Best Norwegian music 2019–2022

Every December the editorial team of beehype, led by editor Mariusz Herma, curate a presentation of the best music from the year that’s coming to an end. At beehype we aim to feature the most brilliant up-and coming artists from all around the world.

This is a collection of my annual Norwegian picks since I joined beehype as a correspondent in 2019. Happy New Year of music!

Check out:
Best albums of 2022 – beehypeBest albums of 2022 – beehype
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Amalie Holt Kleive – “De løper der jeg går”

Album cover

The title of Amalie Holt Kleive’s debut album translates as “they run where I walk”. While other artists rush to put out their musical creations, Amalie gives us the gift of an extremely well-crafted album. The 34-minute journey is full of strong and diverse impressions, yet it never feels rushed. In these songs, Kleive’s moving lyrics are woven beautifully into a sonic expression that is a mixture of the artist’s jazz background and the lush and heavy synths of her producers Vetle Junker (Metteson, Solå) and Peder Kolsung (Sigrid, iris).

A great example of this effect is the single “Sier ingenting”. On this track Junker’s signature hard-hitting production combined with Kleive’s lush and calm voice hits the listener right in the feels. On the Kolsung-produced track “Usynlig”, the extremely catchy synth pre-chorus riff, combined with Kleive’s panned and fragmented voice, triggers the listener immediately. A beautiful contrast to these thick arrangements is Kleive’s acapella track “Rene”, which provides the listener with a floating in space-type of feeling.

“Ser du nå” is a song about leaving and understanding. “Home was too quiet for me,” Kleiva sings. Still, the song is quite peaceful, unlike “Syre”. Those that are longing for more noise, can check out her sister Johanna’s critically acclaimed metal band Witch Club Satan, which provides an inverted echo of Amalie’s music.

Regarding “De løper der jeg går”, one of the foremost qualities is without a doubt the introspected and fragile, yet rock-solid vocal performance brilliantly delivered in the song “Kjære”. “”My dear, I know you want to change me,” Kleive sings with love, yet integrity. Backed by delicate strings she confesses “my loneliness always leads me back to the sea”.

May Kleive stay true to her authentic voice and poetic wisdom, and may the world know peace in 2023. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

♪♫ Listen: “Ser du nå” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
• Ea Othilde – “How I’d Like It to Fade”
• ¡BangBang Watergun! – “Colors”
• Siv Jakobsen – “Gardening, Pt. 1”
• thea wang – “While He Is Asleep”
• han gaiden – “you called me your erika”

▼ All recommendations ▼



NORWAY: Fieh – “Telephone Girl”

Last January, seven-piece future soul band Fieh blessed us with the video for their single “Telephone Girl”. The groovy track was featured on their sophomore album “In the Sun in the Rain”, expanding their genre-mixing aesthetic.

The video features a mix of pastel and bright colors, inviting us to a girl’s night out, with pink drinks and retro cellphones, occasionally disrupted by the playful usage of green screen. It’s all fun and games until Fieh’s Sofie Tollefsbø sings “(…) and I am sitting here wondering if the world will explode, that’s why I can’t take the phone right now”, wearing pink contact lenses. 

All in all the video, directed by Nikolai Grasaasen, is a feel-good experience, with some uncanny undertones. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

Other recommended videos:
• thea wang – “I wrote you letters” (Norway)

▼ All recommendations ▼




Benedikt – “Balcony Dream”

This year’s most sentimental and dreamy album arrived from an indie folk band made up by nine musicians from Oslo and Surnadal.

With ”Balcony Dream“ Benedikt proves how they have developed since their 2019 debut ”Communal Work“. The production is intricate and captivating. The soundscape is tactile and organic, with strumming guitar, banjo, an old piano, violins and cello. In the center of it all is Hans Olav Settem’s whispering vocals. The album also features some guest appearences. We’re treated with Tuvaband’s sore vocals and mysterious tremolo guitar by Ola Øverby.

Benedikt stands out in the Norwegian music flora with their bittersweet and emotional appeal, and their large ensemble. The rich soundscapes goes hand in hand with authentic lyrics about love and friendship. ”Balcony Dream“ is DIY done right, released by Koke Plate, founded by Benedikt’s banjo player.

