Interview with Trinacria by Vera in May 2008.
One more time Bergen in Norway has been the breeding ground of a new innovative band. In this case Trinacria originated when Ivar Bjornson (Enslaved) and two members of the Norwegian noise band Fe-mail decided to cooperate. Initially only for a few concerts, but soon Grutle Kjellson and Ice Dale (both of Enslaved too), Iver Sandoy (Emmerhoff) and Espen Lien joined this fresh collective. After positive reactions on touring, they decided to make a fully welded band of it. Their first full-blooded piece of music ‘Travel Now Journey Infinitely’ is a breath-taking journey through innovative sounds, a trance-inducing experience without boundaries. The founders of the band: Ivar, Maja and Hild tell us everything about this newborn challenge and share with us their eloquent visions on their creation.
Innovative bands from Bergen (Norway) keep surprising us! To name a few: Audrey Horne, Syrach, Enslaved, I, Sahg, Immortal. All expressing their own specific music and style. First of all: how would you describe your musical creations?
Ivar: Being able to surprise is always a good thing, especially in art I guess. Trinacria is hard to describe but I am tempted to go for a simple solution a la Occam: Experimental Extreme Metal. I think it belongs in the metal kingdom more than the Avantgarde/ Noise scene. That is a very nice thing about the whole Norwegian scene, and perhaps the Bergen department of the Metal scene you are mentioning; it is hard to put into category.
Trinacria came into being as initiative of members of Enslaved and Fe-mail. Can you go back in your memories and tell us more about the date you decided to make music together besides your main bands?
Ivar: It was a kind of weird beginning as somebody else actually came up with the idea for the project and eventually band for us. The initial meeting was organized by the Rikskonsertene organization. Rikskonsertene is an official agency in Norway that works with setting up tours and commissions compositions. I knew of them from before by name; especially Maja I knew from the cultural media in Norway. Talk about a lucky strike!
And a bit of a history of the band until now would be fine…
Maja: I remember very well how it started. It was actually an idea that come from the outside, something called the Norwegian Concert Institute (an organisation that sends musicians on tours in Norway and sometimes initiate new collaborations and commissions.), I got a phone call from one of the producers there who had this idea that Fe-mail (the noise duo with Hild and me) would be exciting to hear in a metal context. I immediately said that yes, that would be a great idea, and when they asked us to imagine someone to collaborate with, the thought of Enslaved was there at once. Likewise, Ivar from Enslaved was asked the same thing, and the next step was that we started to listen to each other’s music, in concerts and on records, as to have an idea of what our new band could sound like. It took two years from the first idea till our first meeting as a band. The music is composed by Ivar and Fe-mail, and the other musicians are brought in by Ivar in order to realize the metal part of the soundscape. Hild: The idea of a Fe-mail and metal collaboration had been swimming in the minds of some of the Norwegian concert constitute people for a long time before they popped the question and it was great that they asked us to realise it. Maja and I had wanted to collaborate in the metal realm for a while so it suited us very well. I flew to Bergen to listen to Enslaved and to meet up with Ivar, and knew that some really good music could come out of this. The line up in Trinacria is however not Enslaved and Fe-mail, but members from different bands that quickly became a new entity. In the beginning Ivar, Maja and I met several times to compose and play and form the expression. The songs are composed in relation to each other in a big form. They belong together. Ivar has made the lyrics.
You started to play gigs very early in your existence. Can you tell something about this happenings and the reaction of the people?
Maja: We played our first concert during the Inferno Festival in Oslo a year ago. It was exactly the same music, and in the same order as on the record. The metal audience seemed to be divided in their reception, they liked it a lot or they were thinking it was too ‘arty’ and not good enough metal, but I can’t say I saw much indifference among our first listeners, which is a good sign of course. After that, we have played 10 gigs in Norway, and in general, people seem to like to go on this journey with us, it’s a very massive experience with lights, video and walls of sound.
Is there room for improvisation on stage (in the beginning and now) or do you play the songs in a well-restricted way as on the album?
Maja: Hild and I improvise a lot within the frames that we have defined together with Ivar, but it’s far from free improvisation that we normally do when we play together. And we are not only making noise. We are also contributing to the harmonic/melodic part of the song structures. Hild: The metal part is quite strict, and the goal of our improvisation in this setting is not to create totally new forms within the concert, but to fulfil the form we have decided upon. It is to feed into the picture and make it come alive a little bit different each time…..
