June 4th Giant Sky releasing the debut album on Imaginary Friend / GlassVille Records. Read the interview with Erlend Aastad Viken

Photo: Olga Bushueva/IHTLNY

You have behind you many years with the Soup band and now you started Giant Sky completely from scratch. So what were your thoughts behind this idea..?

There is much less bureaucracy when you work alone. And also you get the opportunity to express yourself musically and artistically as you wish. Because I believe there is no compromise when it comes to art. Therefore, it was very important for me to do this now alone. Also it gives the opportunity to work with the people I want. So there are two-three different drummers now, for example, and five different vocalists. And when you work in that way, you can choose the instruments that fit the music best, fit the value. I can choose the vocalist that I think fits that song best. And maybe there isn’t me that fits best. But before, with Soup, it was very locked in that I sang. It was very one-dimentional. I think it’s very nice when you can make music with different facets, different vocals, different color, different timbre…

And Soup has gradually become a prog project. But I’m also full of electronica, ambient, singer-songwriter, indie, soundtrack and lots of stuff. So in order not to modify Soup in any way, I started Giant Sky instead

No doubt Giant Sky is your solo project, but there were a lot of collaborations during the work on this project. Would you like to tell us about some of them..?

Yes, I would say that some people here are very important to the project even though I own the project and have full control. So it’s essential, for example, that Espen Berge, from Soup, plays the drum on some of the music. And that Vegard Bjerkan plays the church organ, Ivan Ushakov plays the flute and Liv Brox on violin. And then of course I have vocalists Myrtoula Røe, Sturla Fagerli Larsen, Charlotte Stav and Marina Skanche. Marina Skanche is also an important part of graphics and various… A co-producer

You’re mentioning a lot of things as inspiration for Giant Sky – Brian Eno, Nick Drake, Blade Runner, Kevin Parker…But can we say that Giant Sky is at the beginning of creating its own universe..?

We can say it has to do with musical and artistic DNA. My register, my reference basis is composed of everything that I have experienced musically and artistically throughout my life. It is in a way my unique DNA, my unique artistic fingerprint. And then there will be a mix that will hopefully be unique, for my part. That I have a mix of Celine Dion, Brian Eno and Bono from U2 and Tame Impala and Sigur Rós etc.… And The Locomotive Thomas and Postman Pat and Vømmøl Spellmannslag and everything else… This mix here – this is my universe 

But if you reduce inspiration to people and make everything more homogeneous, like that if you grew up in an environment where you listen only to a narrow type of music and are exposed to a narrow type of art, then the final product will also be smaller. Then it becomes more and more one-dimentional. And that’s what, I think, is the danger of happening to the new generation of generic pop algorithms music. So it becomes less and less varied in expression. 

So hopefully Giant Sky is an open and large inspiration space where I can create passion and musical-artistic expression which is unique for me. 

And also one thing that is classic in my DNA – melancholy and a kind of emotion that I operate with. My dramaturgy.. It’s very emotional music, storytelling and contemplation… And then it’s dressed up with both electronic elements, acoustic elements and ambient.

So hopefully that’s what Giant Sky is

You’ve also founded your own record label “Imaginary Friend” for releasing Giant Sky’ music. Why is it so important for you that “Imaginary Friend” was an eco label?

Because I am concerned about the environment, ecology and think that it feels better to make a release that was a little more, how I wish at least, environmentally friendly. It will never be environmentally friendly to produce a new product. There are always CO2 and eco footprints. But we can use recycled vinyl, for example, recycled plastic to make vinyl. As they do on GZ Media. They use cut-off from the previous projects, melt again and then use. And also, for example, they can’t use plastic packaging. It must be bio-based plastic in this case. And to try to use a shipping method that is smarter, with a little less emissions … I don’t quite know if it works now…  But as long as you have an ambition to try to be as good as possible, it is better than most others

Are you going to continue with the label after Giant Sky’ release..?

Maybe. If it will be a hit with Giant Sky then we can maybe get some new artists to “Imaginary Friend”, eventually. I am open to it at least, that I can run the label and be creatively responsible for it

The album will be released June 6. It’s already released on CD, but you’ve also started a crowdfunding campaign for vinyl release. So we all hope that the album will be available on vinyl in November, isn’t..?

Actually the campaign is finished now – it took just 70 hours to achieve the goal. So now the plan is to start production as soon as possible. And according to the plan vinyl will be ready for shipping in November

You will premiere the album June 3 in movie format on YouTube channel and we all hope at Moskus bar also. Why have you chosen this form of presentation for the album..?

Because I like to make more things than just music. I like photography, I like film and then I got the vision that this music needs film. So when I finished writing the music I thought that the music is very cinematic, it could work in film. So I asked people in the film industry if there is anyone who needs music … I had a strong opinion or thoughts about the type of film and how it could be a good match … But no one needed the music. So I made a film myself that I got to place my music in. In this way I can use my music in a film but also I create a multimedia product to try to amplify the music with a picture and vice versa. So if you watch the video you will get a little different experience. Plus if you are making a cinema project, like I want, when people are sitting in a dark room watching a film and listening to my music, then it’s a way to make sure you get full attention. So now we had a test screening at the Cinemateket in February, maybe in March, with those who worked on the record and then I noticed that it worked very well. It was dark in the room, people had beer and set focus and it was completely quiet and no one talked and everyone really got an impact of the product I made and the music works as I want. That may be something I will continue with. Because it’s cool and requires full attention when asking people to listen to your record. I think it’s not good that people listen to the phone lying on the table and consume music on Spotify with no love for it. But a cinema hall and 100% focus will be a completely different experience. And I think music and art deserve it