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Slowshift are playing the slow game

24 January 2024, 14:00

As slowshift, former Highasakite musician Kristoffer Lo and Of Monsters and Men’s Brynjar Leifsson have created an outlet for unbridled creativity.

“That's the whole thing. It is supposed to be fun,” smiles Kristoffer Lo from his home studio in Trondheim. It’s a cold, dark winter morning as the new collective gear up to release their debut, the gloriously accomplished world going one way, and both Lo and his creative partner, Of Monsters and Men guitarist Brynjar Leifsson are in high spirits.

Lo, best known for his former role in Norwegian pop-rock ensemble Highasakite, and Leifsson are old friends. The two originally met when Highasakite supported Of Monsters and Men around the world in 2015, keeping in touch even after the tour ended. Lo exited the group in 2017 and spent the following years trying to rekindle inspiration. “It was a brutal ending and that sort of made me not want to be in a band for a very long time because I just wanted to make music for other people and not have all this stuff attached to it,” he says.

When the 2020 pandemic set in, Lo was presented with the opportunity to collaborate with a string orchestra. “I immediately thought of Brynjar, which is kind of fun because Brynjar and I have never played together, we've never made music together or anything,” he laughs. “But I had this feeling that it would work in some way.”


Lo sent Leifsson some leftfield demos with little expectation. “When I got it back, it just blew my mind what he had done to it. That's when I knew that we're definitely gonna make music together,” he smiles. “The main idea was this was never gonna be a band that would compete with Of Monsters in terms of touring, because it is much more of a creative outlet for the both of us. I wasn't afraid that I would take Brynjar away from Of Monsters.”

For Leifsson, the collaboration offered not only a distraction from the touring-absent lockdowns but a creative outlet flexible enough to permit his ongoing project. “I've been playing with Nanna before it was Of Monsters and Men, so I was like, ‘OK, I would like to try something new and just work with other people,’” he explains. “Then Kristoffer came with, ‘Hey, do you want to be in a new band with me?’ We've been doing the same thing for ten-years and I just needed something new to freshen up my perspective of music.”

Alongside Leifsson, Lo also brought in drummer Tomas Järmyr and sixteen-piece string orchestra the TrondheimSoloists. “Tomas is my go-to drummer who understands my way of thinking when I write music. He is also one of the best drummers that I know,” says Lo. “I know that I will never be able to write music that is too difficult for him to play. He literally did all of the drums for this album in eight hours, without having played them before.”

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Recorded at Ocean Sound studios on the Norwegian island of Giske in October of ‘21, the pair then sat on the recordings for six months until Leifsson found the inspiration and time to add his own layers of guitars and synth from his home studio in Iceland. “I thought that I had filled up the album with my stuff and strings and drums and everything, but Brynjar managed to find all these holes,” laughs Lo.

A rich and expansive journey of a debut, world going one way incorporates both the illustrious orchestral tapestry of the TrondheimSoloists with Lo’s adventuring musicianship and Leifsson’s formidable sonics. There are waves of post-classical and tides of post-rock, the record swinging from emotive soundscapes to epic narratives taking in Lo’s formative inspirations from Sigur Ros to Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead and Björk.


Alongside the expansive membership of slowshift, Lo also brought in a string of collaborators for both live shows and the record. Featuring on the album are Norwegian artists Kristian Kristensen and Fay Wildhagen, and Australian singer-songwriter Gordi. For Lo, it was important that each collaborator had the freedom to fully express themselves and follow their own ideas. “You do whatever you want, that's the whole idea,” he smiles. “That's the fun part of it. We're not trying to make a smash hit thing, we're just letting people put their creative outlets into the music and having faith in their input.”

Playing their debut show last summer at Norway’s Øya festival, faith also played an integral role. Shortly after booking the festival, Leifsson discovered he was having twins, the due date just days before slowshift’s appearance. “We finally booked the shows and he called me and he said, ‘I have some news that might fuck your life up a little bit,’” laughs Lo.

The consummate professionals they are, Leifsson performed with nothing but a brief run through the night before, Lo having spent the day driving around floods between Trondheim and Oslo. “We played through the songs in our hotel room while having a glass of wine at night, the night before,” Lo laughs. “I had to drive twelve hours to get to the show with all the backline. So we sat in the hotel room with a glass of wine. That was rehearsal.”

For last year’s show at Airwaves they brought Norwegian singer SKAAR and Of Monsters and Men vocalist Nanna out to share the stage. They also flew over the entire TrondheimSoloists orchestra. Lo is all too aware of the unsustainable nature of touring the project, and so every show becomes its own moment. “When Monsters release an album, they know that they’ll probably be on tour for the next twelve to eighteen months. That's the way it goes.” he says. “Everyone knows that you cannot do eighteen months on the road with like, nineteen people in the band. It won't work. So we just create a bunch of music and have this outlet, so that it is just fun.”

world going one way is released on 26 January via Amuse

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