Dear readers, in this article we have the pleasure to offer you an interview with a Norwegian artist, member of Wobbler and collaborator of bands such as White Willow and Tusmørke. We welcome Lars Fredrik Frøislie, who recently released his long-awaited first solo album “Fire Fortellinger” via Karisma Records.
Hi Lars how are you?
Lars: “I’m fine, thank you. Very pleased with the reception of my solo album, and at the moment I’m in parental leave, it’s warm and nice, having many trips into the forest and to the beach with my family.“
You are a multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer in the Progressive Rock scene, where did your passion for these sounds come from?
Lars: “I started playing keyboards when I was 10, and drums when I was 12. I grew up on a farm, so we had an entire house for ourselves to play music in, except some Norwegian elk hounds in the 1st floor and a yard where they were out during daytime. Anyway, my older brother had some bands, and I eventually got a band, and lots of people coming and going, recording music and so on. So there’s always been music in my life, and instruments for me to try out.
I grew up listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Yes, Black Sabbath, the Doors and so on, and when I was around 16 I discovered and became aware of what is labeled as progressive rock, with bands like King Crimson, ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, VDGG, PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Univers Zero, Änglagård, and the list goes on. And so I was hooked, and I’ve always been drawn to the sound and music from the 60s and 70s.“
The Northern European scene has always been full of top artists, what are your sources of inspiration?
Lars: “As well as those bands I mentioned above, I like lots of Italian 70s prog; Maxophone, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Latte e Miele, I’ll Balletto di Bronzo, I think also some Norwegian black metal has some influence on me, though I don’t listen to it that much anymore. If the mood strikes, it would probably Darkthrone, early Satyricon, Thorns and Emperor. But I listen to all types of music; classical, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, pop, rock, heavy, baroque, country, and whatever strikes my mood. For my solo album I listened a lot to early music, where there’s lots of fantastic music to dig into. Jordi Savall has some fantastic versions which I listened to in particular. By the way, I need a Portative organ; so if anyone has a spare, let me know. Love that sound!“
You recently released your first solo album “Fire Fortellinger,” how would you describe the sound of this work?
Lars: “Keyboard-oriented old school progressive rock with flares of early music, subtle hints of black metal and echoes of a heathen northern landscape. I’ve only used my old analog keyboards, so there’s plenty of Hammond organ, Mellotron, MiniMoog, Clavinet, Harpsichord, Chamberlin, ARP, Yamaha CP70 and so on. Otherwise I play an old Ludwig kit, and Nikolai used his Rickenbacker and Fender Jazzbass for the most part. The album is organic and human – using as little modern technology as possible. No midi, no click track, no sound replacement, leaving in random things happening as well as smaller mistakes, impulsive improvised elements, instruments slightly out of tune, which perhaps is not that usual these days where so much is perfect, quantified to grid, and tuned perfectly.“
Both the music and the vocals are very intense and elaborate, what themes do the lyrics deal with?
Lars: “The first song “Rytter av Dommedag” (Rider of the Apocalypse) is about an old Merovingian king who is buried about 30 minutes from where I live, in a huge burial mound. I had many trips out there during the pandemic, and was inspired by the place. My imagination started running, and I imagined King Rakne, as he’s called, being disturbed in his tomb, awakening and not happy about that. So he summons the old gods and basically ends the world, sets in motion doomsday.
The next song “Et sted under Himmelhvelvet” (a place under the heaven) is rather romantic, perhaps located in a renaissance garden in Florence. Resting under a tree, wandering in the green garden full of ancient statues, and feeling strangely at home there.
The third song “Jærtegn”, (Omen) starts in a frenzy, with someone in a horse drawn wagon rushing thru the forest, with someone chasing them. The chariot flips over, killing those inside. At this exact moment there is a solar eclipse, and thus they become ghost trapped in darkness, trying to find their way out of the forest. They are visible to us now and then as the northern lights, which are their arms stretching for the sun, in vain.
The last song “Naturens katedral” (nature’s cathedral) is about the Norwegian mountains. Snow, blizzard, avanlanche, a search back to the primitive, away from the city and out into the wild. Ultimately they become one with nature.“
The album features Nikolai Hængsle on bass, what did this artist bring to the sound?
Lars: “I initially recorded synth bass which I had up to the very end, but found out I needed some Rickenbacker, fuzz bass, etc. So I asked Nikolai, as the worst thing that could happen was that he said no. But thankfully he say yes, and came over for a week. Niko is extremely musical and professional, and his bass playing is very powerful, precise and elevates the music. It’s rather strange to record bass at the very end, but we got to set the bass sound to fit into the otherwise finished sound and mix.“
As a solo artist is your project only in the studio or do you have plans to bring the album live?
Lars: “That’s a good question. I would need more arms, or get an extra keyboardist or two to help me out perhaps. Also, I’m not used to singing lead and being up front, only hiding in the back, perhaps doing backing vocals, so to play and sing lead could be a challenge. But we’ll see. I have gotten some requests for next year, but I’m still thinking about it.“
You are a member of Wobbler, very popular with Prog fans, how does the band’s sound differ from your solo project?
Lars: “A huge difference is the vocals, both the language and the voice. Also i can’t play guitar, so there’s no guitar on my solo album. I compensated to a certain degree with using the harpsichord, Clavinet, ARP Pro Soloist and so on, to get some guitar-like sounds.“
The band has been active on the scene for years with top albums, do you have plans for new releases in the near future?
Lars: “The focus now is to make new Wobbler-music. We’ve done some gigs recently, but now the focus is song making. We’ve always been kind of slow, always taking our time to make sure we have good enough material and so on, so to make an album takes time. That was sort of the opposite of the way this solo album was made, where everything was done rather impulsively and fast, without overthinking anything.“
What advice would you give to young artists approaching the music scene with more elaborate sounds like Prog?
Lars: “Make music from your heart, and please keep the human aspects present without too much digital nonsense.“
Music and Prog in particular is constantly evolving, how do you see the future of the genre?
Lars: “Good question. These last years, I’ve looked further and further back in music history, so I have no clue what the future holds. Maybe with AI there will be new prog albums with the artificial vocal sound of a young Greg Lake, Peter Gabriel, or whoever you would like. But for me it’s become more and more important to nurture the human element; improvisations, imperfections, randomness and so on.“
Do you have any other passions or artistic activities outside of music?
Lars: “I used to paint and draw a lot back in the day, and it was nice to pick up the brush again to make the album cover for my album. I remember what I liked about it; to get into a deep almost meditative state of mind, and forget about the outside world. Highly recommended. Other than that I’ve begun to go searching for treasure with my son, using a metal detector. It’s great fun, and specially on my farm where I grew up, where there could be some cool things laying around, both from the terrible battle that was there during WW2 as well as ancient Viking stuff (there are lots of Viking graves in the area, and the only Viking helmet ever found is just a few hundred meters away).“
I thank Lars for the interview and the opportunity to listen to and review his excellent solo album, wishing him all the best for the continuation of his artistic career. I would also like to thank Karisma Records for the opportunity to constantly collaborate with my webzine.
Read our Review of his solo album here: [Review] Lars Fredrik Frøislie – Fire Fortellinger
Purchase the album on Bandcamp: https://larsfredrikfroislie.bandcamp.com/album/fire-fortellinger