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I’m sitting here listening to the just released Deluxe Edition of Mad Seasons magnificent album Above, and it’s putting me in a sentimental mood.

 

I think I’m gonna get a bit personal. Today is the day two iconic figures from the grunge era died: Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, and Layne Staley from Alice in Chains.

 

I never had much of a connection to Nirvana, I have to admit, but Alice in Chains, that is another matter.

 

I still remember clearly the first time I heard them. I had just received a much awaited package in the mail. It was the box for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, and a set of paint to color the plastic figures that came with it. Taking my first steps into painting miniatures I was listening to Top 40, of all things. The list of the most sold CDs of the past week.

 

Background noise, I suppose. But suddenly the Unplugged version of Angry Chair by Alice in Chains came on.

 

I was mesmerized. I had never heard anything like it. I was 14, and even though I came into the band late, it completely changed my life. Up till that point I had internally battled the music i tended to like, versus the music I thought I should like. Typical for most young people I suppose. But not anymore. From that point on, music was the most important thing in my life. I somehow gathered together enough money, and the day after I went out and bought MTV Unplugged.

 

I listened to it without end. Playing it on repeat over and over. Everything had changed. Music was suddenly my passion. It replaced my desire for drawing, which had somewhat defined me till that point.

 

I saved every coin so I could go out and get a new CD. Every new CD would be listened to till I knew every word from heart. I would pour all my new musical discoveries onto my friends from that point on. Some they liked, some they didn’t, but there is no denying I had turned into a musical fiend, and even with the painfully slow Internet connections we had back then, I would go to a now dead store called CDnow to check out similar artists to bands I liked, and expand my horizon.

 

Alice in Chains didn’t just launch my passion for music. It helped me through a lot of tough times. That band was there for me when I felt I had no one to talk to. They were there when my grandfather died and I went into a spiral that turned me into a self injurer. I was confused and lost, but listening to songs like Love Hate Love made me feel like I had an outlet. And no matter what their songs were really about, I felt I could relate. That helped more than I can express.

 

Alice in Chains and Layne Staleys voice were my first experience with how music can be your best friend, your therapist and your savior.

 

I am not ashamed to admit that I wept, when nine years ago a friend texted me the message «Layne Staley is dead, another dead hero». When someone or something has been helping you through so much, seeing them gone is hard.

 

Knowing how it feels to have music be your friend an ally through the darkest times, there is nothing that brings more joy to my heart than when I hear someone tell me that my music has done the same for them.

 

Music is powerful. It’s creators may disappear, but what they created will always live on.

 

Tonight I will raise my glass to Layne Staley, he helped me out a lot, and God knows where my life would have taken me without the guidance of his voice.

 

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I have this orchestra. It alone probably cost me more than I’ve earned on music so far in my career put together. But you know, if I would like people to pay for my music instead of, well, just downloading it somewhere, then it would be a bit hypocritical of me to just pull that off of some website for free, now wouldn’t it?

 

Well, even though doing music tends to ensure I can’t afford to eat for about a week every month, it feels more necessary. There is food for the body, and then there is food for the soul. I simply happen to find the soul more important. And when my soul is tied down behind a noisy and fairly intangible wall of random thoughts, worries and contemplations, it feels like that is where my focus should be.

 

There actually was a point to this. Oh yes. Orchestra. I think it is safe to assume that things are sounding different. They tend to do that when you exchange free ware synths with very expensive ones. I’ve always wanted string instruments. Cello, double basses, violas and all that. But I never had the funds. So I ended up layering many sounds on top of each other. A creative approach which I definitely think has it’s values. However, now I have things that sound more… grounded in reality.

 

So in between stressing and worrying about work, finances and life in general, I took some time to fix a song I started work on well over a year ago. I used cheaper sounds back then, now I finally got around to add in the real thing.

 

I must listen more. Make sure they are all leveled just right. Some drums need adjusting, or possibly complete removal. Once that is done, I only need to add four more lines of my voice, and it should be done.

