The softly sung words of Eirik Glambak Boe and his more hyper partner Erland Oye are some of my very favorite music – period. The Norwegian duo returns to our nation’s capital for the first time in quite a while this Sunday (not to mention the painful wait having had to delay the show initially) and we had the good fortune (and bad transatlantic connection) to talk to Eirik about their somewhat surprising popularity and it’s effects, as well as testing the very limits of our honesty. Please read Eirik’s replies with the soft Norwegian accent of the well-read and terribly courteous:
JF: Everyone is very excited that you are returning to DC. I was one of the last five people to get into your previous show here at IOTA.
EGB: A long time ago.
JF: One of my top-ten shows of all-time. Intimate setting.
EGB:<Tiny as I remember it.
JF: Yes – that is the best part about it.
EGB:his next one is going to be a little bigger.
JF: Indeed – how is the show translating to the bigger venues?
EGB:t can be hard, because we are only two people – and we sing softly and the music we play. It can be difficult for us to see the people’s facial expression in the audience and on stage – which is an important part of our performance. You can’t really do that when the room is too big. We have figured out that the limit is 2,500 people. That is the limit. We can create the dynamic with that many… but any more than that… it’s lost.
JFfunny you mention the nuances as when I saw you before the two of you reminded me of an old married couple – finishing each other’s thoughts and you have that sense of being together for such a long time.
EGB:is a perceptive observation. I would have to agree (laughs)
JF: Where is everyone living now? I know Erland was in Berlin. Is everyone back now?
EGB: He is back in Bergen. Moved back three years ago so we are both back in Bergen now.
JF: I was curious about your writing and recording process – how that has evolved over the year. I think this record has more and more of the looping guitar figures and less of the obvious melody lines. Which I think serves to reveal all these little joys over time with each listen – so how has the process evolved as you two have been together longer?EGB:It seems that, the way we work together now is that each song is now more clearly my song or Erland’s song and the contribution from the other person is smaller, on average. Musically I think it is actually more simple – lyrically it is more complex. There are more experiences. There are a few songs though where we have combined for what is sort of a new Kings of Convenience. A unique way that is not typical of us.
: There is definitely a unique style to your interplay. Having had the benefit of seeing you play before, I was really taken with your style of guitar playing (Eirik is an incredible player – not to be missed) which is really unique. What are some of the influences on your style of playing?
EGB: Well, it’s pretty clear that I have been listening to bossanova music and the rhythm of my right hand and the chords with my left is heavily influenced in that way. Bossanova music is about using the guitar to play complex jazz music and I am using my right hand to create the samba rhythm and you don’t need a band and you don’t need an orchestra and you can use the full potential of the guitar.
EGB: Yes, we were cheating before but now it is the real thing.
JF: How surprised are you with the reach and sales for your music, especially given that you don’t really tour all that often.
EGB: I used to be really surprised but now, we seem to be at an even level of popularity – it doesn’t go down and it doesn’t go up and we seem to sell the same amount of records everywhere around the world, apart from Africa, and I realize and feel extremely lucky to be able to do this as a musician – having all these opportunities to travel and people who want to see us.
he end of the day you guys are part of EMI, but it actually seems like you are operating outside of the traditional music industry in a way – with the long break between records…EGB:It can be a lot of frustration for our record company.
JF: How many A+R people did you go through between this record and the last?
EGB: Well, every person I have known in the music industry have been laid off in the past year or two so it is new people coming and new people going all the time. It is funny as it seems like we are the stable element and the record company is the river of change.
JF: When you put out a record a year and are always touring it can be hard to notice but now when you put out a record it is a big event – what has been the reason behind the limited touring?
EGB: Personally I feel that I have toured a lot as we have played in a lot of different countries, but each territory it seems to be a long time – like how it has been 5 years since we were in DC for example. In those years we have been all over the world but at the same time, I have a good life and a family and I need the feeling like I lead a normal life. If you tour all the time you don’t have that.
It is important for me for writing as well. Dealing with problems and people and the normal and not luxury and airports and business class – you can easily stop relating to things that people deal with and you start complaining about things that the average guy on the street would be happy to deal with and experience.
EGB: I can imagine.
JF: You can imagine a full album of cocaine and tour buses.
(we get lost in piecing together where “Satisfaction” falls into this period)
: What song can you currently not get out of your head?
EGB: Listening to at the moment? This band from Australia, The Middle East – good stuff; also, a lot of Steely Dan, which we just covered.
: What are you reading currently?
EGB: I am reading this Norwegian novel, the whole country has gone crazy about this book, the guy is a celebrity, he is only 40 and he is writing an auto-biography in six books and each book is 600 pages and it is in extreme detail and naked honesty about what he is describing and in talking about the people he grew up with and what not – the people are now threatening to put him on trial – everyone wants to read these books. It is amazing.
EGB: It is a project in discovering the limits of how far you can go in your honesty and reveling your private life.
JF: What’s the name of the author?
EGB: I have to spell it for you – Karl Ove Knausgard. His project translates to “My Struggle” taking the title Mein Kamf from Hitler and making it Norwegian. It is a funny/ironic title but the project is very serious.
EGB: The challenge is time now. The day seems a lot shorter than it used to be when we were young with endless hours – now we have more experiences and feelings to write about emotionally my life is more active than ever – but at the same time the practicalities can be harder.
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Kings Of Convenience play this Sunday at the 9:30 Club and if you are lucky enough to have had a ticket to the original show it is long sold out and well worth the wait!