Settem is the brain of the band, or more precisly, it’s heart. He is a skilled songwriter with a clear aesthetic vision. The result is a melancholic, cinematic and well crafted album of international caliber. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

♪♫ Listen: “Purple and Green” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
• White Ascot – “Pink Blood / False Memory”
• Beharie – “Beharie // Beharie”
• Jimi Somewhere – “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
• Solå – “Feel What I Feel”
• Bård Berg – “Oslo Beats Vol II”

▼ All recommendations ▼




Evigheten – “Heten”

Album cover

Among mighty mountains Evigheten was born. The name Evigheten translates as “The Eternity”. And the band do, in this writers opinion, resemble a cosmic eternity.

“Heten” is a follow-up to the debut EP “Evig”, released back in 2018. Together, the two records form a complete album. “Heten” is without a doubt the most impressing work from the group. It sounds pastoral, yet futuristic. Spacious, yet intimite.

After this tubulent year with all its tricky situations, it’s nice to float into the sphere created by the six-piece group. The sacral atmosphere offers room for reflection and meditation.

Despite lockdown, or maybe because of it, the music scene flourished this year in Norway. Evigheten is one of many highlights from the tiny yet highly musical country. “Heten” stands out as one of the most unique releases from 2020. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

♪♫ Listen: “Eksistensen” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
• Juno – “Young Star”
• Ivan Ave – “Double Goodbyes”
• Benjamin Mørk – “Mechanical Piano”
• Verdensrommet – “Allting Tar Slutt”
• Lilja – “Marble”
• Ultraflex – “Visions of Ultraflex”
• Jez_ebel – “Blossom”
• Maria Norseth Garli – “Golden”
• Sid Hart – “Soul Design”
• Kjetil Jerve – “The Soundtrack of My Home”

▼ All recommendations ▼


Sid Hart – “Pollux” (Norway)

2020 became the year of Black Lives Matter. The anti-racist movement was massive and global, also reaching Norway, resulting in huge protests. Visonary artist Sid Hart responded with what is, in this writer’s opinion, the greatest music video to come out of Norway in 2020.

Sid Hart’s “Pollux” challenges common conceptions of what it means to be Norwegian. The concept for the video was created by the artist himself and shot and directed by fashion photographer Ignat Wiig.

The video reflects how Norway, especially Oslo, has become a melting pot for different cultures. The video was a result of a collaborative effort by a cast of 30 individuals. As mentioned in the video description, all participant were invited to express their identity and culture with complete freedom.

“Pollux” stands out as an highly artistic, eye opening and professional production. The song was written and produced by Sid Hart in collaboration with Alejandro Vega. It served as a single for Sid Hart’s debut album “Soul Design”, that dropped late 2020.

Sid Hart’s artistry and presence might remind you of the late Prince: Fearless, androgynous, and with a strong sense of aesthetic awereness. It’s all there, and still, Sid Hart is unique in his craft. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

▼ All recommendations ▼




Konradsen – “Saints and Sebastian Stories”

Konradsen’s debut album “Saints and Sebastian Stories” is like a shining light in the dark. It’s composed of delicate layers of mechanical pianos, synths, horns, a lonesome violin and the signature voice of the Jenny Marie Sabel. Together with Eirik Vindgren she forms the duo who, with a little help from their friends, recorded the album.

“Saints and Sebastian Stories” is rich in devine and everyday details. The album is one of those albums where you can press play and just zone out. And those albums are quite rare to find these days. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

♪♫ Listen: “Television Land” + album stream

Other recommended albums:
• Pom Poko – “Birthday”
• Fieh – “Cold Water Burning Skin”
• Doglover95 – “Love”
• Lumen Drones – “Umbra”
• Anna of the North – “Dream Girl”

▼ All recommendations ▼


Pom Poko – “Leg Day” (Norway)

Last year, Norwegian band Pom Poko made a buzz with their critically acclaimed debut album “Birthday”. In a time of laid-back monotone minimalism Pom Poko is best described by one of the song titles: “Crazy Energy Night”!

Their latest single “Leg Day” is no exception. For the video, the band teamed up with performance artists De Naive, who appeared as choreographers and dancers.

