You are one of Norway’s top composers of film and TV music, yet we don’t see your name on the credits of productions outside of your country, have you written music for any English or non-Norwegian projects, and do you have an agent in the UK, as your music would certainly be perfect for several of the drama productions that the BBC and other channels are showing at the moment.

The majority of my scores are for Scandinavian productions, but some of them have quite an international reach. “Atlantic Crossing” is sold to more than thirty countries now and is the first non-English series to be bought and aired primetime on PBS Masterpieces in the United States. It is also nominated for an International Emmy for best miniseries now. The feature film “Thale” was selected to the main programme for Toronto film festival and have had a massive global distribution as well. The horror film “Haunted” is distributed on Amazon prime, The Nordic noir crime thriller “Outlier” is sold to thirty countries including Acorn tv in the UK.  “Ice road Rescue”  on Nat Geo/ Disney? have a wide global outreach as well. 

What was your first scoring assignment?

My first scoring assignment was as a student at the Norwegian State Academy, collaborating with the Norwegian Film school.  My first professional assignment was a documentary series for Norway’s biggest broadcaster NRK. A series that turned out to become of Norway’s biggest phenomenon’s since and rocket launched my career into the film and television industry. 

You come from a family background that is musical, can you tell us your earliest recollections of anything musical and was it writing music for film that was always in your mind to do as a career? 

My mother was a brilliant singer. Mostly Jazz but she sang all the classics. I remember us singing together and making improvs from when I was four, five years old.  As soon as I learned to read music at my piano lessons as an eight-year-old, I also started composing my own little pieces. My interest in film scoring gradually grew as I fell in love with the music of John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer in high school, but my focus was mainly to be a contemporary composer of concert music. 

When you were studying music as well as studying composition etc, did you focus upon any one instrument?

In high school I did a music specialisation with classical piano as my main instrument. I mostly used my time playing pop and jazz, but I rehearsed a descent repertoire.  I Was accepted at the State Academy of music in Oslo and then I quit spending time developing my piano skills and focused only on composing music. But I am a piano composer, and the piano is always the starting point of my music. 

So when writing music you work out your ideas by sitting at the piano, do you like many other composers also work these ideas out using more technical means?

I’m a piano composer as I said but I’m very much into music technology and I spend a massive amount of time sketching and finalizing music with sample libraries. 

In 2012 you worked on the fantasy movie Thale, with Geirmund Simonsen.  I loved the score, because of its varied content, was this a collaboration in the true sense as in writing themes etc together or did you contribute your own themes to the score separately.

I began the work on this film alone. Composing the main themes and the Norwegian folk music basic expression, but at the time I gradually worked more and more with my excellent colleague Geirmund who I brought into the project and from a certain point we worked together scene from scene. Him being a multi-instrumentalist gave us a lot of sonic freedom to test out a lot of different approaches and styles as well. 

You scored Haunted in 2017, again a very atmospheric score, do you think that movies within the horror genre require more music, or maybe not as much as others?


Yes, I think they do but there is a reason for it. In contemporary horror film the composer often finds him/herself in the role of being a sound-designer. A lot of what the audience would perceive as classic sound design is done by the composer in this genre.

I love composing in the middle ground of music and sound design. Making emotional triggers and narrative direction with non- harmonic and thematic soundscapes is the new school of film scoring and the best way to make music as immersive as it can get. 

You worked on many TV series in Norway including two recent shows, Atlantic Crossing and Outlier, which you have already mentioned. Were these both episodic series? If so, do you score episodes in the order that they will be shown on TV and does working in TV differ from scoring a feature film?

High end, high budget television drama does not differ much in production value or process to that of feature films. Atlantic crossing was like composing the music to four feature film in seven months. A massive amount of work. Composing frame by frame from A to Z episodes one to eight. There is of course some re-use of material but there are surprisingly few copy paste situation in over eight hours of drama.  In more middle budget to low budget television drama there is a different process. You often find yourself composing a music signature like any other format television job and composing a bank for the editors and production. Then you work synchronised on selected critical scenes sent to you. Feature films are a luxury when it comes to process if you are used to television drama. So much time for perfection and you don’t have to spread your budget over eight hours but focus all on two. Working with feature films is also very exciting as a composer because you get to work on a higher dynamic range when it is made for the cinema and not the television. But all in all, the process of composing music for television dramas and feature films is getting more and more similar. 

