Eivind Øygarden is an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. As a Norwegian emcee rhyming in English, who grew up in an area surrounded by rugged, majestic mountains, best known for its hiking literature and folk music heritage than hip-hop — and has made a mark on the global underground hip-hop scene, Øygarden cuts an unusual figure. Interestingly, the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s musical influences can be traced to his older sisters’ R&B record collection — in particular, The Fugees, Janet Jackson and Raphael Saadiq.
As a teenager, his family relocated to Stavanger, where he gravitated to the city’s prominent hip-hop, breakdance, DJ and graffiti scene. All of those early Øygarden took those early influences with him when he relocated to New York for a self-imposed residency, in which he spent time hanging out and collecting records at A-1 Records. Naturally, through his love of hip-hop, Ivan Ave discovered 70s jazz and soul — and sampling as a way to create his own music.
When Øygarden returned to Oslo, he met his earlier collaborator Fredfades. The duo founded Mutual Intentions, a collective of like-minded friends and a label that became a platform that hadn’t previously existed in Oslo — and it led to work with international producers. In 2014, Ivan Ave signed to Berlin-based Jakarta Records, who released his acclaimed debut, 2016’s Helping Hands and his sophomore album, 2017’s Every Eye.
Slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions, Øygarden’s third full-length album Double Goodbyes, which derives its title from Seinfeld finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader sonic palette. The album also marks the first time in Øygarden’s career that he took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.
Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wright and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.”
Additionally, the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness”says Ivan.“But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups & downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (In some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)
“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”
Last month, I wrote about Double Goodbye‘s first single, “Triple Double Love,” a silky smooth and slick synthesis of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B and J. Dilla-era hip-hop and a soulful hook paired with the Norwegian emcee’s dexterous wordplay and playful basketball references. Centered around twinkling and shimmering synth arpeggios, sinuous bass, thumping beats and an effortlessly soulful hook sung by the Norwegian emcee, the song “Phone Won’t Charge,” Double Goodbye‘s second and latest single continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — and interestingly enough, upon repeated listens the album’s first two singles reveal a wizened, self-awareness: we have a narrator, who’s come to recognize that he’s been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made him miserable — or have led to his life being unfulfilled.
“In the last summer months of recording the album, I spent a couple of weeks with a phone that wouldn’t charge properly. I later identified my charger as the problem,” the acclaimed Norwegian rapper explains in press notes. “Anyway, being cut off from the constant stream of information we now call reality, allowed for this song to emerge. Circular themes in my life became more apparent, as they do every now and again, in cyclical patterns. The trick is to notice them, which I probably wouldn’t have if my phone was working all summer.”