Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (https://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
S: Solnedgang (meaning ‘sunset’ in Norwegian) is a one-man band and I (Jon) play mainly guitar, with some keyboards, drum programming and occasional samples. I create immersive, atmospheric and melodic instrumental music in the post-rock/metal realm.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
I’m originally from Norway, but I’ve been based in London since 2009. After playing guitar and creating music just for fun for years, and then gradually playing less and less, at the end of October I bought some new gear (including the first of several new guitars) and very quickly got right back into it. Things have really kicked on from then!
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
S: That’s a very long list, but I should mention bands like Mono, Pelican, Explosions in the Sky – and even Pink Floyd and The Cure. They’re probably the ones that are the easiest to identify in my music at least.
I really enjoy mythology and religion as themes, so I like exploring that. Being from Norway, of course I find Norse mythology particularly fascinating – and I guess black metal is in my blood! My new single ‘Nornir’, and my forthcoming debut album as a whole, is all about Norse mythology. Although, since I create instrumental music, the listener can impose their own meanings onto it and I quite like that.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
S: I told myself before I started putting my music online that if just one person likes it then it’s worth it. I’ve had a quite a few people say they like it now, so I don’t know. Getting played on BBC 6 Music?? No, I don’t have any aspirations really, I just hope that someone out there enjoys the music but I’m really just creating it for myself.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
S: I’ve had some people give me some very nice feedback – in particular a radio station that called ‘Nornir’ a “breathtaking musical experience […] that evoke[s] deep emotions” and I really couldn’t ask for any better feedback than that, it just completely validates what I’m doing and everything I’m trying to achieve in my music.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
S: It’s going alright, but as you said there are so many new artists (some of them great, some not so great) so it’s hard to cut through. I literally didn’t know where to begin, but gradually I’ve found a few outlets and I’ve got some PR help now as well (thanks, Rogue PR!) so that should make it easier. It’s just getting my music heard that’s the focus really, after that people can make their own minds up if they like it or not. My music is quite niche (anything instrumental is niche really), but there are some very dedicated post-rock fans out there so if I can reach some of those then that’s great.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
S: It’s very much a studio project (at least for now), so no plans to play any shows.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
S: I think the concept is fantastic, and I use it myself, I just wish they paid more to the actual artists than themselves… I’m not really an audiophile, so having (nearly) all the music you could possibly want right there in your pocket (and a decent set of headphones of course) is just fantastic.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
S: Good question! I love The Ocean (Collective) and ‘Pelagial’ is my favourite album of theirs, so I’d probably say ‘Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny’ as it’s a great song and it also introduces some musical themes that are repeated throughout the album. They’ve got some amazing riffs, and are masters of atmospheric metal as far as I’m concerned. I love that they put out instrumental versions of all their albums now, and I really like both versions, depending on my mood.
I also have a particular soft spot for ‘A Strange Day’ off The Cure’s ‘Pornography’ album. I’m not sure what it is exactly, I just love that song. Those guitar lines are so simple, yet so evocative and emotional, which is something I aim for when I’m writing music as well. Robert Smith has probably been the biggest influence on my guitar playing.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
S: There’s a lot of people who are just making money off other people’s talents, which is terrible for the smaller bands who are struggling financially. Though with everything being online these days, the need for middlemen, arguably even record labels, is not really there anymore so hopefully that’s changing.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
S: Writing and recording the last bits and pieces for the debut album, which should be out later in the year. I’m planning to release another single in the next couple of months and I’m constantly writing and recording new material, so there should be a fairly steady flow of new stuff coming.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
S: Solnedgang.co.uk has all the links, but solnedgang.bandcamp.com is the best place really, as you can download the music (pay what you want) and any new music is likely to be released there first, as well as some demos. Hopefully I’ll get some merch soon as well!