On How To Live Your Dreams – EMBLA KARIDOTTER

25 year old musician and photographer Embla Karidotter was blessed with many talents. She is not only the drummer in Bergen’s all time favourite girl “indie-ska-pop-rock” band Razika; she is also enrolled in the art history programme at the University of Bergen, board member of the Bergen film club, and mouthpiece for the oppressed.

Self Portrait| Photo: Embla Karidotter

Last time we met, you had just came back from a tour in the rural parts of Norway, where you taught young girls to play the drums. What is the story behind that initiative?
Last time we met I had just come back from touring with my band, Razika. 2016 was our 10 year anniversary! Besides doing a “normal tour” at pubs and venues etc., we travel around Norway and play at schools. This is in collaboration with something called Kulturtanken. So we travel around Norway and play a concert for them at their school. This is a great way to give the small town kids some culture in their daily lives and also inspire them to start a band of their own. And of course with us, who are 4 girls, they get to see that girls can also play and be good at their instruments, and play in a good, cool band. Not many kids have seen a girl play drums like I do, and they get so surprised and happy. At first they think or say directly to us: oh no, an all girl band… this is going to be so boring. But once we start they immediately start clapping a long and cheering. “Girls rocking? I didn’t know they could!”. Both girls and boys have this view, which is very sad, but we’re trying to change that and make everyone aware of it.

Razika | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Razika consists only of girls. Was this an intended choice or a rather natural cause?
We didn’t plan on being an all girl band. We were just four friends who all were tired of playing soccer and wanted to start a band, so we did. At first we found it annoying how all interviewers would focus on us being girls like “how is it being a girl?”, but after a while we started seeing it as an opportunity to help normalize bands with all girl members. And to talk about feminism and how fucked up the music industry can be sometimes. So it wasn’t planned, but it turned out to be a great opportunity for us to speak our minds about politics as well as music.

Do you still find people being surprised about girls playing in a rock band?
Now I’m a drum teacher for beginners. I never thought I would do that. To be honest I didn’t think I would be good enough. After playing drums for 10 years, releasing 3 records and making a living out of my band I still have these bad thoughts about how I’m not good enough. That’s all because of my gender. I blame it on society and gender roles! But seriously… and how girls always have to compare themselves to guys in the music industry. “You’re a great drummer! … for a girl” is just an example of what you’ll hear from time to time. I’m more than good enough, I just have to keep telling myself what I tell all the beginners, and all the girls at band camp. “You’re good!”

Catalina in NYC | Photo: Embla Karidotter

Cuba | Photo: Embla Karidotter

When and how did you start music and photography?
I started playing drums when we started the band. We’re all self taught. I guess it was at the same time I started taking photos. I got my first (Pingu) camera when I was 8 and took photos of my teddy bears etc. But I bought my first camera when I was 15. That was digital. I took photos all the time, of everything. I started to really notice everything around me. I remember thinking “so much beauty that goes unseen”. My mom told me that if we were going to new places I wouldn’t be interested in anything besides the book I was reading. I was reading all the time, while walking outside, in the car (I never got sick) etc. But suddenly when I turned 14/15 something must have happened. I became a teenager quite late. I loved being a child and didn’t want to be a teenager. I played with toys until I was 13, I think. I had to hide it from everyone because I understood that was lame.

Lars and Andrew | Photo: Embla Karidotter

Cuba | Photo: Embla Karidotter

When I was 13 (turning 14 in 5 days, to be exact) I got my first boyfriend. I think that was the first step towards the teenager stadium. My mom told a friend of hers how interested I was in photography (and how I wanted to be a (war) photographer) and the next time this friend came to visit she gave me a camera. This was her first camera which she had bought when she was 13 with her own money that she had saved up. A really lovely gift in other words. I started using that instead and after the first roll I developed I was sold! The pictures had this depth and I thought it showed better what I saw around me, than my digital camera. From that moment I’ve only photographed with analogue cameras. I found this little photo store in Bergen called Daae Foto, when I was 15. Thorvald Daae is the name of the man who is running it and he is a dear friend of mine now, kind of like a grandfather to me. He was so nice and understanding the first time I was there, he let me try different cameras and films, for free, and if I liked something I could decide then if I wanted to buy it. He’s still like this today. He inspires and helps people start with analogue cameras. And he is maybe the kindest person I know. I simply love his charming store.

