“I needed a fresh start, after my two first aliases” says Torje Fagertun Spilde over a saturated telephone line. Third Attempt, besides being his chosen artistic moniker, is also quite literally Torje’s third attempt at “making a name” for the young Norwegian artist. There’s something final in the name, a certain inevitability, symbolised by the number three that doesn’t quite seem appropriate for a 21-year-old producer at what is essentially the start of his recording career.
What is his third attempt is our introduction to the artist. After a few independent releases in 2017, Torje signed to Vidar Hanssen’s Beatservice records with “Shoreline” in beginning of 2018, and immediately followed it up with “Serve Chilled.” A precocious start it marked Torje’s indubitable graduation from independent bedroom producer to signed recording artist with Beatservice validating the efforts of what had been established through those initial releases and bringing the artist’s music to a larger audience.
Benevolent chords cascading over syncopated beats and rumbling bass-lines plunging deep under the foundations of House, anchored the sound of Third Attempt while buoyant melodies and airy textures floating above the surface focussed on a contrast between space and intimacy in his music. As Third Attempt there’s a closeness at the centre of Torje’s music where the rhythm and bass reside, punctuating the wooly exterior of the empirical arrangements that have borrowed from the abstract idea of space in what has become a signifier of the “Norwegian sound”.
“Serve Chilled” and “Shoreline” asserted the sound what Torje has cultured as Third Attempt at a point where it can pivot into other musical spheres as he attested in the self-released album of 2017, “Dreams in Common”. That album might be a world away from the sounds we heard on the Beatservice records but it still orbits around the same critical mass.”There are always similarities in the sound” says Torje ”especially in the tempo and the mood of the tracks.”
Third attempt has consolidated something for Torje that hadn’t been there in his previous two aliases, a “goal” that he felt he couldn’t accomplish through the“really commercial” projects he first envisioned for himself. He’s not willing to go into any detail about his previous excursions as an artist and refrains from naming them outright, turning all his focus, both in our conversation and his music to Third Attempt. Placing those early aliases firmly behind him in the vault of forgotten memories, Third Attempt is the “fresh start” he needed to develop what has been latent in him from the beginning, when he first encountered electronic music as an pre-adolescent teen growing up in Asker, just outside of Oslo.
Although Torje had “played a few instruments” through his childhood, including “the trumpet and the drums”, he remembers little of his tutelage today. Instead he considers the moment of his musical conformation much later in his life, placing the moment of artistic conception in the midst of some sanctimonious origins. It was during middle school, through his local youth club “in a church, believe it or not” that Torje would make his introduction to electronic music. He was “hooked” when he was first introduced to the idea of “repetitive beats,” and much like anybody his age poured his entire being into the prospect of making them. Through the youth club he “connected with a group of friends that were kind of more into experimental stuff,” spurring the youngster on to go further and deeper into the world of electronic music and especially House music.
Spending his “nights on you tube looking at sets, tweaking knobs and looking up tutorials” Torje delved “deeper and deeper into rabbit hole from there.” He downloaded a copy of Fruityloops studio (a production suite software) and “started experimenting” with sound, which eventually laid the groundwork for a career in production. “It was so much fun,” he recalls, “and it still surprises me that it’s the same amount fun, it never gets old.”
What started out as a leisurely pursuit turned earnest when Torje sequestered himself in his father’s forest home for a period. “That’s when I started taking this thing really seriously because there was nothing else to do.” With the closest town an hour away, Torje’s focus could turn exclusively to music and he made those tentative steps towards a career as a recording artist, releasing music independently under those first musical aliases. Today he doesn’t put much weight on those early pieces, dismissing them as little more than moments of “fun” for the sake of the amusement of friends.
It was only over the last two years that things took a more professional turn starting with the release of the mini album “Dreams of Colour”, and it coincides with a move to Tromsø. This is one of the significant moments in Torje’s musical career, because what he found in Tromsø was not only a new artistic name but also a tight-knit musical community that accepted the 19-year old Torje with open arms. “Everybody knows everybody up here” when it comes to music says Torje and “if there is a new guy / (girl) in town everybody knows about him her.” Torje found a “conscious type of scene” in Tromsø, one that would certainly have eluded him in Asker that has undoubtedly inspired his incredible output.
Falling in with a group of kindred spirits in Tromsø, people like the DJ and promoter, Houseboden, Torje established Third Attempt amongst a new generation of electronic music artists from the university town. There’s “a lot of enthusiasm around House and Techno” in Tromsø at the moment and Torje found himself “in the middle of a small movement” that would eventually lead to introduction to Vidar Hanssen of Beatservice Records. Hanssen saw Torje making his live debut as Third Attempt in 2017 and “really enjoyed it.” “We kept in touch after that” recounts Torje “and the rest is history.”
In the mere two years Torje’s been in Tromsø, Third Attempt has gone from vitualy non-existent to being signed to one of the biggest record labels in Norway. “It’s happened much faster up here than I would have imagined,” says Torje about his rapid succession, which I find is some part due to his incredible productivity. As we talk is already working on a new album, not two months on from his last EP. “I’ve got two tracks ready for that,” he claims as he expounds on some of his desires for the album, which include a narrative, “a story from a to b”. In some ways it will be very similar to “Dreams in Common”, an album that “doesn’t necessarily have to be four on the floor” with a downtempo and ambient component to the Third Attempt sound.
It’s a direction Torje is “very keen” for Third Attempt to explore concurrently with the “club stuff”. Although his first “love” will always be House, Torje wants to “produce everything”, channeling influences like Floating Points through the project. Torje erupts with enthusiasm when we come to this subject. “It’s for home listening, it’s for club listening,” validates Torje. “He has such wide spectre of music, and I really respect him for that.” As well as Floating Points, Torje suggests he’s also been influenced by previous collaborators, Øystein Bolstad and Runther who he worked with on “Open Spaces” (on Shoreline) and “Fjelheisen” respectively.
He found it “quite special” working with Bolstad, a “real musician” who brought flavours of Jazz and Soul to the track “Open Spaces” with his remarkable key work. “When you put me in a room with a musician I’m easily influenced by the other musician,” Torje has noticed. “You really can’t be selfish, you have to go with the flow and feel the other’s ideas.” It was his first experiences working with other musicians and while he’s eager to do “more of that”, if pushed he’d still prefer to work alone. “That’s when I feel I have the most creative freedom,” he claims ”but there’s good sides to everything.”
It’s quite different from the way Torje’s chosen to present his music to an audience. Opting for the live experience, Third Attempt favours the stage to the booth, Torje solely at the controls manipulating the sound of his own, original material. “I felt that I needed to challenge myself and do something different” are his reasons for choosing the live context over a DJ set. “I can easily play it safe and go that (DJ) route, but something inside me told me to try and just go with my own music.”
The results speak for themselves; Torje’s introduction to Vidar, two EPs in and an LP in the works, the live show and Torje’s third attempt is on a course to a flourishing career in music. His trajectory has been plotted with gigs coming through almost every weekend, including his next show at Jæger for Charlotte Bendik’s IRONI. I ask him to describe his live set for the unwitting and he proffers “groovy” as the “first word that comes to mind”. “Groovy and atmospheric”, he continues in a description that I find easily transfers to his recorded works.
In his Third Attempt Torje Fagertun Spilde has found something that simply clicks, and from the EPs the album to his future works, at a mere 21 years of age he’s already found an artistic voice that eludes most artists their entire career. For an artist at what is essentially the start of a career, it’s significant. He’s a precocious talent and the third time is indeed the charm that will certainly establish this artist as a future talent.
*Third Attempt appears this Saturday for IRONI with Charlotte Bendiks.