Kristine: Hello Arnt Håkon! So, we’re in the middle of a process with a new commission for snaredrum and electronics. Are you as stoked as I am?
Arnt Håkon: Of course! Working with you is a true pleasure and it’s so enriching to my awareness of sound.
Kristine: Thank you! I appreciate you saying that. I’m also very proud and happy to be working with you! We actually have quite a history already. The current commission is actually our third! What’s your thoughts on our cooperation since we started with Sub-Context in 2014?
Arnt Håkon: You have a very sincere approach to details. Nothing is left to chance with you. You are flexible, but you take every new challenge with deep seriousness. This has inspired me in many ways. I too have this approach to music, but knowing that my ideas, even the silliest, is taken seriously into details, and has ability to become something for real, gives a lot of urge to compose.
Kristine: …as you know, I have very specific wishes for the total soundscape. Indigenous sounds (whatever that is) is a constant search for me. In my opinion, I feel that you’re able to find such sounds and use them in such a gentle and intellectual manner that it inspires me a lot. How has that process been for you? Has it been challenging?
Arnt Håkon: Thank you very much! Much appreciated.. In general when I compose I try to let the concrete material be a medium for much more diffuse concepts of thought and emotions. But after having composed for so many years, I’ve discovered that to get these things through the medium, the concrete must be the focus, not the diffuse. I can feel as much as I want, but if not staring at the sound itself, the feeling itself never gets through. Expression has no effect without the materialistic details. And here I think I have developed my perspectives because of our cooperations. So thank you!
Kristine: That’s interesting! But even though the concrete is in focus, I feel that you’re able to create a lot of diffuse supplements that “comments” throughout your pieces. I like that a lot!
Arnt Håkon: Thanks! I hope so. But perhaps I have lost belief in feelings in contemporary music. At least from a perspective of composing it. But I realize there are a bit of human touch when listening to it afterwards Why is sound so important to you?
Kristine: I think sound is one of the main reasons for why I’m a percussionist. I discovered classical percussion quite late. I was 18 years old when introduced to it. I was in my last year of high school and I attended lessons and concerts at NMH, learning the basics of percussion as well as being introduced to the repertoire and such. One of the first things that fascinated me was all of the different instruments and playing-techniques that the percussionists used on stage. Later on, as a student, I felt an urge to dive into the world of sounds and work with repertoire that sticks out in that manner. Discovering Sami culture has meant a lot to me as well. Finding ways to integrate this culture in music that I work with is very inspiring to me. ..and I want to do it wholeheartedly. To me, that means to integrate Sami culture in set-ups, in the music-theory that the compositions are based upon and so on. That has led me to search for a total soundscape that is ethnic and close to nature. That’s why my favourite term; indigenous sounds, has become so important to me.
I by the way believe that you can put a lot of emotions into contemporary music. But it depends of course, what you want to say, and how you want to say it.
Arnt Håkon: That’s beautiful! What a journey you have been through, and have followed up for more adventures. Well done! Percussion is fantastic. ...and yes. You can put emotions in contemporary music. Before I tried to “put it into the music”. Now I rather let “the music put it out”. I think very logically when composing. I did not before. And I feel my music is more emotional now. A contradiction, but..
Kristine: Yes, I get you. Is emotion, or expressing emotions, very important to you? And in that case, why? Let’s use Sub-Context as an example. Can you say something about emotions in that piece? What did you try to say with it?
Arnt Håkon: It is very important to me.. The reason I started composing was falling in love for the first time. And so deep, strong emotions have actually been the main reason for me to create music. More that the music itself. But I see now as I actually put the music and the sound first, the emotions are better expressed. Sub-Context has for me something to do with the underlying things. The things under the surface, of a soul, a relation, a culture. And the origins of things. Where all started. For me it had to do with going back to my roots – the Sami, my sexual identity, my home within – made from the combination of experiences and personality. And finding this is unpolished and too subconscious to grasp. But all this is irrelevant for others. I only hope some of these strong states of mind gets through, and that others can relate to it in any way they want, both musically and emotionally.
Kristine: That’s interesting! Falling in love for the first time is such a strong experience, something a lot of people can relate to. It’s interesting that this experience triggered you to compose. As I see it, you put a lot of strong emotions into most of your works, just like you describe in Sub-Context. Thank you for your perspective on that.
Before finishing the conversation; the current commission is quite different from Sub-Context and Inner timing out. How’s your working-process this time? Is it very different? And considering the fact that we’ve worked together since 2014(!) – is that affecting your thoughts and ideas for the piece?
Arnt Håkon: Yes.. I am too emotional. I try to hide it in hardcore contemporary music.. haha The process of this new work is very different, yes. I will for instant use live electronics, and elements of pop music. I will also use a different type of timing than the previous works. But I will have the same approach to the “percussional” sound richness. And knowing you now and your way of thinking, playing, composing etc , makes both the notation and dramaturgical aspects more with flow, I think.