Maren in Berlin | Photo: Embla Karidotter

How do you combine all your interests and take them seriously without getting lost?
That is a good question! Sometimes I wonder myself. I do so many things that sometimes I do get lost… But everything I do, I do because I like it – it gives me pleasure or challenge. I play drums in Razika because it’s a dream come true; to play in a band with my best friends! It’s a dream job. I study part time at the University here in Bergen. Next year I have my bachelor in Art History. I want to study. It stimulates my brain. But what I would really love to study is Film history! But the university here in Bergen only has a course in that, not a whole subject. So I take the courses I find interesting: art history, film history, gender research. Right now I’m actually studying The Witch process and the magic world. It’s a course in the subject Cultural History – very interesting. But as I said, I would like to study film more. So I do that. I buy books and read them, and watch a lot of movies. I’m also on the board of Bergen Filmklubb, an independent cinema here in Bergen (started in 1961). When I have the time I also work at the bookshop Norli. And I’m also an active member of the Palestinian committee here in Bergen, making posters for demonstrations, handing out pamphlets etc. Which leads me to your next question…

Tom, Embla’s favorite guy and favorite person to photograph | Photo: Embla Karidotter

Svalbard | Photo: Embla Karidotter

What sort of people inspire you?
The people who inspire me are the brave ones. People who help others without wanting to get anything in return. That’s why fighting for Palestine is so important for me. The Palestinians have been oppressed for almost 70 years now and the world does nothing. Except for the brave people who try to help them and fight for them. I would love to go to Palestine one day, but I doubt that will happen any time soon with their new rule about not letting people who have supported BDS in public in. But yes, people who fight for others are the sort of people who inspire me. Or artists that make art to make a difference, to make people think and ask themselves questions. For me everything is political. If you say you don’t take a stand in something, that’s also a political stand. Artists who make art to please the eye are not brave. Artists who risk something by making a movie, a painting, a song etc are the brave ones. Those who dare to be political and show how unfair the world is. I love to study the radical painters like the Dada group and Die Brücke or watching movies that tries to say something about society and what’s wrong with it. My favorite filmmaker is Roy Andersson. His films are just beyond everything in my opinion. Watch them! But of course I have to say the person who inspires me most is my mother. Kind of cliché, but she’s the reason I turned out so great haha. She’s my number one supporter, but she’s always honest with me if what I do is bad. She taught me to defend myself – both verbally and physically. I always go to her if I need advice. “What would mom say?” I often ask myself… and of course “What would Larry David do?”. My two mantras haha.

Havana Girls | Photo: Embla Karidotter

Casablanca | Photo: Embla Karidotter

Which advice would you give to people struggling to follow their dreams?
My advice to anyone is that if you don’t try you’ll never know. That goes for music, photography, politics, love, friendship, food. If you want to be vegan: just do it! If you want to play in a band: start one! If you want to play at a concert: practice and just play a gig. That’s the best practice. If you want to take photos: find a camera and just start. But what I always ask myself is: “what do I want with this? Why do I do this? What’s the meaning?”

If in Norway, do make sure to go and see Embla at one of these events:

http://popvenstre.no
https://www.facebook.com/miljofestivalenmylder/

Interview: Victoria Trunova
Editing: James Hudson

FROM BIRMINGHAM TO BERGEN – BRYN BOWEN

Musician and record label co-owner Bryn Bowen (29) grew up in Birmingham, UK. At 19, he moved to Northern Europe where he has lived ever since in cities, towns and villages: such as Trondheim, Kristiansand, Etne, Stockholm, and Bergen. The musician has been making songs with different bands since 2000, and established the record label “Giant Manilow Records” together with his friend Ralph Morton. His band Mountain Cloth released an EP titled “The Pony”. To support this, they played a bunch of shows on the west coast of Norway. Right now Mountain Cloth are working towards releasing a full length album to be released in 2017.
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Bryn Bowen | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Being known as a music center Birmingham, isn’t the worst place to grow up in. What made you move to Norway?
The normal reasons a young man moves to Norway; my band stopped and my girlfriend left me. Also I liked the idea of living by mountains and ocean. Birmingham is inland so that stuff is really exotic for me.

Do you see any differences between the Norwegian and British music scene?
There is a lot more arts funding here in Norway so the bands have lots of slick gear. That´s the main difference I can think of. Here in Bergen a lot of the guitar bands use lots of reverb. Like that band Wild Nothing.

mountain-cloth-the-pony-cover

Mountain Cloth | The Pony | Cover Art: Lloyd Bowen

What is your music about?
All the songs are about different stuff. I have a few guidelines I try to stick to when writing lyrics. No songs putting people down and no songs where I moan about my life. I´ve had a nice life so far so it´d seem a bit rich if I sang about how everything stinks.

