By Harriet Kaplan
First there was Bjork, then Of Men And Monsters and now Axel Flóvent. The indie/acoustic folk artist also hails Iceland but is from the northern fishing village of Húsavík. Adding elements of pop and electronic music to his sparse and unadorned sound, Flovent’s music has been described as gentle and otherworldly with songs filled with longing and hope that show a poetic lyrical flair. In 2014, he released “Beach” and newest EP “Forest Fires” to critical acclaim, making new several new fans along the way and garnering numerous plays on Hype Machine and Soundcloud. Starting out as a solo artist and eventually working within a band construct/framework, Flóvent is now back recording and writing on his own. Speaking to Black on the Canvas recently, Flóvent talked about how he felt his songwriting and musical arrangements come from a pure, organic place and emotional space. He described while being in a group the emphasis was sometimes placed on following the trends of the day and assuming a cool posture more than on a focus on substance. Flóvent also shared with BOC how he first discovered music and then starting playing and recording on his own and eventually with other musicians.
What was your earliest inspiration to become a singer/songwriter?
Axel Flóvent: When I got my very own first guitar for christmas the year 2004, my uncle taught me few power chords, and soon after that, I started writing.
Do you come from a musical family?
Axel Flóvent: Yes. Almost everyone in my family plays an instrument or/and sings. very musical.
What kind of music do you remember listening to as a child/or teenager growing up?
Axel Flóvent: I loved Eminem for a while then jumped over to The Beatles and then Iron Maiden, from Iron Maiden, I went to pop-punk/Indie-rock. My favorite bands as a teenager were Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie and Band of Horses.
What was the first song you heard that made a lasting impact on you and why?
Axel Flóvent: I don’t really remember, but the two first songs my uncle taught me for the chord lesson were wonderful AC/DC tracks “Back in Black” and “Highway to Hell”. And I hadn’t started to listen to whole lot of music then, so I think they made a lasting impact on me on some levels.
Can you tell me about the bands you were in?
Axel Flóvent: The first band I formed was with my friend when we were 12. I still lived in Denmark. So I wrote few songs while in Denmark, and when I came back home in 2008, we started full on practicing and performing the songs. The band was called “Avocado”, I was so motivated because I was no longer playing alone in my bedroom, I was setting up a recording studio in my bedroom and I was going to record a 12-song album in one weekend time period. It didn’t really work as smoothly as I was hoped because none of the other members were as motivated and into it like I was, but we recorded a bunch of songs which I mixed together. The 12 tracks weren’t mixed well and there were the same drum tracks on few songs because we only recorded drums for about four tracks so I just mixed the drum tracks together to fit to the other songs. Not so long after our band split up, slowly and after that, I was in a lot of little projects with friends always the same people though. There were not many musicians in our town at our age.
My next active band was called “Functional Foundation” and we recorded four songs and put on our Facebook page. The band was very pop punk/Indie rock influenced. We were a band on/off from 2009-2012. but we mostly active 2011-2012.
My last active band was called “For Colourblind People” my friends and I formed after the two of us moved to Akureyri and we released an four-track EP called “Another November” and we were active for a year then we split up because everyone moved to different places.
What kind of experiences being in those bands has shaped you into being a singer/songwriter on your own?
Axel Flóvent: I wrote songs for my “solo project” at the same time as I wrote songs for the bands I was until around the middle of the timeline for “Functional Foundation.” I mostly started making music on my own simply because there wasn’t anyone in my hometown I connected to musically at that time. I got to a point where I really waned to write about something I cared about, while the songs I wrote for the bands were cool sounding and was fun to play, I wanted to go into a different direction. I decided to record everything I wrote on my and bought basic equipment for my home studio and after that I started self releasing EP’s on my Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages.
Was the sound or style of the bands very different than the direction you are going in now musically?
Axel Flóvent: There was always an indie rock and roll vibe before with the other bands. Now that isn’t there with my current project.
If it was, do you feel the choice to change the music was a deliberate one or a natural progression?
Axel Flóvent: I think it was very natural, because I didn’t go from being in a band to solo, since the first songs I wrote for my solo project, it has always had that indie-folk ring to it, that has evolved with time, but at the same time, I was in indie rock bands that was just different projects that I worked on with a different mindset.
How do you feel about your music gaining more followers online and popularity on Hyper Machine?
Axel Flóvent: It’s pretty amazing and overwhelming.
Some of the comments I have read about your sounds have been it’s soft as a baby’s bottom and being around kittens. Is that the kind of impact or effect you would like your music to have on people that it’s comforting and warm?
Axel Flóvent: Yeah definitely, I just write what feels right and sounds comforting to me, and hopefully to others as well.
You seem to have a poetic flair. Are there any poets you read or literature that has been an influence on the songwriting?
Axel Flóvent: I have a tendency to overthink everything and I’ve always spent a lot of time inside my own head coming up with different ideas but I think I just take what I hear and see around me and that influences my songwriting. Poetry isn’t something I have particularly thought much about as a concept, though I really care about writing good lyrics.