The name Trinacria has manifold significations. Can you tell a bit more about these (about Sicily, Greek mythology and one dollar bill)
Ivar: The reason for choosing the name was that it had so many different and somewhat diffuse meanings. One place I found an explanation that the name “Trinacria” represents a class of symbols that consist of three equal parts, like the Sicilian flag consisting of three legs, the Pyramid on the dollar bill, the symbol from the Northern mythology with the three drinking horns and so on. I have read other places that this use of the word is not accepted as correct, that it is only the Sicilian flag and the reference to Greek Mythology that is semantically correct. However, this lack of clarity represents no problem for us; this sort of “occult” confusion is one of the inspiration sources for the band, so the more disagreement and different interpretations, the better.
And what is the link with your music in your opinion?
Ivar: It is extremely hard to make all this foggy material into “regular” words… I think the link is the blurry borders in both the lyrics and music; a sort of dreamlike quality – rather a string of associations and psychedelic thought-jumps rather than a cohesive logical series of elements. Both the name and music is heavily shaped by what the beholder put into the experience; there is nothing absolute about any of the two. They both seem to be causing some disagreement, hehe.
‘Endless Roads’ is one of my favourite tracks. Can it be it represents the freedom of travelling or am I wrong?
Ivar: Of course it can! I think that is great idea. I think it can represent travel both in the concrete and in the metaphorical sense. I don’t think you can be wrong about lyrics.
What can you tell about the lyrical concept?
Ivar: It is not a “pure” concept album in the prog-rock sense; it is more a concept album in the sense that there is a common source of inspiration going through the album like some kind of red thread. Each song could be seen as being some kind of scenario in a very abstract movie, or scenes in a dream. A dubious mix of conspiracy theories, occult symbolism, metaphysics, urban angst, individualism vs. mass psychosis and so on. And traveling, of course!
Are you planning to play live? Even abroad? Isn’t it a problem with other commitments in bands?
Ivar: If we get the chance we will, but we are a no-compromise act that needs to have a full production for each and every show. We need to have a full sound production as well as the visual aspect with the backdrop videos, the full light show etc. So of course we realize that this might be overly ambitious for a debut band like Trinacria, but we won’t do anything half way.
Which songs would you prefer to play live?
Maja: All! Because it’s made and meant as something you must experience as whole, not unlike a classical symphonic form perhaps. We have never played the songs separately. Hild: Yes, it all belongs together and going on stage with this music is a great journey.
I can imagine that it was not easy to find a label with the innovative music you make. Well, how did you get in contact with Indie Recordings?
Maja: They heard us live in Oslo and since they are already familiar with Enslaved, it was a very solid and right connection for Trinacria to be on that label.
Where do the influences come from when you decide to make trance-inducing, repetitive music with Trinacria?
Hild: I don’t think that noise music and metal music is that far apart when it comes to those aspects, although solved in different ways.
Ivar: The trance-induction springs from a desire to reach a trance-like state, which is a way to exist that I think is extremely valuable for travelling in the extremely fascinating and most importantly; wisdom-packed inner landscapes of the mind – where thousands of years of evolutional knowledge dwells far below the limited awareness of everyday consciousness..
As you are all playing in other bands, a naughty question: which music is easiest to play?
Maja: Music is never easy to play! Even the simplest structures can be the most demanding, it’s limitless how far you can go into details when it comes to producing sounds. The reason I like to perform is that it always challenges me, and a setting is never the same. Every new situation demands a new approach. Even when you perform something that is pre-composed, like with Trinacria. Hild: The point of playing in whatever constellation is to find the best way of being present in that particular setting. Developing flexibility as a creative musician that able you to change is important for me.
The recordings were done in your hometown Bergen. How long did you work on it and can you tell some details about this recording adventure?
Maja: Also Hild and I know Jørgen from previous collaborations. He is also a noise performer and knows that scene very well, which is an advantage when producing Trinacria since he is experienced enough to hear the difference between good and bad noise.
If you would compare Trinacria’s music with a force of nature or a landscape, what fits best?
Maja: A river is the first that comes to my mind. I once was in Siberia and rafted on a side river to one of the longest and most massive rivers on earth, Jenisei. And it floats into the tundra, I like that image; music floats into the tundra with a volume and force that melts away all prejudice. Hild: Anything in the nature that moves strongly forward, stands majestically rooted, whispers intensely and floats with warmth and strength hehe…
Can we expect some more albums of you in future?
Ivar: Yes! I don’t know when and how, but it WILL happen, about that I am 100% sure!
And what are the plans for the near future?
Ivar: To see what happens with this album, and to see if any opportunities to play live appears – we will grab them!
Thank you so much for your music and words…
Check out the album here.