Norwegian guitarist and songwriting Bjørn Riis built his position on the global scene with local icons Airbag. However, his solo work deserves even more patient attention. After successful debut album Lullabies in a Car Crash released in 2014 he released very mature last year’s release Forever Comes to an End, followed quite fast with a mini album Coming Home. Bjørn finds himself in a very creative period and his music luckily finds it’s way to a rising number of listeners, eager to calm their minds with his great taste for ambient prog.
I’m really glad to see, you have very creative period and I would like to congratulate you for amazing records Forever Comes to an End and the latest mini album Coming Home. What do you give credit to for such a creative period?
You never plan these things but I wrote a bunch of songs for Airbag’s Disconnected and I knew that some of them didn’t fit in with the band. It eventually turned into Forever Comes to an End and from that session I had Coming Home, which for some reason didn’t fit into that album but I really liked it and wanted to release it. I’m very happy with how everything turned out.
Your great power is to creative very strong and honest atmosphere. What moods are you trying to create?
I never plan it or think too much about it. It comes very natural. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music with a lot of emotion and atmosphere and I guess the topics that often come across on Airbag’s and my albums are universal and touch a lot of people.
Where do you gather your inspiration? Nature, movies soundtracks?
A lot of things. People tend to thing that we Norwegians sit high up on a mountain in our gloomy cabins and write music but to be very honest a lot of my ideas happen on the subway home from work. Perhaps it’s a therapy for me but music can appear in the strangest places. But yes, I’ve always been into movie scores and many of our songs and albums are based on a musical and lyrical theme.
I am also asking, as I feel you are trying to build a story and build up the atmosphere. Is this also your intention?
Music always come first and the lyrics are often written based on the mood of the song. I like playing around with musical themes and repeating them throughout the album in different ways. It creates a thread and musical storyline.
The best environment to listen to your music, I believe is during a walk in grey, bit rainy, foggy weather. It is a soundtrack for moody walks. In what weather conditions do you live and compose?
All kinds of weather.
To be honest, I am dealing with cold weather really bad. It is extreme winter now in Prague, for what we are usually used to. There are currently not good conditions for long walks. 😉 How are you coping with cold weather in daily life? Do you enjoy walks in the cold nature?
I do. I ski a lot and enjoy walking in the parks or whatever in the winter. This year we’ve had a lot of snow so it’s been fun.
A lot my of ideas happen on the subway home from work. Perhaps it’s a therapy for me but music can appear in the strangest places.
How do you find answers for your internal questions? I am talking about setting a clear direction, clearing your mind and organizing thoughts.
I write music.
Your music is amazing for getting away from crazy open space office environment. The best is actually dark/grey depressive parts of the city. Your soundtrack helps me to see beauties, where I wouldn’t see it before. It also gives a hope, there is hope there is a way out. Simply a chance to get out of the bad stereotype. Do the fans tell you that?
I get all kinds of stories and music is a powerful thing that can help people get through hard times. I’ve certainly had my time when I find music and the bands that I like to be a comfort. Good critics is fine but the personal stories from the fans is what inspire me and it really means a lot when people share with me.
Term “home” has been mentioned number of times in your lyrics. Where is home for you in physical or non-physical form?
I don’t know. I think it’s perhaps the feeling of belonging, being remembered and loved by the people around you. I’ve always found relationships in all its forms fascinating. The interaction between people and the insecurity and confusion that often occur with the lack of communication. Home is that balance and inner peace.
I also feel, you gather certain part inspiration from relationships. To be honest, you lyrics and music helped me to realize few aspects of my personality which need further progress, same as helped me to look for better and more meaningful job. Do you gather inspiration for lyrics from your own experiences, or do you also grab sometimes from someone else’s experiences?
It’s always personal on some level. Be it my interest in certain topics or a specific experience. I went through a period a few years back when I realised that I had to make some changes. It tought me a lot and gave me new inspiration and I guess that’s reflected in my recent albums.
Thank you very much