Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. Øygarden, who grew up in an area surrounded by rugged, majestic mountains, best known for its hiking and hiking literature and for its folk music heritage is a rather unusual figure: a Norwegian-born and-based emcee, who rhymes in English. But despite that, he’s made a mark on the global, underground hip-hop scene. Interestingly, the acclaimed Norwegian emcee can trace much of his influences to his older sister’s R&B collection — in particular, The Fugees, Janet Jackson and Raphael Saadiq.
As a teenager Øygarden and his family relocated to Stavanger, where he gravitated to the city’s prominent hip-hop, breakdance, DJ and graffiti scene. Øygarden took all of 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 A-1 Records. And through his love of hip-hop, the Norwegian emcee discovered 70s jazz and soul — and sampling as a way to create his own music and sound.
When Øygarden returned to Oslo, he met his earliest collaborator Fredfades. The duo then 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.
Now, as you may recall the Norwegian emcee’s third full-length Double Goodbyes is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. And the album, which derives its title from a Seinfeld reference, finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden 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.”
So far, I’ve written about the first two singles off the album “Triple Double Love,” and “Phone Won’t Charge,” silky smooth and slick syntheses of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B and J. Dilla-era hip-hop while revealing a wizened, self-awareness with narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — or have led to their lives largely being unfulfilled. Double Goodbye’s third and latest single “Guest List Etiquette” continues a run of shimmering Quiet Storm-like hip-hop. Featuring a soulful hook by Joyce Wrice, the Norwegian emcee tells a story of a romantic meet cute on the bus that turns into a hilarious and surreal tale of the countless people who ask him for guest list spots for his shows. And of course, he can never accommodate all the requests that come his way.
Directed by Ivan Ave himself, the recently released video follows Wrice and Øygarden wandering around Oslo, getting on a bus and heading to the studio to record and rehearse and then head to the show. The entire time, they have all kinds of people hitting them up about guest list spots for their next show — guest list spots they likely don’t have anyway.
“We spent that weekend walking in parks, hiking, working in the studio, and ignoring the outside world. As you can see from the clip, everybody and their actual mother was trying to get on the list for her show,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “And the list only has so many spots. Plus Norway’s best rapper Mest Seff already had his whole entourage on there. So the struggle was real, trying to live a life while coordinating everybody’s wishes. Daniel Yul Kim filmed us during these trying times. I did all the editing, with some help from Jo Vemund Svendsen, and Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, who made my video for ‘Nu Path.’ Hans Jørgen Wærner on the typography as per usual! I want to give a shout out to my ex-manager, who you can see at the end of the video basically dropping me as a client. The following weekend, she hit me up with a request to be put on the guest list for another party. So yeah, shout outs to her.”