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Kim Hiorthøy's Artist Tips

A rare double threat, Kim Hiorthøy is as well known for his music as his graphic-design work. His visual art runs the gamut between zines, films, photography, and graphic design; particularly notable are his memorable record sleeves for Rune Grammofon. Hiorthøy’s music, meanwhile, is a delicate strain of electro-pop that draws from folk and jazz, incorporating elements as disparate as field recordings and hip-hop beats. On My Last Day (Smalltown Supersound), his recently released second full-length, the Oslo, Norway-based producer stretches his sounds all over the map, deconstructing breakbeats with his MPC and rendering them organic and playful. Here, in his own words, is how he puts them altogether.

Bang the Drums
All of my tracks are basically made the same way. I’ve always just used an Akai MPC, which is a sampler/sequencer piece of hardware. I used to use the MPC2000, but about two years ago I started using the MPC4000, and also included a drum machine (Elektron’s MachineDrum) and a small synth, a SidStation, both of which I’d begun using when I started to play live shows. The MPC2000 has 32 MB of memory, and you can assign only a limited number of samples at a time. I used to find that a bit limiting, but now working on the 4000, which has 500-something MB, [I realize] having so many options can be much worse. On the 2000, I had to be much stricter about what I wanted a track to be. On this bigger machine, with so many samples, tracks constantly mutate into other tracks in other styles, and it quickly becomes an incoherent mess.

Sample the Offerings
I usually begin by sampling a lot of stuff, mostly off of old records, but also from my own recordings of various instruments, or someone hitting a chair or something. And then from there it’s just a process of mucking about. The hardest part is towards the end when you have to structure the track and decide what comes first and what comes after in a song. This always takes me a very long time. I like the residue that sounds come with when I sample them. I like to try and make music from as little as possible. I need less than I have now.

Call It a Day
A track is usually done when you decide it’s done; you sort of hear it. I rarely decide beforehand what I’d like something to be, but I did have some ideas about some kind of hip-hop, or a memory of hip-hop, for this record. One of the tracks on the album, “Skuggan,” is a waltz. The next-to-last track, “Hon var Otydlig, Som En Gas,” has only a bass loop coming from the MPC and then the rest of it was played live in a room. I made a lot of tracks that didn’t make it onto the album–and there still might be a couple on there that shouldn’t have.

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