Norwegian alternative indie-rock band, Ideofon, has recently released their highly-anticipated new single, "Bright White Light," off their debut album Finder's Keep, set to release in the fall of 2023. The band collaborates with singer-songwriter Askil Fangel and producer Kevin Skaggs, aka SKAGGSY. It draws upon influences from genre-bending artists such as Radiohead, Bon Iver, Nils Frahm, and Thomas Dybdahl, as well as the serene landscapes of Norway.
Ideofon's music uses ambiance and texture to create lived-in spaces to tell stories about isolation and alienation, with a hopeful sense of warmth connecting it all. The band's songs are recorded, produced, and mixed in various bedrooms and home studios in separate countries, with each element brought to the next level by Grammy-winning engineer Dale Becker. "Bright White Light" is one of the two tracks off the album featuring Bonobo, drummer Jack Baker, and "Fast Love" featuring London singer Rosie James.
Ideofon's new single, "Bright White Light," is an immersive and atmospheric track that captures the emotional weight of a world of energies one can’t simply escape. The song opens with a delicate guitar melody that sets a pensive and introspective mood before Fangel's evocative vocals enter, conveying a sense of detachment and resignation. The instrumentation gradually builds in intensity as the song progresses; with the addition of soaring strings, pulsating basslines, and Baker's dynamic drum with proper the song creating a lush and expansive sound that mirrors the emotional journey of the narrator.
Lyrically, "Bright White Light" is a poignant exploration of the complexities of human relationships and the difficult choices we sometimes have to make to protect ourselves. The chorus, with its haunting refrain of "I can't take it anymore," is a powerful expression of the narrator's inner turmoil and the sense of helplessness that comes with being trapped in a complicated atmosphere. Fangel's lyrics are poetic and introspective yet relatable, and the song's introspective themes are underscored by the instrumentation, which is both intricate and ethereal.
"Bright White Light" is an impressive and emotionally resonant track that showcases Ideofon's ability to blend various genres and create a sound that is both intimate and grandiose. With its lush production, soaring melodies, and ocean-deep lyrics, the song is a testament to the band's talent and ability to craft beautiful and thought-provoking music. It's a promising sign of what's to come from their debut album 'Finder's Keep' and leaves the listener eagerly anticipating what else the band has in store.
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Welcome to BuzzMusic Ideofon! Cheers to the release of your deep anthem, "Bright White Light," which blends rock, folk, and indie with a sweeping orchestra. Can you talk more about the musical inspiration behind this unique combination of genres and how it came to fruition?
Askil Fangel: Thank you! We’re very happy to be chatting with you guys. My process for songwriting usually starts with a central idea, like a chorus melody, a beat, or in this case, a guitar riff — something that inspires and hooks me into expanding that idea into a song. Playing around with that main fingerpicked arpeggio turned into a structure for a chorus, and the rest of the song materialized from there. I never really “intentionally” decide on a genre. It’s more of a process of figuring out what instruments and sounds will help you convey the lyrics and emotion of the song in the best possible way. For this one, the acoustic guitar became so central that we let it drive the song, with the rest of the instruments supporting it. It naturally evolved into this Fleet Foxes-inspired acoustic rock thing, with some bossa nova-esque grooves for good measure.
Kevin Skaggs: Thank you! It’s fun to have this time to talk with you. For my part, I’m kind of a nut about strings, symphony, orchestra, drums, horns, and anything that has that cinematic feel. Most demos I get from Askil are full songs. Some are recorded on an iPhone; others have production elements. So, when this bit at the end of “Bright White Light” came on - it had the feel of a kick-ass guitar stack mixed with a symphony. I imagined 12 to 15 badass guitarists on stage, all playing around a concert hall. Meanwhile, there is a 40-piece orchestra making this “full steam ahead,” Mad Max-style monster come to life, haha! Ideofon’s music easily lends itself to this sort of thing. However, Askil has figured out my patterns and starts collaborative conversations with lines like: “On this one, I don’t want strings.” It’s always a fun vibe; there’s never a bad idea.
