Articles

late night and quiet hours

In melodies, stories on December 14, 2005 by carinasuyin


They remind me at times of Simon and Garfunkel and I love the following biography on their website: poignant, unassuming and funny.

Late nights by the window.

THE PLACE: If you walk for a good half hour southwards from the centre of Norway’s second largest town, Bergen, you might be lucky to find the house where the Kings of Convenience story all started. It is an old, white house, the ground floor is owned by Erlend Øye’s father, a psychiatrist, the second floor is owned by Erlend’s mother, an acknowledged art painter. No, they do not live together anymore. In the second floor there are some panorama windows, from which you can see some storey-buildings, a small football field, a main road with heavy traffic, and, in the middle of everything, a squeezed-in small lake where ducks sometimes swim in summer. In early winter the lake would be perfect for skating, if it wasn’t for the fact that the lakes never freeze properly in Bergen. The ice will never be safe.

THE SOUND: Anyhow, it was in the old, white house, on the bench just by the windows, that Erlend and Eirik for the first time hit these thoughtful mellow sound: the quiet guitar harmonies and substantial lyrics that later would become their trademark as acknowledged songwriters. Together with their friends in the Norwegian-singing and a never really seriously-taken band Skog, they would brew a mug of tea, and try to bring answers to all these fundamental questions: What would happen if they paid for a parking space in mid-town for a few hours, having a Saturday morning picnic instead of parking a car? Do girls really come from another planet? And what is the capital city of Bhutan?

As the tea grew cold and the hours late, they would find their guitars jamming their way on endless musical journeys, including instruments such as plastic flutes from the local toystore, the neighbour’s old souvenir balalaika and clarinets stolen from long gone school orchestra. Rumours have it that there still exists some tapes with recordings from these sessions. They are extremely exclusive.

THE BOY WITH THE FUNNY GLASSES: Erlend was a famous person in Bergen even before he ever stood on a stage. Regarding school and studies he was always really lazy. But he had (and has) a stunning ability of remembering the strangest details from books, magazines, tv-shows and magazines. he also knows every capital city in every country on earth. In sum this gives him a general knowledge that makes him win Trivial Pursuit games every time he participates. As the strange, constantly poor and yet self-esteemed singer, bassist and main songwriter in Skog, he soon became an outsider in the small and exclusive gang of loudplaying musicians in Bergen in the early nineties. Many rock ‘n roll dudes never really understood the musical ambitions of Skog, maybe because the members of the band at that time weren’t that clever musicians. Anyhow a small fanclub came to every concert. Today they can claim to be visionaries. They saw what would come.

KARATE KID WITH A SOFT VOICE: As a teenager Eirik was a very talented climber. He also practised karate. Today he is taking care of his body by bouldering (climbing on small stones or low walls) and practising Yoga. He is reading books about how Goethe explained the being of colours and how to interpret dreams according to Jung. There is somehow quality in almost every aspect of Eirik’s life. The only exception would be that his ’66-model Beetle not always starts as it should. In the Skog era, Eirik didn’t sing at all. He didn’t know he could. He is the kind of person that will never claim that he is capable of something before he knows for sure that he is. But one day, Eirik and the rest of the band found out that his voice was actually not that bad at all, and on the latest Skog recording, a cover-version of the song “Eternal” on a Norwegian tribute-cd dedicated to the band Joy Division, he was actually the lead singer.

THE FORMING OF A DUO: Everything comes to an end. As the members of Skog went in all directions, Erlend became the “funny guitarist” in the London-based Norwegian band Peachfuzz, which performed at the”In the City” festival in Glasgow in 1997. Eirik started his psychology studies. The drummer, who is the author of this very story, got a job as a journalist. The guitarist became a coffee-shop founder and an IT-student, and is now the webmaster at this site. Every time Erlend came home from London, the two of them would sit in the window in the old, white house playing. The stepped one level from the endless jam stadium, and started producing songs where their two voices and guitars fulfilled their common potential. As Eirik moved to East Greenstead just outside London to attend an antroposophical college, they could start composing songs on a more regular basis. They established the name Kings of Convenience, as they found it really convenient to be two people with two acoustic guitars. And of course that they like the state of convenience in general.

THE SIGNATURE: With a tape of fourtrack recordings the job became increasingly easy for Erlend, who started visiting a lot of record labels to get that contract he had been dreaming for since he left school at the age of eighteen. The Frenchmen at Source records were the first ones to really hear a commercial potential in the quiet songs from the duo. They got signed. Erlend could cash in the loan that he’d taken to survive the latest years. Eirik could quit the studies. They could concentrate on doing what they do best:

Spending late nights by the window, in the old, white house, or in Eirik’s brand new apartment, drinking tea, making songs that make the world stop and listen.

Written and produced by Anders Waage Nilsen,
Edited by Øystein Gjærder Bruvik

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2 Responses to “late night and quiet hours”

  1. wow … long post … good morning to you, lady. That’s what happen when in serenity.

  2. hallo 🙂 just reproduced the biography here because reading it makes me grin with glee…

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