Name: Øyvind Blomstrøm ofOrions Belte
Members: Øyvind Blomstrøm, Chris Holm and Kim Åge Furuhaug
Current Release: Villa Amorini on Jansen Records
Recommendations: The Hissing of Summer Lawns by Joni Mitchell / Red and Green by Ali Farka Touré.
Orions Belte have a Facebook and Bandcamp page.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started out writing instrumental stuff some years before Orion’s Belt, and some of those songs are on the albums. But mainly we have written this kind of music for this band. All of us have produced our own previous bands, and I also have produced some records for other artists over the last 6-7 years. I started kind of early listening to really old stuff. When I was in high school I was always digging for the oldest possible blues records at the local record store etc. Son House, Rev. Gary Davis and really early Duke Ellington records and so on. I also discovered Ry Cooder when I was like 14, that was a big deal. The guitar as a "vocal" element has always been strong for me. Music has always been there; I think I have touched an instrument almost every day for as long as I can remember.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
It took a loooong time to learn how to play a melody on guitar without making it sound like some sort of solo. We try to think of our songs as pop songs without vocals, and play the guitar like a melody instrument. The more we do this the more we sound like ourselves. Originality is a big question in music, I try not to think too much about it.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
In some ways, it makes it easier. We really like the way we sound, and we don’t have any specific rules to our music, so that sparks a lot of creativity.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
They haven’t changed. We try to constantly evolve and not put any restraints on ourselves. Every recording has been like that. Go into it with an open mind and let everybody in the band have a voice.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, from instruments via software tools to recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
All of us have like a small home studio where we can record our own stuff. Since we live in three different cities it makes it a lot easier to record and send each other files. We do make some music like that, although I think we all prefer to be in the same room while recording if we can choose. In Oslo, it’s hard to find a good room that is big enough, so it’s a constant chase to find solutions for recording guitar without disturbing the neighbours too much. Right now, I’ve been trying out this device from Universal Audio called The OX which enables me to record my own amps without making any noise in the room. I think all three of us are pragmatic when it comes to equipment. We want things to work and we’re
not really hoarders who collect a lot of stuff. Though we do have a lot of guitars, amps and drums, hahaha.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I have some effects that have followed me for years, I try not to change my setup too much so I really, really understand how all of them work. A mix of really old-school fuzz and delays mixed with some more modern synth-esque stuff seems to be a good path for my creativity. Otherwise, I’m kind of nostalgic when it comes to amplifiers and stuff. I have a guitar that I have played for 17 years now, and that has changed the way I play in this band. The strings, setup, pickup configuration and bigsby tremolo is an integral part of how to get the sound. I guess Dropbox changed a lot for me. Just the whole idea of sharing files and having a good workflow between us as a band. You can hardly call that a technology in itself but I think that is the app I use the most on my phone.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
We do that all the time. We also try to collaborate with others. It could be an artist who makes a music video, a director, our mixing engineer, or having someone contribute to one of our songs, like a guest vocalist or something. In the future we will also try to collaborate with others in different arenas, we’re really excited to see what we can make happen.