2008-09-26

Excerpt from the Henne interview (June 2008):

– What is a song?

– A quality song has an identity, a spirit. It cannot be compared to anything else. I have to open up and get into the listening mode to embrace music. This is how I experience it. The fact that I’ve written a song doesn’t fill me with pride because I don’t feel that it’s something of my own doing. But I can be proud on behalf of the song and the way I’ve managed to interpret it. You can not measure how long it takes for a song to move from non-existence into existence, that is to say, from your not being aware of it to being aware. This is the moment of creation when your mind’s taking it in and can send it further. For me, it probably gives an inkling of how everything is brought to life. Our whole world has taken a leap from not being to being.

– What do you want your songs to tell us?

– They are not mine. All human communication is carried out via various types of language. From the moment you are born you have a natural predisposition for music, just like for the human touch. It’s common in all of us.

(…)

– Is there anything you lack in your life?

– Not necessarily in my private life. What I miss is a sense of community. Who is a typical Norwegian? Why should we in particular be entitled to administer this land in the future? I believe we must deserve it.

– Don’t we?

– No. How can we allow ourselves to simply exist? I have a lot of faith in people’s potential. Whatever talents I have, I must first and foremost see and recognize them. And I think it’s true for many others. In our heart of hearts we know much more than we believe we do. We must dare let go of a number of things to be able to take in this knowledge.

– And I assume you mean “things” by “things” in this context?

– Yes. The common denominator is the money system that we all deal with. This is quite a basic system of values if you look at how much valuable isn’t part of the bill. It’s the cutting down, transportation and processing of an oak tree that is measured in money today, not what it takes nature to produce it. The same goes for the value of a good kindergarten, good teachers and so on. What matters more to you than how your child is doing? To breathe clean air, and to ensure that your child will breathe clean air in the future, you must do without certain things. And by this I mean things.


Excerpt from the Mann interview (June 2008):

– Are you self-centered?

– To quote Håvard Rem…After a long conversation over dinner in Malibu, Tim Hunter (light designer who has worked, among others, for Madonna) said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met an artist who is less ego-minded than you.” To which Håvard replied dryly, “Morten’s ego is so huge that you can’t see it.” I suppose that Håvard is closer to the truth (laughter).

– What about quarrelsome?

– Not at all. But most people would disagree with this completely. I, on the other hand, would point out that I’m solutions-oriented but to the majority my way of reaching a solution seems unnecessary and complicating, while I see it as absolutely essential. I’m willing to understand the mechanisms behind things. People will say, “Why can’t you just answer the question?” Well, that’s what I’m in the middle of doing but you don’t care to hear me out. To be able to answer, I first have to find out if we’re talking about the same thing. If not, the question itself becomes meaningless and, consequently, the answer as well.

– What would you say to those calling you an excessively pompous philosopher?

– Actually, it is rather uninteresting since they know precious little what’re making statements about. To be more precise, nothing. Not a thing I’ve said was in fact empty talk. Nothing. On the contrary, it’s an attempt to uncover exciting connections and possible misconceptions. This is a part of a dissection, and because it’s only a part, added to by the fact that one isn’t able to follow the whole line of thought, one calls it hazy. But I’m ready to meet this challenge with great pleasure any day. A forum where you can discuss proper questions thoroughly. Thinking about it puts me in a good mood.

– So you don’t feel fed up with parodies either?

– No, that’s just positive. A parody is one of the compliments I allow myself to accept. It’s best when it’s sheer mockery. In reality, it’s nevertheless a compliment.


Excerpt from the No interview (June 2008):

– I must admit that there have been a lot of interviews over the years. Do you do them on autopilot?

– No, not at all. That would show a lack of respect for the format. I don’t like things without a point to them. It’s to do with being aware of the qualities in life. The food you eat, the time you have available. It concerns everything. And for me, doing an interview without a goal makes no sense whatsoever. But of course, that depends on how much space different media have for this.

– I’d like to talk about music. You’re about to release a new album and have chosen an old song by the now disbanded Oslo band Locomotives as your first single. Of all songs in the whole world?

– Yes, exactly. That’s the way it is. Of all girls in the whole world, too. It’s the same there. And of all pop stars in the whole world, why did she choose me? Put simply, the song hooked me because I got hooked on that gang when I ran into them. Locomotives. That was in the street one night in Trondheim. In 1994.

