(From the left: Halvard, Lasse & Tor-Arne)
Sløtface is a Norwegian punk-rock band from Stavanger that started their music career as a band in 2012. Since then they've been touring USA, Australia and Europe. In fact, the day after we did this interview they won their first Spelleman, a famous Norwegian music award.
Saturday night, 24.02 we sat down on a red velvet couch with the boys of Sløtface, in-between two of their concerts and talked musical influences, environmental issues, plans for the future and more. Finding out what life on tour is like, how this all started and what we can expect from the future. Unfortunately, Haley (vocal) could not join us for the interview but we were happy to have a chat with the rest of the band. ´
Feminism is an important aspect of Sløtface and many of their songs are based around this topic. Their name is more of a political/ feministic statement, as they are trying to reclaim the word 'slut' and turning it into something positive. Together they wish to inspire more women to play music, especially in the rock genre, as women are and have for a long time been underrepresented in this genre. The environment is also something they've expressed concern about. For example, in their "Sponge state" music video they are seen among activists protesting against mining waste being dumped in Førdefjorden. Sløtface is definitely a band that doesn't hesitate to speak up for the what matters most to them.
To get to know the boys a bit, we start off easy with a few quick-fire questions.
For people who don't know about your band; name, age, and instrument?
Tor-Arne: I am 23 years old and I play guitar
Halvard: 21 years old, drums
Lasse: 21 years old, bass
Do you have a favorite band or artist at the moment?
Tor-Arne: Without a doubt Big Theif and Car Seat Headrest.
Halvard: Personally, I am usually not that "loyal" to any artists or bands, I may like a few of their tunes and that's it. However, my all-time favorite artists would have to be Bob Dylan and John Mitchell.
Lasse: At the moment I have been loving Mount Kimbie.
Any essentials that you always bring on tour?
Lasse: My computer.
Halvard: Although I've never actually broken a cymbal, I have a tendency to hit them pretty hard so I always have to bring sponges with me to attenuate the sound.
Tor-Arne: Toothpicks or floss.
Favorite spot in Stavanger?
All three: A local bar named Bøker og Børst. [In English: Books and booze]
What inspired you to make music together?
Halvard: It was kind of a coincidence..
Tor-Arne: -I guess it always is. In general, it doesn't happen that you have an assortment of musicians that you can just pick from.
Lasse: It definitely was a coincidence. So, Hayley and I knew each other from band-school. Hayley knew Tor-Arne through another band, and she wanted to play a few songs that she had written with him. Hayley knew me and I knew Halvard. We sat down together, practiced a bit and each one of us liked what we came up with.
Tor-Arne: You could say that our combination of instruments are sometimes a sort of limitation because the music we make automatically turns into rock, as we have an el-guitar, drums, bass and a vocal. But we are constantly trying to do something that feels fresh and new, something to be proud of.
How is the group dynamic?
Lasse: Hayley is definitely the boss and it is very difficult to tell her 'no'. Personally, I think that I'm the person who always make sure to ask the "uncomfortable" questions, as I am very direct. While on the other hand, you have Tor-Arne who always, in my opinion, finds a way to avoid anything uncomfortable.
Tor-Arne: Yeah, I agree. Lasse is always the person who says "this is what we have to do" when everyone else is tired. You could say that he is the only one of us who goes head-on in a difficult situation.
Personally, what I try to do, although I could try to do it more often, is to maintain the balance in the group. If I see someone who is having a really great time at the expense of another person, I try to find a way to discreetly create a confrontation, and create a more comfortable environment for the whole group.
Lasse: Yes, Tor-Arne tries to make the atmosphere more comfortable. But I think that it is Halvard who creates a form of balance in the group, because, without him, the rest of us would just be three fucked-up people. He is the kind of person that can calm down the rest of the group. He himself is always very calm and never have any major outbursts, nor does he ever get really angry.
Halvard: -Or it happens that I get angry. It's just that Tor-Arne notices it, and makes sure to prevent any outbursts haha.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Tor-Arne: I think the biggest challenge is that we live very confined while on tour: always the same four people without any breaks.
Lasse: And doing that when you're supposed to make a lot of difficult decisions is not always easy.
Tor-Arne: Especially when we are four musicians who are all supposed to be equally involved in the decision-making. So I think that must be the hardest part of being in a band.
So, what is the best part of being in a band?
Tor-Arne: You often forget how awesome it really is to have the opportunity to be on tour, making music and performing. The fact that people would want to come and hear us play is almost surreal.
Lasse: -That they put off time and pay money to come see us, that alone is just incredible.
