After walking through a fierce display of ‘Blitz & Donner’ to get to the show on time at the King Kong Klub, I managed to get into the band room to catch the “man of the hour” sipping his whisky, mentally preparing himself for the night’s show. A few months ago, the young Viking songwriter Einar Stenseng was described to me as the love child of Nick Cave and Elvis…so of course, being a fan of both of these icons, I was prepared to make Einar my new idol. After a few sessions with this guy on piano and me twirling my spoken word lyrics around his musical aura, I deeply realised what a sensitive musician he is. So I was already impressed then, but on that stormy night, he was the star that fans and fellow musicians were there to see.
Dorfdisco : What’s tonight all about at the King Kong Klub?
Stenseng : My first concert with a full band. I have played in other bands before, but tonight will show more of what I do.
Dorfdisco : Is this the launch of your new album?
Stenseng : No. Although I have just finished the album, tonight is more of a celebration of that. I have worked with 14 musicians on this album, and with only one German in the mix. A real Berlin thing…everyone here comes from somewhere else. I wrote all the music, and produced the album with the help of Nikki Sudden, with whom I co-wrote a song, ‘Constance’. Nikki and I wrote the lyrics and the music to it.
Dorfdisco : Nikki Sudden? How did you meet Nikki Sudden?
Stenseng : In the Belman Bar where Nikki was hanging around a lot, we met and we realised that we shared the same musical heritage. Nikki, being an older and more experienced musician than me, influenced me a great deal. I learnt a lot from him. I feel that I can be taken more seriously now that I have made an album, which took one year to realise. Five months of extreme recording and mixing. Now all I need to do is plan a tour and introduce it to people.
Dorfdisco : Is the Berlin influence evident in your music?
Stenseng : The songs are about Berlin, but not about me. My life here in Berlin is not obvious in the songs.
Dorfdisco : Would this album be different if written in Norway?
Stenseng : Definitely. It would be a lot simpler, and not as inspiring. The musicians I worked with on this make it great. Jochen Arbeit plays on it; in fact, he plays E-Bow guitar on three songs.
Dorfdisco : How did this collaboration come about?
Stenseng : I have always been a fan of Neubauten and all the members’ side projects, and I got to know him through one of his side projects.
Dorfdisco : Can you describe us the album?
Stenseng : It has its roots in classic rock and roll, with a strong folk influence, both Norwegian and Irish, and some American flavour. Norwegian folk is very original, and what makes it so is the use of the fiddle. It’s the national instrument, and gives Norwegian folk that special sound. What else makes it Norwegian is the songs being sad, a lot about death and drinking.
Dorfdisco : What made you a rock and roller then and not just a folky dude?
Stenseng : I think the 60s British folk rock sounds of Fairport Convention.
Dorfdisco : Does the album have a title yet?
Stenseng : Not really. Just a working title: ‘Lord of the Fjord’!
Dorfdisco : Nice title. Tell me about your favourite track…
Stenseng : They are all my “babies”. But my really darling one must be ‘Raise Your Glass’, a folky ballad with charming arrangements.
Dorfdisco : What is your favourite thing about Norway that we should know about?
Stenseng : Swimming naked in the fjords. All the cities are pretty, but unfortunately full of rich yuppies and money.
Dorfdisco : Aha! Apart that you cannot swim naked in the fjords here, how is Berlin different from where you come from?
Stenseng : Creatively, a lot goes on here all the time. I love being a foreigner walking the streets without understanding the language and what is being spoken around me. I can only concentrate on playing my songs, guitar, piano, organ, banjo, harmonica and percussion.
Dorfdisco : Mhm, quite an variety of instruments. When did you become a musical boy?
Stenseng : At 7 I began playing drums, at 9 guitar and at 11 piano. I have always been a music fan.
Dorfdisco : And, what are and have your lyrics been all about?
Stenseng : Women and drinking.
Dorfdisco : In that order?
Stenseng : Yes. I have always been interested in medieval poetry about women who represented divinity, an idea which was later replaced by drinking. Now drinking is a lifestyle.
Dorfdisco : Ok. Now for some really exciting questions that have always interested me about drinking lifestyler musicians: What is your favourite band in Berlin?
Stenseng : Einstürzende Neubauten.
Dorfdisco : Favourite bar?
Stenseng : Belman Bar…I have heard they have a great Russian cuisine there when the Russian cook is behind the stove.
Dorfdisco : Favourite drink?
Stenseng : What I am drinking right now: Laphroa Whisky…
Dorfdisco : Favourite guitar brand?
Stenseng : Fender. Richard Thompson is my favourite guitarist, and Bob Dylan is my favourite songwriter. Which saved my mouth two more questions.
I think somehow this suits him, and a second later, I got to watch the ‘Lord of the Fjord’ drag his guitar and his band onto the stage of the King Kong Klub to show us some Fjordic Viking Rock and Roll to replace the heavy metal-stereotype image of the Nordic musician.