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Artist of the Week – Jarle Bernhoft

December 10, 2018 by · No comments


Interview by Dessislava Berndt with the GRAMMY® Award-nominated Norwegian singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Jarle Bernhoft
Proofreading: Polina Georgieva

Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photo: desenze

The first time I discovered Bernhoft was at the Traumzeit festival in Duisburg 2011 and brought him to your attention with the following interviews in our column “Artist of the Week”.

Artist of the Week – Jarle Bernhoft 2015
Artist of the Week – Jarle Bernhoft 2012
Artist of the Week – Jarle Bernhoft 2011

Since then, with curiousity and with great pleasure, we‘ve been following the musical way of this extraordinary musician and a very sensible and intelligent person.


Tonight, he played in the iconic club Gloria in Cologne with his band. We met before the gig and spoke about his current tour and music.

To put a face to the interview Jarle sent some video greetings for our readers here:

Jarle, we‘ve known for seven years now, and we‘ve kept track of your musical development. But how do you see your development as a musician so far?

In terms of music, so far I am very happy. I am still able to do what I like. But the music business is changing in a very fundamental way. Objectively speaking, I think it is harder for an artist like me who is not world stadium touring and selling tons of records.


Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photos: desenze

It is more difficult now because it is a concentration of power and resources to enormous artists like Beyonce and Jay Z. And of course, it helps to have your own streaming providers like they have. Today, everything is much more dependent on social media awareness and being a celebrity.

I am not complaining for myself but as I see it, it is harder for the musician in general to continue existing and doing what they do.


Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photos: desenze

Would you like to be like Beyonce and Jay Z?

No, I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to create good music. It is harder to come across with your music if it is not accompanied by spectacular visuals and you don’t have a social media presence.

It is not that I am worried for myself but it is sad for the music world in general that now as if you have less diversity. There are certain musical elements now, that in just a few years‘time we‘ll look at with the same laughter and irony we look at the guitar solo from the 80s., for example. But back then, if you didn‘t have a guitar solo, it wasn‘t worth listening to your music; we believed we should all have that kind of long hair…

But, I don’t do my music according to fashion trends.



Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photos: desenze

But you have The Fashion Bruises:)

Yes, but we are not dependent on fashion…

Do you mean that your audience changed trough the years?

I certainly can tell that my audience is smaller than 6 years before. 6 years ago I had this YouTube hit and the new solo thing that I did was stuff that not many had done. I am now sick of this multi-layering myself. At the moment, I am very keen to play with other people. So, there are fewer people but the quality is better.

And what about your music and your style of music?

I am more conscious about what I want to say with my music as well as to what genre it belongs. I like to play the electric guitar exploring the different sonic landscapes and exploring what an electric guitar can do. I turn it up so it sounds more rock ‘n roll and there are definitely rock ‘roll elements in the new music.


Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photos: desenze

I still play some old songs but it comes a bit louder. I don’t listen too much to the old recordings. I certainly don’t feel ashamed by that. But what I do now is more organic, more focused on human voice and wood drums.

You said that now you are very keen on working with other musician? Who exactly?

At the moment, with my band. We recorded the album together. We collaborated with few artists but now it feels really good to play together. They want to take part in creating and recording the music. And they put a personal stamp on it. Right now it feels like the perfect place to be – and socially, as well. We are good friends travelling around; it is amazing.

You started in Manchester a big tour through Western Europe and will continue with it in 2019 going to the USA?

Yes, the whole November we are in Europe and then, in December we are going to America. In January, we will play again in Europe.

With this tour we are now more focused on Western and Northern Europe and the United States. But in spring I think we’ll go to Asia and Australia as well.

Bernhoft and The Fashion Bruises, Photo: desenze

And what about Eastern Europe?

To be honest, our album was not released there. I played in Russia and Poland but I‘ve never been to Bulgaria.

How was the audience in these countries?

Great, it was amazing.

You like cats, water as a source of inspiration but also spreading peace, love and understanding in general. Has something changed?

I still love sitting next and listening to running water. But I am now more inspired by world debates. It is hard to exclude yourself from what is going on politically in the frame of mind of Europeans and Americans. It changed dramatically in the last 2-3 years.

