Kim Sølve is a man who have been involved with multiple things over the years. He’s been making music for a very long time, but is probably mostly known under the moniker of Blitzkrieg Baby. When it comes to things outside the realm of music, he’s also mostly known as an illustrator and designer, who runs the Trine + Kim (TKDS) design studio together with Trine Paulsen, since 1999. Whom have done notable artwork for bands like Enslaved, Solefald, Mayhem and Darkthrone, and many more. He’s also a Norwegian, and have been involved in the group Three Winters, which is a synth-pop moniker, together with Anders. B and Lars Fredrik Frøislie. Whom released their debut release on the Swedish gargantuan post-apocalyptic pop label Beläten, which went under the name of “The Atrocities EP“. Not to forget, he’s also been keeping himself busy with his own label Adversum, which he runs together with Kim from Neuropa Records. Other than that, some of you may know Kim Sølve from the constellation “Norwegian Noise Orchestra”, but there’s a lot that we don’t know about him. Which, as always, prompted me to do an interview with him. Discussing everything from his musical endeavors, his design work, the state of music as we know it, black metal from Norway, human nature and much more. This is probably one of the more lengthier interviews I’ve done in a while, at least if you’d consider those that have already been published. So, with no further ado, meet your maker and read until you spew.
Together with Trine Paulsen, you’ve had a designstudio since 2003 where you illustrate things, and design, from the basis of a conceptual approach. How come that it took four years before it happened, with regards to the fact that you’ve been collaborating since 1999?
– The reason for the “1999 or 2003”-mess up is mostly due to clumsiness when formulating a press letter a few years back. Nowadays we simply state that we began in 1999, which is the plain truth. In the beginning we had no plans and credited everything with our names instead of the studio, until we in 2003 got a website running and began working full-time. I feel that the most correct version is that our studio was founded when we met, became a couple, and began our collaboration in the autumn of 1999, considering we have worked together on pretty much every project since then. This is also the reason we celebrated our ten-year anniversary back in 2009.
Recently, you’ve updated your site with some new material of what you’ve designed. There, you also said that the band Ulver were some of the first artists you collaborated with. How did it come to be from the start that they chose you to design their covers?
– I’ve known Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg for years now, but the close collaboration with him came about through my work with Norwegian weirdo rock band Virus in 2000/2001. I was playing in a band with Virus’ composer and guitarist Czral at the time, and he wanted me to do the artwork for Virus’ first album “Carheart”, that was to be released by Kristoffer Rygg’s Jester Records. We quickly developed a friendship and mutual respectful and dynamic way to collaborate. That led to Trine and me doing a lot of artworks for Jester in the next years, including When, Espen Jørgensen, Anthony Curtis, Jesters website, and of course Ulver. The Ulver work began with Svidd Neger, continued with Blood Inside, Shadows Of The Sun, Childhood’s End, Live at Roadburn, and now Messe I.X-VI.X. There’s also been remakes of three of four other albums for vinyl reissues and a lot of other stuff up through the years.
“After having done artworks for music since forever I was not tempted to sign my own music to any label, after having observed up close how too many of them treat their artists and collaborators”
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
– With the design studio, you mean? Absolutely. We have several artworks in the making, although we have reduced the number of music-related assignments the last five years or so. We got to a point where we had to focus on something else, and have since accepted more work for publishing house, theaters, magazines and such, than music. At the same time we have also focused more on our own projects, like music and art. I have started the label Adversum, as well as released more of my own music. Current artworks for music are -M-, Tusmørke, The Ghost Conspiracy, Ulver, Three Winters, In-Quest, Wobbler, Solefald, Kosmoratik, Shining (NO), White Willow, Shining (SE), and a few more.
I noticed that you’re running the label Adversum together with Kim that also runs Neuropa. Since Adversum basically states that you’re going in “opposite direction”, what kind of skills do you and Kim bring to the table when it comes to this particular label?
– I think it is more about a mindset than skills. Adversum is built upon the way of thought, and aesthetics, that has been natural for me for most of my adult life, a mindset that was a natural extract, or continuation, of the often immature and rebellious Black Metal attitudes that surrounded me in my early teenage years. Black Metal as genre is now largely a parody of itself and lost a lot of its initial virility when the first wave exploded into some kind of sub-mainstream, and my generation and those younger started building upon the surface cliches of their idols work instead of the founding pioneering attitude. Which of course is what happens to all vital scenes at some point. Also, and this was important in the decision to go through with the label, I wanted a trustworthy outlet when I was about to begin releasing my own music. After having done artworks for music since forever I was not tempted to sign my own music to any label, after having observed up close how too many of them treat their artists and collaborators. Without integrity there is nothing.
Were you involved with the Norwegian scene of Black Metal when everything started to get a little bit heated (to say the least), as media started to sensationalize it?
