What’s your earliest memory with music? My very first memory of music was my first concert. My first concert was a gospel artist named Andraé Crouch, and my dad actually booked the show in Norway. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with drumming, I was probably 2 or 3 years old, and I was just always drumming on everything. I was at the show earlier in the day with my dad, and as usual, I was drumming on everything, and I guess Andraé spotted me. So at the show, during one of the songs, he waves at me and tells me to come up to him. I ran up on stage, he put me on his lap and put the drumsticks in my hands, and I technically play a song with him just holding my hands! I remember all the crazy lights, and I remember this feeling of like something incredible is happening and I get to be a part of it. Ever since then I’ve been totally hooked.
You just released your new track “How To Do Nothing.” What was the creative process like? For “How To Do Nothing” I was in London; I flew to London to work on my album for a couple of weeks. We rented my favorite studio, and I had just met a girl that I really, really cared about. It was a really strange situation because she lived really far from me, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out or not, so I was really, really sad in London. Me and Dorothy, my manager, took a trip to the flower market and we just walked around for a couple of hours, talking about love, about life. For all my favorite songs that I’ve written, it’s really hard to explain the creative process behind them. The song just sort of happens, and “How To Do Nothing” was one of those. The lyrics were written, all the music was made, and all the vocal recordings were done over the course of a few hours, and that was that.
When creating a song, which comes first? The music or the lyrics? I think for me it’s about 50/50. A lot of my songs start out like little poems or aphorisms, and then the concept of the song builds from there. Very often it comes from me wishing there was a song about this one thing that I thought of, and then there aren’t any songs like that, so it goes from there. Also, I love just sitting at the piano and making chords, or making beats, and putting together weird sounds. Very often that will trigger a song as well.
You have an album coming out early 2020, tell us a bit about it. What can fans expect? My new album is called Peder, which is my real name. I think fans can expect what they can always expect from me putting out music. I usually try to make it different from the last thing you heard from me; I want to always keep exploring, and keep a certain curiosity in my music-making. I love lush chords, I love experimenting with weird lyrics that are super personal, and I love weird sounds that people haven’t heard before. This is also by far my most personal album, in the way that this is the first time in a very, very long time that I’ve been singing a lot. For many years I’ve been making mostly instrumental music and I got to a point where I really wanted to say some things, and communicate how I’m feeling in a specific way. I’m singing on every song, which is kind of the focus of this album.
When writing, do you think about the intended audience? Or do you write music for yourself? I think it depends, but most of my music is definitely written for me, you know? Like I said, usually, the reason that I would make a song is that I can’t find a song like that anywhere, and I wish I could listen to something like that myself. I think the beauty of music, and the beauty I’ve found in singing a song is that you can be super personal about certain things, while still keeping it vague. Like I can write certain things that only my friends would understand, or like only my hardcore fans would understand what I’m talking about. Then there are other things that I think are important for everybody to understand, and therefore I’m going to write the lyrics in a way that really communicates with people. It just depends on what I’m trying to say, and what the message is.
What do you want people to take away from this record and understand about you? One thing that is really important for me and one thing that I talk about a lot is the idea of being yourself. Being yourself is a very complicated thing, at least for me. There’s a lot of things I consider myself to be, there are a lot of sides to me, and a lot of parts to me, that comes out at certain times but might be in the background at other times. I think a lot of the times we misunderstand the idea of being ourselves with choosing one thing that you are and staying true to it. I think we as human beings, we evolve so much and so quickly that we can be a lot of different things at the same time. You don’t have to be just one thing; you are allowed to evolve, you are allowed to change your mind, and you are allowed to grow from things that make up your history. You are all of your experiences, every phase that you go through is a part of you. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with this record, is to be as faithful as I could to everything that I love. I tried to include all the different sides of me, from all the different genres of music that I love, from all the different artists that have influenced me, all the different projects I’ve been involved within my life, and just trying to make music that is so purely me and everything that I am instead of forcing myself into a box. You know people make a lot of jokes about staying on brand; I think life is way too short to stay on brand, so this record is just everything that I love. If people take anything away from it, I hope it’s that you can be all the things that you want to be, and you can be a complex person, and cherish everything that is important to you.
