Heyerdahl are an interesting bunch. They released their debut album Øen last month to widespread acclaim, creating a unique blend of scandinavian indie-pop which left many of the more highly anticipated releases clambering in its wake. It seemed to drop out of pretty much nowhere, yet the well polished sheen which coated the record in its entirety was the factor which left quite the impression. According to the band though, it wasn't always like this.

"We wanted to do things that were a bit out of the norm." They got together when Tore gathered three friends from completely different backgrounds, all sharing the desire to create a project which verged away from what they had done before. "It was a recipe for disaster, and in the first months… it really was! Directionless jamming really. We listened to a bunch of Ethiopiques compilations, then we tried playing microtonal guitar landscapes, then we messed with synths. Somehow, it eventually just morphed into the sound we have today."

Like a deviously evasive bluebottle on a window pane, references on the album always seem to rear their heads for a split second, only to disappear at the point of definition. There are a few nods here, a few nods there, yet just as you decide that the influence for the sound must have been x, the music suddenly changes and consequently, the influence evaporates. Their catalogue of inspirations confirms; "We listened to a bunch of music together from Mulato Astatke all the way to Cassie. 'Mirage' is our attempt at an R&B track… but it ended up sounding really Norwegian and not really urban in any way." Heyerdahl don't stray too far from the journalistic back up plan either, stating that their music is in fact OK to be described as Nordic/Norwegian.

They're quick to establish that this isn't "like a sunny postcard of a fjord or a happy ski-jumper like you'd normally see in travel guides to Norway. It's a bit more stormy. It's real, and at times quite dark." With various pepperings of inspiration come various sounds, and whilst the album is one of the most cohesive I have heard in recent times, the tracks are extremely different to one another. If one track were to serve as an advert for the whole release, they believe it would be opener 'Enkebukten'; "Translated to Widow's Bay, it's a story from the village near the lighthouse we recorded the album in. It was a small fishing village, and one night a terrible storm came, killing all of the men, with the women all turning into widows in the course of a few hours. We went there and saw the village - It was all very ghostly and moody. Enkebukten really sets the tone for the whole record and is a natural opener to the journey along our coast that is Øen."

They didn't just 'record' in this lighthouse either - it became a tool which would impact on the music just as much as any instrument or vocal; "We were looking really to go somewhere a bit extreme, to get us out of our natural elements of the cities we had spent all of our lives living in. We meant to go to the Caribbean and just use whatever mics they had - just make a really obscure record with the locals!" Sitting on a beach was soon to be duped on the priority list though, as "both bassist and vocalist knocked up their women." Brilliant. They decided to look into their own history for stories and songwriting, and when they found this secluded lighthouse, everything fell into place; "There was a hurricane as soon as we got there, and it was stormy for the duration of the recording. Rather than being scared of getting this on tape, we put mics all around the lighthouse and let the instrument resonate in the room. Almost all of the reverb you hear comes naturally from the resonance. This tied the sound and feel together nicely." It was an altogether unusual choice of habitat, yet one which pays dividends on the final product. I wondered if there was any well conceited plan behind this right from the start, yet the lads attribute the decision to plain old circumstance - "We chose to record like this, because knocking up your wife can lead to inspiring limitations on your recording environments."

It's somewhat of a strange position Heyerdahl now find themselves in. Intentionally or not, the record and its constructive processes have given off a conceptual feel. It'll be interesting to see whether they feel obliged to continue this trend by choosing somewhere just as inspiring/directly influential as the lighthouse for album two, or whether they go in a completely different direction. They state that they "already have many plans. We might go even further north… extreme conditions are just how we roll. We will still make jams though!" Following a London gig after their first single release, more UK dates are in the pipeline for summer. An overwhelming response to the release has seen Heyerdahl booked for various European festivals throughout the year, and you should certainly be on the lookout.


For more information on Heyerdahl, head here.