It’s my pleasure to give you my interview with bassist and vocalist Guro Skumsnes Moe, who was so kind to take some time with IDIOTEQ to talk about her creative work and dark, experimental musical endevours developed with her project MOE, featuring two other musicians, drummer Joakim Heibø Johansen and guitarist Håvard Skaset. The sludgy noise / drone trio have released their latest album “3” on October 13th via Norwegian label Fysisk Format and we thought it’s high time for IDIOTEQ to present the band properly to our readers. Dive into their well crafted,yet very unpredictable insanity and learn a lot more through the interview below (conducted over the course of the first weeks of 2015).
Hey there! What’s up guys? How are you? How’s my lovely Norway doing this fine winter time?
Guro Moe: Hi! well thanks for sending thoughts to Norway! Pretty fine here, no snow, no cold, and almost out of jet lag from nov.-des. tour on the US east coast. And had our last concert this year with MoE at the venue Mono in Oslo some days ago. A good closure of an exiting and exotic year for MoE for sure.
Sounds good, Guro! Where in Norway exactly are you located?
Oslo, I´ve lived here for about 10 years when I think of it..
I’ve been to Norway a couple of times and this really added a lot of new views to my experience. Are there some special, not so popular places you’d recommend for a Scandinavia junkie?
Ha hm there´s different places
So I would go to Emanuel Vigelands Mausoleum! What a place that is and very hidden from other touristy places. It´s a crypt for Emanuel Vigeland, Gustav Vigelands brother who made the gigantic statue park of arctic people. You enter sort of another time zone walking in there, dusk light, and with a reverb of 9sekunds at least. The walls are filled with, it´s life and death, wall paintings showing death and new birth in a some sort of symbioses. They arrange quite a lot of concerts there as well.
Nature. in general! I guess we Norwegians have a more religious connection to nature than other nationalities. but it just gives peace in mind and soul to for instance be at a fire house in Lofoten feeling the nature and wind and waves force you to be so percent! that´s kind of the same thing I want with my music as well! At Røst the most southern point of Norway, a small island outside Lofoten, some great people have started an artist in residence program which is really unique at the light house!
Thanks! Ok, so let’s learn more about MOE, shall we? :)
Your recent album “3” is one of the scariest experimental sludge/doom rock/metal journey I’ve even bee on. Some of this stuff should be a soundtrack for the Antichrist or some other radical horror movie. Is it the specific atmosphere of and fearsome Norwegian forests that inspired your art? How does the country inspire you as an artist?
Wow thanks for sharing. As an artist the country or society gives me more stress than inspiration in one side and still there´s great things that makes me wanna stay in Oslo and Norway. Like the nature. No fearsome forest have been of great importance though. The inspiration of 3 has almost all came from experience of touring and especially our tour in Mexico made a deep impact on our latest release. Does Norway inspire me.. The fact that I can do my music, feel somehow safe, all school and health care covered, in a country where you still feel your voice matters equal to anyone else’s if not inspiration, it gives me a core foundation where I feel safe and makes it possible for me to do my shit. And that they still have grant programs that supports a more wider culture expressions to coexist alongside the mainstream. I think that is so important! A Norwegian writer, Brikt Jensen, said «You should´t just give people what they want, they deserve so much better». I think so too. For a society to evolve it needs art and artist that gives resistance and contributes to widen what’s to be considered the norm. Or else it will be social erosion.
Considering both musicians and non-musical writers, who inspired and influenced your writing?
I get inspired and influenced just by listening to a conversation on the train, reading the newspaper, hearing a seminar, talking with my niece. up until two years ago I hand´t found a way of allowing my self time just to write music and lyrics for MoE and I had to write everywhere. I have had some short time periods over the last two years where I have only focused on writing and then the source of inspiration has grown. Still it feels very much cantered around a self-perspective, but I find I can more easily take out more of my surroundings in the process of transforming it into a lyric for a song or the song itself. I would have wanted to find a better word for this process… I work very much intuitively and my core musical strength is through improvised music and I use these methods also when writing lyrics and music for MoE. Also I find great inspiration in the noise music, noise aesthetic, individually layers of equally important sounds which gives the listener the possibility of choosing what to listen to, listen to the different layers separately or as a whole or jump from one layer of sound to the other. I have tried different methods to adapt how I conceive noise music in writing lyrics. It´s a lot more research to do, and methods to explore.. But the meeting with bands from the no wave apocalyptic era of New York, suicide, DNA, Mars, theoretical girls, Lydia lunch, they were all of crucial importance as to when the band was first started and still is. Different aspects gives each song it’s inspiration in a way and also to some degree I don’t know where my inspiration comes from. I don’t know what all the lyrics is about.
