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.”
“Triple Double Love,” Double Goodbye‘s first single is a slick and silky smooth synthesis of 80s and 90s synth R&B and J. Dilla-esque hip-hop and a soulful hook paired with the Norwegian emcee’s playful (and fitting) basketball references and dexterous wordplay. Of course, the recently released video is set around a desperate protagonist, who after seeing an ad on his TV goes to a self-help guru to help him with his life — and play basketball better.
“My long time collaborator Mohamed Chakiri and I came up with an idea for a short film, where the main character is struggling with duality. He loves dancing and basketball, but has a hard time keeping the two apart,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “When push comes to shove, he uses dancing as a defence mechanism against the pressures of team sports. The song ‘Triple Double Love’ is all about team spirit, and what that really means, both in love and on the art grind. So placing our man in a basketball-centric narrative was a perfect fit. We shot it last summer with a beautiful crew of Oslo homies. To feel the impact of Kobe’s passing now, seeing what an athlete of that magnitude means to people, made the video even more special to me.”