(Photos by Tori Lind) Out since last month and now available on Bandcamp and all other platforms including Spotify is the full length debut album by the electronica wave / ambient act Lights A.M, the brainchild of Norwegian musician Erlend Eilertsen we know from the electro rock act Essence Of Mind. The conceptual full length album “Stories Without Words” comes after the release of 3 EPs back in 2019 and 2020: “Shine Our Lights” (2019, and re-released with bonus tracks in 2020), “Surrender & Evolve” (2020) and “Agnes” (2020).
The instrumental 10-track offers a mix of meditative soundscapes, heartwarming hymns and melancholic melodic layers, something which we actually also could hear in the electronic layers Eilertsen added in his Essence Of Mind work.
The Norwegian artist is going very deep here, digging into his emotions and intimate moments as our interview will show. Timeless electronic music from the Nordics.
We hailed Norway, and caught Erlend in his studio. You can check out the album below whilst reading the rest.
SL: How are things in Sandvika?
EE: Here in Sandvika (20 kilometer outside Oslo), it is all good, apart from the ongoing pandemic which does put it’s mark here as well. That said, it hasn’t had that much impact on my daily life apart from not being able to play live and attend some concerts. I do miss those and other opportunities, like being more social and traveling. But in the end I really can’t complain, cause the impact it has on a lot other people’s life is far more severe.
I can’t wait for it all to be over though, it’s really sad to see how many people are struggling in many different ways, and that we can’t remove all the current restrictions.
SL: Lights A.M seems a really good way to pass a good time in confinement, it’s very tranquilizing, I guess it had the same effect on you?
EE: Funny you should mention that (laughs). It does, but all the tracks I have released so far have been written before the outbreak last year actually, so just wait to see what comes next! Joke aside, it does fit the current situation in a way, but it’s more a reflection of me personally, and how I evolve as a person, and music is my therapy. I really enjoy making soundscapes, it’s almost meditative in its own way. I tend to think that the scares and frustrations I needed to scream out before is done. Now it’s time to heal the wounds, and for me the best way is to slow down.
SL: Is this a project that has been boiling in your head for while? What was the click to start recording it?
EE: Yes it is, you are correct. Back in late 2016 I found myself doing some more cinematic and slower instrumental tracks all of a sudden, and I really enjoyed doing things differently than before. So I got really creative, more than I had been in a long time. So it just happened more or less.
It did take some time to figure out what do with the new tracks though, as I felt it could not be interpreted into Essence Of Mind without doing a radical change in style. I also wanted to do something new again, back to start in way, so I started this new chapter in my life, with total creative freedom.
Another thing I quickly realized is that writing instrumental tracks is very deliberating in the way that the music tells the story itself. I often find words limiting, and to have another way of telling a story is something I really appreciate.
Take the track «Agnes» for example; a track I wrote as a tribute to our beloved Griffon dog which had been a big part of our lives for almost 16 years at that time. I really don’t think I could have made a track about her with words to express my feelings for her. I feel that the track itself channel the love and gratitude I feel for her in a way not possible with written words.
I also believe that the listener experience the tracks in a more personal way as well, as everything is more open to each own interpretation, so the listener is a part of making the story. Making an album called “Stories Without Words” really made sense to me.
SL: It has the melodic twist we also find back in Essence Of Mind but with synth layers that remind us a lot of Vangelis. I guess he was one of the main inspirations musically speaking?
EE: One of many, but a big inspiration of course. The 70’s and 80’s have a lot of amazing instrumental electronic music. Another thing I quickly realized is that writing instrumental tracks is very deliberating in the way that the music tells the story itself. I often find words limiting, and to have another way of telling a story is something I really appreciate.
SL: The music instantly also reminds of that stellar Netflix series “Stranger Things”, I guess you are a fan as well? I actually find that several pieces would well have fitted that series.
EE: I am, just love it, and thank you very much! The atmosphere, characters and the story are just awesome, and together with the soundtrack, it really makes something special! If you have not already, I really recommend that you check out the band Survive, which is the band behind the music in the series, they are totally awesome and a big inspiration for me as well.
I would love to make soundtracks my self one day, that magic when picture and sounds blend together perfectly is truly amazing! So it’s a dream I have.
SL: The release has a very own musical synth palet, it’s very easy to recognize it as Lights A.M, I guess that was the purpose?
EE: Thank you, I’m happy to hear that! I actually have not thought that much about it to be honest, but I do want to do things my way, and I guess giving myself total freedom to not have to fit something really helped to develop my own style and sound. I do listen to a lot of different music, and have influences from all over the place, from krautrock, old soundtracks, to ambient and melancholic pop and rock, it really does not matter. So what you hear is just me picking the parts I like and make something out of it.
SL: You aren’t too keen on the term synthwave, why is that?
EE: I have nothing against it, just feel it does not fit Lights A.M, I also feel that the genre has been a little saturated, and lot of the music sounds too generic and artificial to my taste. Maybe that’s what happening when something get’s a hype and a lot of people all of a sudden want to make something sound a specific way?
Then there are bands like Gunship, who are brilliant and who I really enjoy, and even Cliff Martinez (behind the amazing Drive soundtrack) has been put into that term, so it’s not about the genre, it’s about the music presented. I do like that the music and visuals have some kind of organic approach – even if it’s purely electronic just like my own stuff – and that it has strong emotions and a story behind it.
I want to feel something when listening, and it does not matter if it’s a 20 min drone track or a 3 min pop track, and it certainly does not matter which genre you put it in.
SL: Are there plans to bring the project live once this whole pandemic is over?
EE: I hope so! I have a quite clear vision of how it should be, but it has to be done the right way. Very different to how I have done things before, but that is a challenge I want to take on. It will be a lot more visual to what I’m used to do, so the whole production needs to be on another level than before. I will not perform alone on stage either, so a lot of puzzles have to fit, but I do have some ideas and have been in talk with a close friend and awesome musician already.
Lights A.M videos
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