Interview with ROHEY at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands.

The Groningen Report


Bugge Wesseltoft, Jazzland label owner and creative pianist said about ROHEY: “They do have a very fresh and lovely energy and it’s interesting to see how they interpret soul music in the 21st century.”

Jazzlands shop says: “With a wall-to-wall 21st century freshness, light years past any concept of vogue, or any linear genre lines, Norwegian quartet ROHEY deliver music that bristles with energy and honesty, that grooves with the best funk, that has deep soul roots while keeping an eye on the broad expanse of a golden future. Lead vocalist Rohey Taalah brings all the emotional complexity you would expect of a classic jazz or soul singer (and can withstand comparison with any with ease). Ivan Blomqvist’s keys play a dual role of laying down old school sonics, while bringing a retrofuturistic hyper-urban tone (akin to British IDM), while Kristian B. Jacobsen (bass) and Henrik Lødøen (drums) create a jazz-soul-funk hybrid rhythm section that ducks and weaves with supreme artfulness.”

The WinterJazzfest in NYC 2018 describes ROHEY as a powerful range of mixing upcoming new exquisite voices among the established loved sounds.

Wulf Muller wrote about ROHEY in NYC: “ROHEY at Nublu (151 Ave. C) – a packed venue were gathered to see the US debut of one of Europe’s most acclaimed new groups. ROHEY delivered big way! The show was simply impressive: powerful vocals over grooving synth sounds and danceable rythmns got the audience going beginning to end. Not only a very strong US debut, but already one gig to be remembered for a while in the young new year.”

Scandinavian Soul: “ROHEY combines lush neo-soul vibes with jazz arrangements, together with creative, poetic lyrics. From the powerful, broken beat opening, ’Is this all there is?’ exemplifies this bands creative intentions which feels like the love child of Erykah Badu and Hiatus Kaiyote!”

Further: “Sold out gigs, high praise from Jamie Callum, and a five-star review in the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen confirm what we already knew – ROHEY is different, exciting and a band you should know.”

ROHEY played January 19th at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands at the Groningen Forum, a beautiful and well known cinema in town. We started our contact a week before this festival started. Just 2 hours before their concert we met during another concert of the Norwegian band Broen and decided to have our interview in a small Café a few houses further on. There we found a silent place in the restaurant’s second kitchen upstairs, very special!

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Last year I had an amazing interview with Elephant9 from Norway. This year I asked their manager, who is also yours, to bring me in contact with you. But you reacted faster on my interview request. Thank you also very much for making this meeting -almost improvised between delayed flights, flu and tight schedules- possible. You just came from New York, where you played at the Winter Jazzfest at the Nublu. On your flight to Holland you had an unexpected stop for 6 hours at London airport Heathrow and arrived in Groningen just the beginning of this evening, some 4 hours ago. Of course, you have to be exhausted!
Happy New Year! How did you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

ROHEY in an interview with Bernd Ihno Eilts in Groningen, The Netherlands, during ESNS18. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: We were together with either family or friends or loved ones. We didn’t celebrate together, we the ROHEY band.

Ivan Blomqvist: I was ill, so I spent the evening with my girlfriend, we were just chilling.

Henrik Lødøen: I went to a friends house, his girl friend made us a six course dinner, so I was in the luxury, was in heaven, we had champagne, red wine, everything was more than fine.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Dear Rohey, you just arrived today from New York. Years ago, in 2012 you sang Frank Sinatra’s New York New York with the Oslo Symphony Orchestra.

Rohey Taalah: Yes, that’s a long time ago. It was really fun actually, a crazy experience.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How was New York now for you? Was it like in this song?

Rohey Taalah: I’ve been to New York in winter right now, and singing this song had nothing to do with being there. It was quite crazy when we arrived, we arrived the same day as we were going to perform. So, you know, with the jet lag and everything, it was perfectly baked in there. We just had to deliver as much as we could and we had a great time. People were also very happy, we had a meet-up with both fans and other people as well the audience. We really had a great time!

