Currently based in London, Solnedgang is a Norwegian instrument-driven post-rock/post-metal one-man. As Solnedgang plays a brooding and emotive style of post-rock and post-metal with flourishes of black metal, doom metal, and shoegaze, the band’s founder Jon adds up to a whirlwind of heavy instrumental sounds that can be quite uplifting one moment and crushingly bleak the next.

Recently, the project released the EP ‘Valkyrie,’ and we had the pleasure of getting a closer look at its creative process.

Hello! Thanks for sitting down with us to talk about music, inspiration, and more! For starters, when did you get the music bug? Can you recall your first-ever musical experience?

Not really, I just remember music always being around. My parents were always quite into music and would often put something on. I do remember asking for and receiving a Casio keyboard for Christmas when I was around 8-9 years old. Clearly, I already had an interest in creating music at that age. We had an electronic organ at home that my dad would play occasionally, so that must have had something to do with it. I remember playing that around the same time.

When creating a musical project, the name is usually more essential than everything else. Was the name “Solnedgang” already on your mind, or did you have to sift through a number of possibilities before settling on the best one?! Does it have any hidden meaning?

I did go through a few options, but once I realized that there wasn’t already a band called Solnedgang I settled on that. It means ‘sunset’ in Norwegian, and I was sure there must be an obscure black metal band or something that was already called that, haha. I just felt it described my music quite well; a sort of melancholic beauty, which I aspire to create as well.

For a fan-to-be who may not have yet heard a Solnedgang track but is reading this as their introduction into your world, how would you describe your sound and where it’s going?

I describe it as immersive, atmospheric, and melodic instrumental rock. I don’t feel like I belong in a specific genre (which is what all artists say, I know), but my main inspirations are bands usually described as post-rock, post-metal, blackgaze, darkwave, and progressive rock/metal.

When listeners make their way through your band, what do you want them to feel?

Good question. I’m less concerned about what specifically they feel as long as they feel something. Instrumental music, in particular, is very much open to interpretation, but I try to give some guidelines with my song titles, and I’ve put together a track-by-track explanation as well for those who are interested.

Take me through your sound design process. Does the conception come first or do the songs evolve naturally – do you have a clear idea of what it will be before you start to make it?

Usually, the songs will develop and evolve naturally from the starting point, which for me is a riff or a couple of chords. In most cases, I’m guided by the music, but I often try to take a step back and see if anything is missing from the project as a whole – both for individual songs and the EP/album as well. For example, I felt like the Valkyrie EP would benefit from having a slightly faster, heavier song so I had a look through some old ideas and riffs and Draugr came out of that.

“Valkyrie” is the latest EP you’ve released. Can you introduce us to its creative process? What were your influences on this EP?

My first single was Nornir and I wanted to continue exploring Norse mythology, and particularly the afterlife. I was working on an album, but it was taking a bit longer than expected – mainly because I just kept writing new stuff. So I decided to focus on a few tracks and release them as an EP. I really enjoyed having a bit more time to realise my ideas over a few different songs, while having the overarching concept tying everything together. The album is nearly done now, and it will include a couple of tracks from Valkyrie, and the aforementioned Nornir, as well as some new tracks of course. My main musical influences (or at least the most obvious ones) were post-rock, black metal, shoegaze, and progressive metal.

How do you know when a track is ready? Does it ever become difficult to refine ideas or stop perfecting?

It is quite difficult to know, but the way I work is that I will just keep adding stuff until it’s too much and then edit it down – get rid of anything that doesn’t add any value to the song or the story. When I feel that I can’t improve it by adding or removing anything I’ll consider the song done.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

For me, it’s very intuitive when I write new pieces, and if I pick up the guitar and nothing interesting comes out then I’ll just do something else – either work on a different song or just put the guitar down again. In fact, it’s almost always the very first thing I play that will eventually turn into a song. It’s stupidly simple really – very often I’ll just put my fingers somewhere seemingly random and wonder how that will sound. Obviously, there is a LOT of refining after that, but that initial spark of an idea seemingly comes from nothing. After I have that it’s just putting myself in the right mindset, which is usually imagining what the story is and it will develop organically from there.

How do you feel the band has grown in the time since ‘New Jerusalem (demo)’, both personally and musically?

Not much personally to be honest, but I feel like I’ve developed a lot musically in this short period of time. That’s mainly through trial and error really, and constantly trying to improve, especially in a songwriting sense. I hardly ever practice just to improve my technical skills, I always have to have something to create – something to work towards. I’m not very good technically though, so I probably should practice more! Having said that, I try to push myself technically as well, so if there is something I’ve written that I can’t quite play well enough then I’ll keep going over it until I get it right.

I also want to ask you about the bands that have been continuous influences for you, but also about new bands and new records that you think are exciting in the atmospheric instrumental rock scene.

My main long-term inspirations include Mono, The Ocean, Pelican, Isis, Enslaved, Alcest, The Cure, and a Norwegian band called Seigmen (I could go on…). As for new (ish) bands, I’d mention Mountainscape and Guiltless. I’m looking forward to the new album by Dvne as well.

What other creative outputs do you engage in that we may not suspect?

My day job is as a graphic designer, so those are my main creative outputs – music and visuals. As a designer, I’m used to (and need to be) working within constraints, be it budget, a color palette, or a specific product – usually all these and more. As a musician, it’s completely free so I come up with those constraints myself, which is why I tend to work within themes and concepts, such as my current exploration of the afterlife in Norse mythology. The key to both is finding the freedom within those constraints, and that’s where I feel my strengths are.

To wrap it up, what do you hope to do with your art in the future? I mean, do you have any crazy goals?

Not really to be honest. Crazy dreams – sure, but not goals. I just hope it connects with a few people so I can justify releasing music. I mean, I’ll keep creating anyway, but it’s much nicer if there is someone out there who cares!

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