Monday, March 13, 2006

RFSL Interview: Magnet

Formerly of the band Libido, Norwegian singer/songwriter Even Johansen has returned with The Tourniquet, his second full-length album as “Magnet.” Upon release of his 2001 solo release, Quiet & Still, critics labeled Johansen as "Thom Yorke trapped in a David Lynch movie." While still retaining his trademark melancholic croon, this latest effort finds Johansen a bit more optimistic and pop-friendly. RFSL recently caught up with Johansen to discuss his new direction and what lies ahead for the talented Norse troubadour.

Radio Free Silver Lake: First off…I just wanted to say thanks for the interview. I’ve been a fan of your work ever since Quiet & Still, that record completely blew me away…Speaking of which, after recording under your own name, what made you decide to continue on as “Magnet” versus just “Even Johansen.”

Even Johansen: Thanx for the kind words! ... After Quiet and Still was released under my name proper, I realized that it wasn’t my name proper musically, so there was a deal struck between me and myself to never release anything under that name again.

RFSL: How has your writing and performing changed since your days with Libido and Chocolate Overdose?

EJ: Now that I’m my own man so to speak, and not in a band, it’s much more of a lonesome effort to both write and perform, and since I’m turning slowly into a recluse, that’s just the way I like it the best.

RFSL: Your music has been described more than once over the years as “melancholic,” yet this new record is lyrically quite optimistic at times, was there anything in particular that inspired the positive vibes?

EJ: I wanted to write something a little more direct and positive to reflect the good vibes in my life, nothing more particular than to try and be honest in my writing,

RFSL: Your hometown, Bergen, Norway, has been called a “hit-factory” town…what is it about the city or area that you think makes it conducive to producing great music?

EJ: There’s a great vibe in Bergen for making music at the moment, could be because it rains so fucking much that there’s nothing else to do….

RFSL: You also recently lived for a few years in Scotland…how was that experience and why did you decide to return to Norway?

EJ: Living in Scotland makes you realize how un-articulate you are. They have an inspiring command over the English language that makes me want to try harder with words. I’ve always wanted to live on a farm, and Bergen being the only place we could afford one……

RFSL: What can fans expect from your North American tour? (full-band? solo acoustic performances? Back-up hype dancers?)

EJ: I’m going to play and sing the songs like I’ve never done before, without any kind of distracting backing dancers…….

RFSL: After your current tour, what do you have planned for Magnet in the future?

EJ: I’m due to start recording my next album four days after I get home, so that’s where my head is going to be at for the summer. My little head can only plan that far ahead at a stretch, so what comes after that I do not know yet. pheeeeew.


If you could curate your own musical festival or tour, what would the line-up be?

I would be supporting The Beach Boys. That’s it!

What is your favorite Norwegian delicacy?

We eat lam ribs at Christmas. Unbeatable!!

Best thing about touring The States?

Without a shadow of doubt, the audiences.

If you weren’t a musician, what would your occupation be?

I’d be a harbour pilot.

Check out Magnet on KCRW today at 11AM for a live "Morning Becomes Eclectic" session with Nic Harcourt. Tomorrow night (3/14) Johansen and Co. will be invading the Hotel Cafe for a "KCRW Presents" show with The Walls, Annie Stella and Wonderground.


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