The Other End, from Bergen, Norway, is Ida Knoph-Solholm (Vocals, Guitar, Bass) and Alexander Breidvik (Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drum, Vocals). They’ve just released their self-titled debut EP and it’s quite something, we described the songs as brooding, lovelorn hymns to separation and loss. The sadly sweet melodies are adorned by Ida astonishing voice and it all adds up to one of the finest records you’ll hear this year. We were more than delighted when the up-and-coming duo answered some questions for us.
When did your musical journey begin?
The two of us have known each other for several years, and we started exchanging musical ideas back in 2015, but it wasn’t until late 2016 we decided to really go all in with the band.
How did you meet?
We both had a part-time job at a TV station during our studies,and quickly found out that we had the same interest in music. At the time Alex played in a punk rock band and was working on his own material, while Ida was writing songs on her own, but had yet to perform them to anybody. We decided to start making songs together, and got into playing as a duo on open mics in Bergen.
What did you think of the other one when you first met them?
Alex: Ida is the kind of person that is very easy to talk with, and we connected over bad humor and music at the very beginning. She always seemed to care about the people around her, but really I mostly remember us laughing over silly things that no one else found funny.
Ida: I thought Alex was one of the funniest people I’d ever met, and we almost instantly connected by having the exact same sense of humour. I really had to restrain myself, because it got embarrassing to laugh that much at someone’s jokes.
Are you excited/nervous about the release of the EP?
We are both excited and nervous about the release. It’s been everything we’ve focused on the last eight months, and now it’ll finally be out there for everyone to listen to and judge. It’s exciting and scary in a good way.
The critical reaction to your music so far has been great, were you expecting that?
We really did not expect that at all. Really. Far from Home was our first ever single, and very few knew of us when it was released. To get all these great reviews was more than we could have ever dreamt of. One thing is the critical reception, but we have also been contacted by several people wanting to work with us. It has all been very overwhelming. As for now, we have decided to wait a little bit before we make any big decisions, and we’re hoping the EP will open some doors for us also.
What was the first piece of music you loved, and why?
Ida: The first song I really loved was Two Princes by Spin Doctors. I was about ten years old when I got a hit collection CD from my father, and Two Princes was on it. I instantly loved the sound of Chris Barron’s voice, and to this day I have all of Spin Doctors’ records on both vinyl and CD in my record collection. Not much resemblance to the music we make, but still my first favourite band.
Alex: One of the earliest memories is listening to a cassette of Elvis Presley, and for some reason Don’t Be Cruel was the best song in the world back then. For ages we had this car which only had a cassette player in it, and that Elvis-cassette was the only thing I wanted to listen to for years. To this day I know all the songs, but none of the words I sing makes sense since I didn’t speak a word English back then.
What is your favourite song that you’ve written and why?
Our single Far from Home is one of the first songs we ever wrote together, and it means a lot to us in many ways.
Ida: The melody is based on a guitar riff Alex made in 2015. He sent a phone recording of it to me, and I used to listen to it a lot on my phone. Two years later we made a song out of it, and it ended up being the first song we recorded and showed to the world. It’ll probably always have a special place in our hearts because of that.
What artist(s) has been your biggest influence and in what way?
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and the record Skeleton Tree stands out as one of our main influences when recording our debut EP. During the songwriting and recording sessions, we referenced the album from 2016 a lot. The way they use different elements for colouring the soundscape really inspired us when we were looking to expand our own songs.
Ryan Adams and his debut album Heartbreaker is one of the albums both of us have listened to a lot. It’s really an impressive study in how you make great music out of few chords, and of course Bon Iver. Justin Vernon and Bon Iver have given us three masterpieces and set a new standard for a whole generation of songwriters.
Do you argue much about songs, musical direction etc.?
We rarely argue, luckily, but we don’t always agree at first. We hope and think our different preferences balances the music in a good way, and we can rely on each other’s opinions even when we disagree. We are a team, and we never go through with anything we’re not both comfortable with.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?
Maybe a cliché answer, but:
Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now
It really has all the ingredients of a great song. The three verses building on the same idea, so brilliantly executed and the words so carefully chosen. Just the way she describes life in the last verse, with so few words, and so relatable. And also a beautiful melody, which can be altered in so many interesting ways. There are several great covers of the song out there by the way, worth checking out. Dave Van Ronk does a great version, for example.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you recently
We were browsing on different indie music blogs the other day, and one of them had a collage of different artists as their cover photo. All of a sudden we notice a picture of ourselves next to Fever Ray in the very front of the collage Weird stuff. And very flattering and fun!
What’s exciting you on the Norwegian music scene?
Our hometown Bergen has a vibrant prog scene worth mentioning, and our personal favorites are the brilliant Knekklectric and Shaman Elephant. If you ever get the chance to see them live – you should!
What’s your idea of success?
To be able to do what you’re passionate about. In our case: Making music and playing music.There’s also great relief and satisfaction in making something that you believe in your heart to be good. It makes it so much easier to present it to the world, and with that certainty in mind, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Creating something good would be a definition of success, even if you don’t make any money from it.
Which of these activities are you most likely to be found doing: (a) making a soufflé, (b) tinkering with a motorbike, (c) doing the ironing, (d) putting up shelves?
Ida: I have an old car and a scooter, so there’s an actual chance you’ll find me tinkering with them.
Alex: Well, I really can’t cook and don’t have a motorbike, and I rarely wear anything that needs ironing so you might find me putting up shelves (for no reason at all).
What question would you like to be asked that you never are and what would your answer be?
What is the story behind your EP cover?
Funny you should ask, we are actually kind of excited about that process. We also have a passion for photography, and the photo on the cover is taken by the two of us with a plastic Lomography camera. It is an analogue double exposure on 35mm film. First one of us took a photo of the other, and then we switched places and took another photo on top of that – at the same slot of the film. We had a vision and we love to play with the coincidences and the randomness that occur right there in the moment. We were very excited when we saw the results of the developed film, and it’s fun that the cover is a DIY project.
Does the path of excess lead to the palace of wisdom?
Absolutely. That easily translates to song writing. We explore a lot of different styles and melodies when working with a song, and we rarely go for the first thing that pops into our heads. When having several choices, it’s easier to find a middle way. Some toplines seem just ridiculous when we have many to choose from, and we often need to go over-the-top and then dial it back. We learn from our mistakes, and often there is no way around making them. You can’t start at the finish line, and that translates to almost everything in life.
Finally, we ask people to do a picture/sketch/ drawing for us for our gallery– you can see some here
We added a photo from our collection of analogue double exposures, to use in the gallery 🙂