 Kjaere Landsmenn 

I was going to ask when scoring a series for TV such as Kjaere Landsmenn for example, do you re-use cues from earlier episodes in later ones, but I think you explained that in your last answer?

In this style of medium budget drama comedy, there is a lot of re-use. I compose a bank of cues linked to narrative lines and characters that the editors and director play around with in the edit.  But it is important to mention that the re-use approach is an important part of the aesthetics and process of this type of series. 

What scoring process do you have or follow, by this I mean do you have a set way in which you work on a movie as in Main titles theme to end theme, or do you record smaller cues first and move to the larger pieces later?

I have a very clear scoring process. It is a creative and concept-oriented method I developed when doing my masters at the State Academy of music.  To make a short differ between three different categories of concept and make a birds perspective road map for the entire series of film. I focus on phases between “strong concepts”, that is the pure musical structural elements. The theme and chords progressions etc. And in some cases, extremely unique soundscapes or sounds. “Neutral concepts”, The instrumentation or the segmentation of sounds I will use to construct the strong concepts. “Weak concepts”, music who’s only function is to establish characters or situations in the social field, time of day and history. I then move from the big picture (Macro spotting) to the details and hyper detailed narrative craft in each scene (Micro spotting). Working in nonlinear manner and gradually connecting the dots of related concepts form a grand form and sound for the score. 

How many times do you prefer to see a feature film project before you start to formulate what music route you will go down, and have you encountered the temp track when seeing a movie for the first time, and do you find this practise helpful or distracting?

I often start working on concepts when the project is only in script form. Many of the directors I work with like to have sketches of my music to play with when editing. Then only to reboot with a proper synchronised process when the edit is locked.  But temp tracks are a normal part of many projects. The problem is not the temp track but the director’s attitude to it when applying it. For some it is about a general feel and editing tempo, pacing etc. But the problematic part is when it is personal. Some directors write on scripts listening to scores they love. This for me is like only writing half a movie. In these situations, it is often difficult for directors to release themselves from the temp track and you could be pushed down a path of avoiding plagiarism but in some means composing a score that have been composed before. Boring and a waste of a composer’s time. 

You have scored several projects that have all been released in 2021, Taxi Maxi, Outlier, Kjaere Landsmenn, Jeanne d’Arc of the North among them, are you involved with the sequencing and also compilation of what music will go onto the soundtrack release, or do you leave this to the record companies? 

I release my music on my own label. So, I do the selection myself. Often making my own soundtrack edits and cuts as I prefer them In, some projects I do not get the right to distribute myself but I often do the selection there as well. 

What would you say are your musical influencers, these can be film music composers or rock stars etc old and new in fact any artists?

John Williams, Hans Zimmer but maybe most of all John Williams and Trent Reznor for having such unique voices that challenge that film music must be a certain style. We are living in the shadow of Hans Zimmer. His success has in many ways defined that modern high end film scores should sound like. The John Williams of our time. But this is problematic because it also brings stagnation and mono aesthetics to a field that could need more diversity and individual voices. I my self am guilty of this far too often. 


You utilise many elements and components within your scores, voice, choir, synths, electronic support as well as conventional instrumentation performed by musicians, do you think that the new style of scoring movies with layers of sound or soundscape is as effective as a grand or melodic sounding symphonic score?

I have worked a lot with the orchestra, both orchestrating and conducting my own scores but I have to say. I find the purist orchestral approach a bit boring. I love blending the traditional orchestral flavour with layers of synths, guitars and you name it I will use it. Modern production techniques give us far better possibilities than before. One can make any conceivable sound or soundscapes and you have so much creative control working with films on your timeline of the digital audio workstation. 

Jeanne D’Arc of the North, is a documentary and has a superb score, which is very grandiose in places, I think it possesses a subtle yet powerful aura, with rich thematic properties. How did you become involved on the movie, and what size orchestra or how many players did you have and who was the female voice on the score? 

