Dec 28, 2012 Web Exclusive
For Highasakite vocalist Ingrid Helene Håvik, music has always been a way of life. From an early age, growing up in the Norwegian seaside town of Ålesund, she absorbed the music her mother—a conductor and singer herself—played in the living room of their home. Her earliest musical memories are of listening to choir music and Carpenters records, with her mother encouraging her to sing along.
“My mother really wanted me to sing,” says Håvik. “She was a singer too. She would put a microphone in my hand and say, ‘Come on, sing along.’ And that probably just made it natural for me to go that way. There was never another option.”
After forming in 2011, Highasakite—Håvik on autoharp, zither, and vocals; Trond Bersu on drums; and Øystein Skar on synths—released its debut full-length, All That Floats Will Rain, in Norway last February. They also released a self-titled EP worldwide this past August. Like that of fellow Scandinavian musicians Lykke Li and Niki & The Dove, the band’s sound is an ecstatic mix of pop melodies, exuberant instrumentation (led by Håvik’s harp and zither and Skar’s synths), and the angelic beauty of Håvik’s soaring vocals. But it’s a sound influenced by Håvik’s geographic surroundings as much as her pop upbringing.
“When I was very little, from one to six, I lived in a pretty neighborhood with—I don’t know what it’s called in English, but—houses hanging together, like tree houses,” says Håvik. “In the middle was a sandbox and behind the houses was a forest. It was a really pretty place, with views down to the ocean and a lot of kids the exact same age as me on the street.”
At the time of this interview, Håvik had decamped in Ithaca, New York to write songs. A 2013 worldwide release is planned for All That Floats Will Rain, but the songs Håvik is writing are for what will become the band’s sophomore album, which it plans to record by the end of this year before embarking on tours of Germany, Denmark, and the United States. Two additional members, Marte Maaland Eberson and Kristoffer Lo, initially joined as touring personnel, but will play on the band’s next album. Highasakite’s live show features the five musicians dressed in Native American garb and with painted faces. Håvik says that the motif, more than a being gimmick, reflects a bigger theme for Highasakite.
“I think our music sounds worldly somehow,” she explains. “I saw this movie once, it’s called Indian Summer, and it’s about this guy that is called Torstein. It’s a documentary, and he is very mentally ill, schizophrenic, and he thinks that he’s an Indian. He feels very attached to nature. Some of the lyrics are really inspired by this movie, because it’s so beautiful, and also because I feel like I can relate to it somehow. I grew up pretending to be Indians all the time with feathers and painting. It’s all very beautiful.”