We stumbled across Benjamin Finger a few months back during our regular internet trawls for new artists to cover. What struck us most about his style was the way he layered sounds. Take 'Vertigo Neonate' for example; you have a basic layer in the form of the acoustic guitar which drives the song, but on top of that you have a plethora of sounds jumping in and out to keep you interested. This attention to detail really is wonderful and is often lacking with artists of a similar nature.
Signed to How Is Annie Records and also one half of Beneva vs. Clark Nova, Benjamin Finger really is one to keep your eye on.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Hamar, a small town one and a half our outside Oslo. My mother and father emigrated from Poland in the 60Â´s and ended up here in Norway.
How long have you been making music?
I've been making music since around 2005 or so, but I have been listening to music from as early on as I can remember. Since my father was a musician there was always lots of different music being played in our house.
How would you describe your music?
ItÂ´s a bit hard for me to describe myself, all I can say is that it has a wide range of influences. I like to think of it as something dreamy or that it has qualities of escapism attached to it, if you may. My music has many layers, I hope the listener would hear different things every time he listens to the records, and new things reveal themselves. I'm operating with as many as 50 audio tracks in one song at times, and that's a lot of sound. It's like making collages, I guess. And I'm still looking for the perfect beat.
What would you consider your main musical influences?
There are so many, really! It varies from classical music like Chopin to Lightning Bolt via Mantronix and Autechre. Stuff that keeps coming back to me is Arthur Russel, Spacemen 3, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Black Dice, Broadcast, Disco Inferno, Pantha Du Prince, Gescom, Clark, Frank Zappa, Flying Lotus, Vincent Gallo, Gas, Bardo Pond, Aphex Twin, Slayer, Abbey Lincoln, Sensational, Scott Walker, Slowdive, Funkadelic, Kool Keith, Loop, Pram, Cocteau Twins and Seefeel. Lately I bought a record from Norwegian artist Lars Myrvoll called The Island (Safe As Milk, 2008) and it blew me away, really great stuff! And I like Norwegian artists like Alog, Phonophani, Andre Borgen, Elephant9 and Deathprod. Ok, I have to stop since I have something like 5000 records so the list could go on and on. What I listen to varies on my mood, time of year etc.
In terms of your roots, do feel any musical connection to it or indeed to any scene surrounding it? We've spoken to a lot of Norwegian bands and they all mention how beautiful the place is.
I haven't really given that a lot of thought, but the question does force me to reflect upon it. Hmm. let`s see. I might be influenced by some polish music like Chopen, Zbigniew Preisner and Jacaszek since some of my earlier records, like Woods of Broccoli have been described as having a soundtrack quality to it. When it comes to any scene I don't really feel like I'm a part of anything. And I don't have any goals or wishes concerning being part of one. I really strive to be an independent artist because it gives me the freedom to release different kind of records. But I would still like to say that I feel close to a place like Sound of Mu in Oslo, because of its open-minded aprroach to music of all forms, we should have had more places like that in Oslo. But you know, it's such a small city. I'm not attached to any specific genre and that's why I try to make all of my records somehow different from each other. Bring in as many new elements as I can as long as I find that interesting. So far I've been doing mostly instrumental music, but I've started toying with my voice/singing lately and you might hear more of that in the future.
And yes, Norway is really a beautiful place and very inspiring when it comes to making music. We're inside our houses (unfortunately) six months a year and that gives you a lot of time to make music. ItÂ´s also easy to feel melancholic during the dark winter. And I should mention that I just got a studio in a beautiful island called BygdÃ¸y right outside Oslo. It's really widescreen being out there with the sea and the woods and those elements are really inspirational to me. But again, given the chance I would have moved to Portugal or Spain (where my family own an apartment) on any given day. That climate suits my lifestyle much better than living in Norway. So just give me a house and a plane ticket for this interview and I'll be on my way.
What element of your music most sets you apart from other musicians/bands?
I was never educated as a musician - I did take piano and guitar lessons with my father when I was younger, but I wasn't any interested and didn't become very good. I guess that happens with everything you are forced to do when you're a kid. My father even sent me to a piano teacher, but that didn't help much either. I do approach all of my music with the curiosity of a kid. I never know what's around the corner and I'm always curious about inventing new stuff and mixing things that really doesn't fit together in theory. I like to think of it as a positive thing that I'm not an educated musician. I never have any rules and I believe that there are so many ways in making music that it's only your imagination that sets the limit. I also think what maybe separates me from other bands is that I don't stick to one formula or genre. I'm trying to constantly change my music, and to be open to all kinds of music and influences. This is one way to keep me interested in making music. You have to challenge yourself every day.
What are your plans for 2011?
I almost have two and a half new records records ready. They are all different in their ways. One is more upbeat with a electronic feel to it, the other two are more piano and guitar based. Two of them will probably see its day sometime later this year. The third one still needs a home. Anyone interested? Besides from releasing these records, I do have a goal to continue to record more stuff and try to stay as inspired as I can.
Header photo by Synne
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