Combined with the costumes by Torbjørn Kolbeinsen and weird camera work of Christopher Helberg the video is a refreshing and playful explosion. (Edvard Granum Dillner)

▼ All recommendations ▼

Thank you for reading, listening and scrolling 🙂

Interview with Klaus Mäkelä

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

It was by coincidence that I first came to meet Klaus Mäkelä. The conversation moved smoothly when we met on a plane from Helsinki to Oslo. When I asked the conductor whether he would be interested in doing an interview, he was positive. So here I am, entering the main hall of Oslo Concert hall through a secret door, witnessing a rehearsal.

– More substance!

The new chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, Klaus Mäkelä, knows exactly what he wants.

Where he stands in front of us in the Oslo Concert Hall – 24 years old but described as one of the world’s greatest conductor talents – it is difficult not to be fascinated by the movements. Few can surpass his charisma and enthusiasm.

– The role comes with great responsibility, the chief conductor confesses.

He is reminiscent of a kind of classical music’s Jacob Collier: Annoyingly talented, and with an impressive career. On stage, he may seem like a warrior, but when we meet the maestro himself, he shows himself to be a true gentleman, first and foremost proud of those he leads.

– Yeah, it’s wonderful. It’s an orchestra of wonderful tradition. Yeah, and you can still hear the wonderful work done by Mariuss Jansson. And sort of the really really detailed approach. The orchestra has to specifically beautiful sound (vet ik, he says.

– It’s own sound?

– Nowadays when there are so many orchestras around the world they all tend to sound more and more the same. When I hear the Oslo Philharmonic I say «this is the Oslo Philharmonic». And this is very good, Mäkelä says.

In a concert review, Norwegian Broadcasting critic Eystein Sandvik wrote that Mäkelä is the greatest conductor talent he has seen in his time as a music critic. In the same review, he raised the question of whether this could be the Oslo Philharmonic’s path into a new golden age ala Mariss Janssons, who conducted the orchestra for 20 years with enormous success.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

Wants a new concert hall

After his first weeks as chief conductor, and after the opening of the Philharmonic’s 101st season, it feels natural to begin with the question of how the city has received him.

– The city has a very particular feeling which I like. I feel it has slightly the same homely feeling as in Helsinki, Mäkela says.

– And the citizens?

– The people have a similar kind of spirit, being quite relaxed. It’s been lovely! This time I’ve had the time to walk around and eat quite well, and so it’s been really nice! With the city being my musical home now I almost feel like a resident of Oslo already, he answers.

The new Chief Conductor knows what to say:

– The cultural life is wonderful here. For the visual arts it’s going so strong with the new National Museum and the new Munch Museum. It would be great to be part of the wave with a new concert hall which would be so important for us.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

When the dogs meet

He is among the youngest in the Philharmonic constellation, and the youngest chief conductor in the Oslo Philharmonic ever.

Still, he does not show signs of nervousness. Mäkelä has conducted many orchestras, but how does it feel to be the chief conductor of an orchestra for the first time?

– There’s actually quite a big difference because when you are the chief conductor, being the responsible for this orchestra, it’s a very different feeling.

He doesn’t spare the metaphors.

– You know, when the dogs meet, they sniff their asses and that’s sort what you do when you guest conduct an orchestra for the first time. You have a little bit of time to feel each other out, but then when you come back to the same orchestra you don’t have to do that, Mäkelä says.

– What’s the best thing about conducting an orchestra?

– What I think is the most interesting about conducting is that it’s a dialogue between me and the orchestra. And most of it is non-verbal communication and that’s a wonderful feeling for a conductor when you feel that you are being understood.

But it is not as easy as it seems when Mäkelä himself does it.

– What the chief conductor has to do is to always keep improving the orchestra. We are very lucky here in Oslo because the orchestra in on a very high level. But then the music never stops. There is always things to work on. It’s unending and that’s the most wonderful thing.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

Seven years

Mäkelä’s contract was initially for three years, but even before entering the position it was extended to a total of seven.

– When I now have the seven years in my head to start with, it allows me, of course, to think of a more long-term strategy, he says.

– So how do you intend to use these years?

– The most important thing is to create a relationship with the audience. And even in this case when we have only 200 people it’s still an audience and that’s the most important thing for us. So I would wish that there would be this relation with the audience so that whatever music I present they will think that it’s worth hearing, he says.