 

I’m nervous. I feel so close now. It’s been a scattered mess for a long time, but it feels like every piece is finding its rightful place in the whole.

 

Knowing me I’ll find ways and reasons to delay, but I’ll reach a point where nothing more can be done. I feel confidence in that.

 

Just have to wait for October. Colors, trees, photography. I know what to do, but it might be too much.

 

We’ll see.

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I know I tend to take my time. I have this bad habit of almost completing things, and then halt my work just before I reach the finishing line. Sometimes I wonder why that is, and I think I have a fairly clear view right now.

 

It’s really none of your business.

 

That is. My creations are mine, and greedy as I am, they’re all mine, and so they belong to me. It’s not like I’m making the world a better place. All the negativity I have in me is poured into my music, so in a sense I’m doing you all a favor.

 

Anyways. My creations are dear to me, and close to my heart. And someone once told me I can be painfully honest, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more honest than I am in what I’m doing right now. Down to the point that it worries me a little bit what people might think. Not that I should care what people think, but I don’t like harming innocents, or myself, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve done my fair share of both.

 

The process of writing Ruin has taken much longer than expected. I keep writing new songs. And they tend to make older songs either seem pale, or in need of more work. It is all good though. It makes the whole that much better, but it can be a very taxing process for me. Mentally exhausting. It’s like exorcising demons, and that is never fun until you’re done with it. Considering I’ve been exorcising these very demons for a couple of years now though, I think I’m starting to feel like enough is enough.

 

All I know for sure right now is that I hope autumn will be very colorful, windy and rainy. If those three requirements aren’t met, the release of Ruin might have to wait till hopefully the requirements are met next year.

 

I have a very clear vision of what I want to do, both visually and musically, and I can’t do this any other way.

 

It probably won’t be very pretty, but that is in a good, and necessary way.

I had written many words for today.

I had told my story, and I had edited and reiterated it many times over. This is an important day. It deals with something that affects a lot of us. And I have wanted to share my own experiences.

Reading over it though. I can’t bring myself to publish it. It feels more like something I’ve written for myself as some form of violent therapy, than anything anyone should read. I can’t have people read the long, sad history of my own self injury in such a graphic way. I know what self injury is. I know what it does to you, and I know that reading about it can trigger you. To expose those who might do what I do to my story, is a risk I am not willing to take.

Instead I will settle with this:

I am Øystein Furevik, and 15 years ago I began physically harming myself purposely.

I am now 30 years old, and at times I still do.

I do not do it for attention. I do not do it because I think it is cool, fun, or extreme.

I do it because at those times I see no other way to escape my own mind.

I am fully aware that my scars will stay with me for life.

My only plea, is that if you see anyone out there who hurt themselves, that you show them love and patience. Most of us do not talk of it, and many of us do not even want to talk about it. We are very good at hiding it from the outside world, and revealing our scars to the world might be the hardest thing we ever do. Contrary to what you might believe, we are not seeking attention, even though we might need it.

The only difference between us and you, is that we have exhausted our strength.

Waking

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It’s like waking.

I have urges that need fulfillment and I tend to neglect them for far too long at a time. One of these is the simple act of taking a picture. I would be lying if I said I haven’t been doing this quite a bit for the past months, but it’s been nothing major. Nothing that truly gave me anything. Save for a terribly cold trip outside in October that made me lose all feeling in every limb, it’s all been just about getting used to the camera after a long absence.

I guess I haven’t really dived into it the way I used to. There was a time when I was bursting with ideas, with impulses.

I would pull out the camera almost every day to photograph something. Be it small details from odd angles, or self portraits I could sit down and work with later on to create an expression that would fit my mood. Taking pictures of myself in many ways became an outlet in the same way as writing songs. As I pull from something to create music, so do I pull from something to create pictures.

