Culture: Music / Giske
Sound of silence
An isolated recording studio on a small Norwegian island offers inspiration for busy minds.
In Giske you could go days without seeing a soul. “If you look at a map, the next stop from here is Greenland,” says Terje Erstad, who manages Ocean Sound, a recording studio on this small island off the coast of Norway. “In front of us, it’s just the big, wide Atlantic.”
Ocean Sound’s remote location is the very thing that makes it appealing to artists from Oslo and beyond. Originally based on a house- boat, the business started out as a private studio for The Margarets, a rock band whose members grew up on Giske. In 2009 it moved to a larger space: a wooden barn-style building with a roof carpeted in grass on a rocky outcrop by the sea. It also opened its doors to other artists: since then, the likes of A-ha, Arcade Fire, Sigrid and Sampha have hunkered down here to write and record music. “We did something against all odds – and it worked,” says Erstad.
For some foreign visitors, the experience can feel like a fantasy of the wild High North. “When you look at the photos, it looks like the perfect place to be creative and get away from the noise of everyday life,” says Erstad. “We have four bedrooms in the studio and some people rent houses on the island.”
But even Norwegians find Giske unusual. “The islands around us are mostly mountainous, with peaks and fjords,” says Erstad. “But here in Giske, everything is totally flat – like a pancake in the middle of the sea.” Musicians find this setting inspiring. “The sound of the birds and the wildlife also help.”
Why it works:
For an island with a population of 700, Giske is surprisingly well-connected: it’s only a 15-minute drive and ferry away from Ålesund, a coastal town with flight connections to destinations including Oslo and Amsterdam.