It is a well-known fact that the orchestras have a desire to reach a more diverse audience. His predecessor Vasily Petrenko had his ideas. But what is Mäkelä’s strategy?

– Of course, it’s my responsibility to try to have people from different backgrounds and different age groups and so on come to the concerts. I try to construct every one of my programs which I conduct to have a very strong narrative.

– Why?

– I believe that if we try to tell a story that would be very much more interesting to people than just a bunch of concerts, he says and repeat:

– I think also a new hall would help. Just look at what happened in Helsinki with the new concert hall there!

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

The new within the old

– Not everyone has a strong relationship with classical music. How are they to be introduced?

– I think that it’s important we present different kinds of concerts. We have film music which is for many their one way to get to know symphonic music. But then we play music from roughly 400 years ago, so there is variety. For young people maybe the most interesting is not the very classical repertoire but rather the repertoire from the 20th century, Mäkelä says.

– Yeah, more expressive music?

– The music is usually based on a very strong narrative or very strong sounds with a lot of things happening at the same time. For example, I would say when a teenager hears Strostakowich he or she will think like – «Oh! This guy really understands me! »

– It’s not that we should present only old works, but I think the variety is important, says the 24 old gentleman.

The institutions for classical music have tried to reach new audience groups for a number of years. With varying degrees of success.

– I think the barriers for all of the genres are falling. Think of pieces which are being written now, let’s say for an orchestra. The variety is huge! We recently performed a piece by American composer Caroline Shaw, Mäkelä says.

– Can we call it classical?

– You could say it’s classical music because it’s written for strings but it the doesn’t sound very classical. Mette Henriette is also a very good example of how it’s not about the genre but what you offer, Mäkelä says.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

The sounds we have never heard before

In other words, Mäkelä wants variation in the program.

– What I try to do is present different kinds of sounds. There are sounds that we have heard many times, but the more interesting are the sounds we have never heard before. I think that’s what people in every genre are now trying to get, also in the electronic music. They want to create sounds which nobody has heard before.

– Is this something we can expect to hear you conduct?

– I hope we can also present that. Of course, we have to play the classics, but we also have to play the stuff which is being created now. I think the mixture is a powerful thing.

When I try to ask him about pop music, he hesitates.

– I appreciate all kind of art which has been done with love and just with a lot of work. I’m not naming any songs, but I like to listen to different kinds of music, all the new. When I’m home, I have these huge studio monitors where I can hear every single detail of every single piece. It’s sort of a hobby of mine and it’s a lot fun!

Most people may easily think that there is something museum-like about classical orchestras, but on the back of the Oslo Philharmonic’s program (where Mäkelä is the poster boy) a quote by the conductor is strategically placed:

“Orchestras have always played new music. Why should we stop now?”

– When Mozart was composing, all of the music at that time was only new music. They didn’t play old music. So every piece they played was basically a world premiere at that time, he says.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

A natural habitat

Conducting a symphony orchestra takes its toll. Where does Mäkelä’s self-confidence come from? He says that at the age of 12 he started conducting at the Sibelius Academy, with the legendary Finnish conductor Jorma Panula as his teacher.

– Being in front of the orchestra became this totally natural place to be, like a natural habitat. So during my education when we went in front of the orchestra, it was exactly the same feeling as if you are sitting in a restaurant or sitting on a bus or something, he says.

– You’re not nervous?

– I mean, the thing is I’ve been doing it for more than half of my life, so I don’t even remember how it was before.

– But how do you get the orchestra on your side?

– If you want to be a leader you just have to prove it through your work, he says confidently.

Why should we go to a classical concert in 2020? The conductor believes in the universal power of music.

– The great thing about music is that it’s a spontaneous thing in which it moves you directly and immediately. You can come to a concert of Sibelius 6th and know nothing about classical music and Sibelius but …

He lights up.

– You can still be deeply touched by it. So in music, the quality and the work is what matters and not who you are in terms of age, gender or anything. I think that’s kind of purifying, he says.

When the conductor is the Philharmonic’s youngest chief conductor ever, many stick to age. But what thoughts does he have about age himself?

– I want to say that age is not equal to experience because every person is individual. Age is a parameter which measures how many years you have been on the planet, but not what you have been doing in those years.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

Enthusiastic aesthetician

– Where do you get inspiration from?