Usually this isn’t intentional. The colors and shapes I end up with are highly based on intuition, and I only fully realize the intent either at some point during the process, or after it is done. I don’t like plans. I never agreed to or accepted the method of planning art, if what I do qualifies as art. Going to school years ago I was forced to always make dozens of sketches that would have to be delivered in order to get a good grade.

It didn’t matter what the end product looked like. The process was more important.

In my opinion this has always been pure nonsense.

To me a piece of art is an emotion expressed. You can’t plan emotions. You can’t force emotions.

So how can you plan art?

I don’t think you really can. Obviously the process is important, but not because you have planned and reiterated an idea until you’ve sucked all life out of it. The process of creation can be a marvelous thing, but to me, only when I let go and allow it to run free. Only when I put down critical thought until I’ve worked through my idea with the passion only an intense impulse can bring.

I’d rather sit and draw a shape like I did the other day, and then on impulse run and set up my tripod, cover myself in acrylic paint that is so securely glued to my skin that my skin is torn as I try to pull it off. Sometimes I might fail in my ideas now and then, but I feel like this time I  managed to express myself truthfully.

It’s not me in those photos. It’s my insides. Since I never truly understood how to talk about them, images and music will do it for me.

Sound.

It is the eternal struggle and the eternal mystery, and right now it is a struggle. Have you ever known precisely what you want? Where down to the very tiniest detail you knew?

Well, I do. Right now. I know what I want, but it refuses to happen.

Something is wrong with the sound. Where it should be big, hollow, empty and a fair bit intimidating, it just sounds sharp. No matter what I do. I fear heavy rewriting will be needed, but I do not want that. I like the elements in it so far. It’s organic, imposing, almost sexy if I dear say so. It is placed high on my increasingly long list of musical pieces to finish for my next release.

But then there is this sound. This empty hall where instruments are violated in order to produce tonal pleasure.

It keeps escaping me.

My overall perspective on how everything should be presented has changed in recent years. I’ve always distorted things, but it has still remained somehow “pretty”.

Now I can’t distort it enough. It can’t be cold, distant or unpleasant enough. I don’t want perfection, I want the opposite. I want instruments that sound like they’ve died, and now they’re just being tortured.

And it needs to be performed in a big empty hall, with large shadows surrounding you, where you have only half an inch of a flickering candle left to keep you company.

I’ll get there.

What you believe in

Deciding to go vegan is one of the worst things I ever did to myself.

 

Never before in my life did I ever truly, fully see the world for what it was. Its inhabitants for what they are. Nothing has ever weighed heavier on me than this decision has.

 

I care for animals. I think they deserve the life they were born with just as much as we do. For this, I become a sponge. I become a magnet for the hatred and putrid opinions I never knew a man could have. Believe me, you have never experienced ignorance and condemnation until you confess that you are vegan.

 

It is not until you stand up and say «this is wrong!» that you see how cruel people really are. It is not until you’ve been labeled a fanatic by an overwhelming majority that you truly see the nature of humanking. It is not until you’ve had it beaten into you countless times how much they hate people like you, that you understand that empathy comes with a condition. It is not until you watch how carelessly those around you that you love, so willingly accept the pain and cruetly that does not affect themselves, that you truly feel your heart shattering.

 

If you’re not human, you’re not deserving.

If you’re not human, it is okay that you live your life in a cage.

If you’re not human, you have no worth. You do not experience pain as you’re beaten and burnt.

If you’re not human, you do not feel the desperation as your child is ripped away from you.

If you’re not human, you have no rights.

Try to go against this, and you are nothing.

 

Try to spread a message of hope, love and caring for all those around you, no matter what species. And what greets you is hate, malevolent behaviour, and cruel name calling.

 

I wrote earlier about how we here in Norway conquered hate with love. I take that back, because I was wrong.

 

That love is conditional, and true love is never conditional. We are just as hateful as anyone else. And if anyone tries to shake the foundations our morals are constructed from. Our rage becomes dangerously violent.

 

We are humans, and we are pitiful beings.

 

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