Interview: Einar Stray tells us about world peace

Photos (c) L. Lanjouw / PonyDanceClyde

Right before Einar and the band pulled off an impressive show at the last INTRODUCING, we met the Oslo-based singer/songwriter in a random Kreuzberg café to talk about his album and the masses of love floating around in the Norwegian music scene.

PDC: Welcome to Kreuzberg! You seem like a Berlin regular…
Einar: Yeah I think we’ve been here three times this year already! It’s such a nice city to come back to, we’re always looking forward to play here.

PDC: How do you think the Norwegian music scene has been influencing you and your style?
Einar: I like to call it the MySpace generation, with so many artists starting out as bedroom musicians/producers. Like Team Me – and me as well – having the possibility to have these free conversations about music and influences via the internet. And I think it’s the same thing in Norway and Oslo especially, where we are based. There are so many great new bands making their way up, and we all care for each other.  I think that’s a great thing for us, being part of a community that’s so open, there’s a lot of dialogue between the bands, so I think that the music scene in Norway has really grown to a warm community.

PDC: …That pretty much sounds like fairytale world peace land, is there no competition at all?
Einar: I dont think so, no, in Norway it’s pretty easy to be seen and heard if you’ve got something on your heart and everyone wants the best for each other. And there’s great support, you can always ask the government for money and if you’ve got something special, they will give it to you.

PDC: What’s the latest track that has been stuck in your head?
Einar: I’ve been listening to a St. Vincent a lot lately, a Canadian singer/songwriter. There’s this one song on her latest album Strange Mercy, I think it’s called searching, it’s really catchy and fascinating and has this amazing guitar riff – I don’t know how she can play it but I’ve seen her play it live and it’s kind of cheesy but done in a very tasteful way.

PDC: Love her! She has been working with Bon Iver a couple of years back but I’m still listening to it!
Einar: Has she? I didnt know! Yeah she’s just a great guitarist, it’s very inspiring!

PDC: Speaking of inspiration – do you have any tricks that you use when you can’t come up with anything creative?
Einar: Yes, I just recently found out I really have to push myself sometimes! I think it’s been a year now without any songwriting at all and I dont know why – released the record in Norway, been touring a bit – but there was nothing there, really. And then we decided we’re gonna make a new EP with three songs and it should be done in a few months, so suddenly I had to force myself to sit down. And things came out and I think they’re good things…

PDC: On your last album you can find so many different instruments from a classical background, how come? Have you had a classic music education as a kid?
Einar: Not at all actually, I had piano lessons for two weeks and then I told my teacher I didn’t want to  learn notes, I rather wanted to play chords and songs by Coldplay. And I never learned the violin or the cello – I just found out I have a really strong fascination with these instruments, and with setting them up in a new way, more of a rock and pop setting. So when I first saw that in bands like Arcade Fire,  I thought WOW, this is something special. It gives it a different feeling I think when it’s real instruments, not just computers.

PDC: How do you manage to write the music then with all these sophisticated Instruments?
Einar: I am the main writer but we’re a band now with five people, so I try to communicate the ideas I have in my head of what it’s gonna sound like to the band members. Of course it’s not always in the way they are supposed to be arranged, so they have to make it their own as well.

PDC: So you really are a band now? It’s not just you plus four people that go on tour with you// integral part of music?
Einar: Being a band has been great, it’s one of the best choices I’ve made. A while back I wanted to play with so many different musicians and invited everyone to come to the stage with me that it ended up kind of a mess, it wasn’t really thought through.

PDC: I read that you named your album after the rabbit hole in Alice in wonderland, tell us about that.
Einar: Yeah, you know, I just found out about that too! I didn’t know there was such a thing. For me it came from the artwork, the painting technique which combines shadows and bright light, and it’s an album of big contrasts too.

Fanni liebt das Internet, ihren Kiez in Neukölln, Schaukelstühle, italienisches Essen und Musik, die sie auf dem Sofa hüpfen lässt. Sie kann schneller Bier trinken als alle anderen, verträgt aber außer Mexikaner keine Kurzen.

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