Jan Roger Pettersen, aka Svartsinn, first came to the attention of dark ambient afficionados on the historic Nordic Ambient Alliance compilation Cd.Svartsinn has made his own mark on the genre, forging dense, seething epics of grim misanthropy...
Heathen Harvest: Hello, and thankyou for talking to Heathen Harvest! If “Svart” translates as “Dark” or “Black”, what does “Sinn” mean?
“Svart” means “Black” and “Sinn” means “Mind”. So this word is an older Norwegian word for a very dark state of mind. Not really common to use these days.
HH: How did you get started? Your bio mentions you were given programs by Hærleif of Northaunt. What were these programs and how did they set you on the path to the distinctive sounds you make? Has that changed much? What do you use now?
I got started as you say, Hærleif of Northaunt gave me some lessons in Cool Edit Pro, now called Adobe Audition. The things that have changed is that I have also started using other programs, like Cubase and Reason. Don’t use them that much, but enough to make a notable change in the music I would say.
HH: You've just completed an Eastern European tour...How was it? How do audiences respond to an ambient set compared to a live band? Is there a difference?
The tour was totally amazing, beyond any expectation! Both Latvia and Russia gave us a warm welcome and I must admit I enjoyed it quite a lot. The audience was great, even though quite many couldn’t speak English, they would shake our hands and tell us they enjoyed it. I am not sure, live is live I guess. People who enjoy this music know a bit what to expect and they act just as other people on different types of live shows I presume.
HH: What movies have you contributed music for? How have they used your sounds, and with what type of imagery?
I have let some moviemakers use some of my songs for their movies. There are two documentaries, “America’s Most Haunted Town” and “America’s Most Haunted Inns”. Both by the same people and the same songs in both. Then there was “Jigsaw”, an American horror movie. The same guy also used my music recently in another horror movie called “Gimme Skelter”. No block busters, but still cool for me to a part of..
HH: What do you think of the concept of synaesthesia*? Does your music fall into this category? Is it a feature of your production to produce these responses? Your bio mentions the possibility of transcendental experiences within Svartsinn's sound...Do you inject any mythic references into what you do?
All I can say about this is that 100% of the Svartsinn music is extremely personal, so I just throw myself completely into the music emotionally, psychologically and therefore concept-wise - with all the atmosphere and mystique that goes with it. All in all, this music is mainly made for being my own atmospheric escape, so it sure does work in the ways of synaesthesia for me. It is on the other hand, not necessarily meant to lead or guide others into the exact same path. I like to imagine that it has a very different effect on each individual, it would be my wishful thinking on this theme.
HH: Prospering in darkness...Can you explain this phrase? Do you think it is possible to be empowered by dark, foreboding music? Why/why not?
In my case, dark music has a positive effect on me. It is either very inspirational or a steady shoulder to lean on in my own melancholia. (Or a comfortable shadow to cloak my self in). I think many people are sceptical (or afraid even) oF their own dark sides and the feeling dark music/art/movies etc might give them. They see it as an unwanted side of them and try to keep it at a distance or ignore it. I just think it comes very naturally and it should be embraced and used, dark is absolutely not synonymous with evil. Not much more I can say about it, hope it can make some sense…
HH: You hail from Trondheim, Norway. I have often thought Nordic ambient music has a grim, dismal atmosphere comparable to (some) black metal...Do you agree? Why/Why not?
Well, yes I guess you might be right about that. I think many people that are into dark ambient have a history from black metal, either as a listener or as a musician. Not all of course, but I think quite a few and that is myself included. I think a lot of the feeling, atmosphere and moods of some dark ambient is similar to certain types of black metal.
HH: Do you think you share common influences with other dark, extreme musicians from Scandinavia? From elsewhere?
Umm, yes probably
HH: What music out there moves you at the moment? Do you bring other things besides sonic inspiration to your production, such as the literary?
Well, it might be a kind of cliché, but I am very much into melancholic, sad, depressive music. Be it metal, jazz, dark ambient, neo-classical or rock. The same goes for movies, art and some literature. I do get inspired by the atmospheres/moods that movies, books and art give me. I try to use some of that if I think it suits the concept of what I am doing.
HH: Is Svartsinn just a misanthropic odyssey? Are there other ideas present? What are they?
As I shortly mentioned, Svartsinn is very personal. Not every mood deals with misanthropy, there are other things to be found in the music as well. It could be various mind struggles, depression, philosophical themes, anti social matters, feelings and states of mind that occur from watching the news, being in the middle of some serious problems that happen to close friends/family, the world’s ugliness in general…and so on.
HH: Your 3rd Cd ,Of Darkness and Recreation contains a filmclip to Draped in Shadows...Can we expect to see more audio-visual releases from you in the future?
Well, “Of Darkness And Re-Creation” is my 2nd cd, but ok . (HH: Ooops…!)
There is nothing planned in the visual direction so far, but there will always be a visual side to Svartsinn’s live performances.
HH: Is audio-visual installation work viable or relevant? Should there be more of it?
It fits the dark ambient style quite well I think; I feel it is always nice to have something visual in addition to the nice floating dark soundscapes. Most of the time there is just one guy standing over a laptop or a mixer of some kind, so it elegantly takes the focus away from the guy and moves it to the screen. A good thing for sure
HH: I know I'm eagerly anticipating your next release...Is there one on the way? How will it be different to what's gone before?
Yes I have a 10” MLP coming out on Kaosthetik Konspiration
quite soon, it contains 3 new tracks that are quite different from each other – “Elegies For The End” is the title. Also there is a Cd included with remixes of Svartsinn songs, by some known and unknown artist friends. (Letum
, Gustaf Hildebrand
HH: Would you like to leave us with a final comment?
Thanks for the interest and support! Keep up the good work!
*A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.In this case,I refer to the qualities of some music that evokes strong visual responses,not just auditory ones."