Interview With 22

You have achieved great success in your native Norway. I don’t know much about the music scene out there. Is it a good place to pursue a musical career?

It is good place to have the physical and emotional space of Norway to muster up something creative. The population density is not so high there, so you have to keep yourself entertained. The market for alternative bands suffers though, due to same reason that you can come up with original stuff, there just is not enough people there to keep an alternative music scene alive.

Is there a genre that is particularly popular or prevalent in Norway?

Blackmetal and Hiphop are fairly predominant genres. And your everyday average pop act.
Talking of genres, your sound is extremely unique and varied. if pushed, how would you describe it?

We use the term New Energy Music, because we try to convey and channel a new kind of energy through our music.

 When you guys formed did you have any idea what sound you were going to produce, or did it come as a surprise?

There was a strong vision from the beginning. But you don’t ever really know exactly how a vision will manifest into whatever creative endeavor you pursue. That is the beauty of it. The more songs we make, and the more we play, the more we learn about that sense, that vision that started it all.

Can you tell me a bit about your history and formation, was it clear that you were all destined for careers in music?

Mats and I played in a Hardcore band called Torch back in 1999. Later on he started a gourmet chocolate factory and I started playing in a popular folk-rock band called “Gåte”. We won a norwegian grammy and sold a lot of records in Norway. We had just started touring Germany, when we split up in 2005.

In 2008, Mats and I became tired of ourselves complaining about all the crappy bands out there. So we decided to just create the band we ourselves want to see, hear and experience: 22.

Fox and Andreas came along naturally as we started to create demos of songs and send them around, searching for people that felt drawn to expressing what we aimed at with those demos.

There is an expression saying, if you have something to fall back on, you fall.
We don’t have anything to fall back on.

You recently toured Japan. Many bands I talk to cite touring Japan as a job highlight. Did it live up to expectations?

Indeed!! What a beautiful culture. Such kind people. The whole tour had a dreamlike quality to it. We started off going straight into the enormous typhoon in Nagoya, were we saw old women out in the storm cleaning the streets with smiles on their faces. The technical standard at the venues was amazingly high and lest not forget the competence of the people working there. And people were leaving their wallets and cellphones on the tables when they went weeing or smoking. All this great trust all around. Wonderful.

Are the fans very polite and enthusiastic? I hear they are very generous with gifts too.

No physical gifts we received. But they are inspiringly polite yet contact-seeking. I have many fond memories of contact with the japanese audience. We even met a japanese woman who could speak perfect fluid norwegian. Now, that was bizarre..

Your new video was shot by Stephen Agnew. He has quite a distinctive  style, using various cameras or varying qualities, intentionally unpolished and ‘real’ – Why did you see him as the ideal guy to translate your song into visual form?

He has an affinity for recording with VHS-cameras, which fitted perfectly with “Kneel Estate”‘s lyrical theme about New Age’ism. VHS was the format of the late 80’s early 90’s, –  the era when New Age blossomed, so it created the perfect spoof look that built up under the message of the song.

Did he come up with the treatment or was it a collaborative thing?

I wanted the video to pierce some of the smokescreens of the healing/alternative/newage-industry.That industry exists because there is a spiritual longing in everyone, a desire that can be manipulated by external forces for various reasons. Just like we have big industries speculating in man’s desire for food and sex, religions and alternative self-realisation organisations, are playing the same game.We threw some ideas around, and he really connected with some core elements of the song, and then he just went about it Agnew-style.

Do you enjoy the added extras of being musicians – the photoshoots, videos, promo etc?

Of course. We are a multi-sensoric band. If there is a sense we can stimulate, we’ll do it. Mats even created a 22-chocolate, and we also developed a 22-smell made out of a special mixture of etheric oils.

Do you think its necessary to maintain a certain amount of control over styling and visuals?

If that is part of your vision, then of course. Many bands ONLY want to be an aural experience, but even that is a visual statement of sorts. We just always want to do whatever helps convey the energy of our music.
You toured Europe with Germany’s Guano Apes, they have achieved great longevity in what has become an extremely fickle industry. Did you gleam any tips or advice from them?

They were great people, and they shared some experiences indeed. They have been working for a long time, and it was truly inspiring being a part of that tour. It was all very professional and on schedule.

You’ve played here in the UK before, performing a successful gig at The Great Escape and The Barfly. Do you feel you’ve won over the UK audiences quite swiftly?

Oh, we have just started. But I have to say, the UK audience is amazingly welcoming to us. We play each gig like it was our last, and we feel great success every time that we connect to the audience in a deeper way than just sound-waves hitting eardrums.

You are currently touring with Arcane Roots. You are not necessarily an obvious pairing.How have you got on? Have you seen an increased amount of fans since your May visit to the UK?

The Arcane Roots are brothers to us. We love them. We have come together because of our music, and although we express it differently, there is a shared sense of how to exploit, stretch and bend musical potentials. And their fans connected easily with us and vice versa. It is a win-win situation. This is why I prefer music to football, there is no unhealthy competition, only inspiration and drive. They are joining us on tour in Norway in 2012.

Your debut EP received a great response. How would you say your sound have evolved to create Kneel Estate?

There is always a natural evolution process going on. As I have been producing, recording and co-mixing both of them, there is always a strive to find that balance between taming the living creature that a band is, and just letting it go wild. More than often I find myself getting “out of the way”, not trying so god damn hard to make everything perfect, only to discover a different kind of perfection that lies encoded in the subtle nuances of small playing errors and recording flaws.

You have a rather unique take on creating your music. Can you describe the writing and production process?

Getting up at 6.00 in the morning and start creating as quick as possible, before the access to the dream-state starts shutting down. The hours before 12.00 are a very creative and effective time for us.We don’t talk that much about our music and we don’t count any bars or beats. We just play, and when someone feels a spark in there, we sometimes stop. Then we take that spark, which often is someone just improvising or playing “wrong” and we arrange that “wrongness” into the music.So you could say that the complexities of a 22 song are the mere product of incorporating all “wrong” ways  of playing the original arrangement. I love “wrongs.”

What sort of topics are you covering lyrically on this EP?

22 lyrics in general derive a lot from spiritual seeking ventures and Kneel Estate is a very concrete example of just that:I got very much into alternative circles as a teenager. And attended every workshop and seminar in healing, channeling, crystals, breathing, meditation, yoga and so on, that I could come across. Over the years, maybe the most valuable piece of wisdom that I gleaned from studying all these different techniques and methods for enlightenment, was that you left every workshop feeling that you needed to go to the next one to get a little closer to what you are seeking. But you never get there, no matter how many retreats or seminars you attend. That is how the alternative industry sustains itself. It’s like diets and weight-loss programs: If they worked, they wouldn’t exist. There wouldn’t be a need for them.

Chrysalis is about as we are changing and evolving, we can not always expect that friends and family can follow us on all legs of our path. Sometimes you meet at a later point again, though, be that before or after physical death.

Algorythm is about numbers, and seeing numbers everywhere, the sense of synchronicity when you see certain numbers or patterns around you.
You plan to have your debut full length out spring 2012.Please describe the album in one sentence, if possible!

To never stop, to find your calm in the flow.
Will you be reading the reviews?

Will you be able to relax over Christmas? If so, what will you be doing?

I will find a calm, Christmassy space amidst the flow of the holidays.

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