International music group Sex Judas feat. Ricky returns to Optimo Music this November with a new album: Night Songs. The eight track LP draws inspiration from the night and features Malian percussionist Sidiki Camara, jazz clarinetist Andreas Røysum and noise rocker Linn Nystadnes. Making their own blend of disco, post punk and African music. “It’s the return of Sex Judas feat. Ricky, this time as a six piece in fully fledged band mode. We’re here to take you on a journey through suburban psychedelia, forming our own brew of post punk, disco and electronic, as well as traditional music from Mali. Night Songs is a meditation on the night time. The excess, the dreams, the highs and lows of night time activity.” – Sex Judas feat. Ricky.
Sex Judas feat. Ricky originally began life as the solo project of Tore Gjedrem (from electronic duo Ost & Kjex), but has since grown into a steady six piece involving the talents of Sidiki Camara (djembe / ngoni / balafon), Ivar Winther (guitar / keys), Tracee Meyn (vocals), Tore Brevik (drums / percussion) and Kristian Edvardsen (bass). Centre stage is also illustrator and comic artist Sindre Goksøyr, this time portraying each character as they paddle their way into the sunset and uncharted territories. Malian-born, Norwegian-based percussionist Sidiki Camara has played a pivotal role in promoting Night Songs to world music circles. Having lived in Norway since 2006, he has helped bring West African rhythms into the country’s wider jazz scene.
1. Hello guys! A pleasure to have you with us today ahead of your forthcoming album, Night Songs. Before we get going how are you all doing and how does it feel to have this latest album set for release?
Thanks for having us! Feels marvellous, after the pandemic and all.
2. The latest album sees Sex Judas as a 6 piece band. Can you give us a run down of the band?
I’m very proud to be playing with this exceptional gang of players that has become the Sex Judas band. It’s a diverse group with each individual bringing a lot of knowledge to the table. Let’s start with our two percussionists. Sidiki Camara is originally from Mali, but has lived in Europe for a long time. He grew up with drumming and was part of the Mali national Opera at a young age. He played with every great Malian musician you can mention from Habib Koité, Mamady Keita and The Rail Band. He is a diverse player and has shared the stage with jazz greats as Bill Frisell and Norway’s own Bugge Weeseltoft. He plays Ngoni, balafon, djembe, shakes and sings on the album.
Our other precisionist and drummer is Tore Brevik. Tore has a master in percussion and drumming from Berkeley / CA. He spent 15 years in the US playing in different jazz and fusion bands, before moving back to Norway. Here his playing in the Sex Judas band, Mungolian Jet Set and Norwegian hip hop act Side Brok (Together with Skatebård).
On guitar, keys, flute and backing vox we have Ivar Winther aka Snuten. Ivar is an amazing multi instrumentalist whom I have known for years. He’s has been in a wide range of projects. From an analogue noise orchestra of amateurs playing Christmas songs, his electro party band Snuten, to Norwegian punk bands Bonk and Piledriver. He’s even made contributions to the Eurovision song contest.
I really don’t know here to start with Tracee Meyn, our singer, as she has such a huge musical background. Her father was a spiritual teacher for Alice Coltrane and she grew up in a musical environment, she moved from LA to Oslo when she found love. In Norway she has played with tons of famous bands and artists, she runs her own gospel choir The Traces, teaches singing at the University of Oslo, the list goes on.
Then we got Kristian Edvardsen aka Gesse on bass. Gesse is as you hear a central part to our sound. He carries the weight of the band with his instrument and is the personification of bass. A bass with two legs basically. I never saw a Norwegian play like him. He’s a professional working in musicals, theatre and also teaches bass and is a tone master at a music University in Oslo. You can hear his playing on many of Mungolian Jet Set’s classics.