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. From the left: Ivan Blomqvist, Rohey Taalah, Kristian B. Jacobsen, Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Would you like to live in New York?

Henrik Lødøen: We were talking about it. I was planning to go there for studying during my Bachelor jazz program. But that didn’t happen, because it was a huge job to get the money, the visa, the school fee. So I didn’t do it. But I always thought about wanting to live there, for at least one year. Actually when I was there right now, I thought I’m not sure if I can live there for one year but I definitely would like to travel there around and stay for two or three months.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: We have a conservatory here in Groningen with a classical and jazz department. They have a program called ‚New York comes to Groningen‚. Every single week of the school year they have one famous musician from New York to teach. People like David Binney, Matt Wilson, JD Walter, Spike Wilner and Deborah Brown. How was your experience in New York on that festival?

Ivan Blomqvist: We played the same day we arrived. But then we stayed in New York for 4 more days. We went to a concert, a marathon, they had music for 8 hours straight. With Marcus Gilmore, Justin Brown, some really hip cats. That was fun. I went also around to visit the city, to Smalls and Fat Cat and saw some more good music. It was nice!

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How was the energy during your concert there?

Ivan Blomqvist: It was great! It was our first time playing there but still people were warm and welcoming when we played, being far from Europe or Norway. They were really embracing us in a nice way.

Hendrik Lødøen: It didn’t feel very different from being far from Norway. But still it had for me a huge wow-effect. It was really funny, when Rohey welcomed the crowd with: ‚Hello New York!‘ (laughing). She always says this, wherever we are, tonight she will shout: ‚Hello Groningen!‘ ‚Hello New York‘ was like a big wow-effect. We realized: now we are here. That was really a big moment.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Was it like a dream come true to play there?

Ivan Blomqvist: I was there 9 years ago, just as a tourist. During one month I went there to many jazz clubs and visited jam sessions. Obviously it was really nice to be back and to play on a big and fantastic festival. I wouldn’t say it’s my biggest dream to play there, but it’s definitely on the bucket list.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: You are booked for many gigs now, even on big festivals, you are really a world touring group at this moment!

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes, we are trying to stay busy (laughing). We are really fortunate to work with a big booker. Now we have a good music company that takes care of the bookings around Europe. Our record label is Jazzland Recordings Norway. We have another booking company, the Dutch Good Music Company, which does the Scandinavian concerts and which also has great contacts with other big artists like Shai Maestro and Snarky Puppy for example, really big acts. Since we work with them, a lot of great things had happened.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Just recently you have been nominated for the Spellemann (Spellemannprisen), the Norwegian Grammy Awards.

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes, for the best newcomer of the year.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How does this feel for you? How are you doing with this nomination? Do I have to pay for an interview next year?

All Rohey laughing!

Rohey Taalah: No, it’s an honor to be nominated with this award. Also to be around with so many other artists as well is a huge honor. We are just happy to be able to be there, it’s end of february in Oslo, and to just have a great night with many talented and great artists. And just enjoy!

Bernd Ihno Eilts: What will come through that?

Hendrik Lødøen: Gigs! Many more gigs! People will hear us! Now we are very much integrated in the jazz scene, we play at jazz festivals, jazz lovers listen to us. And we definitely want to be part of that crowd for sure. But we want to stretch out towards other audiences as well. I think, the Spellemann means something much greater for us, he will help us a lot!

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This photo shows: Ivan Blomqvist. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How do you understand your music? Of course, it’s jazz, but it’s also soul, it’s R&B, what do you think is your music?

Henrik Lødøen: We understand ourselves as pop band.

