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With a talent that extend to music, filmmaking and graphic design, Kim Hiorthøy, the man behind Rune Grammophone’s stunning visual identity, is a difficult man to pin down. With three very different releases under his belt this year, it was well overdue for us to grill him about his music and graphic design. With us, he talks about being an amateur at everything, the difficulty to transfer electronic music from studio to live environment and continuously avoiding expectations.

You first became known across Europe with your graphic work. Was it how things started for you, and how did you come to graphic design?
It was by accident more than anything else. I was studying fine art at the academy in Trondheim, the city where I grew up, and began making small art-fanzines there. After a while I got asked to do record sleeves for a local rock band, and then things went on from there.

You declared once in an interview that 'it is easier to do something if you are an amateur [..] because you don’t have to prove yourself'. What did you mean by this and is it something that is behind everything you do?
I don't know if it is behind everything I do, but I definitely believe in working with an attitude of knowing as little as possible about what you are about to do in order to not be constrained by efforts to 'prove' anything and also to be as open as possible to whatever it is you are about to do. To approach things without the limitations of professionalism.

Do you find inspiration in the same things whether you work on music project or on graphic design or film? What does inspire you?
I have no idea where inspiration comes from. I'm don't really know what it means.

How did you get involved with doing the artwork for Rune Grammofon, and whose idea was it to create a strong visual for the label and develop it with each release?
Rune, who runs the label, contacted me and asked me if I wanted to be involved. The idea was a mutual one.

You were asked to interview Rune Kristoffersen for the book accompanying the double CD compilation released to celebrate the label’s fifth anniversary. Did you learn anything about the label or Rune that you didn’t know before?
I already knew Rune quite well by then from us working together for that long, so no. The interview wasn't for me, it was for the readers of the book.

How did you come to music? Is it something that you have always been doing?
This was also at the art academy where I studied; they had a sound studio with some gear in it. When I left there I got my own sampler and worked with that at home. Then different collaborations and accidents lead to Joakim at Smalltown Supersound hearing a couple of tracks and asking if I would be interested in doing something for the label. The idea of actually releasing music hadn't occurred to me before that.

Your first album, Hei, was very well received. Were you surprised by this, and were you worried by how people who knew you for your graphic work were going to received your music?
I was extremely surprised. I wasn't so much worried about the reception; I never thought there would be much of one anyway. I think perhaps some people were sceptical because there is the idea that you should stick with what you know. Again, that is the good thing about not thinking you know anything.

On Melke, you compiled a series of tracks that were either previously, or were said to be rejects. How did you make the choice of tracks?
We just compiled whatever was there and which we though was good enough.

For The Ladies is a rather daring record. How did the idea for it come up, and what have the reactions to it been like?
I don't remember now how the idea actually surfaced, I thought about it for a very long time before I actually made it. I think at some point I just thought it would be fun to make a strictly field-recordings only record. I haven't gotten so many reactions. There have been a couple of butcherings by journalists, but that's about it.

The two mini-album you have released this year, For The Ladies and Live Shet, and the EP that came out earlier this summer, Hopeness, are all very different. Were they conceived at very different moments in your life?
A bit. Live Shet just came from people asking for the music I played live, since it was different from what was otherwise on the records. For The Ladies, again, was just an old idea that I wanted to realize. Hopeness was more a result of Smalltown wanting an EP of new music and me not having put out any in a while. Hopeness is more the coherent continuation of the music I'd released before.

Although the six tracks on Live Shet were all performed live at one point or another, these specific versions aren’t live? Why did you decide to record them in the studio?
Because the live recordings I had of them were crap and they were programmed and put together to work in a live setting, and I needed to make changes here and there so that they worked on a record. I don't know in the end that they really did, though... It's a problem I think, how electronic music works so differently live and on record, at least my music.

The press release for Live Shet says that your live sets are the result of you developing something different from your records because you couldn’t make your original sound work as you wanted. What was it you were trying to achieve?
It just got boring to play for people who were only listening. It's more fun when they dance.

On the back of the cover for Live Shet is an email sent by a fan to your record label complaining about your live performance not being what they expected. Is this a real email, and what was your original reaction to it?
Yes the email is real and I can understand the reaction. But I also don't feel obliged to fulfil anyone’s expectation. Releasing a record is not signing a contract with the people who buy it, that that is what everything will also sound like in the future, or in concert. The same goes with For The Ladies.

Do you think this live persona will affect your future studio recordings? If yes, in which way?
I don't know. It might, it might not.

You have played live on a regular basis over the last few years. Do you think it has put a different perspective on your work?
That's difficult to say. Everything changes a little bit all the time anyway, because of all kinds of things. I'd definitely like to try and put more music on record which will also work like that live, but on the other hand that's the good thing about records, that you can put stuff there which might not work in a live setting at all.

Are you planning to release a full-length album soon? What can we expect from Kim Hiorthøy?
There will be a new album in the spring. Expect the worst.

You are currently working on putting a DVD together for Supersilent. What can people expect of the finished product?
It's one concert in Oslo shot in black and white on film. It's all very simple and blasting as fuck.

What is next in your diary?
Going to Japan and finishing the new record.

Email interview October 2004
Thank you to Kim and Jim.

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Live Shet
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