When trawling through the average band’s Facebook profile, there is always a dull feeling of apprehension when you glance at the ‘influences’ section. The responses tend to fall into three different categories – the arbitrary list that of bands-gone-by that unwittingly pits the young ‘n’ plucky band against music they are unlikely to ever match. Then there’s the cocksure ‘I AM INFLUENCED BY NO-ONE’ response, as arrogant as it is downright wrong. Lastly, the existential and earthy response, which is the category that Norwegian band Highasakite have leant themselves to. They say ‘the world’ influences them and though this is quite a broad response, Best Fit’s interview with the band’s lead singer Ingrid Havik provides some clarification to this assertion. What transpires from our e-chat, quells my previous apprehensions.
Highasakite make music sounding like the produce of this earth’s fertile soil, which is about the very world it was born from, formed in such a way that seems as natural as the world itself. As their name alludes, they ‘get high’ off of it too. So it’s unequivocally true then, that they haven’t curated some elaborate, ill-fitting and pretentious lie on their ‘influences’ section of their Facebook profile. As separate people, they are ‘of’ the world and as Highasakite, they are ‘about’ the world – or their world at least.
This all fuels their never-straying ethos of classic pop sounds and expansive structures. Ahead of their slot at Best Fit sister site Ja Ja Ja’s showcase, we delved a little deeper into what it means to be Highasakite and the makers of ‘pop music with a twist’.
First and foremost, who are Highasakite, where are you all from and when did you decide to form?
We first formed in Trondheim, as Trond and I went to school there. Then we moved to Oslo, and Øystein joined us and now Marte and Kristoffer are in the band too. This has all happened in the last two years.
How did you decide on the name? That phrase connotes some *ahem* ‘liberal drug use’…
No liberal drug use! Just being happy and high on love and sex.
You describe your sound as pop music with a twist… what would you say the twist is exactly?
The twist is the sound; the sounds that we use and how the drums are played. It sounds different than mainstream pop, don’t you think? We think so. We try to create beautiful music, not necessarily unique or special, though we do think it is unique.
Do you think pop music needs a twist, and is that very twist the difference between sounding interesting and sounding like glossy chart music?
Of course it does. Music needs to evolve to remain interesting. If you have heard it before it won’t hit you as hard. But, glossy chart music can also be beautiful, sometimes it has a twist too.
Having said all of this, how do you create music? Do you have a specific vision for a song or does it sort of, come naturally?
It comes naturally but we do have a discussion around all the songs we create: What is the purpose of the song, what kinds of moods do we want to make and how to make that universe. I mainly create the songs, and I trust the band to help them come to life and put their own sounds on it. I love them for playing my songs.
Songs like ‘The Heron’ and ‘Indian Summer’ have a very earthly quality to them – how much would you say your physical surrounding influence your music or do you derive influence from other places?
Nature is important as well as travels we have made. My childhood is a huge inspiration for me. How we played and how the nature was around my neighbourhood. I try putting that into my songs but I might be the only one that can hear it.
In the UK, American and English artists seem to have a kind of musical monopoly, something the Ja Ja Ja showcase which you’re playing this month is working to redress. Do you at times feel like you and other fantastic artists won’t get the same attention because you are from the Norway?
Maybe, we import a lot of music and you export. It might be a barrier, but so far I haven’t really noticed it.
Would you say that there is a musical camaraderie in that Norway, with close knit links and a solid scene?
Yes. Everyone might not know each other, but we know of each other. There are so many exciting musicians in Norway and I think Norwegians like listening to Norwegian music too. I heard once that Oslo has as many shows playing in one week as in New York. I believe that. There is so much going on.
For people who are coming to see the show, what should they expect from you guys in a live setting?
I don’t know… five friends playing their favourite music. We do love decorating ourselves and the stage with weird and pretty stuff.
Ja Ja Ja will take place on Thursday 29 November at its home of The Lexington, featuring performances from Denmark’s MØ, Finland’s Sin Cos Tan and Norway’s Highasakite. Tickets are £5 in advance and can be purchased here, and for more information on the event, head over to Ja Ja Ja November’s Facebook page.