Ivan Blomqvist: I do not really like the genre concept, especially today, when people are mixing so much. But if I had to mention a couple of genres, I had to say soul, R&B, jazz and hip-hop. That are our main influences. But all of us listen to so many different kinds of music. Our album is called „A Million Things“ because of all the different things we put into our box, which we call ROHEY. It’s not limited to one expression, we are constantly developing and pushing forward. We recorded our first album quite a while ago now and we’ve been playing a lot live since then. Now we are writing new material and working on our second album. We really developed a lot from that soundwise. We just can’t stay on one spot.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How does your success feel for you? To be booked that much, did it change you as persons?

Rohey Taalah: I think each of us feel still the same. We are the same people who have achieved something as a group and with this type of music. Maybe towards the world, towards the outside we may have changed, but not for us, like we are and feel. But when it comes to our music, we and the music has of course evolved. Having new material will always move us forward.

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Bernd Ihno Eilts: You have this song called „I Found Me“.

I’ve been denying my true self, but now I found me. I’ve been pretending to be someone else, but now I found me. I have peeled all the layers off my being, and now I found me. Now I’m comfortable in my own skin, ‚cause now I’ve found me.”

Rohey Taalah: This song indeed shows, we have found ourselves. Which also means, we are not following other people’s footsteps. Important is to listen to your own self and be happy with choosing the way you want to live your life with. No matter what other people might say or do. It’s just being you and being happy about it.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How is it on tour with you guys?

Henrik Lødøen: We started to work things out, because we have toured a lot already. And we are not used to that much touring. Even not traveling that far. Last year we toured to Lisbon, Hamburg, Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, London which for us is traveling far. We were not used to that before. Now we are starting to get into it. We try to organize things better, because it’s hard to just jump into touring all of Europe and even New York right now. But we also play in Norway a lot. Of course, we are feeling very fortunate and lucky to do all this. For me, I was dreaming for many years about a life like this we have right now.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This photo shows: Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How is the atmosphere between you? You are constantly together then!

Ivan Blomqvist: Overall we are really a tight group and we are a really good machinery. We have different personalities and we compliment each others in a really good way. It’s working really good with us. Obviously, when you spend so much time together and travel in rough circumstances, you get cranky sometimes. Then you have to work things out.

Henrik Lødøen: Our bass player Kristian is not here right now, because he has a really heavy flu. Yesterday when he woke up he felt absolutely bad. Then we went to the airport to catch our flight and he felt just very much down and tired. Then, when we arrived in London we heard our next flight to Amsterdam was cancelled. We had to sit there for six hours and he was very ill. Of course, these are not ideal conditions to be like happy friends together, but we are not Beyoncé, we don’t have limousines and private jets. But overall it’s going really nice with us, we are doing really great.

ROHEY in an interview with Bernd Ihno Eilts in Groningen, The Netherlands, during ESNS18. On this photo: Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: I recently heard from another musician, when they travel that much, they think they are paid for traveling and not for playing.

Ivan Blomqvist: That’s true, we are also professional travelers. But you have to do what you can do to make it as comfortable as possible. Play nice and good music and use the noise canceling and a nice pillow. Nowadays they also have a lot of pianos in the airports, we are really happy about that. When we have long delays I can play a bit in between.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: You all studied in Trondheim at the jazz conservatory and there you also met?

Rohey Taalah: Yes, we went to the same classes the whole three years. There we started as a band playing standard tunes. Then I started to compose and we just switched the other type of material into this music we have now together.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Well, it’s really interesting to see, when it’s going so fast and so good!

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. From the left: Ivan Blomqvist, Kristian B. Jacobsen, Rohey Taalah, Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: Yes (laughing)!

Ivan Blomqvist: We have been playing for 4 years now. But it’s still going fast. We have done a lot of work together and we are really tight, socially and musically. We played together not only in this band but also in a lot of other bands. Rohey and me as a duo, me and Hendrik in a trio, Kristian as well, so we played in a million bands already (laughing).

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Somehow you started a professional life as musicians. Do you remember, when this started? To be 100 percent into it?

