmeyer Studio was also the place where I would record my first feature film score – BESTEVENNER – in 2009. I stay at this place for almost three years, which must account as a personal record. And even after leaving this lovely studio, I have still returned there many times for specific recording sessions on various projects.
March 2011: I move back to good old SubTunes Studio again, this time to the big main suite and not just the small room in the back. Sharing the wonderful place with musician, producer and SubTunes founder Janne Korneliussen, this may technically be one of the best studio facilities I have been a part of, with a fantastic recording booth and a big control room with a lounge section in one corner. But around this time I really start to notice that for reasons of keeping my mental health, I should not spend any more time in dark cellars, nor endure long working days in rooms without windows. So my stay is a short one. I do, however, manage to get a considerable amount of work done here. During these months I compose and record the Hunderfossen musical play TROLLSVERDET, and some tv stuff including TIL TOPPEN AV NORGE, HELLSTRØM INVITERER and those quite heavily aired FANTORANGEN cover songs.
December 2011: A real turning point for me and the way I actually work. This time it’s the wonderful people at Storyteller Film & TV, which I had previously worked with on KJÆRLIGHETSHAGEN (and would work with again on BESTEMOR OG BESTEFAR), who seemed to have a couple of rooms available for freelancers. Ironically, the place in question is an old building at the top of Grünerløkka, more precisely the same building – even the same floor – as the total failure of a studio project four and a half years earlier (you know, the one where the bastards tricked us). By now, however, the noisy building project is way past us, and the place is liveable again. It doesn’t look any different, though – so much for all the promises about making the place look like a million dollars. But it doesn’t really matter. The key thing is that for the first time I become part of an environment with lots of other people in the film and tv business working in the same corridor (and the other floors too). I decide from this moment on that I don’t really need a full-scale studio anymore as my main workplace. Rather, give me a living and breathing creative environment, where I can have my own little suite, and meet other great people and have a sudden coffee with them right outside my door. To this date this is an important survival factor for me. Working as a composer is lonely and quiet enough already, and in terms of how to structure your workdays there are no routines, rules or restrictions but the ones you set for yourself. So one has to make it feel more like you’re actually going to work like a “normal” person, including having other people around. At least that’s how it works for me. Others might prefer the lonely aspect of it, but I personally can’t stand it. It just took me some years to quite grasp that. It seems like such a trivial thing, but the fact is that from this moment onward, I’m a happier person.
I actually had two different rooms in this facility, first a really small one, and then a quite big one. So technically I moved again in April 2012, even though I only moved like 5 metres down the corridor. Also, some of the projects I’m most fond of were done in this period, among them PEER GYNT: UTFOR STUPET and DE TØFFESTE GUTTA.
May 2013: Word finally comes in that they are going to convert our fantastic building full of film, tv, music and media professionals, into… apartments. That’s basically what the landlords have been saying all along, but they repeated it so many times that I stopped believing it (by this time surely I’ve stopped believing landlords altogether). Anyway, still sticking with the folks of Storyteller and Encore Film, we all moved into new and stunning locales in Brugata, with a great view over Grønland! And jeez, are these facilities nice. Almost too good to be a lasting thing, yes? Anyway, we all stay for one year and a half before the next turn of events. Musically this is another great period for me, as I do both PEER GYNT: SELVETS KEISER, MANN (44), I AM KUBA and not to mention BRØRNE LØVEHJARTE from this place – among a great deal of other things. I also frequently visit Den Røde Mølle right outside our door, for some excellent Indian food (their peshwari nan is yummy!), when I’m working late. Which happens.
December 2014: It is time for Storyteller to move on to greener pastures, as they are bought by the Nordic production company Monday, and prepare to move out and join up with their new co-workers. As I myself really don’t have the use (nor the money) for a full 14-room facility, a more obvious solution is to move my little studio lot once again – this time to a similar creative collective. What I have found is a real gem in Grønland, Oslo, full of wonderful people within film, tv and stage production and post production. I have come home, again. Now I just have to think of every day I get to spend here as a gift. Because before we know it, someone will decide to make the place into a hotel, or a parking lot. Or a sauna.
I’d like to thank all my good friends who helped me move my studio over the years. Some of you have even helped me twice or thrice. You know who you are. I know who you are. We both know how much you rule.