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Hubro: Making Room for Marginalized Music

Jakob Baekgaard By

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AAJ: Do you see it change?

AM: I know there are organizations working to change this and I hope it will happen because of course marginal music is getting even more marginalized. For me, the key thing is diversity. If we don't do anything to help the diversity, it will be impossible to keep on making marginal music.

AAJ: If you could sum up some of the highlights in the history of Hubro, what would they be?

AM: I can start by mentioning this album from Erland Apneseth Trio. They have released two albums on Hubro and I have been a co-producer on both. It has been a real pleasure to have been a part of the process of making those albums and I think the last one, Åra, is a really strong release and also there is this guy living in Bergen, who did the mix, Jørgen Træen. I'm doing several projects with him now, he is a mixing engineer, and also a producer, and he is such an artist. There are amazing things he can do with a recording, so it was a big boost for me personally to stay in the studio and take part of this, so that's an album that means a lot to me personally. I also think it is really exciting music and a mix between folk music and post-rock and more electronic music. It sounds very natural and personal.

For me, it is also about the people behind the music, the artists. They are very important to me and it's not only the music, it's also them, their visions. It's always very exciting to follow them and the artistic leaps they are taking all the time, so it's a privilege for me to witness how they are changing and hear the new ideas they get. Another important musician for me is Christian Wallumrød, who used to be on ECM, and that was also in the same period when I was working with ECM in Norway. When he approached me and asked me if I could release his next album, I was a bit stoked about that. Collaborating with him has been really fantastic and he is really a guy who has a big heart and is also very uncompromising at the same time. I love to work with him. A personal favorite is his ensemble album released a couple of years ago, Kurzsam and Fulger. He never ceases to amaze me, and he has a very strong personal vision all the time.

AAJ: It is interesting that he has been on ECM and now he is on your label. Did you ever discuss what happened with the aesthetic and what that move did to the music?

AM: No, it would have been interesting. Of course, ECM is a bigger name and has better distribution and I really respect that label, but I guess he gets more artistic freedom and I also think that his music has taken a more experimental direction in the years I have been working with him, so maybe that's an answer.

AAJ: With ECM there is sometimes talk about a specific sound, especially with the sound coming from the Rainbow Studio. Do you have an ideal sound, like a dry sound, a live sound or something? Or is it more like everything goes?

AM: I have some ideas, but in the end, everything goes if it sounds good. I believe strongly in being in the same room when recording and of course that can make it more difficult to separate things in the mix, but you get all the benefits of actually being in the same room, playing live in a room together. I believe strongly in that, but it's not like a rule. There are many albums that I have released that have been recorded with overdubs, but I think it is less fun and more work for the artists and the interplay also loses something.

I also believe in the natural sound of the room. I like to find rooms that sound good for some kinds of music at least and it doesn't have to be a studio. I think it is often quite uninspiring for a musician to be inside the dry acoustic of a studio. It can be a good thing to be in a good room without a headset and listen to how it sounds in the room. I don't mind noise. It doesn't have to sound very pure. It's no problem for me if there is some noise, just leave it in.

More practically, it is not often that I'm in the studio so when I'm there I try to give recommendations, so the experience is as pleasant as possible for the musicians. For instance, if you are playing the violin, it's not good to have headphones on you when you are playing because you are used to having the tones of the instrument vibrating inside your skull, also you have the violin to your chin so if you have headphones it's very alienating for how you usually feel when you play. These things are important to remember.

AAJ: A kind of empathy with the musical situation?

AM: Yeah, it should not be frustrating. It should be fun.

AAJ: How many releases do you have a year? Do you have a specific schedule?

AM: No, in fact these last couple of years I had fifteen, sixteen releases a year and I'm doing my best to try to reduce it a bit, but I'm not able to do it.

AAJ: Too much good music?

AM: Too much good music and too many artists I would like to have a relationship working with. There's a queue in a way, but I have to be sure that the queue is not too long because then they get frustrated, but I can't do more than sixteen a year.

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