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Highasakite’s Ingrid Helene Håvik Talks Elton John, Justin Vernon + Debut Album ‘Silent Treatment’

Tonje Tilesen
Tonje Tilesen

From Miike Snow to Lykke Li and Say Lou Lou to the Knife, Sweden has dominated the Scandinavian music scene on the international level. But Norway’s Highasakite might just be the act to give the Swedes a run for their money.

With their debut EP, released last year via Propeller Recordings, singer Ingrid Helene Håvik, guitarist Kristoffer Lo, drummer Trond Bersu and synth players Øystein Skar and Marte Eberso have won the favor of critics and garnered fans wherever they’ve traveled. Highasakite spent much of 2013 jetting around the globe, showing audiences at Berlin Music Week, Iceland Airwaves, Eurosonic, SXSW and the Great Escape what they’ve got. And as we start 2014, the band is gearing up for their debut album, ‘Silent Treatment,’ due out on March 4.

The band’s most recent single, ‘Since Last Wednesday,’ shows Håvik’s vocal prowess and lyrical quirks and serves as a great introduction to a band bound to be on many people’s playlists this year. Diffuser.fm had the chance to talk to Håvik about her experience writing the album in Istanbul, how Elton John influenced the band’s name and how she felt about Bon Iver main man Justin Vernon’s praise for the band.

How did the band get together?

We got together while studying in Trondheim Jazz Conservatory. It started with Trond and I and my harp. We started recording an album, and we weren’t completely happy about it until we got Øystein to put on some of his synthesizer magic. So then we were three. After playing as a trio for almost a year, we asked Marte and Kristoffer to join us. So that the sound of the band could get bigger. Then we were five.

What’s the story behind the band name?

Just desperation. We needed a name. So we took the first that came to mind. I listened to the Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’ on repeat at that time. And he sings [the line," And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then"]. So thats what came to mind.

After releasing your EP, you quickly got a lot for praise for it. How did you feel getting that positive feedback and so quickly after its release?

It felt good.

You also got a great review from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who said, “Beautiful music from Highasakite … this was a crazy band! I loved it!” Are you a fan of his? How does it feel to get reviews like that from a fellow artist?

I’m really grateful that he wrote that. He certainly didn’t have to, and I know that he must have some idea that his opinion has a lot of PR value for a band like us. I’m a big fan of his, and I listened to him on repeat while writing my solo album ‘Babylove’ and Highasakite’s ‘Silent Treatment’ in Istanbul. His music is the soundtrack of that city to me. And I had a tiny crush on him for a while, like a teenager, except I didn’t hang up any posters. It’s over now, though.

What is the song ‘Since Last Wednesday’ about?

I don’t know. You tell me.

What was the premise behind that music video?

I don’t know. You have to ask Yngvild [Sve Flikke] who made it, about that. She had total freedom to make whatever she wanted.

So let’s talk about the album, how did you go about the songwriting process?

I went to Istanbul to write lyrics. So I did that. [I] had a bunch of them stacked up, and then I started to write the music. I wrote some of it in Upstate New York, Ithaca [to be precise], because I borrowed a house by a friend there. And then I wrote the rest in my childhood home, back in Ålesund. For most of the writing, I used an acoustic piano and my harmonium. Then I recorded it and made some demoes that I sent around to the band and producer. Then we just went straight into the studio and started recording without really preparing anything.

What artist influenced the band’s musical direction?

I don’t think we have a common artist that we are all influenced by. We all have different influences. So we just have to be as open as we can to each others ideas, because everyone comes from different places in music.

What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to most in 2014?

I can’t wait to get back to Austin. The weather in Oslo is breaking my heart right now. It’s so wet and dark. It’s gross. I’m also looking forward to just hanging out with the band. Being finished with all the rehearsals and just play and have a good time.

What’s next for Highasakite?

We are playing at the Norwegian Grammy Awards in January. [It] should be a lot of fun.

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