Ivan Blomqvist: I always hear these stories, when people say, they were 6 years old and saw bla-bla-bla and just knew it at once! But, you know, I started to play the piano when I was 17 years old. It was pretty late, but I fell in love with it instantly. But it was not like: I want to become a musician. I was just doing it because I was enjoying it. Also, even when I studied, I started to study at a jazz conservatory, which is a professional music college. There I still didn’t think I’m going to be a musician for the rest of my life. I was just doing it, just following my passion. I was not thinking so much ahead. It was just I wanted to study there, because this felt like the best school for me. It’s a great environment there in Trondheim with so many great musicians around, I just wanted to be there.
Actually I applied 5 times to that school before I got accepted. There was only one free spot on the piano every year, I applied five times and the last two years I even moved there, from Sweden, to Trondheim in Norway. There I used to live with people from the conservatory, and of course played with them all days of the week, but still didn’t get into this school. But when I finally get in, I was really happy! I just took it step by step. Now we are freelancing for one and a half year, just playing music. When you finish the conservatory, it’s not like jobs are presenting for you all the time. There’s not a certain future visible. After graduating you have to start your life again. Just now we see, it’s working very well for us. But all the time before it wasn’t clear at all. When I graduated, I didn’t know at all how my future would look like, if I even would be able to live a life as a musician. For sure my wish was not playing in a cover band and stuff like that. I’ve been doing that a lot already when I tried to freelance, but I didn’t get to play any real things that I loved. For me it’s really clear, I want to play the music that I’m passionate about. And still make money. That of course can sometimes become a really hard job.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: What did you learn in Trondheim during your study the most, what you still use nowadays?

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This photo shows: Rohey Taalah. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: The fact that we studied in Trondheim made it possible for us, to incorporate influences from many different genres. And then just put it all together and make it our own sound. That was the most important thing during our education, even though we have the principles of jazz, it’s actually on the underground of principles of music in general. There are many musicians that come out of the jazz conservatory but never play jazz. And still are famous people! If we talk about a singer, we had Emilie Nicolas, she’s not doing jazz right now, she’s more in the pop scene, but she also went to the jazz conservatory in Trondheim. I think, it’s just the principle of attracting positive things from different genres in music and then make it your own sound and going with it.

Henrik Lødøen: Broen is a really good Norwegian pop band as well. That school in Trondheim uses a program, where you just can do whatever you want. In the classes we study jazz, we sing jazz and jazz is a very good basic music. When you have the jazz, when you know the chords of jazz and the rhythmics of jazz, then you know for sure not everything. But the theory basics in jazz are very influencing and useful for whatever genre you want to dive in. For many people it’s just interesting, not to play the standard jazz music. Elephant9 is very much influenced and inspired by the music of Miles Davis, the album Black Beauty, which is very much more jazz than we play, but it’s really rock and roll with jazz and pop influences at the same time.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Ivan Blomqvist: At school they told us how to embrace and digest and learn new music. It’s very much ear based. I studied there for 3 years and I was basically not using sheets at all. Everything is ear based and even me as a pianist and Kristian as a drummer, we sang during the lessons. We sang bass lines and solos, like from Giant Steps and You Must Believe In Spring. Like this we were able to digest all standards and got them in our bones, instead of just learning the theory. This is different to many schools where jazz education is often very theory based, because it’s easy to explain. But if you don’t hear it, your own solo is not gonna sound natural. Then you’ll never know when and how to play it. They really teached us to improvise and to hear melodies and chord changes. That helps a lot. When I compose in this band, even it’s groove based and maybe the melodies are more soul oriented, definitely a lot of the chord changes are really jazz influenced. And it’s not 2-5-1 progression. It’s not like standard in jazz, but it still has a lot of jazz in it. I think, that kind of approach to really listen and be able to hear music has helped me in this band. And all the other bands I’m playing in too. So even we play groove tunes and soul R&B hip hop music, we still have kind of a jazz approach to it. We want to keep it fresh and we don’t want to play it exactly the same way every concert. That keeps it very alive for us with the jazz approach. Then we do not need to noodle around and staring down at the floor (laughing).