George Pure Corn by Mountain ClothWhat do you enjoy most about being a musician, and what do you find most challenging?
Writing and recording is great. I don’t like rehearsing or playing live so much. Live can be a bit weird. If it goes badly you feel so stupid… And if it goes well and the crowd really gets behind you it tends to make me walk around the rest of the evening with my chest puffed out thinking about how great I am and that’s never a good way to be.

Mountain Cloth | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

What has been the most unconventional way for you to collaborate so far?
My other band The Shalfonts are an email band so it´s more unconventional than Mountain Cloth. The overdubs are all home-recorded and then sent back and forth mainly between me and my great friend Ralph Morton. Making music this way has led us to release four full length albums and lots of EPs over 8 years. The group also includes my brother Lloyd and another great friend Catherine. It’s a great way to make music and keep in touch with my friends in Birmingham although it makes playing shows very difficult.

the-shalfonts-band

The Shalfonts | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Did you have any particular experience leading you to become a musician?
No. I started when I was 8 with just lyrics and melodies. When I was 11 my brother taught me em and g and whoosh I was off! A family friend showed me how you could multi track using two boom boxes placed next to each other and I’ve been recording stuff pretty much non stop since.

In your opinion what is life about?
Nothing, not really. I don’t know…maintenance!? Trying to keep it together. Like jogging and trying to drink enough water. Breathing techniques. All the boring stuff that helps you not to be a total anxious wreck. As a teenager you could just do drugs and eat the food your mum filled the fridge with. Now the fridge is full of health foods I can barely afford. I don’t know what life is about!

Do you miss being a teenager?
I don’t think so. Looking back I was a bit of a creep as a teenager.

Why do you do music and where does your inspiration derive from?
Because it just happens and feels so right. The inspiration is always random and I don’t know where it comes from. I do loads of stuff just to please myself with no audience in mind and then after decide what is worth sharing with strangers. The only problem is that at the moment it’s so easy to publish stuff you’ve just made online and when you make something new you’re normally totally psyched about it so that has led to sharing things that maybe should have been left in the oven a little longer. Christopher, the lead guitar player in Mountain Cloth, is helping me with that stuff. He functions as a great friend but also as a sort of editor. Thank you Chris.

bryn-recording-2

Bryn Bowen in his studio | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Which advice would you give to 18year old Bryn?
Go easy on the porn? I don’t know!? I’m too young to say really anything…. Right now my life is great, but it might all go wrong and maybe in 50 years I will end up in jail or totally regretting my whole life and then my advice to 18 year old Bryn would be: don’t go to Norway!

 

If you are in Bergen, don’t miss out on Bryn’s upcoming concert with Mountain Cloth at Victoria Café & Pub on Thursday January 25!

Interview: Victoria Trunova
Editing: James Hudson

 

“FAIRY TALES AND MYTHS” – SUSANNA KAJERMO TÖRNER

Do you remember that time when everything else seemed so huge in comparison to your small self and your dreams were full of whales, frogs, mysterious creatures, and unreal scenery? Born in Stockholm, visual artist Susanna Kajermo Törner is creating drawings and illustrations of this kind. The artist has been based in Bergen since her graduation from the Bergen Academy of Arts and had many exhibitions in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and England. Her body of work portrays fascinating, surreal worlds, captivating the viewer with a mixture of childlike imagery,  rich storytelling, and existential questions.
Susanna Kajermo Törner in her atelier | Courtesy the artist

Susanna Kajermo Törner in her atelier | Photo: Stefan Törner | Courtesy the artist

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“Be obessed with it!” – Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Norwegian creative Linn Heidi Stokkedal (27) is a sunny soul who adores photography, dogs, mountains, and spending her summers in Finland. Born in Sandeid, she has lived and studied in places like Trondheim, Stavanger, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Paris, and Stockholm, before moving to her current home in Bergen. As well as gathering experience at galleries, model agencies, and international publications, she has worked as an associate producer for the internationally acclaimed movie “Violent” and released four photobooks in Paris, Montreal, London, and Berlin.
Linn Heidi Stokkedal and Lakris

Linn Heidi Stokkedal and Lakris

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“A SHIFT OF GRAVITY” – NORA MIHLE