You can’t really get away from the challenges caused by politics. It is interesting to see that everything causes effects to the songwriting. There are challenges for the humanity as such.

So, running water is now a bit in the background:)

You are always in touch with the audience during the gigs. How do you plan to interact with them tonight?

I always try to reach out to the audience. It is different when you play solo and when you play with the band.

When playing with the band I need to be the arrow head, to take the energy on stage and focus and spread it to the people. When I play solo I can feel the vibe of the audience better and I am taking it in another way. Solo playing allows more room for certain dynamic.

I love doing both. But now I have a strong focus being a dictator on stage and instead of asking people how they feel I’m commanding them what to feel.

You played several times in Cologne. Do you like some cities more than others?

I like to play anywhere because I like playing in general. Berlin used to be a difficult city for me before, but the last time it was amazing. I felt I was connected to the people in Berlin much better than before. Stuttgart was a very positive surprise, too. Hamburg is great, and Cologne is fantastic every time.

Every place this time was much better than I expected. It might be because of this band energy that connects people.

Jarle, thank you very much for the interview, good luck tonight and see you soon!

Jarle Bernhoft is a Norwegian singer, multi-instrumentalist songwriter and guitarist. Bernhoft co-founded, and performed lead vocals for the rock band Span in 1999. After their split in 2005, Bernhoft became a solo artist. His first studio album, Ceramik City Chronicles, was released in 2008. It reached the Nr. 4 on the Norwegian album charts. In 2010, he released “1: Man 2: Band”, where one half is a recording from his solo show at a jazz café in Oslo (Kampen Bistro), and the other half is a recording from his concerts in Rockefeller and Molde Jazz Festival with a full band.

Since making his solo debut on 2008’s Ceramik City Chronicles, he’s quietly amassed a catalog celebrated by fans and critics alike, spanning full-length offerings Solidarity Breaks [2011] and Islander [2014] as well as EPs Stop/Shutup/Shout It Out [2016] and The Morning Comes [2017]. Highlighted by “Come Around” and “No Us, No Them” [feat. Jill Scott], Islander received a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination in the category of “Best R&B Album.” Along the way, he performed on Ellen and Conan in addition to earning acclaim from NPR, USA Today, and many more.

Joined by The Fashion Bruises, the process for the new album “Humanoid” commenced in old school fashion. Rather than rush into the studio, they spent time in the rehearsal room. They recorded at Oslo Klang in Norway for only two weeks with Bernhoft behind the board in the producer’s chair as his infant son crawled around the space.

The group introduced the album with the first single “Buried Gold” [feat. Raelee Nikole]. Over a funky beat driven by lively guitars, he locks into a hypnotic duet with Raelee. Their voices entwine in an undeniable back-and-forth, speaking to a central theme.

“The song represents what the album is about,” says Bernhoft. “It’s a dialogue between an optimist and a pessimist who are both engaged in fisticuffs daily within me. I’m shifting between disillusionment and re-illusionment, which is the state of things. I remember when the Brexit vote had just come in. Not too long after was the American presidency vote. It’s was if the world was unraveling. I felt torn between wanting to pick up the gloves and fight or just saying, ‘Fuck the world.’ Both of my viewpoints come across. Raelee really shines on it too.”

Elsewhere, handclaps, acoustic energy, and warm reverb bottle a sun-soaked sensibility on the West Coast-inspired “California,” while “Don’t Give Up” offers up a powerful send-off highlighting the expanse of his voice. In many respects, the title track remains the perfect representation of Humanoid. A hummable guitar riff gives way to a lively chorus that’s downright impossible to shake. “It says something about the man-and-machine relationship,” he admits. “I’m not sure whether to be optimistic about it or not. You’ll see people at dinner or in a café staring at their screens and not acknowledging each other. I’m thinking of how we interact, talk to each other, and whether or not we’re enhancing our lives or amputating them with these interfaces we use. I’m trying to find people, but I can’t see them behind their screens.”

In the end, Bernhoft has got the power to make people put down their phones, get up, dance, and maybe even think. “You can dance to this one, but you might have some deeper thoughts,” he leaves off. “All said and done, I’d love to just reintroduce a connection.”

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