What’s the feeling of like midnight of a release? It’s very complex, there are a lot of feelings in your mind. Midnight before a release is def nostalgic. I have a tendency to think back on all the experiences that made up that release, where I was when I recorded it, all the difficult times that I had making it, all the work that was put in, all the hours…there’s definitely some nostalgia. Releasing music is kind of like giving it away; it’s not mine anymore. For the whole time, it’s been living on my phone, living on my computer, living in my speakers, and now it’s up to the rest of the world to decide what they want to do with it. There’s definitely some like separation anxiety involved with it, as well. But most of the time I’m just really, really excited to share the music with the fans that I have and see how they react to it. I’m very protective of my music, but at the same time, I love it and want to share it. There are so many emotions: nervousness, nostalgia, excitement. It’s like it’s this secret thing, that’s been a secret for so long, and now it’s just supposed to have its own life out there. I’m obviously never going to experience giving birth and being pregnant, but I imagine there’s some sort of parallel. I’ve grown this thing that is very important to me for months or even years, and then finally it’s released into the world and I don’t have any control over it anymore. Some songs definitely feel like my kids.
How do you think your process has evolved since first releasing music? I’ve definitely gotten more efficient since I first started; I think I’ve gotten better at making good choices early on. That’s the cool thing about the experience, you don’t have to stumble upon anything, you’ve made your happy accidents before and hopefully, you’re able to make them again on purpose. I think I’m more selective in a way, I used to just work aimlessly at something that was exciting for me, and now I’m better at judging if something is worth putting work in to. That’s def made me more efficient when it comes to finishing songs and getting them out there. I’m more intentional with my choices, more intentional with my time, and what songs I put the most work into.
Who are your favorite artists right now? Whether established or up-and-coming? Oh, man… I think my favorite established artist is Frank Ocean. He’s been a huge influence of mine over the last few years. I would also say Bon Iver, huge influence, James Blake definitely deserves to be on that list too. In terms of up-and-coming, I obviously want to plug my homies, I think they make the best music in the world. Col3trane is making some incredible music right now, Sam Gellaitry is making really incredible music, but a lot of this music isn’t out yet, so a lot of my favorite songs aren’t on Spotify yet, so it’s a little hard to plug it. But I’m very, very excited about all the things my friends are going to do in 2020. It feels like everybody wants to win in 2020, so I think a lot of people are going to try to do something cool. All the songs that are just saved in my messages with my friends are my favorite songs right now.
Who are some artists you’d want to collaborate with in 2020? That’s such a hard question for me mostly because collaborating has so much to do with chemistry. It has so much to do with your skillsets and your energy being compatible with the other person. A lot of artists that I look up to and whose music I listen to, I don’t know if I would necessarily get along with them, or if we would be able to make something cool together. I’m always open to collaborating with anyone who wants to do something different, anyone, who is open to experimenting and challenging themselves, and working extra hard on a song. My favorite collaborations that I’m going to do next year, I probably don’t even know that person yet. Anybody who loves melody, anybody who loves harmony, anyone who is down to do some weird stuff, those are people I want to collaborate with. Making music with someone is such a weird thing in the first place, it’s so intimate, and it’s so personal. I very quickly go down an existential hole when it comes to music, with the fact that two people can come together and create something that wasn’t there before is such a spiritual thing to me.
Besides music, what else are you inspired by? I’m very inspired by visual things. Very often, I kind of see music as landscapes or as shapes and colors. A crazy, deep-ocean animal that I’ve never seen before might inspire me to make something, or a beautiful garden with colors only nature could have come up with might be inspiring to me. Obviously, my lyrics are very personal and come from those deep, existential holes that I got out of, or my experiences with love, and friendship, or different problems, or things that trigger an emotional reaction from me. I also find myself getting inspired by random sounds, like the sound of a car blinker, or like two songs on playing on two different radios at the same time might give me ideas for something, or like the garbage truck emptying trash, random stuff like that will give me inspiration for my music.
If any piece of art (artwork, film, album) best describes your life– what would it be? I think I need two answers for this one. I spend a lot of time in my own head, a whole lot of time in my own head, and there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in there. I think Inception is a pretty good metaphor for what’s going on up there, and why I think about what I think about…
My favorite artwork is by an artist named Wassily Kandinsky, he has a painting called Composition #8. That painting is the most accurate painting in terms of how I see music. Most of my life has been about music, so that has been a very special painting for me. That’s what music looks like to me.
If you could have your music played on any TV or film, what would you pick? Why? I’m very curious about scoring; I tried my hand at it for the first time a couple of months ago. I scored a short film for a good friend of mine, and it’s one of the most challenging and educational things that I’ve done in years, honestly. I would love to write music specifically for films, like a film that has the same idea of creativity that I have. A film that’s a little weird, a little different, and goes a little bit deeper so that the music can have some synergy with that.