Nora Mihle (26), a multiinstrumentalist, composer, and songwriter from Norway, holds a degree in music and live electronics. The Trondheim-born musician loves finding solutions to tricky questions and learning new things. The body of her work combines fierce vocals, electronics, and transformed flute sounds. Right now she is focusing on her own solo project ”Mihle”Only recently, Beehype, listed Mihle’s song “fear” as one of Norway’s best songs in 2015, and you lucky Berliners get the chance to see her live in Berlin at Mme Claude in a couple of weeks!
Photo: Kristina Othelie Bjørnholm Farstad

Photo: Kristina Othelie Bjørnholm Farstad

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“DREAM BABY DREAM” – MATTI AHOPELTO

Helsinki based composer Matti Ahopelto (28) studied film sound at the University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, before he decided to strike off into the musical universe in many different directions. Matti likes autumn, running, and creating strange noises. He dislikes the growing lack of empathy and “too much drama”. Mostly known for being one of the founding members of future electro pop band Zebra & Snake, he also formed the concept rock band Siinai with Markus and Risto Joensuu (Joensuu 1865), and Saku Kämäräinen. His musical brilliance was not only verified by a cooperation with Wolf Parade singer Spencer Krug (alias Moonface), but also in interdisciplinary art projects with artist Tuomas A. Laitinen, which were shown in the Espoo museum of modern art, Emma, Residency Unlimited in New York and also in Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma. Matti spent some time in Berlin when recording with Zebra & Snake, Siinai and Moonface at Kaiku Studios Berlin.
Matti with Zebra and Snake by Ilkka Saastamoinen

Matti with Zebra and Snake by Ilkka Saastamoinen

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“THE ICE CREAM IS GOOD IN BERLIN” – INGER WOLD LUND

Inger Wold Lund is a Berlin based artist and writer born in Bergen, Norway. Her passion for language and its different spheres, like structure, ways of story-telling and its change over time is mirrored both in her writing and art. And is always the starting point of her work. Beside pub-lishing her first book early this year she exhibits also in Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany.
Inger Wold Lund | Photo: Heidi Furre

Inger Wold Lund | Photo: Heidi Furre

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“I THINK , I AM VERY POLITE, BUT I’M HARDLY A COSMOPOLITE” – BIRTA GUDJONSDOTTIR

Birta Gudjonsdottir is a real Wunderkind. Now relocated back to her hometown Reykjavik after having worked and lived widely in Europe as an artist, curator and lecturer. After curating over 30 exhibitions indipendently she is currently working as chief curator at the National Gallery of Iceland and is one of the co-curators of Momentum 8 – Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art in Moss, Norway.
Curator and Artist Birta Gudjonsdottir | Photo: Sigurdur Gunnarsson

Curator and Artist Birta Gudjonsdottir | Photo: Sigurdur Gunnarsson

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“ENFANT TERRIBLE AND CONTEMPORARY HERO PAR EXCELLANCE” – JANI LEINONEN

Visual artist and enfant terrible Jani Leinonen from Finland is a revolutionary soul, who is not afraid to point out social injustice and abuse. His work reflects the issues of political structures and capitalism as well as questioning the democracy we live in. He has exhibited several times in Berlin at Salon Dahlmann and is now running as a candidate for the Finnish election as a protest against “behind closed doors – politics” and the lack of political engagement.
Jani Leinonen, Promises Are Like Stars, 2013 | Metal, glass fiber, alkyd | 290,5 x 201 x 30 cm | Courtesy of the artist and Zetterberg Gallery

Jani Leinonen, Promises Are Like Stars, 2013 | Metal, glass fiber, alkyd | 290,5 x 201 x 30 cm | Courtesy of the artist and Zetterberg Gallery

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“HOW TO FIND YOUR OWN BERLIN” – JUHANI SEPPOVAARA

Helsinki (1947) born Juhani Seppovaara is active in many creative areas. The photographer, videographer, writer and journalist belongs to the Berlin creative scene as much as the TV Tower belongs on the Berlin skyline. For over 30 years he has been documenting the landscapes and culture with his camera, leaving unique reports of a creatives’ view not only on Berlin, but also many other places. Juhani has published 20 photographybooks, of which some have been translated into English, French or German. Besides Finland, his photographs have been on display in Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. Meet the person behind the documentary about the Berlin café Kohlenquelle!
omakuva

Self-portrait | Photo: Juhani Seppovaara

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