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Things to do in Ringebu

A child of the 80’s, I was raised in the small town of Ringebu, located in one of the least urban districts of Norway; the beautiful valley of Gudbrandsdalen. I was drumming on tables and kitchen utensils – in time, the rumours say – before I could speak. Some years later, in 1992, when I could indeed speak, the picture above was taken. I am 10 years old, and seem to be enjoying myself. There are several visible pieces of evidence to this. A) The grin on my face. B) The ancient and ridiculously heavy Blüthner piano which I was fortunate enough to have standing in my own living room. C) The full size drumkit which my parents were loving enough (or stupid enough, depending on who you ask) to get me as a christmas present five years earlier. D) The small wooden table, with cassettes containing everything Phil Collins related in chronological panorama display.

I was a total nerd. And loving it.

 

Opus 1

Now let’s rewind by three more years. I’m going to do something very very frightening. I’m going to reveal my first (intentional) composition ever. It was simply called Min egen sang (My own song), and written when I was seven. This is a cassette recording of that very thing from that very time, played on that very piano in the picture above.

Melodically it’s very primitive, but rhythmically there are some things going on here. In my head this probably sounded like both piano, bass and drums. The left hand is sort of both drums and bass, and the right hand is kind of riffing. Not exactly a “correct” way to treat a piano, but it was the only way I knew to translate my ideas into playable form, so far. I continued to write small ditties like these the following years. They got a whole lot better than this, but since I can’t find any recordings of them, you’ll have to take my word for it. Or UKM’s.

ukm4

 

Hail to the king: Olaf Kolbe

colb_wide

These are kolbs (in Norwegian: “kolber”). They live in Kolbeland. They are small rubbery things, originally designed as some sort of bottle caps for big soda bottles my grandmother used to keep in her cellar. That was until me and my sister started painting faces on them, giving them names and personalities. From then on they were kolbs forever. The king of the kolbs is called Olaf, Olaf Kolbe. He is also the lead vocalist of his own band, called Colbeland City, whose lyrics are mostly about The King’s own greatness, kindness and (!) cuteness. Around the time of my 10th birthday, one of my main occupations was recording a senseless amount of cassette albums (17 in total) with this fictious band, which in addition to the songs themselves also contain arguments and fights between the band members, plus guest appearences and/or sabotations by other citizens of Kolbeland. For this strange obsession of a hobby project I used the piano and the drum kit on the picture above, but mostly I borrowed my sister’s Casio synth, since it had more possibilties for simulating a “band sound” since I was, after all, playing alone.

This is a small selection (12 exclusive minutes!) of clips from those old cassettes, sung in Kolbish (a ridiculed kind of Norwegian dialect) and subtitled in Norwegian. Listen… if you dare! Me, I’m going to regret putting this out on the internet. Which I already do.

 

MIDIocrity

Somewhere around my thirteenth birthday, I bought my first MIDI keyboard. This changed everything. Finally I could add layers upon layers, with seemingly limitless possibilities… I didn’t have to imagine a drum part or a bass part anymore, nor rely on corny preset rhythm patterns – I could actually use drum kit and bass sounds and play them all myself! And strings! And an arsenal of cheezy synths! And even distortion guitar! In my early teens I was using software like Klik & Play to create computer games, while most other kids were doing other stuff like getting drunk for the first time. Game creating was fun, but apparently not that fun, as most of the games (there must have been hundreds) were never completed. What was fun, was creating the beginning of all those games, so I got to make epic intro cut-scenes and establish the games’ musical palette. All I had was a standard 49-key MIDI keyboard and a Gravis Ultrasound sound card. Check out this small selection and party like it’s 1996!

It needs to be said that even though I was using these very specific sounds, I was still imagining that some of them sounded like something completely different – like the melody in the first track, which in my head was a vocal melody. The music pieces was created very quickly and with a rather sparse attention to detail. I probably used less than an hour to do most of them. I was very impatient and always felt I had to move on, there was so much to do. It also needs to be said that I still wasn’t listening to “normal” music, like most other kids my age. Since I was a computer geek, the computer game music of the 90s was much of my early muse, in addition to everything Phil Collins was involved in, naturally.

 

Serious shit

After recieving a Hi8 camcorder for my confirmation, making movies was suddenly more exciting than making games. And those movies needed their music too! Even if it was a film of a school class trip, I tried to make sure a rather trivial speech from the school’s principal sounded as deadly serious as the President’s speech from Independence Day. Likewise, a film where a Kinder Surprise figure sneaks into a barn to kill a defenseless pig, would be scored like this:

 

In the summer between junior high and high school, me (representing ÆLG Productions) and my classmate Tore (representing Chainsaw Productions) decided to join forces and create this 10 minute movie called Bananen. Here is the first part of the film, which contains a pretty ketchupy death scene, so brace yourself. This time we were a bit more prepared than before. We even storyboarded the whole thing, and used a camera stand! Some of the shots are actually quite cool. Still, I am sorry for what you are about to see.

 

I’d like to end this little museum tour with come clips from the score of Wrath of the Booger (1999), a film which saw the light of day (and two or three people) between my first two years at high school. It was made by me and my buddy Rune. Alas, this snotty abomination of a movie is simply way too nasty for publishing on the internet, so I’m afraid a soundtrack (ripped straight from the original VHS, complete with “dialogue” and background noise) will have to do. Around this time I started to have a more nerdy/unhealthy interest in film music, listening to those Star Wars double CD albums while reading the analytic liner notes with great care.

 

Then what?

Thinking about it now, it is something of a mystery that it would take nine whole years between this – my last amateur film score, and Lilliseed – the first score I actually got paid for. I was writing and playing music every day in the meantime, though. Both my high school years at musikklinja på Vinstra Vidaregåande Skule and my subsequent four years studying musicology at NTNU in Trondheim were filled with so many musical activities like playing in bands, building studios, recording albums, and even trying to finish my courses, not to mention growing up – so I guess there was not much time left to make short films about pig murders and deadly boogers. For several of these years, my focus was more on pop and rock oriented genres, producing and songwriting – culminating in my solo project, finally recording the album Escapades in 2005-2006. Maybe a future Museum entry should concentrate on this “lost weekend” period, the “Eirik tries everything” years. Seven years of electro jazz, glitch pop, death metal, prog rock and alternative country, all the while changing from keyboard player to drummer to singer. But all this brought me to that year 2006, when I got my first gig in the business, at the NRK, with Jubalong. Which, as fate would have it, turned out to be the project to make use of all those years of musical anarchy.