Recently, Norwegian artist Niilas self-released his debut album Also This Will Change, a colorful and vibrant album that takes influence from UK-club music. Over the last few years, he's become one of the country's most interesting acts and has been performing at the top clubs and festivals.
The title points towards a focus on the everlasting movements of the universe," he explains, "and is a reminder for all of us, that this year is almost over, and indeed, also this will change. With such an interesting foundation for the album, we caught up with him to learn more about the album for another installment of our Director's Cut series.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Niilas
Generally about the record
This is a piece of music I've worked on during the last two years. Being my first full-length album, it was an interesting and challenging process! As many others might identify with, I've gone through several phases of self-appreciating, creative-existential crises, and learned an incredible amount throughout the whole thing.
I’ve also embraced my Sami ancestry as a part of my creative life through this record, which can be seen graphically, and heard thematically on a couple of the tracks. One of the ways this shines through can be a general ambiance of naturalistic soundscapes throughout the record, and a step away from a more traditional arrangement structure one would have in pop-music or more pragmatic club-music.
Many of the tracks essentially work with and develop the main theme throughout the intro, which at some point takes 1/2/3 switches into a different lane or more intense version of itself. They are fairly long and weird, but I'm all in all really happy with how it turned out. I’ve done everything on this record myself, including cover art, but excluding mastering. The reason the masters sound absolutely amazing is due to Joel at SixBitDeep Mastering in Copenhagen.
The title came from a snowy night in February. This was before covid, and any of us could know what was to come in 2020. Attending a program for composing a piece of music for a 3-piece ensemble (Bit-20 in Bergen, Norway), one of the other composers had used the title “This Too Shall Pass” for his piece. Without delving too deep into the story, the title comes from a Persian myth about a king, who got made a ring with that inscription on it. It was there to remind him in bad times, that it will pass, and good times come around. But he would also learn that this goes both ways, and he would lose it all again. The next day, I woke up with a modified title stuck in my head, and the decision was easy to make.
This serves as a reminder for me personally in an absolutely bonkers year like this, that also this will change. A retreat from materialism and reliance on external happiness, and an introspective focus when all else is unpredictable and tough.
Nothing in this world is static. My relationship to these tracks will change as I release them, and the opinion of people on them will modify over time, as the world changes. I’m also planning to do a B-side album of it, alá “Also This Has Changed” with alternative edits, remixes, and maybe some demos. And as artists know, a project takes on its own life when you hand it over to the public, so who knows what this all could end with?
The opening track “My Heavenly” is essentially an old demo from my previous EP. It didn't fit into a smaller collection of tracks alone though, so I kept in the notorious hard drive with 1 million demos...
As the album would progress and I got an increasingly clear picture of what tracks should be on the record, and a better bird-eye-view of what it was becoming, this track popped up in my mind again. Aha! The perfect intro! Highly energetic with no drums, ecstatic without releasing too much tension, I'm really happy with how this introduces the listener to my album.
Some might notice that every song has smooth transitions into each other. I really like implementing small details like this, which is like finding a secret room in your cabin, and it binds everything well together.
What U Want
The next track “What U Want” has tons and tons of chopped vocals spread around, with a rumbling rhythm that feels a bit like controlled falling down a set of stairs. Creating this track was really fun, and it has a wholesome playful vibe to it which feeds on the emotions created in the previous track. This is also really fun to play out in clubs, everybody starts dancing a bit goofy and picks up a great smile. The interlude between the two rhythmic sections of the song is inspired by walking in a sun-filled summer forest, where life is everywhere, but only if you slow down, breathe, and notice.
«Chaga» was the first single from the album. With lush textures, shuffling drums, and a killer Rhodes melody, it's an invitation for the listener, to a wet atmosphere reminiscent of my hometown Bergen.
The track really illustrates how I've developed during my two-year release hiatus. A shift towards live keys and British grooves, «Chaga» offers an irresistible soundscape placed between a damp subway hall and the vast autumn forests of Norway.
The title «Chaga» being inspired by sapmi naturalistics, points towards challenges of combining aesthetics and traditions of indigenous culture with life and society in a hyper-modern world. «Chaga» is an invitation to my universe, a place somewhere between nature and technology.
The only track with a Norwegian title, which means “The world's most beautiful”. It flows much better in Norwegian hah.
