Erlend Apneseth (age 23) is a performer who stands with both feet planted firmly in the world of traditional Norwegian music, but who at the same time improvises and searches for new modes of expression – all the while with the sounds of the Hardanger fiddle and folk music as his point of departure.
His debut album, Blikkspor, offers both inspired improvisations and powerful interpretations of fiddle tunes that have had an impact on him.
Debutant award winner
Last year Apneseth was the sixth recipient of Grappa’s New Artist Award, following Valkyrien Allstars, Gjermund Larsen, Siri Nilsen, Frida Ånnevik and Moskus. The jury pointed out that Apneseth “is a musician with a strong personality and the desire to stake out his own path”.
It was almost by chance that Apneseth, who was born and raised in Jølster in Sunnfjord, discovered folk music at the age of 10. “My father bought me a little fiddle in Burma once when he had been working there. The local fiddler’s group, which at that time had a very active young people’s organisation, was offering lessons. So I just started up with the fiddle I had.” As early as age 14, Apneseth won the National Contest for Traditional Music in Røros in category C. Sigmund Eikås was one of his first teachers. “All the contact, conversations and playing with Sigmund Eikås throughout the years, as well the support I had at home, have naturally had a tremendous impact,” Apneseth says. He participated on the album Jølster 2012 along with Sigmund Eikås, Synnøve Bjørset and Gro Marie Svidal. The album was nominated for the Norwegian Folk Music Award in 2012.
“Improvised music appeals to me. It portrays the stories in another way; it depicts something I understand but still can’t fully grasp,” writes Apneseth in the album’s liner notes. Nils Økland was one of the musicians who sparked his interest in improvisation. “I found the way he used the fiddle, and how he shaped his music, very exciting. The first time Nils and I met for a lesson it ended up with our just playing together, totally freely.”
In autumn 2011 Apneseth was hired by the Carte Blanche dance company in Bergen to improvise on solo Hardanger fiddle. “It was scary, fun, and above all incredibly instructive to be thrown into improvisation like that in front of a paying audience. I suddenly felt as though I had two more years of education all at once.” Since then, Apneseth has been involved in projects with larger improvisational ensembles and folk- and jazz-based groups, with overtone singer Torgeir Vassvik, and with poet Erlend O. Nødtvedt. He appeared as a soloist with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and is “artist of the month” at the Norwegian Hub for Traditional Music and Dance in autumn 2013.
Blikkspor was recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo with technician Jan Erik Kongshaug and producer Arve Henriksen. Henriksen is also featured as a guest artist on the album along with guitarist Stephan Meidell and drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde.