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vibble presents: Henrik the Artist

Henrik the Artist is a strange creature. His social media feeds are filled with poems about friends and true friendship and paintings of what we only can assume is himself as a teenager. His fanbase are strangely focused on teddy bears and his music sounds like an amusement park ride where something always feels askew. We caught up with him before he left for the US to play Mad Decent’s Block Party and was lucky enough to get insight into this friendly and strange Artist’s mind. And yeah, his signature syntax is very present during the time we talk. We would expect nothing less from Henrik the Artist.

We’re invited to Henrik’s parents’ house in Bergen for coffee, cake and a chat. His mom is an opera singer and his dad plays the harpsichord, he tells us. Music runs in the family, classical music that is, seeing that Henrik himself has been playing the violin since he was six. He shouts out the iBook G4 his parents got at one point, citing that as an early platform for making music on computers. “From there it just developed. I started studying music technology in Trondheim. Obviously, there you have to go deeper into the tools and everything. That’s where my interest for electronic music started. The interest for all the programming and all of the tools. I also met Ole Torjus, Tom and Martin who I play with in Rytmeklubben now, we share lots of interests, from musical experiences to our nerdy interests with programming programs, synthesizers and sounds.” Henrik believes chance has played a big role in his career as a musician, telling us “you kind of get thrown into places, it’s the way of life.”

He continues, talking about his shows. They mostly consist of his own music and music from his friends in Rytmeklubben, “because that’s the stuff I think is the best in the world.” His shows are marked by a marriage of pop music and the kind of club music he enjoys, he says he likes to “play off the parameters of the pop music that people have heard before and add new stuff to that kind of music. And in that way kind of merge the different scenes and make it easier for people to grab around it.” His shows are accompanied by visuals, put together by his girlfriend and VJ Stine. He says, “she’s very good. There’s lots of Ken Burns.”

Another important part of his shows are the teddy bears. Where does that even come from? It suits his persona and music, undoubtedly, but why teddy bears? We ask him, but it’s a difficult question for him to answer. He says he just wanted to do something fun with them. After some difficulty he says “it’s also fun to play when I get the teddy bears cause it’s fun to watch people throw them around everywhere like flying bears and animals all around. It’s a good atmosphere. it’s a fun sight.” He tells us a sweet story of a teddy bear he got from his girlfriend, when they were living in different cities and he was sick with a stomach flu, “she bought me this case of food for getting better and also a flower with a teddy bear in it.” He points to a teddy bear and says, “That’s this one and it’s called Stine Brumm. It’s like the Norwegian version of Winnie the Pooh.”

That’s this one and it’s called Stine Brumm. It’s like the Norwegian version of Winnie the Pooh.

The music Henrik makes resembles a madcap journey through bubblegum pop, only sped up, like fast forwarding a tape with a little bit of every musical genre derided by snobs sprinkled in. His approach to making this music is in many ways unique, finding inspiration in things he might not enjoy and making them enjoyable. “I try to find inspiration and ideas from this ideal of using musical stuff that I don’t necessarily enjoy so much. Something fun happens in the process of doing so because you end up with a result that’s kind of interesting because you put in stuff you think is good. I think that’s my main inspiration.” Unsurprisingly, he also emphasises the role fun plays in his process of making music, “I think that music should be fun, because if you’re having fun making music, the music will also be fun to listen to afterwards. That’s a feeling I try to show through making music. Just have fun. Take 3.5 min to get about every bad thing in life and embrace life. Yeah.”

He muses on the importance of layering sounds, recalling that a professor at university told him and his Rytmeklubben pals that layers are pretty good and that all interesting sounds have layers. “If you have many sounds in the texture playing many things you can always find something new.” Layers is a very important part of making music and designing sounds today, and he tells us it can all be really simple if only “the layers are on fleek.” His current obsession though, is experimenting with semi-modular analog stuff to make sound effects. “You get to feel like a little professor and patch things all around and twist knobs and get technical.” But in general, he likes to do programming, using Ableton Live, Max Map and Max for Live. He shouts out Ableton, but laments that “it crashes a little bit, so do something about that. Fix the crash.”

His typical working day is centred around a two-part ritual of breakfast and coffee. “After breakfast, I have a cup of coffee, because then you have two things to look forward to, you have the first meal then, you’re finished with the meal and you’re like what do I do now and you remember ah it’s coffee time. Then you can start to work in a nice mindset.” Sometimes when he’s working he likes to take his computer with him in his backpack and take a walk, find a nice spot with a bench, some sun and a view and use those hours of battery time on his computer to make something. He says “that’s a fun way to do it, change the scenery. That’s why I like working on laptops, because you can take your studio everywhere.” Sometimes he does it just like everyone else though, he sits down with a keyboard and finds himself a melody and starts building a song, but taking a walk is undoubtedly his favourite way of working.

The sounds in Henrik’s sound pack is a kick, a clap, his signature tag and what he describes as an “impact kind of sound.” Why he chose these sounds comes directly from using Vibble and seeing a creative potential in it. “I think those are fun to have in the pack because I think you can start to play around with the songs. I was playing around with the app and you kind of play one song and then playing the kick and clap on top of it, I found you can use this app for inspiration in music because you can play around with the songs, find a cool rhythm and program it, and then build something from that. it’s a nice additional part to a DJ app of that kind.” He says the kick is made by him, and the clap is a modified sample from parts unknown, “it’s like a trap clap or something” he says. The impact is a generic impact. “I like impacts. I hope people find it useful.” Lastly, the tag is what it is, made by Henrik himself, when messing around during band practice with Rytmeklubben.

We get to talking about what kind of music he’s listening to. The answer is not surprising really, but wholly in kind with his music and mindset. He is obsessed with generic sounding music from the 80s and 90s and off beat melodies in dance music. He’s also very fond of gabber, he says “the gabber sounds and textures, there’s something really interesting in there.” Which kind of makes sense, considering his music sometimes veer into happy hardcore territory. He wants to do a regular pop song though, but with lots of irregular stuff in it. “I think that is maybe my goal for now, to kind of catch that hit thing. Something that’s really accessible but still really unaccessible at the same time.” He would love to work with singers like Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Kesha (whom he recently got to share a stage with at Mad Decent’s Block Party). He mentions that his girlfriend Stine is a very good singer, “I have a lot of good vocals from her, so maybe that will be the thing.”

Lastly, we ask him if he’s ever collaborated with his mom. He tells us “no, not yet. It’s coming.”