– How does Morten Harket run into Locomotives one night in a Trondheim street in 1994? That makes me wonder…

– Well, I was on the way home. It was late. I was at a relatively early stage when it came to preparing my first solo record. I was also in the process of searching as a songwriter. So that’s when I met them. They were clearly high, but only on the things they were working with…

– He-he…

– It was a kind of a boyish, intense fervour.

– That reminded you of yourself?

– Yes, absolutely. It was a kick! This is a state I see as indispensable to find a sort of energy and the right motivation. This enthusiasm comes from the feeling that possibilities are within reach. So I, for my own sake as well, invited them into the studio where they played the song that was to become “Movies”. At once, I thought that it was my song – I want a song like that! Then I drove right home and composed “A Kind Of Christmas Card”. As an answer of sorts. Now finally, after all this time – ten years have passed since I was ready – it feels natural to record it.

– Why so long?

– I opted for ten years with a-ha instead as we received clear signals that we should go for another round. My mind wasn’t on that at all, I had no need for it, really. Either emotionally or in any other way. But out of true respect for what the band could be I gave it a try. I just did it. I wasn’t convinced that I should, I just did it.

– Do you regret it?

– I cannot regret such an interesting and great time that these years have been for the band, and I don’t. But at the same time I’ve lived with a nagging sense of not fulfilling this other reality that’s been waiting for me – and both parts are true.

– Magne Furuholmen has said somewhere that you expertly make sure the last word is yours. Are you enjoying the role as a solo artist in full control?

– Me? I’m no expert as far as a-ha is concerned. I mean it. In a-ha I don’t care to press my point until I impose what I believe we should do on the others. It’s other forces that do it. I accept it, I’m just an important string.

– What about the much-publicised creative frictions between you guys?

– The source of those frictions is strong willpower. In fact, they aren’t particularly creative or constructive. It’s a conflict of stubborn wills. If these confrontations could actually lead to fruitful clashes, that’d be truly thrilling. And we’re actually in a position now where it’s more plausible than before. This little factor makes the idea of doing a-ha again at some point appealing.

– What was your first memorable encounter with music? Can it be equaled to your first infatuation? Those things usually go very deep…

– He-he…Now that’s really big.

– Oh damn…

– But I believe that’s fascinating! Every sense impression is just in fact an experience of yourself. The point is what it takes to trigger it from the outside. What it is that corrupts and distorts the pure ideas inside of us. In a way, we accept that. A teenager can watch a B-movie and be overwhelmed, and surely, that feeling is genuine! It definitely gets to be harder and harder for those who have been through a lot. Therein lies the most interesting attack on a music critic as well, in a way.

– Yes?

– I wouldn’t automatically say that a music critic is better equipped to assess an album than that a prostitute is best suited to understand love and what it involves. Doing his job, a critic must really be on his guard. Søren Kierkegaard says somewhere that “while the grass is growing, the observer dies”. You cannot take life apart through analysis. Life is what it is in itself.


Excerpt from the Mat og Helse interview (August 2008):

– How do you protect yourself against the press?

– I often forget it myself but when you speak to a journalist, you must keep in mind that this person isn’t someone you’re having a conversation with. You’re talking to the editorial board, those who present your statements from the paper’s or channel’s standpoint. You think they’re there for the cause, while in fact they’re interested in sales. (…) On top of this, you should remember that you’re never more that one of the ingredients of the cake they’re baking, no matter what the medium is. It’s obvious but easy to forget along the way.

– So why do you say yes to such meetings?

– I don’t! If you just knew how many requests I get, even though it comes in waves. Only exceptions to this rule get published. I do it because I’m an artist with an audience that I’m already in a dialogue with. I also do it as a member of the public – if I think it’s natural.

(…)

– How do you protect your privacy now?

– Yes, this is what upsets me; I’ve been using a lot of energy to deal with this. I guess an important element is that I’ve never been especially hungry for this sort of attention but taken it as something self-evident. At the beginning it awoke my curiosity but there are limits to how interesting it is in itself – for the one who’s subjected to it – yet it’s extremely interesting as a psychological phenomenon.

– How does one learn to handle success and the limelight?

– There’s a fine line of distinction between success and crucifixion. And you know, the fame bit itself has the same primal roots in society, be it public debunking or glorifying. But what boy feels comfortable when his mother extols him in front of other boys? Then, there’s the other side: when you’ve got under someone’s skin with what you do, you establish a contact that’s always unique, even though it could turn into something ordinary.



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