The debut of Elds Mark is one of the albums that have impressed us very much in 2020, due to the inspired melodies, the sincerity and the wonderful arrangements of its instrumental compositions (our reviews here). Håkon Oftung (who appears in Elds Mark under the pseudonym R.E. Turitrøen), known as a member of Jordsjø and Tusmørke, talked with Alexandros Topintzis and revealed interesting information about this mysterious release, the contemporary Norwegian prog scene that never ceases to amaze us with new bands and releases, and that he’s a devoted reader of Progrocks.gr articles!
Questions: Alexandros Topintzis
Hello Håkon! I’m Alexandros from Progrocks.gr. We really liked your new album with Elds Mark and we have some questions for you that interest the Greek audience.
I’m glad to hear that, thank you very much for your interest!
First of all, I would like you to tell us how Elds Mark was formed, since you and Kristian (Valbo) have been participating in several bands.
Kristian and I played together in a Norwegian band called Black Magic, which was closer to 70’s rock, like Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. There, I played keys and he played the drums and initially we started working on some songs, which evolved slowly. We are good friends and we want to play this kind of music. This is how Elds Mark was created about two years ago.
What was the reason you decided not to add vocals to your music?
We didn’t think about it much. I’m doing some vocals on Jordsjø, but we wanted a different approach, so that the listener can fantasize his / her own images while listening to the album.
The album has a very specific image that you want to create. I think that your music portrays images of nature and forests and that’s what you wanted to pass on to the listener.
That’s exactly what we wanted to do. If you have the first vinyl edition of the album in your hands, inside it you will find a small booklet that includes some poems in Norwegian, which we may translate in the future.
I think that the Norwegian scene in recent years is a very important scene for European music. New, very remarkable bands involved in jazz, prog rock or electronic music are constantly emerging. Why do you think this is happening?
I live in Oslo, where I play with Martin in Tusmørke, who also plays in Wobbler. You understand that in and around all these bands there are people who have known each other for a very long time. For the music we play, you can say that the release of From Silence to Somewhere in 2017 was a peak, both in terms of composition and production. The label, Karisma Records, is showing great interest in signing such bands. I don’t know. Maybe each of us is inspired by the creations of the ones close to him and tries to do something even better each time. I’m not sure. All of us are good friends, we hang out and I think that all this may inspire us. I can’t say what others think, but I think that’s how it goes.
I remember when I visited your country 10 years ago that record stores helped a lot in promoting the country’s musicians. In the storefronts and showcases there were almost exclusively Norwegian albums. Do you experience the same thing?
For the Elds Mark album we have to do almost all the promotion ourselves. In Oslo we have a well-known record store called Big Dipper, you probably have visited it…
Of course I did, I remember. You can’t forget so many treasures in one place…
This record store does so much for the bands… It organizes small live shows and generally helps a lot with the promotion locally. Apollon Records in Bergen does something similar. So, you understand that in Norway with so many people releasing such good music, the competition to be heard is quite difficult. However, I believe that with Jordsjø and Tusmørke we have found our audience and I am completely satisfied with the response. Imagine that we printed Elds Mark in 500 copies and they disappeared. Although our music is not commercial, I am satisfied if 300-400 people buy our album.
Judging by the influences on your album, I would like to ask you which are your favorite albums from the 70s and in general?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Gentle Giant lately… again (laughs)! There are also some Swedish bands I adore, such as Ragnarök. But there are also newer bands that I listen to a lot, such as Landberk and their album Riktigt Äkta, last year’s release by Träden, who are a continuation to Träd, Gräs och Stenar, as well as the Norwegian band Needlepoint and their albums The Diary of Robert Reverie and Aimless Mary.
Thank you very much for your suggestions, the readers of Progrocks.gr will surely appreciate them. Is there a plan for Elds Mark to perform live?
The truth is that we had planned a live in Oslo for May, but due to the pandemic it was canceled. We definitely want to play our music live and I think we have found the right people to help us, except the two of us. It’s not 100% certain, but some members of Jordsjø and Wobbler and some of our other friends will probably help. Due to the situation, it is difficult to plan anything, but we hope that we will soon play our debut live.
I know! By the way, I love your “one-album prog wonders” articles!!