The album, Finder's Keep, was recorded, produced, and mixed in various bedrooms and home studios in separate countries. Can you speak to the challenges and benefits of working in this decentralized and remote way and how it influenced the overall sound of the album and the song?
Askil Fangel: It forces you to think differently about everything. Your whole workflow becomes a lot less focused, in a sense. Instead of sitting down in a space like a studio for a session where the only goal is creating and where the limited time you have forced you to work strategically and efficiently, doing things from home lets you approach the work the way you want when you want. That gives you much greater freedom to try out lots of different ideas and shape the songs how you want. With the quality of plug-ins (software versions of orchestras, pianos etc.) that we have today, you can make studio-quality stuff in your pyjamas. It does have some downsides, however. One thing you lose completely is the collaborative moment-to-moment experience of making music with others in a studio, where things happen on the fly, song foundations are recorded live with several people at once, and feedback from other people comes instantly. You’re not going to get the feeling of playing in a room with others, which also comes through in the music. I think it might be a blessing in disguise for this album, though, since a lot of the album centers around physical and mental isolation. Not having a group of live musicians in a studio gave us a lot of freedom in experimenting with different sounds and genre influences — we used a lot more synths, effects, and odd time signatures than we probably would have otherwise, and the arrangements often don’t have much “rock band” instrumentation at all. “Bright White Light” is one of the exceptions.
Kevin Skaggs: Working remotely allowed experiments to have an uninterrupted, free flow. I prefer to be in person versus remotely more often. There’s no substitute for the human experience of creating together. That said, I think it's fair to say that we are comfortable working independently. Each person gets to do their own thing. It helps that through this process of making music remotely, we’ve had a lot of FaceTime calls. We have gotten to know each other remotely and discovered that we have much in common. The more I think about it, the more it becomes strange that it’s been years - yet we haven’t met in person. I think we should change that this year.
The lyrics of "Bright White Light" touch on the pain caused by a loved one's denial or willful ignorance. How do you balance vulnerability and honesty in your songwriting while maintaining a sense of hopefulness and warmth in the music?
Askil Fangel: I think the secret lies in the instrumentation. I always find songs that sound ambiguous far more interesting than those that sound decidedly sad or happy. If a song’s not expressly telling you how to feel, you decide how you want to experience it yourself, and you form a stronger connection with it in the end. So even though a lot of the lyrics on this song and the album in general paint a pretty sad picture, we try to use a lot of driving rhythms and hopeful chord progressions to contrast that. If it was all string quartets and minor chords, I think it would quickly grow stale and clichéd. To me, it’s all about balance — nothing’s ever completely hopeless.
Kevin Skaggs: It’s funny because my experience with the lyrics is slightly different. I’m more on the receiving end than their creation end. I see things slightly less melancholy, although these lyrics have this element. The music is like the universe suggesting a different or more positive path. Does that make sense?
"Bright White Light" deals with themes of isolation and alienation. How have the current global pandemic and lockdowns influenced your creative process and the message behind the song?
Askil Fangel: As we discussed above, being unable to play and create in a room with others has its downsides. I think it’s taught us some valuable lessons on how to make music in the future, though — you can still do the remote thing often. We know well how to do that now - me being in Norway and Kevin in Poland - it’s often the more practical approach. You can go into the studio and capture that live energy for the parts that need it, say the whole band songs or live orchestration. Therefore, I think we can make the most of both approaches and keep making songs where we can effectively experiment with arrangements and songwriting, just like we did for this project.
What are your plans for touring to support your debut album Finder's Keep? Can fans expect to see you live in the near future?
Askil Fangel: Absolutely! We’re based in Tromsø, Northern Norway, and most of our gigs are currently in that part of the country. Nothing’s been set in stone yet, though, and as soon as we’re able, we’ll take a little tour through the rest of Scandinavia and, with persistence and a bit of luck, maybe some gigs in Europe and the US. We’re going to keep working hard to make it happen. Stay tuned!
Kevin Skaggs: I get a thrill seeing the footage from the concerts. I’d love to be in the audience or maybe go on stage and play a piano part or something. It would make for a fun trip to Norway!