This was a demo that I had laying around for over a year before it cemented properly, and it did so in a slightly dramatic fashion. I had contacted an opera songstress to record some vocals on it. Two weeks before the session, my Macbook died, and i broke my arm, great!
But the laptop survived, and the arm was fine, but suddenly I’m also quarantined. Great...
This happened the week I was going to record, so it was effectively canceled. Fortunately, she had the ability to record it on her own (i think on the internal mic on her MacBook??) and the results are simply stunning. The track became my personal favorite and is one of those songs that you would wish that it was you that had created when you find it for the first time. But I did?
Texture Works I
This was really interesting to create! I had gotten some Rhodes-samples from an up-and-coming producer here in Bergen (Jonas Meurer-Lunde). Putting this in a granular-synth created some truly magical sounds, something that feels like you can't really create. Only something you can hear, it's weird to explain. The textures were simply mesmerizing, and I essentially just threw on a techno kick with some percussion all over the place, with a hard, repeating bass-line. The result ended up somewhere between a fairly hard techno-track with a blanket of textures and melodies from outer space. And yeah, this hits hard on some big speakers.
A Child Under The Table
This is me trying to create a proper old school British dubstep track. And I became really happy with the results. Who knew some Rhodes-chords, deep bass and some dubbed out drums and fx is so damn effective! The title is inspired by the warmth and lovely feeling of childhood. The adults are having a dinner party, talking and drinking wine, but I’m rolling around on the floor under the table, maybe playing with another kid or a dog, pulling people's pant-legs, and munching one some grapes. That fuzzy feeling is how I experience the side-to-side grooviness of this track.
This serves as a refreshing break between in the middle of the album. Especially with the smooth transitions between tracks, the interlude is a small piece of emotional outlet with some field recordings playing under some bells I recorded at the very beginning of the album-process. This can fits right into your reading-playlist, but in the context of the album, serves an important role in changing scenery for the rest of the album. Like a small river or stream in the woods.
Also This Will Change
This is the title track from the album. With elements and inspirations from every corner of my imagination, this song works like a gigantic stew of electronic music, and show the change I’ve gone through since my last release. On a personal level, I’ve become much more serene, motivated, and positive during this time, which I really think shines through on this track.
The main theme is carried by a fluttering synth as lovable as it is undefinable. Rolling percussion and a jumping bass push the track full steam ahead, and once the highly manipulated Sitar enters the stage, there is no turning back. Midway, the track switches rails from the fluttering to a more static and melancholic hard-hitting synth. Refreshing, still reminding of itself, the switch provides a context to the title itself that will keep the song on repeat.
Two tracks that take on a Sami theme. I’ve essentially let myself be inspired by the mountain ranges and plains of northern Norway, in a breakbeat/d’n’b packaging with melancholic synths and off-pist chopped vocals. They are connected through their mountainous themes and some really powerful retro-synth chords. “Mesa” has an approach that corresponds to the length and sheer magnitude of the plains of Norway, taking a while to get up to speed, but unstoppable when there. A switch in the rhythm from half-time to double-time around 3min really pushes this idea, and I’m really happy with how the track sort of loops back into itself by re-contextualizing its own elements throughout the progression of the track.
“Battery” is a musical rendition of the mountains around my family's home in “Senjahopen” on Senja Island outside of Tromsø. A massive release of energy and power, quite like those that must have been needed to create the sharp teeth that crown these fjords. The song, like the mountains, is steep and brutal on the way up, and slippery and deadly on the way down. The end of the song(s) represents the experience of coming back home to grandma after a hike in these areas. Eat supper and fall asleep on the table.
These are also super tracks for running or conditioning-workouts hah.
The ending track for my debut album. It opens with field recordings from an open day at the Grieg-Hall in Bergen with children running around in mayhem, using everything and everyone as a toy. I was really hungover when I passed through here and turned my phone on to record the ambiance, and it probably affected how I ended up using it. The main theme is a serene melody that could play forever, rolling and turning with different sounds and recordings popping up here and there. It all ends with an amalgamation of recordings I've done over the last two years but focused on a campfire me and some of my best friends made out on Notøy Island, one of the most geographically western points of land within Norwegian borders. The recording fades out, like the fire, and it concludes the album in its entirety.