Words by Tommy Johnson
During the long stretch of the pandemic many were looking to find a sense of normalcy. Along the countryside of Hasler, Norway, producer Marius Elfstedt found his place of solitude and more importantly solace within a small cottage. Within the friendly confines of a backdrop of wooden log walls with posters hanging imprecisely and couches that were seemingly well sat on, Elfstedt pushed himself to explore more into his own work. This search of inspiration quickly embedded into the exact thing Elfstedt needed.
Written and produced under Elfstedt’s moniker Whose Rules, Hasler is a culmination of years of sonic experimentation and the rumination – both melancholic and hopeful – of adolescence blossoming into adulthood. Imagery of loneliness, love, friendship, and self-doubt permeate atop a bed that features world class production, twisting between whirring electronic synths and steady Americana indie.
Off Shelf: I read that you grow up on a flower farm just on the outskirts of Oslo. What could you recall that experience was like for you?
Marius Elfstedt: I spent a lot of time in the greenhouse with my parents. Growing up surrounded by plants was very nice! It was the best place to play hide and seek and other stuff with my friends. I also started working at an earlier age to get some pocket money.
OS: When you began to discover your passion for music, who or what were some of the artists that you began to lean towards?
ME: The artists I loved when I discovered music were John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Always loved film music and that’s because my parents play trumpet and the clarinet. But after I started to play the guitar I got more into heavier stuff like Slipknot and Periphery.
OS: I look at your moniker as a symbol of rebellion. In terms of going about producing and recording do you channel that theme within your work and others?
ME: Yeah, I’d like to think that I’m breaking the “musical rules” a little bit. I definitely try to blur the lines between genres.
OS: You came across an abandoned cabin and repurposed it to become your recording studio. What was it about the cabin that spoke to you compared to other possible locations?
ME: I chose the cabin because it was close to the house and very cheap rent. It’s in a fantastic location and I can play loud music all night long, which is nice.
OS: At the peak of the pandemic, you were sequestered away within your studio. Being alone and not having the emotionally connection with people surrounding you, how difficult was it for you during that time?
ME: The pandemic was a weird time, but I was living with my family at the time which was great! I’m pretty used to working alone, so I think that I was more mentally prepared than most people. It was nice to dive into the Whose Rules project and use the time to develop the sound.
OS: I feel that when I listen to what you have previously released and now with Hasler, there is a large divide sonically. Do you feel that with the time being alone it allowed you to start experimenting and push yourself into unknown terrain?
ME: The main inspiration sonically came to me after buying the nylon string. It’s a recurring theme throughout the album.
OS: Do you wonder if you would have made the same album as Hasler if everything that transpired occurred?
ME: It’s hard to say, but I’d probably make something similar. I was ready to make more organic and relaxed music anyway
OS: I read that at one point you also dealt with some writers block. What were some of the albums and/or artists that you listened to that helped push through?
ME: I was listening to the new Vildhjarta album Måsstaden Under Vatten. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time! It’s so far from the music that usually work with, which I like.