Live from Oslo: an interview with Hysj (NO)


Hysj, a word which in Norwegian literally translates into "hush", for silence, is a positively ironic name of this energetic, bouncy, matching tracksuit-wearing Norwegian power duo. Because live, they’re anything but silent. Oslo-based electro-noise duo Hysj headlined the first-ever Liveurope Festival: Live from Oslo last September on its opening night. Just before they took the stage at Bla, we had a chance to sit with them backstage to talk music, venues, and live tours. 

You’re both Oslo based, but tell us a little bit about your journey to getting to where you are now in your music. What’s your sound like? Where have you been touring?

We’ve both been very involved in music for a long time, in different formations. We’re originally from the west coast, but we’ve lived in Oslo for about ten years now, and played as Hysj for the past three or four, with different experiences with previous bands. We used to be a punk band then we slowly transitioned into electronics and rapping.  I guess we’d describe our sound as maybe dirty electronics and hip-hop, also dirty! 

Well in this formation, we've been performing for the last three years - mostly in Oslo and some festivals in the districts. We've also been to Poland - to Warsaw, for a festival.

Interesting genre you've created. So for you, to pitch your music, would you say that live music and especially your live performances has a bigger importance as opposed to say, pitching your music online to your digital followers?

Oh absolutely, I would say so yes. I think that people mostly know us for our concerts and most of our online followers are from our releases on digital platforms. But we always see it on like, Instagram, if we played a gig where we haven't really reached new people before, you see way more followers. But live music is way better than just promoting through the internet because there is just so much going on.

I see it in myself, like, using my phone, I just kind of jump over everything that I'm not specifically looking for.  I just don’t really look for new music that actively, which is sad, but there is just so much to pick from that I’d prefer to go through those channels that I'd know would have something that I like - Just trusting someone else.

Do you think venues do this, maybe? Do you find music venues to be one of the curators for filtering different genres and bookers are the curators of European upcoming music? 

Yes definitely. In our experiences, I feel that like, in Oslo, the music places have a profile of sorts, so sometimes, our sound might not fit every venue – but we try to reach out to the venues where we feel like we could contribute – like we have a great relationship with Bla. We love playing there.

Well in the formation of Hysj, what are your hopes for international tours? You’re regulars at Bla, and where would you like to push out to next? 

Honestly, it’d be anywhere. Just to be able to spread your music to new people is always so much fun, no matter where you’re performing. Also, being able to see new places is even more amazing. We've had that with our previous bands, but for Hysj, it's definitely the next step for us.

The next frontier - Everywhere! So for two professional musicians of your potential, what do you think that we in Europe need to be able to have an even stronger contemporary music scene?  You, now as Hysj - what kind of opportunities would you want to have a smooth transition to an international level and gain an international audience? 

Well for one, a booking network is absolutely amazing, like what's happening with Liveurope. The first thing that every artist needs no matter what is to be booked at a gig, and then everything else you can figure out what to do. For us personally, we're used to not getting paid much for our gigs, and we tend to pay for things out of our own pockets, which should obviously change we know, but the first thing we need is an actual opportunity to go somewhere. And after that, I guess we can always just borrow a car. But we need to be able to be found for live shows.

And also, we need to enable musicians to be able to make ends meet. Both of us have a music education, and both of us work in something else supplementing our music careers. It's a struggle, but we've been happy. Although musicians need a chance to survive.