Gold Celeste‘s invigorating interpretation of psychedelic pop is enveloping and gorgeous in equal measure. Behind this decadent musical facade stands a Norwegian artistic trio that ooze passion and inspiration. Following the release of their latest album The Glow, bassist and vocalist Simon Halsett spoke to Nouse on their origins and inspirations.
The indie music scene in Norway, according to Simon, is very close knit and “most people know each other or know about each other in one way or the other”. This is no surprise in a nation of just 5 million people. As a result, there is a culture where artists either “pat each others backs unconditionally” or “get some friction going” by (in his own words) “coming forth as assholes”.
“Norway also has a really good cultural support-net through lots of state initiatives and cultural funding so we’re obliged in that regard“, he tells me. But Norway isn’t entirely an artists utopia. There has been a nationwide trend of commissioning “giant disproportional and economically excessive cultural buildings” that totally undermine what Simon sees as the essence of culture. Discussing such creations Simon explains, “they are just prestigious symbols for the mayors to brag about, not contributing to the locals in a good way.”
And the issues don’t end there.”We can’t afford to get good rehearsal spaces,” he continues,” or maintain and invest in the established and historically relevant concert arenas and clubs, but building some giant spend-fest pile of architectural shit somehow tricks people into thinking that the 1% of the state budget going into the cultural department helps enabling and evolving real culture.”
Simon and guitarist Eirik Fidjeland met at an arts college after they bonded over their mutual love of artists such as Motorpsycho, Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Deerhunter, Beach House, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. These artists all played a huge role in the development of Gold Celeste’s sound which Simon describes as “an amalgam of all our favourite bands”. In recent years their music exploits have uncovered “gold veins” of inspiration in the form of “more obscure and rare sounds of old Ethiopian funk, really lo-fi Thai psychedelia, 60’s French pop, dirty old American soul and jazz music”.
Their love of old sounds from the “golden age” of music shows strongly on their work, especially on their latest release The Glow. Releasing music is often an eye opening experience for artist. “Getting your music reviewed and written about is really fucked up in the way it gives you perspective“, he explains. Gold Celeste express a lot of creativity and inspiration in their work, and the band hope for “a coherence in what we wanted to express and how people perceive it“.
The albums title refers to “the glow every human being is carrying“, and Simon’s passion shows as he talks at length about the feeling that inspired that title.
“[It was] a hope for a future where people realize that the paths chosen for us to thrive have been misleading, manipulative, corrupting, hypnotizing, and a deftly elaborated con for the consolidation of power and maintenance of the status quo of injustice and inequality.”
“Out of all the things we have been capable of (going to the moon, building the pyramids, composing “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle”, inventing the self-tanning selfie stick) creating a way of life in harmony with each other and our surroundings shouldn’t have to be a naive and foolish hippie’s far-fetched dream, should it?”
What followed from this bout of inspiration was hours of jamming and tinkering away in the studio where they waited for magic to happen. New songs often arouse, according to Simon, “when something new and unintentional” happened such as “a spontaneous chord change, a change in tempo or time signatures, or a strange sound giving off some weird associations”. Their choice to record everything themselves is also a driving force in their creativity, allowing for endless jamming and rearranging at the bands own pace. “You can isolate a drum-loop and build on it, cut out the bass and jam some synths over it… the endless creative possibilities are really inspiring.”
Fitting with their old-time inspirations, much of Gold Celeste’s visuals have a retro 1960’s aesthetic for a good reason. “If you end up being too contemporary, there’s a chance you’ll jump on to the next thing as soon as it’s short little period has ceased“, Simon elaborates. “We’d rather create something based on all the great music made throughout all time than being part of some fad. You can comment and be inspired by current cultural and social trends without succumbing to them, you know?”
As 2015 draws to a close, Gold Celeste plan to tour Norway before hitting London in December for a few shows. We can also expect, according to Simon, some alternative and extended versions of songs from the album, with release sometime this autumn. “Rest assured, we won’t be lazing around when the leaves fall and the cold comes creeping!“.