– I love going to art museums. I must say some of my most moving art experiences are actually quite strange. For example, when I saw my favourite painting by Picasso, this blue one, “La Vie”, at the Cleveland Museum of Art, I thought that it must be the work of the older experienced Picasso. But he was actually in his 20’s when he painted it, he says.

The Picasso painting was made in 1903 and is regarded as one of the highlights from Picasso’s blue period.

– Still, it has all of the layers of the human psychology. So after seeing the painting which inspires you, you look at the music differently.

– What about Norwegian art? Do you have a relationship to Edvard Munch?

– I have been to the Munch Museum! And I look forward to maybe having that being a theme for the program in the future. For example create a beautiful season with the re-occurring themes of Munch. And, of course, the time in which he lived was so fruitful for both visual art and music. There were so many things happening at the same time. The same amazing, almost wild expression, he says.

Photo: Dev Dhunsi.

Only the best is good enough

– What about multimedia concerts? Can a work be supplemented by adding something visual, or is it just noise?

– I think It’s always a possibility and, I mean, it depends a lot, because many works of music and art are so full of substance, that if you were to add something you would almost feel that you ate too much. But for some pieces when you add something in a way that completes it. So, I think it’s something which I’m also looking forward to experimenting with in the future, he says.

Although Klaus Mäkelä is full of praise for most things, he is presise on the fact that he does not conduct anything. But as the the chief conductor of one of Scandinavia’s foremost orchestras, something else would be weird, wouldn’t it?

– I conduct only music which I love. That’s very important. I don’t go to something just because someone asks me, he says, and concludes:

– No. I need to believe in it. I need to feel like this has to be the best piece, at this moment.

What you just read was first published in Norwegian cultural magazine Subjekt. This is the first time the Interview is being published in English. All photos are taken by Dev Dhunsi.

Want more? Check out the Orchestrated series:

Orchestrated: Hip-HopOrchestrated: Electronica

Orchestrated: Electronica

This is the second post in my new series Orchestrated. Other posts in this series published so far:

Orchestrated: Hip-Hop

Nero – Symphony 2808

In 2011 British electronica group Nero made their first grand masterpiece. Although the work got dubbed as the “dubstep symphony”, the work features a big variation in genres. The work is not to be called a proper symphony, as it’s no long than 18 minutes. Despite the length Nero managed to fit alot into this piece.

Symphony 2808 was created as a part of Nero’s debut album Welcome Reality (2011). The album also featured Doomsday and Departure, that sampled the first and second movements from Harmonielehre, composed by minimalist John Adams in 1985. Welcome Reality was a sci-fi concept album, set to the year 2808.

Symphony 2808 was released as an exclusive bonus track for the iTunes edition of the album. Today you can listen to in on Apple Music or you can check out the live recording with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra here.

Daft Punk – TRON: Legacy

10 years ago TRON: Legacy was released. The movie was a follow-up to the 1982 cult hit Tron and told the story of a man getting trapped inside a computer. It is debatable how strong the Storlien of the movie is, but what is clear is that the movie featured fantastic visuals and a great original score composed by French electronic duo Daft Punk.

When asked to compose the soundtrack director Joseph Kosinkski had an idea that it could be done all electronic. It was Daft Punk that insisted on having a 84-piece orchestra. The soundtrack was groundbreaking because of how well the electronic and orchestral elements melted together. Since the duo had never worked with an orchestra before, they collaborated with Joseph Trapanese, who arranged and orchestrated the compositions.

Trapanese later composed the music to the animated series TRON: Uprising (2012-2013) and Daft Punk made use of their newly achieved experience with orchestral music on their 2013 album Random Access Memories. The TRON: Legacy score has inspired many compositions, including the Stranger Things (2016-) soundtrack. Have a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Magnetic Man & Katy B – Perfect Stranger

In 2011 the listeners of BBC Radio 1 could experience orchestral drum’n’bass magic live. British electronica trio Magnetic Man entered the BBC Live Lounge with singer Katy B and a five-piece string section.

