We first stumbled across Einar Stray's music early last year, which lead to a very glowing 'Introducing' article on the young Norwegian genius. During a cold and expensive trip to Oslo in November we managed to finally catch him live, and it's safe to say he blew us away. The day we arrived in Oslo was the day his new album Chiaroscuro was finished (minus mastering) and with the songs fresh in our mind from the wonderful gig we were itching to give it a listen. We contacted Einar about it and he was kind enough to send us a copy to see what we thought. The album was released last week and it received a solid 9/10 from us. It really is that good. We caught up with Einar to talk about the new record, Norway and what the future has in hold for him. How would you describe the music you make? I make melancholic pop music. Piano based with strings, blows, percussion and bass. It sometimes tends to be quite noisy and angry, other times light and gentle. Who are your influences? We can hear lots of different people within your music, like Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens etc My top 3 is Radiohead, Silver Mt. Zion/Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Serena Maneesh. Sufjan, Sigur Rós and Arcade Fire are also some of my influences. I have never actually listened to Andrew Bird. You're just about to release your debut album, Chiaroscuro. Are you excited about it? I’m very excited and happy. It’s a dream come true. I’m really pleased with the result. I was so frightened about making my first record, but it went so easily. I was sure it would hurt more. Tell us about the writing process. Do you write with other people? Or do you compose it yourself and bring in people to play it? Melodies and lyrics pop into my head at the most inappropriate times. I write them down or record them on my recorder. I gather tonnes of ideas. Most of them are rubbish, but some can be used. Then, at some point, I get in front of an instrument to glue the good ideas together. The final step is to present it to my musician friends. I mostly have a pretty clear vision how the song is supposed to sound in my head, but they always change it a bit - and always in a good way. My music would never be the same without their colours. All of this usually takes a lot time. You also play (or used to play) with Moddi. Will you be stopping that now with the album coming out? Playing in Moddi has really been like a school to me. We spent all of 2010 on the road. It has taught me so much about being a band leader, live performance, studio work, the music business etc. I’m having a break from it now, to focus on my own project. But I will surely be joining them again some time soon. I care too much about the music to quit it fully. The record is released through Spoon Train in Feb. Do you have any plans for signing with a label outside of Norway too? I have hopes and dreams of signing with labels in other countries too. I know I have some fans (a very strange word to use) in England, France, Germany, Japan and the Philippines, and I know they’re having a bit of a hard time buying my releases. I would love to come and play abroad, and I cross my fingers for it happening sometime in 2011. We went over to Oslo last year and noticed that it seemed like a pretty exciting place for music. With that said, how good is Norway at supporting its music scene? Norway is pretty O.K. at supporting its music scene. It has got quite a few really amazing bands. My hottest tips are: Serena Maneesh, Team Me, Your Headlights Are On, Therese Aune, 120 Days, Motorpsycho, Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson and Ane Brun. I like giving music tips. Norway is pretty beautiful too. Are you inspired by your surroundings to any extent? It sure is beautiful! Especially north of Norway. I often get musical ideas when I’m on walks. But it’s not a very important factor, to be honest. I get more inspired by people than landscapes. How important do you think it is to speak English when you're in a band these days? Have you made any songs with Norwegian Lyrics? You have to go with what feels the most natural. It’s more natural to sing in English to me. Traditionally, the music I listen to is always sung in English. I made a few songs in Norwegian, but it didn’t sound right. Do you have any plans to come over to the UK to play some shows? The plan now is to focus on Norway until end of summer. After that we need to make a new plan. I hope it includes the UK. Lastly, what does the rest of 2011 have in store for you? Release an album, kiss a girlfriend, play a lot of concerts, take photos of friends, summer festivals, drink more tea, laugh more, cry more, learn more, sleep more, eat more, feel more.