Dark, urban, unpolished and punk – HOIST, a solo project by John Henrik Brodtkorb

Photo: Eva Brodtkorb

This Friday March 24th HOIST releasing debut EP ‘City Lights’ via Fucking North Pole Records. All the 6 songs of the album are written, recorded and mixed by John Henrik Brodtkorb in his own apartment on Tøyen in Oslo with minimal equipment and “learning by doing” approach. 

Read the interview with John Henrik Brodtkorb about his love for lo-fi gritty sound, DIY-way and punk.

Is HOIST your first music project? And what is your musical background?

HOIST is my first official solo project. I’ve been playing in several bands through the years, mainly punk-related, but doing a project like this is completely new to me. As for my musical background, I fell in love with music at an early age. I first started playing piano and keyboard. Me and a friend started a band at the age of 8 – me on keys and my friend (Benny) on drums. I guess it kick-started from there. I grew up in a small town called Farsund and in the early 90s there was a big music community there. A lot of those bands were playing punk and they became a big influence for us younger kids. The punk genre has been following me ever since. I actually wanted to be a guitarist, but I never managed. The first time I picked up a bass guitar, I knew that was my main weapon of choice.

How and when the project was started? And what inspired you to do this?

The idea of making music alone had been going back and forth in my head for a long time, and I started getting into samplers and synthesizers about 4 years ago. I watched endless amounts of youtube tutorials to learn those machines, but rarely ended up with complete songs. I think there were just too many possibilities with those instruments, and I always ended up noodling with sounds and figuring out how the machines worked. At the end it just got frustrating and I sold everything and bought a new bass guitar and a really cheap and simple synthesizer instead. Up until then I had a hang up in electronic music, and listened to a lot of avantgarde/noise/ambient and minimal techno music and I got interested in doing things with very limited equipment. I started to discover new and old punk bands on YouTube and other platforms with this lo-fi gritty sound, and thought “this is what I should do. This is my music”. A year ago I started recording songs in my apartment and it just felt right. I knew about Fucking North Pole Records from a friend of mine (Rikard/Anti Social Rejects) that are igned on the label, and sent three songs. I got an email back from Robert who runs the label, who told me that he liked it and to send him a finished product. That was really inspiring to me and a big acknowledgement. I finished City Lights and HOIST was born. . 

Why have you chosen a DIY approach to this project?

I really like the idea of making music alone, even though I enjoyed playing in bands. Through my travels on YouTube I discovered a lot of artists doing both music-writing and producing themselves; so called “one-man-bands”. But I couldn’t find a lot of one man punk bands, it was mainly heavy metal or black metal projects. I was convinced that I could do this properly on my own, and that the fastest way to find my own sound was the DIY-way. I also love the freedom it gives me and the possibility to take my own directions. The main reason I guess, is the challenge of making it sound like a full on punk band and at the same time not being able to play guitar, haha.  

Your music is described as industrial post punk. Do you agree with this definition? And what music do you prefer personally?

I wouldn’t describe my music as industrial, but some of it is absolutely post-punk. I guess the two last tracks on the record can be in the industrial domain, but I never thought of my music as industrial. My main goal was to make it sound gritty and to blend in instruments such as synthesizers and electronic drums, and still keeping it simple, primitive and punk. 

As for my personally preferred music, it constantly changes. I’m always on the look-out for new music and spend a lot of time listening to different genres and checking out new underground live-acts. But I must say I’m drawn towards music that sounds primitive, dark and unpolished. These days I actually listen to a lot of old dub and gritty, wild jazz. 

The debut EP ‘City Lights’ will be released on March 24th. What are your next plans?

I’m already working on a full-length album and hopefully it will be finished this year. I really hope to continue to collaborate with Fucking North Pole Records, as I like their way of doing things. I have enough bureaucracy at work and like to keep the rest of things simple.