The studio version was released on both Magnetic Man’s self-titled album and on Katy B’s debut album On a Mission (2011). It’s great but it’s not as touching as the live version. Have a listen:

Susumu Yokota – Symbol

In 2005 Japanese composer Susumu Yokata (1961-2015) released his 17th album Symbol. The special thing about this album was that it was primarily composed of samples of classical works. On Symbol Yokata reworked works by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Camille Saint-Saëns, John Cage and Meredith Monk.

What Yokata also sampled was the painting used for the album artwork. The cover features a detail from Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) by John William Waterhouse. The painting depicts a moment from the tragic legend of Hylas. The work is on display at the Manchester Art Gallery.

My personal favorite from the album is the opening track Long Long Silk Bridge. The cut featured samples from Pas De Deux by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

All In Orchestra – World Anthem

Not much info is to be found about the unique ensemble that is All In Orchestra. What we do know is that it’s one of the most fascinating musical phenomenons to come out of Russia in recent time. The young orchestra combines acoustic and electronic elements in their original pieces. Listen to here:

Röyksopp – Röyksopp Forever

In 2009 Norwegian electonica duo Röyksopp released one of their most epic tracks, Röyksopp Forever. It featured a sample from Suites For My Lady released by Skylark in 1972.

The epicness of this track might raise the question: when will Röyksopp make their debut as film composers?

The Heritage Orchestra – The Radio 1 Ibiza Prom

In 2015 BBC Radio 1 turned the Royal Albert Hall into the world’s biggest club. The special concert came to be thanks to the Heritage Orchestra, conductor Jules Buckley BBC’s own Pete Tong. The prom opened with epic Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim. You can hear that this track was made for an orchestral live performance!

The concert featured classic tracks by artists like Daft Punk, Stardust, Moby, Eric Prydz and The Shapeshifters. If you wanna watch the full thing, click here.

The Shapeshifters – Lola’s Theme

What might be one of the greatest house tracks of all time is built upon a orchestral loop. Released in 2004, Lola’s Theme peaked at numerous charts and even became the most successful club hit in Australia that year. The song sampled What About My Love by Johnnie Taylor and featured lyrics from Love Me Tonight by Anthony White.

Does the track sound familiar? You might have heard it in the video game Grand Theft Auto.

For 17 years Ed Banger Records has been an important force in the French electronic music scene. The label was founded in 2003 by former Daft Punk manager Pedro Winter aka Busy P. The label have released works by artists such as Justice, Uffie, Breakbot and SebastiAn.

The celebrate the labels 15th Anniversary the live album Ed Banger 15 ans was released in 2018. Und there direction of arranger and conductor Thomas Roussel, the 70 piece symphony ensemble Orchestre Lamoureux performed brand new versions of the label’s classic tracks. One of them was Pocket Piano by DJ Mehdi. The legendary producer died tragically in 2011, aged 34. For the fans of DJ Mehdi this performance, fronted by pianist Gael Rakotondrabe serves as a moving tribute to the late house wizard.

Wanna compare the two versions? Listen to the original here.

Ymes Tutor – Noid

In 2018 experimental electronica producer Ymes Tutor released Noid as a single for his third studio album Safe In The Hands of Love. The track is catchy yet it deals with a serious subject matter. Noid contains samples of Grace, written by Ronnie Laws and Roxanne J. Seeman and recorded by Sylvia St. James. In the lyrics Tutor addresses racism. This powerful track is sadly still intensly relevant.

M83 – Oblivion

After his collaboration with Daft Punk on TRON: Legacy, director Joseph Kosinski reached out to M83. He wanted to hear if the French electronica-dream pop group could provide an original soundtrack for his second feature film Oblivion (2013). M83 frontman Anthony Gonzales said yes and went on to compose the score together with Daft Punk collaborator Joseph Trapanese.

The vocals for the title track were provided by the Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør. To promote the soundtrack album M83 made an epic performance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.


Still not satisfied? Check out the playlist below!


Hip-Hop • Electronica

New Norwegian Indie

Photo: Lars Tiede. (Creative Commons Licence.)

Throughout the year I write about new Norwegian releases for the cultural magazine Subjekt and the international music site beehype. This means I need to keep an eye on what’s happening in the local music scenes.

2020 was a rough year for all of us. Covid-19 had a huge impact on cultural life, as almost everything shut down. But while some went quiet, other music scenes flourished. Luckily there were lots of great songs to help us through 2020!