We are also lucky to have the help of some fab musicians from the local underground scene. Andreas Røysum, who plays clarinet & bass clarinet on two tunes, is super talented, young, jazz player who leads a twelve piece band called The Andreas Røysum Ensemble. Playing a fusion of free & spiritual jazz, with elements of Norwegian and oriental folk music. Linn Nystadnes, from noise and no wave rockers Deathcrush, graces “Slow Down” with her vocals. To me she has the qualities of icons as Blondie and Kim Gordon. An amazing musician! She also does some great solo sets with abstract, improvised guitar and works as a creative sound tech for Jenny Hval. Last but not least is composer Ole-Henrik Moe, who I’ve been working with for years. A good friend and the only genius I know. He was the apprentice of avant-garde composer Arne Nordheim and is a hidden omnipresence in Norwegian underground music. Doing strings and arrangements for a wide range of artists. From space rockers Motorpsycho to contributing to several of Deathprod’s dark, ambient masterpieces.
3. How did it feel to be back together making music following the hardships of the pandemic / lockdowns?
Surreal. When we started up with rehearsals again it felt almost spiritual, the same goes for the concerts. Goosebumps all over. It has become very obvious how much energy you get from the audience and your fellow players. And how much we missed it.
4. The album draws on themes of the night time throughout, can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the album?
The thought behind the album was to make a record that could be experienced as one cohesive thing. An album that holds you in one atmosphere, throughout. It’s inspired by many great meditative records of the past, but I first got the idea when I bought the Sam Cook album, “Night Beat” many years back. The mood, especially on Side A is really captivating and our title is of course a take on Night Beat.
The “night” topic binds the lyrics together and is inspired by disturbing thoughts occurring at night. Worrying thoughts on the subversion of truth and conspiracy theories as humanity’s new religion, is discussed in “The light you saw was not for real”. “The Night within the night” deals with youth getting lost in psychedelics and suburban boredom. On “Slow Down” Linn Nystadnes takes on the role of a chanteuse as she’s heading for a night out. And so it goes, thru the cracks and creaks of night time, before it ends with “When you wake up, everything will be fine”.
5. The calming nature of this album feels perfectly fitting to the point in time it was made in. Was this something that was intended or a natural happening?
As touched upon earlier it was intended, but the circumstances at the time certainly helped enhance the mood of the recordings. We went into the studio at the height of the pandemic and the Norwegian society was in total lockdown. The recordings took place in the small town of Halden, two hours drive from Oslo. When we got there the whole town was empty. We basically saw nobody over that weekend and escaped into our own musical oasis. As well as creating a comforting space for ourselves, I believe the pressing mood of the times snuck into the recordings. There is some real unease in some of the music.
6. We are sure you guys would have had a brilliant time recording this album. Where did you put the album together and what was the day to day process like?
We recorded six of the tunes over a weekend at legendary Norwegian studio Athletic Sound. It’s a studio known for it’s great analogue gear and recording rooms. We went in with no prewritten material, just a play list with a few tunes we love love. Mainly Bohannon and Donovan. We listened to snippets to get into the mood and then improvised forth the material. We made six songs over two days. After that I spent a year in the studio turning the jams into songs, bringing in the band in the process to do overdubs and new parts.
7. Do you have any fun/interesting stories from the studio sessions – that you can share… 😉 ?
Two of the songs were made prior two the session in Halden. I fist had a vision that the album should be recorded on old, defunct synth’s and drum machines. My best friend Gunnar plays in an impro-noise duo with a freewheeling friend, who had set up a rehearsal place with broken analogue gear. So we went there to record the start of the album. We got two magic tunes that day, in one where my friend plays a vibrator on the strings of a broken piano. You can hear it in the intro of the first tune, where the drone blends with Ole Henrik’s strings. We only got two songs from this magical place, as shortly after the friend of my friend disappeared. He’s of somewhere on a life long trip.
8. Thank you very much for chatting with us today and congrats to the band on a superb album. To round off, with the ‘Night Songs’ set for release on November 12th, can you give some last words to summarise what we the listeners can expect?
Thanks a lot for your kind words and time! I hope they find 8 calming, groovy pieces of music they can escape into.