Highasakite is the nom-de-plume of Norwegian duo Ingrid Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu, who met almost ten years ago whilst studying at the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory. This year marks a milestone for the band; after three albums the duo have returned to their roots in preparation for their forthcoming album Uranium Heart.
The band are taking back control of their sound; they’ve shifted from external production to internal, they’re repurposing old skills into new sounds and they’re more confident in their ability to create music that people actively respond to.
The duo have made a name for themselves outside of their native Scandinavia, a feat not too many Norwegian acts can claim. Since 2017 they’ve been working hard at writing and recording their fourth album, one that the duo are perhaps the proudest of to date.
We recently chatted to Ingrid from Norwegian pop outfit Highasakite about their new album Uranium Heart and what’s it’s like to both give up and take back control.
HAPPY: Hey Ingrid! Really loving the clip for your new single Mexico. Is this your first time working with an animator?
INGRID: Yes, I think so. I can’t remember doing it before.
HAPPY: How did it compare to working with a more conventional director?
INGRID: Well, he’s an artist, so we didn’t have anything to say about what it was supposed to be like…
HAPPY: So, you handed complete control of the clip to the animator and you kind of sat back and watched them work?
INGRID: Yeah, the only thing that we had done was, like, send him pictures of what we liked with his own work and other things, like pictures from movies. But I don’t really know if he ever used that because I think that he got, like, an immediate image in his head when he heard the song and that’s what it’s all about. It was all on him.
HAPPY: Did it feel like you were more hands-off with this clip, or were you still involved with it to some degree?
INGRID: I don’t know… it was really nice to just give control to someone that you knew would make something great so I was never nervous about it
HAPPY: You met your bandmate Trond through studying jazz almost ten years ago. Do you feel like that jazz background still has an influence over Highasakite?
INGRID: No, I don’t think so. I guess it’s always going to be a part of how we work, maybe, but not how we sound.
HAPPY: Are there any specific aspects of jazz that you hold in your mind while you’re writing or recording?
INGRID: Just the improvisation part of it, like, I think it makes it easier to write songs. You can just improvise the melodies and record it and then go back to what sounded good.
HAPPY: And is that how you write most of your music, through having ideas and then improvisation on the spot? Or do you have more of a controlled way of writing music?
INGRID: It’s both. I can’t just improvise it all, I have to have an access point, so it’s, like, improvised and then you use that access point or that plot of the song and just build it out of that.
HAPPY: With your upcoming album Uranium Heart, the first produced by Trond, your bandmate, did you enjoy the album process without an external producer? Did it feel more like your own?
INGRID: Yes, it did feel more like our own but at the same time we did have a really good process with the previous producer as well. I mean, I think we had good cooperation and it still felt like ours when we worked with him but when Trond produced it I felt like… I don’t know. It gave us a lot of confidence that we could make something on our own.
HAPPY: Were you working with the same producer for all your previous releases or had you used a different producer with every single or album?
INGRID: No, we had the same producer.
HAPPY: Did you feel like your workflow changed when it was just you and Trond?
INGRID: For me, it was the same workflow but for Trond obviously it was a lot more [of a workload] because he was also producing it and yeah, it takes a lot of work.
HAPPY: Do you think you’ll continue working this way in the future or do you think you’ll go back to having an external producer?
INGRID: I think we’ll just have to wait and see what we do when the songs are finished and we start working on them. I think that Trond… it was a hard process, especially for him because the pressure was so high and the workload was so incredibly much, so it really depends on if he’s up to doing that again.
HAPPY: Did Uranium Heart take longer to record and produce than your previous releases because he had such a heavy workload?
INGRID: It took a bit longer, I think, because… it took some months before we got to the point where we were going. But when we kind of like, cracked the code things started rolling a bit more. But yeah, it took some time to just get into the process.
HAPPY: You began writing the album back in 2017. Did it take any unexpected directions back in that two year period, or was it more of a smooth and linear progression from the beginning of recording to the final product?
INGRID: We started recording it at the start of 2017, and, I don’t know. I think at the start we just went too far off what the song was originally like. Yeah, we had a lot of worries that we would overwork something so we’d have to go back to the starting point, so it had a lot of… like where we were like “it doesn’t work, we’ll have to start again”.
HAPPY: Did you feel a lot more pressure with this record because it was produced by a member of the band?
INGRID: Yeah, I felt a lot of pressure because the previous producer, he’s like a legend, but at the same time I try not to care because I just wanted to be free of all those pressures, but I couldn’t. I could sometimes. Yeah, there were obviously a lot of things that we thought about and were worried about but I had a lot of faith in him that he would do this really well.
HAPPY: Had Trond wanted to produce an album from the beginning or was it something that had come up between different releases that it was something that he’d like to do?
INGRID: Well, he started producing for other people a couple of years ago, so he produced an album right before we started recording, and I was like “why don’t you do this for us” and he was a bit sceptical that he wouldn’t do a good job but I got my way and, ah, that was how we did it.
HAPPY: Do you guys have any plans to come to Australia anytime soon?
INGRID: I don’t know yet. I think we just have to release the album and finish this Norwegian tour and this Europe tour and then we’ll see what happens.
HAPPY: Thanks so much for your time.
INGRID: Thanks for talking!