Halvard: Talking to the people who are interested in and like our music is always a lot of fun as well.
Could you briefly describe your process for making a song?
Lasse: It varies a lot. As a band, I think it's good for us that we have a different process for each song. Some songs start out with Tor-Arne having a whole demo ready and Hayley adding the vocals to it afterward. Sometimes we all have a few different ideas and we just create something based on that. Other times Hayley have the lyrics finished and we add the instruments afterwards.
Do you have any major influences?
Lasse: It happens that we think we want a song to sound like this or that.
Tor-Arne: -But in the end, it never actually sounds like what we first had in mind.
Halvard: It is more like our songs might remind of us something once they're finished.
Lasse: I think it would be very interesting to rank all bands by how similar they sound and see which ones are most similar to ours.
Anything that makes you different from other bands?
Halvard: Personally, I don't think so.
Lasse: You really don't think so?
Halvard: Not really. Of course, nothing will sound exactly the same. For instance, Hayleys lyrics are for sure something that makes us more uniqe.
Lasse: Everyone's personality has an impact on the music, when you are four musicians making music together, each writing for their own instrument. In other words, if one were ever to be replaced, it would automatically be a completely different band. But I don't know exactly what to point to or something specific that makes us unique.
Tor-Arne: Something that I think might separate us from a lot of other bands is that we always try to engage with the audience. We try to be energetic and entertaining. In contrast to those bands who try to be more "chill and cool", we try to make something happen and create energy among the crowd as much as on stage.
As all of you are quite politically engaged, we were wondering if there are any specific topics that you are especially passionate about at the moment?
Halvard: To be honest, I'm not fully up to date with the latest environmental issues at the moment...
Lasse: I've become more aware of the environmental impacts of food consumption recently. I'm a big fan of the 'Too good to go' app. I've used it a couple of times and I love the fact that you can buy a package of food, that would've been otherwise thrown away, at a lower cost. It's important to me that people become more aware of how our food waste and production poses critical threats to the environment.
Tor-Arne: When talking about the environment, I think it's especially easy for musicians to be hypocrites. The fact that we travel as much as we do is not good for the environment, but for instance, we do try to eat less meat. Personally, I'm not a vegetarian but both Lasse and Hayley are.
Lasse: We have a lot of friends that are members of Natur og Ungdom "NU" [a Norwegian non-profit organization that works towards a more sustainable future]. I recently talked to one of the leaders of this organization about all the financial support they have received recently and the Nordic Mining issue, and I definatley think this is an interesting issue. Personally, I believe that donating money to NU is a very cool way of protesting.
[NU are protesting against excess mining waste being dumped in Førdefjorden by Nordic Mining. The activists have protested by chaining themselves to the construction machines belonging to the company responsible for the dumping. However, several of them recieved a fine of 10 000kr, because they refused to move when asked to by the police. Many of the activists also refused to pay the fine and it has therefore been a lot of court hearings and debate about this. This is why economical support is curcial, as it is being used as a backbone for NU to be able to continue their battle in court.]
Tor-Arne: And don't forget plastic! We try to minimize our usage but it can be quite difficult while on tour.
Any advice for people who want to form their own band?
Tor-Arne: Honestly, just go for it. That's what's most important really. You shouldn't just do it 60% or 70%. Remember that it's not possible to do everything at the same time, so focus on that one thing alone. I think it's also important to realize that you have to make some sacrifices and to make your dream a priority. If you manage to do that, I don't believe you will ever regret it.
Halvard: It also depends on exactly what you want to do and, what you want it to lead to. Do you want to be able to work as a musician? Do you want to be famous? Determine what your goals are, whether you want to be a musician or a nurse - make it a priority and work determined towards it. That way I believe you'll be able to reach any goal.
Lasse: I also think it's important to find people who has the same goals as you, someone who are as "on board" as you are. Don't just go for your best friend, but rather find someone that are willing to prioritize practice and make some sacrifices.
Any plans for the future?
Lasse: This easter I'm going to Grand Canaria. When we are finished with March, we have already done about 50 concerts just in 2018 - so we are looking forward to have some time off and just relax for a while.
Tor-Arne: For the first time in a long time we find ourselves wondering "what are we going to do now?". We were supposed to do another tour in April but we decided to not do it after all. I believe we are going to start making some new music soon though.
Halvard: But we are also looking forward to preform at many different festivals this summer, and as Tor-Arne mentioned, we hope to start working on some new songs.
Photos by: Nora Marie Vatland and Martine Aamodt Hess