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    Interview with Hessdalen Light Founder Tanner

    "The Instrumental and Progressive Rock Scene contains some of the most talented and skilled Musicians in the Industry"

    Interview von Anne
    31.07.2023 — Lesezeit: 5 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    Interview with Hessdalen Light Founder Tanner
    Bild/Picture: © Hessdalen Light

    When Tanner Thornton started his music project out of his bedroom in his Dallas, Texas apartment in 2015, he dreamed of the band that is now reality for him. Hessdalen Light has since been joined by Zephaniah Stake (drums) and Antonio Guzman (bass). Their musical journey takes the three of them to places that fire the imagination and make their music grow more and more—far beyond the limits of the plans from Tanner's dreams at the beginning.

    Initially, the guitarist and sound tinkerer studied mechanical engineering and wanted to take the creative freedom that progressive rock music asked him. Only a short time later, he released his first EP—shortly after that came the second one. Because they liked the project so much, Zephaniah and Antonio joined him a few moments later. The rest is history.

    Their album is sitting in the starting box, and the first advanced released song, "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin", is quite promising. The three found it so catchy that they decided to prioritize it as a standalone single for now—time for an interview with Tanner.

    Info: In case you've been wondering: "Hessdalen Lights" or "Lights of Hessdalen" is the name of a phenomenon documented in Hessdalen, Norway in December 1981, which has been observed, filmed and photographed regularly up to the present day. Some people call the lights in the sky UFOs. I recommend you google the term at some point—there are a few interesting stories about it out there!

    Anne: Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time! How are you guys doing these days?

    Tanner: We are doing great! Thanks so much for reaching out about this interview! We are always stoked to talk about all things rock and progressive music!

    Anne: Congrats on your newest song, "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin". I love it! You must be pretty satisfied with your work!

    "We are receiving pretty positive feedback"

    Tanner. Bild/Picture: Hessdalen Light
    Tanner. Picture: Hessdalen Light

    Tanner: Yes, we are incredibly proud of how the single turned out and the largely positive feedback we've received so far. The song has propelled our Spotify numbers from less than 100 monthly listeners to over 700 at one point after our release. We believe this is only the tip of the iceberg as we've started to really hit our groove in songwriting and overall production quality.

    I also have to give a huge shoutout to Hannah Boettinger, the artist who did a custom illustration for the single artwork. Her colorful and chaotic art piece really captures the vibe of the song.

    Anne: You said it's going to be your fourth track on your upcoming album. When are you planning to release it?

    Tanner: That is a really great question and one that we are working to figure out ourselves! The upcoming album is about 70 percent done from a songwriting perspective, and we still need to go into the studio to record all the tracks. That being said, we're aiming to have it out into the world sometime in 2024. There will be a couple more singles out between now and then as well!

    Anne: What made "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin" stand out so you decided to use it as your pre-release for the record?

    Tanner: The song came together quite quickly, actually, and after hearing the initial demo we put together ourselves, we knew it had to be the first song we wanted to release as a single. We were planning to go into the studio to record a different new song and ended up recording "Khajiit" as well. We felt like "Khajiit" captures the vibe and sound we are aiming for on the next album, so we all agreed to release it early as a Single.

    Anne: "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin"—I think I already heard that phrase and I am pretty curios about it's origin! Do you want to share the story behind the name of your song with me and my readers? Btw: Some of them are also gamers.

    "The song is inspired by an NPC line from Skyrim"

    Hessdalen Light – "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin". Artwork: Hannah Boettinger
    Hessdalen Light – "Khajiit Has Wares, If You Have Coin". Artwork: Hannah Boettinger

    Tanner:Ahhh yes, "Khajiit" definitely has the wares if you have the Coin! An NPC line from the Elder Scrolls video game Skyrim inspired the song title. I happened to be doing a play-through of Skyrim for the first time in over a decade, around the time I wrote most of the song, so the title just felt like a natural fit.

    Anne: It sounds quite proggy. So, I guess you are pretty much into meaningful hymns and all these wonderful, inspiring storytelling sounds? Which artists inspire you the most?

    Tanner: Yes, this song is very progressive in nature and a good foreshadowing of many of our newer upcoming songs. Since getting into music, I've always been fascinated with progressive-style song structures where there really aren't any verses or choruses and no parts of the song repeat. This style makes the song feel like a windy and linear adventure for the listener, and I really enjoy the concept. As an instrumental band, the "story" or "meaning" of the song is completely up to the interpretation of the listener, which I also find very cool.

    Some of our greatest influences musically would be CHON, The Fall of Troy, Enemies, TTNG, and Dance Gavin Dance.

    Anne: When you first started Hessdalen Light, your music sounded somehow cleaner, more like the more traditional math rock type of sound. When did you decide to shift toward the prog rock realm? What convinced you to do that?

    Tanner: That's a very keen insight! In the beginning, it was all about guitar tapping, crazy rhythms, and trying to sound as "Mathy" as possible. There's nothing wrong with this, and we are still quite fond of many of those older songs. Over time, though, we started writing and playing whatever we felt at the time, rather than trying to fit into a specific sound, and that naturally led us down the more proggier realm of things. There are elements of Math Rock that show up in our newer music, but I would say we're more generally a Prog Rock band at this point. A lot of that was driven by my infatuation with Dance Gavin Dance and other similar Progressive Post Hardcore artists.

    Anne: Since your music sounds very well either way, and I have the feeling you somehow feel at home in both worlds—prog and math rock—I'm pretty sure you also don't feel very bound to one particular genre. Do you? I mean, I grew up with all these versatile styles of music, and I still think mixing them and listening to all of them is the best choice. Don't you agree with me?

    "Somewhere between jazz and punkrock"

    Antonio. Bild/Picture: Hessdalen Light
    Antonio. Picture: Hessdalen Light

    Tanner: I couldn't agree more! I love the idea of genre-bending and not being pigeonholed into one specific bucket or sound. The whole reason I started this project in my bedroom back in 2015 was because I wanted to just write and play riffs and songs that sounded cool and interesting. For a long time—and even now, to some degree—it was very hard to describe our sound to people because it combines so many elements from so many different corners of the music spectrum. My go-to description is that we sit somewhere in the middle of jazz and punk rock.

    Anne: If there was one thing in the world you could choose to change entirely: What would it be and why?

    Tanner: I understand the business aspect of it all and why it is this way, but I wish I could change the way musicians and artists get compensated for their work. These days, it's almost impossible to make a career out of music, particularly in the instrumental and progressive rock scene. The tough thing is that these scenes also contain some of the most talented and skilled musicians in the industry. I wish success were proportional to talent, skill, and merit, so I would change that if I could.

    Anne: Besides the upcoming releases: What are your plans for the nearer future?

    Tanner: We're always looking to book shows in new places, and we just signed on to play a big local math rock festival in Denton, TX, in October with some awesome bands in the scene!

    Anne: Thanks very much for this inspiring interview!

    Tanner: Thank you so much for speaking with me!

    © 2024 · · Anne Reis