Bernd Ihno Eilts: You Ivan are composing most of the music?

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. From the left: Ivan Blomqvist, Rohey Taalah, Kristian B. Jacobsen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: Ivan is composing both the music and the lyrics. And I am just singing and being on stage and trying to convey a message. And using my instrument and trying to make it work as much as possible. But it is mostly Ivan’s music we are playing.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: The lyrics you compose fits into Rohey’s voice?

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes, it has to. I think, Rohey does a really excellent job in making the songs her own. Once I bring them to the band, Rohey starts to sing them and make them come alive, then it’s really not my music anymore. We are really very much a band, where everybody contributes.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Do you understand your band like one big organism?

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes, definitely. And everybody brings something to the table which together makes the sound of this group.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: What are the lyrics about?

Ivan Blomqvist: The first album mixes some news that I have, about society, politics, equal gender stories. And also my personal experiences about love and grief and so on. The lyrics are story based from my life. I find it really important to dive deep into the lyrics and really tell a story that I feel passionate about. And that Rohey and all the members of the band can feel passionate about as well. Because we are playing so many concerts. If we would tour around just singing na-na-na-la-la-la it would still groove and it would still be a cool sound, but it wouldn’t mean anything. I think, it’s really important to take the opportunity and convey an important message. It can even be something uplifting or other different things. But to really also cherish the lyrics.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How do you create the beautiful melodies in your songs?

Ivan Blomqvist: The melodies always come from the harmonies underneath it. I like to sing when I compose because there I am free from theory and can just be in the music. In Trondheim I spent a lot of my practice time singing baselines and improvising over standards. This is a big part of their pedagogic method to be able to “hear” what you play.

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Bernd Ihno Eilts: What would you change in this world, if you could?

Ivan Blomqvist: One of our songs talks about responsibilities, it’s about us and not taking care of our environment. Because our planet becomes a big trash container. Definitely I would change that and make people think more about this. This is what we are trying to do with our songs, our music, our lyrics. Another song ‚Can’t get this‘ is more like a fun angle about how it can be when you are a female out on a dance-floor in today’s society. It’s not always that you are treated respectful, like you deserve. It’s about taking care of each other more. Especially with women, men can be quite cruel sometimes. I have seen it myself. That song talks about that.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: There is still racism in this world, slavery exist, many people leave their homes because of wars or other tragedies. Even they find more peaceful places they have to deal with new problems, racism and so on. You mirror this also in your music? What in general would you say is the message of your music?

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This picture shows: Rohey Taalah. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Ivan Blomqvist: We are trying to empower people and talk about important things, but not to make it in a too negative way. Because I am a positive person and I think, even things are hard and bad, we can still make them better. I want people to be positive about the future. That’s an important message.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: So you give a little bit of light to everyone?

Ivan Blomqvist: Yes!

Bernd Ihno Eilts: How do you feel during a concert, during your own performance?

Rohey Taalah: We try to embrace the energy both from the audience, but also from the people we play with. For me it’s very important, even though I have the role to offer the message, standing there using an instrument to get it out, I still also wish to have fun. Inside the jazz concept you also try to use your ears, checking what’s happening. When it’s a solo, you can react regardless if you are playing or not. When I am not singing, I still can react to the music by moving my body. I really love to dance! It is just a way of interacting with each other, even though it’s for long parts in music and even when there’s silence. It is a gap between us as musicians and the audience, but we are trying to fill that gap. So that it will be a constant flow of energy.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: So you also feel somehow connected with the audience?

Rohey Taalah: Of course, we always are. If you don’t feel that connection, then we could be just in our practice room for ourselves. Then I could just stand there with my head down, not look at the people. But when you can look at a person, you have the lights and you are able to see some peoples eyes, see their reaction, you can react according to what they do. It just makes it better. It doesn’t mean to connect with the same feeling. What we are trying to do is just to activate some type of feeling. So when you sing your song a person even can be mad, because they all have a different reference from their lives. It’s just a kind of awaken some type of emotion.