Jeanne D’Arc of the North

This score started out as a traditional orchestral score for this documentary of the insane and untold story of Norway’s biggest female war hero who worked with Mi6 agents during WW2 to fake a possible British invasion via Middle Norway to distract the Germans away from Normandy.  The score is performed with a standard size orchestra in Hungary. I often record there. Excellent musicians and a super professional film industry. They are rigged for film scores 24/7 in amazing scoring stages.  The piano is performed by me and there is a lot of orchestral programming blended with the recorded orchestra. The singer is the Norwegian artist and vocalist Anja Hausberg Huse who I have collaborated with over many years. She was my student of composition. Her voice can also be heard in “Atlantic Crossing”, “Tainted” and the upcoming thriller drama “Catch and release”.

A lot of your music is thankfully released on digital platforms, but there seems to be very few compact discs, are your scores available in Norway on disc as in the shops?

I’m from the generation who barely knows what CD´s are and I only release digital. But I do occasionally print some LPs on demand to fans and friends. 

Do you orchestrate all of your own music and do you think orchestration is an extension of the composing process and do you also conduct or do you prefer to supervise and listen to the recording in the sessions?

I do orchestrate my own music, but I could easily see myself hiring an orchestrator. But it is difficult to find the right person to work with.  But I will surely try it if I’m to do a grand orchestral project again. I do conduct sometimes. It is an amazing experience, and it is fun but it does not give you the same critical listening perspective that you get in the studio. I tend to get more involved with the fun of conducing than evaluating good takes. So, I often chose to listen and not conduct. 

Jeanne D’Arc of the North

There is a homage to Morricone in some of your scores, most noticeable in Jeanne D’Arc of the North which I also thought had a slight John Barry style woven into it. Was this something that you set out to do?

I composed the score for this documentary around the time Enno Morricone passed away and I listened a lot to his music.  You can hear the influence in the way I construct themes and uses modal harmonies a lot in this score. Also the way I use the wood winds I very much inspired by this massive inspiration and grand old man of global film scoring. John Barry is also an inspiration of course he is or was a composer with a beautiful sense of thematic writing

Have you given any concerts of your music, if not would this be something that you would like to do?

There have been many performances of my concert music but only a few of my film score suites. It’s not really marked for this in little Norway but I am giving my first live in concert to the film this month! my score the children series “Rabalder” or “Trouble makers” (the international name from the distributor)

Do you perform on any of your scores?

Yes! most. I do most of the piano parts, accordion, and many other instruments. All of the synth and programming as well. 

What would you say is the purpose of music in film?

To give it emotion. There’s is not a single thing you can do in a script, in the acting, photography etc that even comes close to adding emotions to the film/series like music can. Music is the language of emotions. 

What is next for you?

Next up is the Nordic noir crime thriller “Catch and release”, the feature film “Girl trip”, A children’s musical and multiple format television shows.  


Can you tell us about your musical education?

My musical training is fairly classic. From my childhood I played piano and classical guitar. I studied guitars with several soloists including Alexandre Lagoya and Julian Bream. I also received several first prizes unanimously in this instrument but also in harmony, chamber music, counterpoint and followed the teaching of music of the twentieth century of orchestration and Indian music at the CNSM in Paris.  My meeting with young directors pushed me to create my own music.

Was it music for film that you were always focused upon doing for a career?

Artistic creation has always been present with me. But it is true that the work of creation in the image has always been very natural for me … a shot, a camera movement suggests musical ideas to me. I don’t think as a career, but rather what will enrich me artistically. Cinema has this incredible diversity of creation.

One of your latest scoring assignments for film is on the movie Delicious, it’s a beautifully crafted score, did you research into the style of music from the period in which the movie is set, and what size orchestra did you have for the score?

I did indeed do some stylistic research to see how to approach a historical film from this period. What roles did the piano and harpsichord have, how to write the strings. I did not want a large staff to keep a writing of chamber music. I opted for a string sextet with double bass and a few solo instruments including the harp which we found very original for the film. Children’s voices were also a driving force in the writing of this score.

Staying with Delicious, did the director have any specific ideas regarding the music and where it should be placed?