– I was a young teenager back then. Me and my friends were into everything we could come across that was dark and extreme and exiting. The harder and darker and weirder the better. This quickly led us to Black Metal, after being into Rap and Metal and Thrash in the late eighties, and for a few years it was good fun. It’s still a part of my DNA, and has had its say in the shaping of who I am, but already back in late 1994 something happened that took a lot of the vitality out of it for me. But by then I was already well into avant-garde music, contemporary classical, Industrial, Techno, Pop music and whatever I could find of music that took my mind to exiting places.
“We are like receptors, we suck in impressions all the time, and it nestles somewhere deep inside and comes out when needed”
When it comes to mainstream vs. underground and all that jazz, being as it is with these two notions colliding on so many different levels, increasingly all the time – what do you think is needed to get the spirit up for a pioneering attitude once again?
– I don’t think I am even close to having an answer to that. What is right for me is not right for everyone else. My values, tastes, and aesthetic sense are in a minority of one. There are a lot of people doing things that I think are crap that are embraced by thousands, and vice versa. People just have to be true to themselves. Things happen, things evolve, there’s always people involved and some of them take whatever happens in bad directions, and some people who make the most of it. There will always be morons and there will always be talents. There will always be more morons than talents. I value integrity, craft, dedication, and individuality. There are a lot of people who would agree with me about that during a discussion, but still, when I hear their music or see their art I think it’s the perfect example of a pile of shit. They will probably think the same about me.
This is a very interesting subject indeed, which leads me to ask you about another very important question. As we delve deeper into personal tastes and aesthetics, what are your main inspirations when you design or illustrate your conceptual artworks?
– That’s a process that is difficult to decipher. I feel that whatever art, music, literature or choreography anyone makes, there’s something about it, something that forms the basis of the work; it’s deeper, underlying specifications, for a lack of better terms. That is what it is interesting to look for, to find or understand and use as a conceptual and emotional starting point. When thinking that way, genres sometimes feel like shallow, useless skins that should be shed instead of worn hanging about like a sloppy foreskin. Of course, sometimes playing around with genre clichés can be a lot of fun and make for great results too. But either way, the core of the work our design is being made to represent, is what should be the starting and focal point.
Regarding inspiration: I have no idols. There are many talented people out there, but no one who is a guiding star or who have had more impact on us that others. The methods, conceptual ways, and ideology that Trine and I have in our design work is something that has formed and evolved from ourselves, and in-between us. It feels natural and right. We get inspired by our surroundings—what we see and hear, of course—like everyone else but not anyone or anything in particular. We are like receptors, we suck in impressions all the time, and it nestles somewhere deep inside and comes out when needed.
“I record sounds in places that have something unreal about them, or record sounds that for some reason have a resonance that I feel fits the ambiance I need”
When it comes to the music you make, you have a lot of different aliases for whatever you’d feel like making. There are a lot of nuances that are similar to one another, but also a lot of differences, but how do you feel that your philosophy is distributed when choosing aliases and making music?
– I have been making music for 21 years now but I kept it to myself until about five years ago. I have had time to get to know myself. Not one of the projects I am in charge of is less than eleven years old. I stand behind the music and I have found the right people to work with. Some of these are life projects. They represent what goes on in my head better than anything else, but breaking it down to something I can put into words in an interview is far from possible. To me, being creative is a lot about gut feeling and creative need, for a lack of better terms. In my own work I can be totally without compromise. I stay true to myself, invest a lot of time into everything I do, and perhaps someone out there will find pleasure in it.
Since you seem to spend a lot of time with your works, I also wanted to ask you about what the individual process in creation behind both music-making and designing/illustrating is?
– Design work is never without Trine, and that has a profound effect on both process and result. We are each other’s muses and torturers and assistants. We have little or no ego between each other when working, yet we have very different personalities, which are two of many reasons it works so well. When beginning on an assignment we dive into the work we are designing for (listen to the music, speak with the artist, read the lyrics), join our minds, and starts playing. The more out there we can be the better, the more we can give of ourselves the better. Then follows hard work, handcraft and patience. That is what my daytime is spent doing.
With music it is another situation. I’m mostly alone when working with Blitzkrieg Baby’s music. Blitzkrieg Baby gets its fuel from frustration. I record a lot of it from scratch, and I also like to steal from others. Especially if what I steal has some kind of symbolic meaning to me. It’s a gigantic puzzle with dark pieces. I also work closely with a few collaborators, like Anders B. of Three Winters and Mind & Flesh, Bjeima of Yurei and Virus, and Mr. B.
Whatever I have of spirituality comes across in K100. I record sounds in places that have something unreal about them, or record sounds that for some reason have a resonance that I feel fits the ambiance I need. Then I spend my nights working on them to become tracks. K100 is about unreality, about traveling, about mind expansion. I released “The Vault Of Apparitions” through Neuropa in 2010. And Swarms’ “The Silver Hour” released by Vendlus in 2008 can be seen as a precursor to that album. In January I signed K100 to Cyclic Law for the release of my next album sometime during 2013.
