I never wear borrowed clothes – an interview with Eivind Aarset

After six years of absence Eivind Aarset returns to Poland. This time he will present his new project with Sonic Codex Orchestra, which has not been shown in our country. The guitarist talks about the evolution of his music, heavy metal influences and the freedom which comes from electronics.

Why did you make Polish fans wait so long for your arrival? Last time you performed in Poland was in 2005.

Was it that long ago? Amazing! I was ready to perform all that time but, as far as I recall, I wasn’t offered the chance to play in Poland. I hope that, after I release my new album, I will move on with a promotional tour around your country.

What has changed in your music during this time?

A lot, really! I think that now my music is freer and in a sense I feel it more physically. It is also much harder. I also work in a team of more people.

Since you mentioned the team – it’s going to be your first time in Poland with Sonic Codex Orchestra. What group is it?

Most often Sonic Codex is a band consisting of four musicians. Erland Dahlen and Wetle Holte play the percussion instruments. Audun Erlien performs on bass and synthesizer. Well, there’s also me playing the guitar. I am responsible for the electronics, too. However, at Musica Electronica Nova we’ll perform in a larger group. The band will include the guitarist Björn Charles Dreyer who plays the pedal steel (an electronic Hawaiian guitar).

You started your career in a heavy-metal band. Was it only an early adventure or something more serious?

Actually, it was in the times before the black metal era. That music was not as hard as today’s metal. I must admit that it was an important stage in my musical past.

Do those early musical experiences still have an impact on you?

I think the audience can still hear those influences. Metal is more like an element in my “musical palette.” It often makes itself felt and comes to the surface because I’ve always liked the energy of that music.

You’ve experimented with many music genres. Is nu-jazz the end of your musical search or are you still looking for something?

On the one hand, that quest results from the fact that I still keep on searching for new sounds and ideas which could make my playing fresher. On the other hand, I always try to make my music as sincere and personal as possible. In other words, “I never wear borrowed clothes.”

Why have you only recently started using a laptop during performances?

Because it’s only recently that the computer has become quite fast, so that I could play the guitar directly, without a feeling that I’m losing touch with the sound.

Do you still play Jan Braahten’s guitar, manufactured by a luthier?

I’ve been using it ever since I bought it in 1988. Jan was very unhappy that I got it so cheap… But I am still very glad about it.

Are you often invited to festivals of electronic music?

It was a pretty big surprise but I’m very happy with the invitation. Normally, I play at jazz festivals, and this show can help me, hopefully, attract a new audience who might not listen to jazz.

Why did you start incorporating elements of electronics into your compositions?

I’ve always used electronics while playing the guitar. My interest in recording and later with sound manipulation was gradually increasing. I like this freedom, which I found on the electronic scene in the 1990s.

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