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Seven Impale

Last month we witnessed the release of what sounds like an instant-classic. In situations like these, where a new and eager group of people create such a ripe and gorgeous album, it would simply be rude not to go after them and ask some things out of sheer intrigue and curiosity. We were in luck, because Haakon Mikkelsen Vinje (keys) and Erlend Vottvik Olsen (guitar) answered our questions lucidly, as extensive as needed and with enthusiasm, and with their answers show us what real music making is all about. Read on.

By: Bart D. | Archive under fusion / jazz

Welcome here with your full-length debut! It took longer than expected after the amazing 'Beginning/Relieve', but you made it! Did you have a good journey?
Thank you so much! It sure took longer than expected. This is partly due to us wanting to do as much as possible ourselves with attention to detail and self criticism. Countless hours went to trying different designs for the booklet, before we decided to ask Maja Markegård for help. She's a brilliant designer with relations to Karisma Records. The journey was amazing and being in the studio with Iver Sandøy was probably the most fun we'd had as a band at the time. Just hearing our compositions morphed and developed by Iver's vast array of analogue and digital equipment combined with his experience, I think our jaws dropped a few times. He's a brilliant producer who's really easy to cooperate with and he has a great sense of humour. This being our first album, we had no perspective on how much time the different processes would take, and now with this experience, I think our next album will go more smoothly as soon as we have the right material ready.

band imageAs expected, the full-length gives you room to delve deeper into the different facets you presented as Seven Impale on your EP. Was the creation process the same, or did you do some things differently?
The creation process was very different. This is actually our first release where we all collectively composed and arranged all of the material. We also had a larger budget to work with, which meant substituting various bedrooms and makeshift solutions with a real professional studio, an exciting backline with everything from old modified soviet guitar amps to good old tape echoes and saturations. We also had the chance to work more continuously, with near whole weeks in the studio instead of a couple hours each week tweaking old recordings that originally didn't sound as we had hoped. The EP was basically us trying to produce a six piece prog band with prior experience only consisting of recording drums with a stereo microphone setup, endless “trial and error” mixing, before we got help from Christian Fredrik Steen from Canvas Black who produced and mixed the final result. As far as writing the songs the process has been very much the same since 'What am I sane for', which was the first song all six of us made together.

The artwork looks stunning, and the titles tickle the imagination. Still, I have little clue as to what it is all about. Are there lyrical threads on the album, or specific subjects you would like to point out?
Thank you very much! I guess there is somewhat of a lyrical thread on the album. The lyrical thematic revolves around questioning religion and the times we live in, but in a light way. Our main focus is the music itself with lyrics usually being the last addition to a track.

While you are a big band in terms of members, your sound never gets overwhelming. It seems you prefer "less is more" when it is needed. Is it hard to keep this focus with all these ideas and styles in the band?
Not really. Every part of writing, composing and arranging feels very natural to us. But it is something we decided to work on, very early on as a band. Dynamics is also something we really like to play with and adds a "new" dimension to the compositions, especially in contrast with the ongoing loudness war in radio friendly popular music these days. We are all mostly on the same wavelength when it comes to these things, and usually agree if some things sound right or off. Not playing and knowing when to hold back is as much about playing as playing is, if that makes sense. (Makes perfect sense! -B)

How do you create? Mainly by jamming, pre-composing, exchanging, or all a bit? Do all members contribute ideas?
It differs from song to song, but an average Seven Impale song starts with a pre-composed riff or melody on one of the instruments at practice. The rest of the band joins in on a little jam, and anybody who feels they have something to contribute gets the rest of the band in on their ideas. It's a collective effort and we are not finished until everyone is pleased. We always have more than one song in the workings at any given time so it leaves room for us to grab any idea that comes along during our personal practice routines and place them where we see fit. Another important part is that neither of us feel a direct ownership over riffs and melodies we have made, so no bad feelings if things get switched around and changed, which happens quite often. Some ideas even start out as jokes, that we just try out.

You are all musicians with different backgrounds; is Seven Impale right now your main band, or do some members have busy schedules in other bands/projects/acts/jobs?
This is our main band for all of us, and only band for everyone except Benjamin (Mekki Widerøe - saxophone), who has a side project called BOJJ Kvartett. But as there is little money in Seven Impale still, we all have our different means to afford food and shelter: jobs, student loans or both.

Since you are by far one of the most beautiful bands I've heard in recent years, is it safe to conclude the world is eager to hear more of you, and thus that we will be able to see you perform?
We certainly hope so! The Netherlands is a place we really want to play, and judging from the reception from all parts of the world a small European tour could very well happen. If it's too long of a wait we'll probably play some concerts here in Norway first, where you'll also get to see a country with quite beautiful and inspiring nature as well, if you're into that stuff.

I am out of questions for this round, thank you for taking the time to answer them. The final words are yours!
Yoyo, shout outs to all my girlls and dawgs! Stay frisky and keep truckin' at ACTION SPEED!

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