In -M-, the band I started in 1992, I write songs that me and my colleagues, Bjeima and Plenum especially, arrange together.
In Swarms we mostly play, for hours and hours, like in a trancelike state. Then we search out the songs within the intricate but primitive, entangled clusterfuck of lovely dissonance that remains when we’re done.
They all have a life of their own. I could write a book about this, but I’m trying to keep it short here.
“Fitting in is more important than any kind of quality, personality or integrity. It’s human nature, yet again”
I would like to ask you about the process when recording and making your musical and aesthetical wonder titled Porcus Norvegicus. What did you have in mind when you made and recorded this album?
– The decadence and downfall of myself, everyone around me, society, and the human race: delirium, dissonance and death.
I wanted it to be played like a movie, something heard, or seen, from beginning till end, and contain hints of whatever I feel constitutes the past, present and future of Blitzkrieg Baby. There’s a lot of ideas and emotions put into that album. The engine in Blitzkrieg Baby is a throbbing hard-on for all things dark, painful, twisted, and hopeless. Like any human, I have stuff inside me that needs an outlet, and unless you close your eyes all day everyday, it is impossible to not be affected by the state of our time. I shove my head into the filthiest stuff inside me to expunge it, play around with it, shape something from it, and have some fun with it.
Initially I had no immediate plans to release the album, and it therefore contains music from 2001 until now. The album just grew on me, and a few years back when I decided to get it released, Neuropa came onboard. It felt like getting a tumor removed. In the later stages of the recording I asked a few friends to partake, so I have people doing bass, drums, synthesizer and vocals on a few of the tracks. The rest is all me.
About twenty years ago, when I first got into Industrial, I did not see it as a close-minded genre, far from it, it was perhaps not a genre at all but a mindset or movement. Everything was allowed. Eighties Laibach, Coil, Swans, and Boyd Rice, nineties Cold Meat releases, it has all left their mark on me. Traces of that mindset, or my adaptation of it anyway, is in the foundations of Blitzkrieg Baby.
What do you think is the reason behind the fact that modern day industrial seem to have swayed away from the concept of open-mindedness that was prevalent in those days?
– It happens to all genres, and all music sooner or later. In the hands of Man, it happens to everything. People decide to start projects that fit into a niche, because they want to fit in. Things become too specified, cultures based upon these specifications rise in the wake. Everyone wants to fit in. Fitting in is more important than any kind of quality, personality or integrity. It’s human nature, yet again.
I guess you’re right about that, unfortunately. However, if we get back to your music-making, your latest release was under the name of “Three Winters”, together with Lars Fredrik Frøislie and Anders B., which you also designed the logo to. What kind of ambition do you three have with that particular project?
– Three Winters has been finding its shape since it was formed by Anders B. and me in 2006. Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, John Carpenter, and various forms of Pop music are references we keep coming back to. But in the meeting of the three of us Three Winters has found a shape of its own I think, although all tracks so far are based upon sketches from Anders B. The first release is “The Atrocities EP”, out through Beläten since February. We also have recorded and mastered the full-length album. Future seems bright, or at least exiting.
Is there anything that can be revealed when it comes to your full-length album?
– It’s a solid album. It will show more sides of Three Winters than the EP. Lars is a gentleman with skills, so the production is killer. We’re in the middle of negotiating stuff here and there so I’ll keep it at that for now.
Earlier you said that you and Trine will focus more on designs and illustrations for magazines, publishing houses, theaters et cetera. Where can people expect see your work in the future for these different venues?
– It’s already out there in massive quantities. We’ve done several dozen book covers a year the last three or four years. It’s mostly for Norwegian publishing houses and other kind of national clients. So they are promoted nationally for the most part. A lot of it is commercial and intended for the mainstream.
Alright, it’s time to sum things up. I would like to ask you what you’re looking forward to in the near future and what will you be doing?
– Blitzkrieg Baby is working on a 7″, a cassette for Beläten, the next full-length album (label not decided yet), and several collaborations between Blitzkrieg Baby and other artists. I’m also premiering commissioned music for a ballet performance soon. K100 is finalizing the next album for release on Cyclic Law and I’m finally releasing the debut album by my longest running band -M- through Adversum sometime before christmas. Expect dissonant Metal. And of course I’m looking forward to getting the Three Winters full length out there.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say here in the end?
– If anyone wants to stay updated follow (or add) me on Facebook, or join Adversum’s or Blitzkrieg Baby’s pages where I try to be a good boy and share news now and then. I’m also available through www.trineogkim.no!
Also, thanks for running one of the best blogs/zines around!
Kindly enough, Kim decided to record a remake of the song “Children In Uniform“, from Blitzkrieg Baby’s latest release “Porcus Norvegicus“. So, I bring forth to thee, the version which is called: “Children In Uniform MMXIII“.