I had great freedom with Eric Besnard. I composed long musical tracks, several themes were born, and I was left the freedom to place the music in the film. We then refined the tempi and orchestrations to exactly match the state of mind of each of the characters in the film.

Were any of your family musical in any way?

My father was a musician, pianist, and my mother is very fond of music.

Le Sens de la Famille, is an entertaining score, is it more difficult to score say a comedy as opposed to a drama or action movie?

The writing is not at all the same when you compose a comedy compared to a historical film. The latter allows important and developed musical ranges while the difficulty of comedy consists in being in perfect harmony with the rhythm of the text and the actors … two different but very interesting composition exercises.

What composers or artists would you say have influenced you in the way that you write?

Many over time have made me evolve. James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith have had a lot of influence on my way of composing, as has Ennio Morricone. I was fascinated by the orchestral sound of Thomas Newman and James Newton Howard. The Beatles always made me create melodies, things I think are the hardest to do.

Do you like to see a movie more than once when you are spotting it, or do you prefer to work on first impressions?

I really like to compose my themes when reading the script in order to let my imagination guide me.

Is orchestration an important part of the composing process, and do you do all your own orchestration work, or is this not possible sometimes?

The orchestra is part of my way of thinking about my original themes. So I orchestrate all of my scores in order to give them the colour that seems most correct and original to me, and not to fall into an orchestral stereotype.

Adieu les Cons, is another recent work of yours, again this is a totally captivating score, how much time are you normally given to work on a score for a movie, maybe use this movie as an example?

My collaboration for the films of Albert Dupontel is captivating because we have a rather long time of research and musical creation. so we can go to the end of our ideas. Some films are composed in two months others in six months, that depends on the evolution of the editing and the post-production. 

There are a handful of your film scores available on digital platforms, when your music is to be released, do you have any input into what music goes onto the release, or is this something that is out of your control?

I have a look at the construction of the soundtrack when the music is are released digitally or physically because some songs are reworked specifically for this output and the stereo mix is different from the cinema mix.

Your music is I think very thematic, which is something of a rarity these days in movie scores, do you think it is important to have themes and motifs within your scores and what is your opinion of the current trend to use noises or sounds rather than actual music with melodies in movies?

Any musical approach is respected. It is true that I am very drawn to the melody. I am fortunate to work with directors who are looking for that. We retain a melody of Ennio Morricone or James Horner. It seems to me a strength for a film, doesn’t it?

Mes Heros is a tender and haunting work, how did you become involved on this project and when you are working out your musical ideas for a film how do you work, with pencil and manuscript, guitar, piano, keyboard or by using more technical elements?

My Heroes is indeed a score of great tenderness. the piano is often the first instrument I use and I orchestrate the themes quite quickly surrounded by computers, because nowadays, getting as close as possible to our final colour is essential. I rarely take the guitar, except for “Adieu les cons” by Albert Dupontel and for Eric Besnard a few times.

Joyeux Noel, had a score by Philippe Rombi, you are credited as additional crew, what was your role on the movie?

On this film, I was just a chorister for the passage of the choirs. The film supervisor asked me, and it was a lot of fun to participate in this recording.

Have you a preference as to where you record your film scores?

I really like recording at the Guillaume Tell studios in France, the place is quite magical. My last scores were recorded in this mythical place. I also really liked the Davout studios where I recorded the film “Au revoir là haut” by Albert Dupontel.

Do you conduct your scores, or do you prefer to supervise in the sessions and ensure that the correct sound is being created?

 I conduct each of my scores because I orchestrate them myself, unlike other composers, and know exactly the result I want to have. My team also knows the sound I want. I have been working with them for over twenty years, and my company HYPARKOS takes care of the musical supervision and executive production of my music (this was the case on “Delicious”)

What is next for you?

Two new films “Adieu Monsieur Haffmann” by Fred Cavayé, a historical film on the war of 1939-1944, and also the next film by Christophe Offesntein “Canailles” will be released soon. At the same time, four films are in post-production and in January 15, 2022 my song album “The girl with the purple smile”, which is the link www.thegirlwiththepurplesmile.com, will be released.