As a Bristol-based four-piece with a Scandinavian-style name, Ålesund evoke the soundscapes that seem to inspire them, with the kind of ethereal, spaced-out, scenic type of alt-pop that’s been made famous by the likes of Sigur Ros.
The relative newcomers were making waves when covid hit, touring across Europe and establishing themselves as one to watch in a style of music dominated by soulful melodies and clever delicacy. New singles ‘Lightning’ and forthcoming EP ‘A Thread In The Dark’ are the product, to a degree, of being forced to slow down.
“Lightning is based on that feeling you have before making a big life changing decision, or someone you are close with making that decision and in turn impacting your own life,” vocalist Alba Torriset explains. “It’s about having the courage to take a plunge and trusting in your choices. The video is inspired by a hero of mine, Eadweard Muybridge and his Studies In Motion. His work is essentially the birth of the moving image and I find it beautiful. Using that as inspiration, the rest of the video quickly formed around it. It was a real joy to make.”
“I would like to say the EP is hopeful and uplifting. Even the songs that are slower in tempo are rich in instrumentation and have a warmth about them.”
“I’m lucky in the fact that the band are all amazing producers and engineers so I’ve never had to think about that myself, until Corona hit and I had no way to record or demo up my ideas,” Torriset continues. “The band was amazing though and facetimed me through learning how to use Logic and it’s actually been one of my proudest achievements in lock down!”
“Only having myself at the start of the demoing process meant I layered up my ideas with lots of backing vocals and percussive clapping, wooden spoon banging and anything else I had to hand. It weirdly turned out to be a brilliant experiment that we rolled with. So I’d say it very much informed the making of this EP.”
“I guess our common ground as a band is the cinematic, epic, soundscape vibe, although it’s easy to go down a sonic hole with that and get lost for hours at a time. We normally take my vocal and keys skeleton ideas plus melody, structure and so on, and build it up from there. Lloyd, the guitarist, and I work closely together as he likes to use my vocal melodies to write around, they normally work as a springboard for his own arrangements.”
While Ålesund have made full use of lockdown, and are likely to come out of the experience with a better reputation than when it all started, they’re hoping for a change in how music is viewed, too, as well as an opportunity to finish the tour that was cruelly cut short.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about how we need to place a higher value on the arts, which I think is really positive,” Torriset says. “The UK government has shown such little respect for all the artistic industries, the pandemic has only highlighted that. How can anyone say they haven’t found solace, comfort, enjoyment, happiness, fulfilment, relaxation, joy etc in a film, TV series, song, album or book over this past year. We need the arts now more than ever.”
“I think we’ve always been at our best when playing live and on tour,” she adds, looking forward. “You can really get into your groove when you play a set so often and you can give the music all your attention. It was pretty mad having to turn around mid tour, especially as it was our first European venture. But as the whole world was doing the same you can’t take it personally!”
Ålesund’s latest single ‘Lightning’ is out now.