Do you consider that your approach to music belongs strictly to one particular genre? How important is for a band to step outside one genre in order to reach for more and at least try to find a personal style? Do you think you have come to your own original style?
We make the music we want to hear. and it is a natural result of three voices having a broad musical hunger. I never think of music borders or genres when making the music of MoE. Or the lyrics. Or I think I don´t think of that, since I´m not sure if that can be all true.. Obviously we all have our strong influences and inspiration sources which have formed us through years of continuous searching for how to express our self in sounds. I feel strongly I couldn’t have expressed myself in another way in MoE. It´s what I am.
How important is for you guys to receive bigger recognition? Is there a specific goal established for this band?
We would have done different choices if bigger recognition was our main goal. I think. Still of course we tour like crazy and it gives so much energy when people for instance in Mexico have told all their friends about us because they saw us two years ago and an expectation is being created just from people who came to our shows. From doing everything ourselves promo is what I never manage to do properly. It´s cool to feel that the next time you come to a place you have managed to create an expectation, people have heard about you and venue, other bands or friends keep pushing this expectation. It feels somehow different to play when you experience this. So that kind of recognition is important, to gain a bigger platform to perform your music from because people know you. To continually do better music is our main goal. But then again the road for making your music grow the best is a seducing and rough one and I sometimes have to hold my motivation for doing this real tight, because it´s not always visible in the world I am facing.
I would really like to see you guys live on stage. Any chance to see you in Poland sometime soon? What are your touring plans?
we just played in Poland! just three shows on a last minute booked Europe tour in February/March together with Jealousy Party. We hope to come back either in the fall or for sure spring next year. So February/March was a nice one with constant touring first Japan, then Europe and ending with a Mexican tour. Just came from a short split tour in Italy with the band GERDA which was just super! And a new split tour in may throughout Europe with the band MOON RELAY. We will record new stuff in summer and if we can work all things out it will be a good fall as well with tours in the US, Norway, Australia, China and South Korea.
How was your recent Fall tour? Any special places and interesting experiences you’d like to recall?
There were different spilt tours this fall with a bunch of good bands, MOON RELAY (NO), BARBEROS (UK), I SING MY BODY ELECTRIC (NO), THE OBSERVATORY (SG), GERDA (IT) ARABROT (NO) and RABBITS (US). Never toured in Spain and Basque Country before, but they responded to our music very much, much more than north Europe. So the more south we go, the wilder response we get! That was a good tour!
Where’s the furthest you went on tour with MOE?
I think either the south east asia tour we did with the Observatory or Mexico. But lots of new land to discover!
Ok, so what else are you working on at the moment? Is there anything else worth mentioning here?
I am the owner of an Octobass since April 12th. A monster of a bass with the size 3,85 m and the lowest tone goes down to 16 hertz, which are below what a grown up human being can hear. Together with other Norwegian musicians Ole – Henrik Moe, Hanne Rekdal and Kari Rønnekleiv we have started the chamber orchestra The Touchables where this instrument is primary member. At the moment I am preparing the first piece for this bass and the chamber orchestra, combined with writing new stuff for MoE.
Can you share your views on some of the best music released this year?
I don´t know what has come out this year, I´m sorry! But Norwegian MOON RELAY came out with an incredible one September last year!! We´ll go on tour with them soon. HANGING UP THE MOON, a Singaporean band released a great album this year by the way! ARABROTs new EP is also a good one. Look forward to hear Jenny Hvals new release in June.
Thanks so much for your time and answers! Cheers from Warsaw!
Thanks a lot and hope to see you in Warsaw