This list features the songs I’ve been writing about, the songs I haven’t had the capacity to write about and the songs that I haven’t been able to write about due to impartiality. It’s my own little «Best of 2020», as it only features hand-picked tracks released throughout this past year

But it doesn’t stop there. As I keep discovering new tracks I will add them to the list. It will be my working document for my journalistic work in music. Feel free to follow the list on Spotify!

Indie can be a tricky term. In this context I mean music released through independent labels, rather than one of the three bigs ones, which often dominates the charts. I want to reach beyond what often gets the most attention. Do you know about a fresh release that deserves recognition? Tip me at

For a collection of some of some of my all-time Norwegian favorite tracks, check out Hits and Hidden Gems from Norway.

Enjoy, and take care!

Orchestrated: Hip-Hop

There is nothing as epic as the sound of an orchestra. The use of orchestras has become more and more frequent in different music genres. This is the first in a serie of articles where I’m taking a look at this phenomenon, starting with hip-hop.

On this journey I’ll share a selection of live performances and studio recordings. Be sure to check out the playlist in the end of the post. Let’s go!

Nas – Illmatic: Live from the Kennedy Center

Hip-hop. Once an underground phenomenon, today the worlds greatest musical genre. Would Nas even believe it if someone told him while writing and recording Illmatic, that he 20 years later would perform the whole album live, backed by the National Symphony Orchestra of the US? Well hell no!

Still, that’s what happened. On 2014 it went down in Washington, D.C. The Kennedy Center was filled with over 2000 people when Nas entered the stage. The concert got recorded on tape and is also avalible as a live album, available at streaming platforms. Check out the hip-hop classic N.Y. State of Mind Below, like you’ve never heard it before!

DJ Premier – Regeneration

Illmatic wouldn’t have been as great as it is in the first place if it wasn’t for DJ Premier. The producer got his start in music as a part of the duo Gang Starr is regarded a hip-hop legend.

Like other producers Premier would sample. For this piece he sampled in a new way. Premier picked out parts that spoke to him from classical masterworks by Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven. He pieced them together to a new composition, that he conducted and recorded in the studio with The Berklee Symphony Orchestra.

Joining him on the mic was his long-time collaborator Nas. The track was made as a part of the RE:GENERATIONS project (2011), where five DJs were challenged to make a song in a traditional genre. Check it out:

Jay-Z – The Black Album

Since the dawn of the genre, hip-hop has been sample based. The records that were sampled were mostly old funk and soul records.

Most MC’s rely on a producer or beatmaker to provide them with something they can rap to. In the early 2000’s Jay-Z was in the studio listening to demoes. You can see how it goes down in a video on YouTube. Jay is not digging it. He’s fed up with all the bullshit. But then, out of the blue comes the beat he’s been waitimg for. Once it hits, Jay starts spitting immediately.

What he heard was what would eventually end up as What More Can I Say on The Black Album, released in 2003. The album also featured the orchestral track December 4th. What More Can I say was produced by The Buchanans and sampled Something For Nothing (1973) by MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother). Watch Jay-Z kick off his 2003 Madison Square Garden concert with the hit:

Kanye West – Late Orchestration

Kanye West took it a step further. Instead of sampling an orchestra he simply assembled one, making hiring an orchestra the new bling.

Kanye broke hip-hop norms when collaborating with musicians and artists outside the hip-hop game. For his sophemore album, Late Registration (2005), Kanye reached out to Jon Brion, who had recently been composing the soundtrack for Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (2003). Brion co-wrote, co-produced and did the string arrangments for the West’s second album.

Following up the success Kanye performed live in Abbey Road Studios. Joining him was an all-female orchestra, led by conductor and arranger Rosie Danvers. The concert also featured songs from The College Dropout (2004), orchestrated by Miri-Ben Ari. The concert resulted in the live DVD and album Late Orchestration (2006) and the rest is history.

J Dilla – Say It

One of the most influencal hip-hop producers of all times was a true music lover and every sense of the word. His name was J Dilla, also known as Jay Dee.

Dilla would dig his way through the whole record store. There were no limits for what he could end up sampling. He would often with the help of his iconic MPC, flip the samples in a way that would be almost unrecognizable.