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Bernd Ihno Eilts: What do you like the most about each others in the band? And what do you maybe not like so much about each other, if you want to say this? (We all laugh)!!

Hendrik Lødøen: To talk about Rohey, I definitely love her stage presence. She has a fantastic connection with both the audience and herself and the music. Everyone tells us this after a concert. They say: your singer is amazing, how she eats music. Everybody is totally gone! I love Ivan’s composing. Not so many years ago he started using the synthesizer. He’s just learning all the language of the very advanced Prophet synthesizer, and he just knows it all. Christian is a solid bass player and a great organizer as well. He is a great musician, very open-minded in his bass play.

Ivan Blomqvist: Hendrik is a very creative drummer. When I write the songs, I make a really quick sketch of how I hear the drums. Usually he comes up with something totally different and super fresh. It’s really fun to hear him play, he never wants to go the easy road. He always is looking for new ideas and does this really with every song. He is really great with that, very creative. And yes, to talk about Rohey and her presence on stage and with the crowd, it’s amazing. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the space and the crowd is, she still embraces all of the room. That’s a fantastic quality. Kristian is really much in the music too, when we play live he is always there in the moment. Sometimes it can be a chilly venue, a bad soundcheck, 5 people in the crowd, but he can still be happy and say: fuck it! I’m gonna have fun! He’s really good with having fun with the music.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. From the left: Ivan Blomqvist, Rohey Taalah, Kristian B. Jacobsen, Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: I always get fascinated about the moments, where I don’t sing. Then I can just see and hear the interaction between these amazing guys here. I’m always amazed. Not just because we have a jazz background and they know how to improvise. But they really listen to each other. Sometimes I think, how is this possible? It has to do with how they know each other and how much they play together. But also it’s the trust they have for each other as well. To be able to listen and take it to another level. And lifting up the music, not only through changes, but lifting up a hundred levels, just by changing something, even something little. They are really creative, all of them and superb instrumentalists on their own instruments. They have a lot of other stuff going on too, but I think of them also in general, just as ordinary people. Speaking about Hendrik, he is a super relaxed guy in any type of situation. Kristian always make the best out of any situation, no matter how bad something could be around. Me, I am quite panicky and I need to calm me down sometimes. But they are on the same side just relaxed and able to relax me, which feels very comfortable. Ivan is always very happy in any situation, trying to keep it humoristic. Either cracking up jokes or trying to at least evolve everyone in all kinds of situations. I think the main ingredient is to try to make a humoristic and happy environment as much as possible. This makes stuff easier.

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Bernd Ihno Eilts: What goes on with you guys the last 5 minutes before a gig? How do you prepare yourself?

Ivan Blomqvist: Rohey never does this with us, but we always stand up and prepare ourselves with some relaxing and warming up excercises. A friend of mine did this, I was laughing when I saw it. Then I was trying it myself and it’s super nice. Because you get so much blood into your hands. If we want to make a joke we are shouting with a deep blow of air. Then we always laugh and then it feel great, it’s kind of our thing before we go on stage. It works! (Rohey laughs!!)

Bernd Ihno Eilts: And after?

Ivan Blomqvist: Don’t talk about the gig. I always like to not talk about the gig. At least don’t say anything negative. For me it’s like, if you go up on stage you really are open to everything. Because you are in the music and if somebody puts a little bad thing in there, it really hurts. I always need to relax, have a beer or sit down or maybe even want to be just by myself for 5 or 10 minutes after the show. To just land. I maybe go out, get some air, just enjoy. Not to be in the head.

Bernd Ihno Eilts: What in general does inspire you?

