By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Norway trio Orions Belte originally gained popularity for their 2019 cover of Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost,” which showcased their ability to mix elements of world music, rhythmic instrumentation, psych and pop.
They’ve taken 2021 by storm with the recent release of their album ‘Villa Amorini’ via Jansen Records, supported by the single “Lotus.”
The album name was spawned by the same Bergen restaurant owned by band member Chris Holm’s family that became a 90’s hotspot for live music. The band described the new music as “a homage to an era of loud music, club nights, ugly shirts and long afterparties.”
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with guitarist Øyvind Blomstrøm about ‘Villa Amorini’ and more.
Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – Obviously, Oslo closing down for the nth time with no socializing and kids not being able to go to kindergarten and so on. We are very privileged in Norway, so even though all shows are either moved or cancelled, we are still able to get some money from the government. For me, the hardest challenge is mentally, to stay ready and prepared for shows that might not happen. Going to work and making music everyday helps.
Music Bugle – What was it like working on ‘Villa Amorini’?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – Making this album was really cool. We like to be in the same room while recording the basic tracks and this time, we made several of the songs for the album like this, in the studio. I really enjoy this process, but also to leave it for a while and then dive back in to the songs in our respective home studios, adding stuff and sending it back and forth.
Music Bugle – What are some challenging aspects of being a musical trio that people may not know?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – We try to play the songs as they are written and not as shredding guitar solos all the time, so one of the challenges is to leave the melody as it is without adding to much frills and ornaments. I like to look at the guitar as the “voice” of the band instead of the singer. We are also 100 percent depending on each other all the time. If one falls out, it quickly becomes a falling house of cards.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Norway to someone who has never been there before?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – Norway is safe, friendly and beautiful, tons of wild nature where everyone can go freely. We are aiming to have a society where everyone contributes to the greater good.
Music Bugle – What made you want to cover Ghostface Killah’s “Cherchez La Ghost”?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – It’s a great track by an amazingly talented songwriter and artist. We really like the vocals and samples on this song as well, so it was a cool challenge to implement everything in to our sound. We made an EP of three, actually four, cover songs that we called Slim. “Cherchez” was one of these tracks.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – That we don’t limit ourselves to any specific sound or genre. We use the instrumental sound as a platform to do whatever we feel like and to constantly evolve and develop as musicians.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – Let’s see… This changes so much, every week, but lately, I’ve been listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lloyd Green’s early solo albums, Les Filles de Illighadad, Laurie Spiegel, Mamman Sani, ‘Low’ by David Bowie, Merle Haggard & The Strangers, Les Baxter, Rhye and Deantoni Parks.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – I don’t have any. As I mentioned earlier, going to work everyday is key. If I don’t feel motivated one day, I – kind of – put my head down and go to my room and start to record something. Most times, something will come out of it. One quote I really think is good though, is by the French philosopher Brillat-Savarin – “The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves.” This is going to be immensely important in the future.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – We were going on a release tour with our new album, but we have to move all the shows. We have gotten tons of cancelled cocerts, living on a small percentage of our usual income. We don’t live in the same cities, so we can’t really meet up to play in any way. Makes you question if you can make a living playing music. Applying for other jobs, but we’re lucky that we live in a country where you get some funding from the government and you have to change up the way you work. Last year, we did a streaming tour playing outside in the Norwegian wilderness without audiences. Lately, we’ve been sending tracks to each other, trying out new ideas and recorded some very cool stuff for some sessions coming up. Hope to do more fun streaming shows and distance recording sessions while waiting for society to return to normal.
Music Bugle – What’s something that you wish happened more in today’s music industry?
Øyvind Blomstrøm – Focus on artists’ rights and mental health.