When Erlend Øye went to Italy
One half of Kings of Convenience releases an Italian Summer song
Erlend Øye. Apart from his Ray-Ban glasses that he was wearing way before hipsters embraced them, he’s oversized in many ways. He looks taller than he actually is (although, being Scandinavian, he’s taller than most) and his musical output is bigger than you’d expect from the number of albums he’s released in the past fifteen years.
Erlend is by far the most musically active of the two Kings of Convenience, the band that arguably propelled him into fame. I say arguably, because Erlend worked with almost everyone from Bergen-hometown duo Röyksopp to German DJ Phonique and Vietnamese singer Palmy. In fact, Norwegian singer Annie (of Heartbeat fame) reportedly refused to work with him, because everybody else was already…
Besides that he made a solo album Unrest (2003), a DJ Kicks mix (2004) and two albums with electronic-music-with-real-instruments-band Whitest Boy Alive, that made him even more respected and celebrated as a performer. And then he signed young Bergen-talents Kakkmaddafakka on his own Bubbles-label and produced their latest records, Hest and Six Months Is A Long Time. Slowly you start to think he’s becoming the Berlin-based music producer everyone wants to work with… And then, in 2012, he moved to Italy and wrote an Italian Summer song.
It’s not the first time Øye embraces Italy… Kings of Convenience single Misread was a big hit there, and when he worked with Korsakow to release I’ve Been Waiting So Long, he used an Italian version of his name… Orlando Occhio. So when he moved there, it didn’t take him long to discover the goldmine of Italian music of the 60s and 70s, according to an update on Bubbles Facebook page. And the life in the very south of Italy, on Sicily, was inspiring to him as well. For someone from the North of Europe, with its long, mild Winters and cool Summers and the endless rains, the Mediterranean climate must feel like one, long, hot Summer. Heaven.
La Prima Estate is his first song in Italian, which centers around his friend Lucia and her day of graduation,and Summer... Recorded in Berlin, backed by the musicians of The Whitest Boy Alive on bass, drums and synthesizer, Erlend plays the electric guitar and mandolin, while new face Victor Abrahamsson is responsible for the tracks signature flute melodies.
And that’s what it sounds like… La Prima Estate: A cross between The Whitest Boy Alive and something Jens Lekman would create to finish up his latest Summer mix tape. You can hear both the synths that are so addictive in Whitest Boy Alive, as the rich classical instrumentation that has makes Kings of Convenience live performances so much more dynamic.
Conveniently,Kings of Convenience are finishing up some European tour dates in Italy. For Kings of Convenience it would almost feels sacrilegious to suddenly release a new single… King of Convenience release one album every 5 years and to make a Summer single like this, out of the blue, is against all the restraint they exercise when it comes to touring and recording. But as a solo artist, Erlend’s output has never been that restricted. And it’s never been just another song. Erlend’s work has never been generic.
It’s been a few years since Erlend simply hopped from city to city to work with any producer he can.After learning with Kings of Convenience and electronic producers for debut solo album Unrest, then graduating in music performance with The Whitest Boy Alive, it seems, now for the first time, he no longer needs other producers to (co-)produce his songs. Erlend Øye is now finally tall enough to stand on his own and La Prima Estate is the song that proves that.
It doesn’t really matter at this point whether La Prima Estate becomes a hit in Italy (or even in other European countries, real Summer hits can be sung in any language!). It doesn’t really matter whether La Prima Estate is followed by a new album of original material.What matters is that Erlend is a forced to be reckoned with. And whatever he’ll do next, it won’t be generic.
UPDATE: Check out the video here.
Erlend Øye’s “La Prima Estate” is out now via Bubbles Records. Get it on iTunes.