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This picture shows: Rohey Taalah. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Rohey Taalah: For me it’s the joy I feel on stage. Many people say being on stage feels as a second home. But for me it’s my first. I prefer more that than being at home. But of course, together with the audience this can elevate it even more. This is very special for me.

Ivan Blomqvist: For me it’s very much the sound and the soundscape. Like Henrik said, I got into the synthesizer just a couple of years ago and played the acoustic piano ever since I started. It’s great, it’s great for improvising and being expressive like in the moment. But sound-wise you are really limited in a way with the grand piano. It is what it is. In this band, I sit for many many hours and pick the sound for one section of a song, put a lot of effort into that. Then I do the other section and it can be a total different pallet. The sound pallet in this band is really inspiring. I am listening to a lot of producers, like hip-hop producers, R&B producers and listen to what they are doing sound-wise. That’s really inspiring me.

Henrik Lødøen: I am very much inspired by music. Since I started playing drums I almost never had any teachers. When I started with the jazz program in Trondheim I was always just playing to music and I heard tunes from Steely Dan, which inspire me still very much. Then I sat down on the drum set, 14 years old and I played a lot of Bobby Brown, the more commercial hit by Frank Zappa. Ever since than I listen to music and check, if I sound-wise like the music or want to play something similar to that. I can be also very much inspired by being on stage, being with the crowd.

ROHEY live in concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. This picture shows: Ivan Blomqvist. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Do you teach? And if so, what do you experience and what do you like about it?

Ivan Blomqvist: I have had students in the past and I always felt that it’s inspiring to see when someone discovers something new and the “kick” that they experience. By explaining something to a student it also becomes much clearer to me what I really mean and many times I’ve thought to myself: “Oh, I wanna do this exercise too!”

Bernd Ihno Eilts: You of course are from Norway. What is the nicest thing for you about Norway?

ROHEY (missing Kristian B. Jacobsen, because of a serious flu) after the interview with Bernd Ihno Eilts in Groningen, The Netherlands, during ESNS18. From the left: Bernd Ihno Eilts (, Rohey Taalah, Henrik Lødøen, Ivan Blomqvist. Photo by Zoltan Acs

Ivan Blomqvist: When I was in New York just now the last days and nights I was really feeling good there. But I felt one thing about Norway very clear, it is so clean. And we have so much nice nature. To me it’s also obviously nice and inspiring, to really be able to land. We live really hectic lives but to have a more calming surrounding which we have even in Oslo, which is supposed to be the most hectic city in Norway. But compared to other cities through Europe and the world it’s nothing. It is super clean and quiet and the air is good and you can swim in the ocean, everything like that and all our nature is the nicest thing for me about Norway.

Henrik Lødøen: I definitely agree with that. We also have a good social system. I like to be in Norway but I also love to travel.

Rohey Taalah: Yes, the nature is really amazing in Norway!

Bernd Ihno Eilts: Thank you very much!

Ivan Blomqvist, Rohey Taalah and Henrik Lødøen: Thank you too!

ROHEY after their concert at ESNS18 in Groningen, The Netherlands. From the left: Ivan Blomqvist, Kristian B. Jacobsen, Rohey Taalah, Henrik Lødøen. Photo by Zoltan Acs

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Interview by Bernd Ihno Eilts.

Photography by Zoltan Acs exclusively.


ROHEY on tour:

March 9, Klubben i Røverstaden, Oslo, Norway.

March 24, Vossajazz, Voss, Norway.

April 19, Next Step, Cully, Etr, Switzerland.

April 24, Moods, Zürich, Switzerland.

April 27, April Jazz, Espoo, Finland.

April 28, Renginių Oazė, Kaunas, Lithunia.

May 12, Aeronef, Lille, France.

May 31, Nattjazz – Røkeriet, Bergen, Norway.

June 30, Love Supreme Festival, Lewes, United Kingdom.

July 4, Christians Kjeller, Kongsberg, Norway.

July 27, Heim Festival, Brevik, Norway.