I first discovered Noxagt right around the time I was writing on French philosopher Deleuze and music. In my overly ambitious head, I was hell bent on trying to find a practical way to marry heady post-Marxist terms with actual musical phenomena. A one-off gig in Stavanger later, prompted a quirky sound-guy with a name sounding like “Ost”, to hand me 2004’s The Iron Point. He told me it was a pop record.
I listened to it on the airplane ride home. Then I listened to it again. When I got home, I realized it’d been on about 12 times through. Staring at that blue cover with the jagged black cliffs, the music hit me with revelatory power. The earth and seas were aligning. It was the blood and flesh of a host of Deleuzian terms, territorialization, chaosmos, sowing the seeds of a refrain…. I began putting together the moving parts with theory, why bands like Kyuss come out of the desert, why Boston hardcore sounds this way, why Steve Albini and the Chicago industrial sound sounded that way– and finally, why this little band could capture so compactly the dark, cold north.
Noxagt is, and still remains, one of my favorite Norwegian bands. Not only as literary inspiration for the disseration-I’ve-yet-to-complete; I find their sound synonymous with elusivity, retro-masochism and art. To most familiar with Norway’s music scene, Kjetil Brandsdal needs no introduction. Serial vinyl releaser, noise collaborator, screen-printing junkie, the bass-muscle behind a host of bands. We’re honored to have him as this month’s March Cover Issue.
ASL: I recall you telling me you had roots in the UK. Do you travel overseas
KB: I was born in England and lived there until I was 9. I don’t have any roots there though.
I heard this rumor once that you store all your compact discs in perfectly alphabetical order, with the inside disc aligned and facing up. Fact/fiction?
KB: “Rumor”?! Wow… I’m actually not that picky with the CDs. I haven’t had them in alphabetical order for years, but they are aligned and facing up…The records, however, are in alphabetical order with various subdivisions and each artist’s output in chronological order. Side A on each record faces upwards – so that you would naturally put on side A first (there is a logic to this). All inserts etc. are in front of the records. There are a few exceptions to these rules, but not many. I also have specific guidelines for the inner sleeves.
Have you always been able to live comfortably as a musician? What do you do to pay the bills?
KB: I’ve never been able to live comfortably as a musician. Not even close. I’ve always had other jobs. First at a record shop, then working with mentally handicapped people. Now I make a living off screen printing and designing.
Where did the name Noxagt originate from?
KB: My grandfather often used “noksagt” as a derogative term. I liked the meaning of the word and the way it sounded – along with its archaic nature. Many years ago I got a letter from Espen Jensen (Elektrodiesel) where he wrote “liksom” with an x – which I found amusing and came up with Noxagt. Some people have made the instrumental music/nuf sed connection, but that was never intentional.
Many die-hard fans including myself, see Noxagt as one of Norway’s greatest exports. But over the years the band’s movements seem to have dwindled, making flash-mob-like appearances. Has this been due to members changing?
KB: Why, thank you! Part of this is the member changes, but we’ve also been busy with other things. Kids, screen printing etc.
What do you see for Noxagt in future? Are you still connected to Load Records?
KB: We have a new record on its way. I’ll be releasing it on DMR. Should be out in a month or two… We have been going through archive material and will be releasing a series of live tapes – from all 3 ‘eras’. A compilation LP is also in the works. No, we’re not connected to Load
Noxagt has always seemed much more methodical then say, a lot of American noise bands like Lightning Bolt or Pink and Brown. Were bands of the AmRep tradition ever an influence?
KB: I never thought of it like that. I was never into AmRep bands, so I don’t really know what the tradition is. Melvins did some great records on AmRep and have influenced the band in some way I suppose. In terms of bass playing and song structure Man is the Bastard was one of my main influences.
Is black metal important to you?
KB: Not all that much, really. I wasn’t THAT impressed in the early 90s and I’m still not. I have some early Darkthrone and Mayhem records which I quite enjoy. I much prefer Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory etc. Metal these days (black and otherwise) seems to be getting increasingly banal, so I generally avoid it.
ASL: Do you think the music scene in Norway’s grown, diversified, become worse? Is it easy for you to identify with a particular “scene”?
KB: 5-10 years ago I felt I had some idea of what was ‘going on’. Now some band I’ve never heard of has suddenly done 3 albums. Don’t know why this is. As far as I know, the scene has not diversified much. We’ve never really felt part of any scene, although we did feel that doing shows with Skarnspage made sense.
ASL: Is there anything about the music scene in Norway that perpetually bothers you? Do you try to get involved with the festival circuits every year?
KB: The usual stuff I suppose… Fluff getting in the way of good music, but that’s an international issue. I wish bands/artists would make more of an effort – or play in cover bands instead. You can’t have it both ways in my opinion. I generally don’t involved with festivals.
ASL: When did you start Drid Machine? Do you do all the artwork/screen printing
KB: I started screen printing something like 6 years ago, but didn’t call the company Drid Machine until 2011. I do all the printing myself and most of the designs.
You’ve remained a staunch Stavanger-based artist. Why never the pressure to move to Oslo?
KB: Oslo never seemed that interesting and I’ve never had any reason to move
What were some of your greatest memories whilst touring?
KB: A US tour we did in 2007. Everything just worked. A month’s worth of good
shows & fun.
This year you turn 40. Do you feel as if your attitude towards making music’s shifted over time? Any collaborations you’d like to pursue?
KB: Yes, indeed. My attitude towards making music changes all the time, I can’t keep track of how and why though. I have some ideas, but nothing defined at the moment. I plan to do more solo recordings at some point…
Can you recommend three bands/songs/sites we should check out?
HTRK, Mahogany Brain, Staer
Dorothy Carter: Shirt of Lace
Last, but not least, what’s the strangest place you’ve seen wearing the Noxagt panties?
KB: They looked pretty strange on the singer from Oxbow.
Check out his latest movements at Kjetil Brandsdal’s screenprinting/label: http://dridmachine.com/.