On the track Say It from Jay Loves Japan (2007) Dilla sampled Arrival in Tokyo, composed by Franz Waxman as part of the score for the movie My Geisha (1962). While the sample originally only lasts for some seconds it plays all the way throughout the track.

Re-Collective Orchestra – All The Stars

No doubt about, Black Panther was an epic movie. One of the factors to the success was the soundtrack, with great original songs. One of the tracks were All the Stars, featuring Kendrick Lamar and SZA.

Re-Collective Orchestra took it to the next level by adding a phenomenal orchestral layer to it. The arrangment was done by Matt Jones, who you can see conducting the orchestra in this live recording.

Lupe Fiasco – Kick, Push

For his debut album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006), the young rapper wrote Kick, Push, a song about love, skating, and being a misfit.

Lupe Fiasco and producer Soundtrakk got the orchestral elements from the 1982 song Bolero Medley by Filipina singer Celeste Legaspi. How they found this obscure sample we don’t know but you can check out how the sample got flipped here:

Dontea Winslow – Trumpet and A Mic

All Dontae Winslow needs is a trumpet and a mic, and a little help from his friends. For this song Winslow made an extended music video, or short film, where he as a grown man is talking to himself at age 3. Winslow tells a story about growing up in the inner city, about hope and loss.

In addition to writing and directing the video, Dontea Winslow scored and orchestrated Trumpet and a Mic (2019) himself. Check it out:

Karpe Diem – Tusen Tegninger

After the tragic terrorist attack on Norway July 22 of 2011, a National Memory Service was held in Oslo Spektrum. One of the acts performing were Karpe Diem (today known as simply Karpe).

The duo performed their original song Tusen tegninger together with their live band and the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra. This special performance ended up being one of the most memorable moments from the service. Even if you don’t get the words you will still be able to feel the emotions:

JIMEKHip-Hop History Orchestrated

We could have gone on and on but let’s wrap it up here. This mashup features 30 hip-hop tracks, including works by artists like 2pac, Dr. Dre, Missy Elliot, Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj and A Tripe Called Quest.

JIMEK is the alter-ego of Radzimir Debski, the man who orchestrated and conducted this performance with the National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Check out the performance, that took place in the Spring of 2015:


Still not satisfied? Well then check out the playlist below! And yeah, if you want a good laugh, click here.

Hits and Hidden Gems from Norway

The tunes you didn’t know you were longing for.

Growing up I was just like most teenagers: I listened mostly to music from the US. I was also more conservative than I am now. I clinged to the same old music.

You’ve heard it before: “Music was better before!” If we look at the Billboard lists and all that stuff, things might not look that bright. But then in my opinion there are more great music being made than ever before.

Where is this music being made? I would suggest we’re in the middle of a Golden Age for Norwegian music. My editor in beehype, Mariusz Herma, is always eager to hear about new music from the tiny country that I grew up in. He even told me beehype had a playlist where the artists sung in Scandinavian languages. It was a big hit Internationally!

While touring full time as a musician, I got to discover how rich the Norwegian music scene is and how great the interest for Norwegian music is internationally. These days I’m researching and reviewing new music for Subjekt and beehype. It’s great fun but then there are all the fantastic music that’s not fresh enough for me write about on their news oriented platforms.

What I present here for you is a curated playlist of what I find to be a selection of the best Norwegian music. Although you’ll find some hits the list mainly consists of songs none of my friends have ever heard of. Hopefully they will now.

Please note that I have not included songs from the last couple of years. I might create another playlist for that. Eventually you can check out my editorial recommendations on beehype.

I hope you enjoy and that this list might help you in these trying times!

Click here to listen on Apple Music! Listen on Spotify below:


Welcome to my website!

My name is Edvard and I’m a writer, creator and just generally ethusiatic.

I’m currently writing for three publications, about art and music. On this blog I will share the things that I personally find that it’s worth writing about. It can be a musical recording, an artwork, great design etc.

As I’ve never had my own website or blog this will all be an experiment. I’ve chosen to make English the main language for this site for it to be the most accessible and inclusive for everyone.

I mainly write in Norwegian as it’s my native language and the standard language for most of the publications I write for.

This blog will be the space where I can experiment freely. I will be writing in English to see how it flows. I will try out translating some of my articles and post them here to make them more accessible.

For review requests from artists and managements can contact me at


Edvard Granum Dillner