INTERVIEW – How Was 2022 For Norwegian Symphonic Pop Trio DIM GRAY?

1 December 2022

Photo by Emile Vestre

DIM GRAY are three Norwegian musicians coming from different places, both musically and geographically. All three have contrasting backgrounds in genres as diverse as black metal, progressive rock, blues, folk and film music, but in fusing these together they have developed their own distinctive sound.

On their excellent second album, named FIRMAMENT the trio floats in a universe
where the poignancy and starry-eyed melodrama of Sigur Rós and the spiritual
vocality of day-and-night dreamers Fleet Foxes become one.

Turn Up The Volume wanted to know, and you probably too, about these symphonic pop architects. But as usual, we start an interview with a piece of music. Here’s Mare, one
of the highlights of the longplayer.

Hello Tom
Hello Oskar
Hello Håkon

How/when started DIM GRAY start its musical career?

Tom: “We first met in 2012 when we all started to study for our bachelors
degree in music in Olso, and Dim Gray was formed soon after early 2013.”

What’s the story behind the band’s name?

Tom: “We had our first gig and needed a name. We had several suggestions,
and I think all of them had a colour in them. After several suggestions back
and forth between Håkon and me into the wee hours, we ended up with
“Dim Gray.

Now all these years later, I feel we have grown into the
name, and give it even more meaning with our music.”

Which song would you pick to introduce DIM GRAY
to people who never heard of you?

Håkon: “Maybe Mare, Avalon | The Tide and Black Sun is a good start
to get to know Dim Gray and we still enjoy playing them live also.”

Oskar: “I think Avalon | The Tide from Firmament would be a good
starting point. I feel like that song is “quintessentially Dim Gray,” with
important contributions from all three of us, and I also think it’s
one of our best ones yet.”

Tom: “Personally I would pick Mare or Ashes from Firmament.
They are pretty different, but still hold the essence of Dim Gray
in my ears.”

Last September you released your second album called FIRMAMENT.
Is there an overall theme or do the songs stand on their own?

Oskar: “It might be a stretch to call Firmament a concept album, but nevertheless
there are some common themes running through the album. We wanted the album
to feel like a journey, and the sequencing of the songs is very deliberate with
regard to the lyrics.

The idea was that each track should work on its own, whilst painting a greater picture when taken together with the rest of the album. And so while each song might mean something very specific to its respective lyricist, we use recurring imagery in order to
tie up the greater story.”

The album’s artwork is so stylish. Who developed it
and what did you want to express with that image?

Oskar: “Thank you! The artwork and design was done by my brilliant girlfriend Linnea Vestre. She has made the artwork for every release we’ve ever done. Where the cover for Flown was muted and subtle – and that was correct for that album – I felt that it should look more vivid and iconic this time around, to reflect the more direct, colourful, and diverse sound of the album.

I knew I ideally wanted a wave to fit with the album’s watery theme; The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai (note: Japanese painter and printmaker) (as well as the album cover for Keane‘s Under The Iron Sea were on the mood board. The moment I saw Linnea’s first draft I knew that it was right. I think the way that the wave wraps around the physical version is ingenious!”

Were all three of you involved in the making of the longplayer?

Tom: “We were all involved in one way or another. Music and lyrics have
primarily been written by Oskar and Håkon, but we have all had a hand in
arranging and creating the finished result.”

Håkon: “Yes, I think it is good to collaborate in the writing process
to get more ideas and find a fresh perspective. We start writing by
ourselves and then we meet up to figure out the shapes and sounds

CANNONS is one of my favs off the album. What is the song about and
what story did you want to tell with the funny accompanying video?

Håkon: “The song started with the main guitar riff and it took a while to
figure out how to use it, but luckily all the parts fell together in the end. It’s
about the frustration of when you get older, there are so many chores and
the same routines every day.

It made me a little crazy at the time and I waited for something big
that could wake me up. We did a music video and wanted it to be fun
and playful.

We know a magician friend named Mats Svalebjørg and decided
to do a more literal interpretation of the lyric with a cannon.

We are really happy with the results and it was an amazing experience!”

Which big-name artist(s)/band(s) would you love to tour with and why?

Oskar: “Joining Peter Gabriel on his newly announced tour wouldn’t be half bad.
He’s a very important hero of mine and I think it would be a good fit musically.”

Tom: “I think that to tour with Muse or Porcupine Tree would be very cool!”

Håkon: “I think Jack White, PJ Harvey, Wilco or Paul Simon
would have been incredible.”

What movie would you pick to soundtrack your music?

Tom: “Tough question. Either a Studio Ghibli film or
a nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough!”

Håkon: “I daydream that The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings
of Power
series wants to use one of our soundtracks one day!”

Oskar: “It could be anything from somber drama to vivid fantasy
or dark sci-fi. Maybe something like Arrival; although Jóhann Jóhannssons
score for that film is already perfect.”

The best track and album you heard this year?

Håkon: “I like Jack White’s new albums Fear Of The Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive.
Very cool that he released one electric and one acoustic this year. I enjoy the track
A Tip From You To Me.”

Tom: For me, it’s Astroraur‘s album Portals and the track Black Hole Earth.

Oskar: “I recently stumbled across Grizzly Bear singer/guitarist Daniel Rossen’s
new solo album You Belong There, and it probably takes the top spot for me
this year.

It’s an uncompromising album that doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard.
For top track I’m going to go with For You The Night Is Still by Becca Stevens and
Attaca Quartet, from another of my favourite albums from this year.”

THE event – good and bad – of 2022?

Tom: “Regarding Dim Gray, I think it must have been the way we were
received in Stockholm when we supported Marillion on their Weekend there.
A night I will never forget.”

If DIM GRAY would cover a Xmas song, which one would it be?

Oskar:“I would be very surprised if we ever did, but never say never.
I’ve been playing with Big Big Train this year, and one of the songs we did
is a beautiful, melancholic Christmas song titled Snowfalls. It’s one of my
favourite Big Big Train songs and probably my favourite Christmas
song too, so I wouldn’t mind doing that one.”

Håkon: “Very hard to choose! It would have been fun to
do Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues (Feat. Kirsty MacCool).”

Tom: “I’m not sure if it would fit Dim Gray, but one of my all-time
favourite Christmas songs is ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ by Carpenters.

Which song will you play at New Year’s Eve and why?

Håkon: “Auld Lang Syne is a classic and I need to hear this at least once before midnight!”

Oskar: “I might live out my inner synth-pop fantasies with Til/slutt from Amalie Holt Kleive’s excellent debut album, released this year. It’s in Norwegian, but it’s a banger!”

What do you really want to happen in 2023 for DIM GRAY?

Tom: “Would love to go on tour again. We had a blast traveling with
Big Big Train
in September, so hopefully we’ll get to tour again during 2023.”

Oskar: “I want us to achieve the lofty goals we have set in terms of writing,
recording, gigging, and putting ourselves out there in 2023!”

Photo by Emile Vestre

Thank you Tom, Håkon and Oskar for this interview.
May the road rise with Dim Gray next year.


DIM GRAY: Facebook – Instagram

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