Oh yes, how is my name Helge Krabye pronounced?
My first instrument was a small, wooden zither that his grandmother gave me when I was four years old. At six, I started taking violin lessons and later began playing first violin in Nordtvet Skoles Strykeorkester in Oslo. My teacher Peter Hindar (well known for his performances with Hindarkvartetten) encouraged me to practice more, but I didn't have the patience. One day Peter Hindar caught me in cheating; I didn't read music, I played it by memory and by ear... That was the end of one era, but the beginning of another.
When I was 15, big boys were supposed to play guitar, not violin - and I quit the school orchestra. My grandmother gave me a violin, so I never really got rid of it... I took up the violin again after high school, encouraged by my friend Vegard Brenna who played piano. Since then, I have often used violin in my recordings. (Practicing violin playing takes time and require patience, two things that are hard to achieve in these Internet times...)
With the Tandberg 1200X tape recorder I bought for the money I received at my Confirmation, I started composing music and creating new sounds. Very much inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen and the Beatles, I developed an ear for sound. I was able to dub my guitar with noises and voices from the radio. One of the first compositions was "Song of the world", a montage of acoustic guitar, radio tuning and voice samples like Mr. Richard Nixon announcing the end of the Vietnam War and an overexcited radio dj announcing the (terrible) movie "Song of Norway".
Music meant a lot to me as a teenager and young man, and I bought a lot of LP's and even made my own listening charts every week. I discovered "Astral Week" by Van Morrison, "Inner Mounting Flame" by John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, "What's going on" by Marvin Gaye, the experimental music of Karheinz Stockhausen and Terry Riley, as well as Mozart's "Symphony No. 40" with the great conductor Carlo Maria Giulini.
After high school, I went to technical school in NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation) to become a sound engineer. Here I was able to use professional recording studios and instruments, and I played guitar with my classmates. With a class mate, I was responsible for the innovative radio program "Lydbåndmix" ("Music Tapes") where amateur musicians were invited to send in their own musical compositions. Several later to be well known, musicians and singers were among the artists who were discovered through the program.
Later, I met Arnfinn Christensen, who became a close friend, and who jumped in as program host with me in the next series of "Lydbåndmix". Arnfinn also played instruments and made his own music. He owned a Tascam Portastudio, and we made several songs and instrumental tunes together. (The cassette "Spillopper" is still available). Arnfinn has contributed by playing recorder on many of my pieces during the years, and the compositions "Order and Chaos" (fantasy story for radio) and "Beatie Bow" (a popular Radio Play) were highlights.
When MIDI arrived in the late eighties, I purchased my first Macintosh SE (in 1987) with the MasterTracksPro MIDI sequencer and a Roland S-10 sampling keyboard, as well as the first multitimbral synthesizer: the Roland MT-32. I was working close with radio pioneer Lars Lønne who was program host in the successful youth program "AB 8-12" in NRK, and he encouraged me to make jingles for the program. I also composed illustrative music for the program, and when I started receiving royalties from airplay, I was able to upgrade my studio and instruments and purchased the very first hard disk recording system for a personal computer, "SoundTools" from Digidesign (later to be named ProTools). He used my equipment for composing jingles and creating original sound landscapes when I became responsible for the next youth radio program in NRK: "ABRS". In this program, that was broadcast every working day in the afternoon, I also programmed various interactive games in HyperCard, with sound effects and musical pieces built into the applications and the Macintosh computer connected to the radio mixer in order to create a rich sound design live on air. While sitting on the broadcast mixer with all the audio sources like studio mikes, record players and tape recorders, I pushed the virtual buttons on the Mac to trigger sound effect and musical pieces. I remember being quite exausted after those daily radio shows!
I first started to work as a technician in the Radio Drama department in NRK in 1986, and director Kyrre Haugen Bakke allowed me to compose music for the play "The Magician's Nephew", one of the great fantasy books in the "Narnia Chronicles" by C. S. Lewis. Being in control of both music and sound design, was a nice responsibility! Later, I wrote my own story with music and sound effects for children, "Herr C og bestevennen som ble borte". Arnfinn Christensen also worked in the Children’s Department in radio at that time, and I composed music to several of his great fantasy stories.
In 1997, I discovered that the budgets for the radio got lower every year, and I realized that it was time for me to move on. I started to work with post production (sound) in NRK Fjernsynet (television). A couple of years later, I was responsible for doing the sound design for the documentary journalists in "Brennpunkt", and they invited me to compose music as well. Since then, I have composed original music for more than sixty television documentaries, both within and outside NRK.
I also has a great interest in interactive media, and I programmed a special interactive HyperCard game called "Nysgjerrigper" for Norges Forskningsråd in 1990, teaching myself HyperTalk in the evenings. I also programmed the "Midt i Planeten" ("Worlds apart") with Arnfinn Christensen - a computer game where the alien Gorx is guiding us through our solar system. The game was included with the new Macintosh Centris multimedia computers that Apple started selling in Norway in 1993. By this time, the great VideoWorks software for Mac had developed into MacroMedia Director, and I taught myself to program scrips with Lingo, the script language MacroMedia developed further and later used in their innovative Flash technology. (By the time this happened, my interest and skills in programming had started to fade...)
2001 was in a way a highlight in my career as a composer for television, since the five part documentary series "Det gåtefulle Kina" (Mysterious China) was a success and was shown in several countries around the world the following years. Again, I worked close with Arnfinn Christensen who edited the whole documentary series on a small Macintosh (and created some stunning animations in Flash). A remix of the best music pieces from this series was finally released on the CD "Mysterious China" by my music project Homeless Balloon in August 2007.
In 2004, I composed original music for nature documentarist and fotograhper Arne Nævra and his nine part television series "Villdyr og Villmark" ("Global Safari"), an adventure and wildlife series shot in Russia (Wrangel island and Kamchatka), Rwanda, India, Borneo and Alaska. Some of the music from this series is available as a remix on the Homeless Balloon album "Oriental Spaces".
I have also contributed to other artist's projects as a performer. I played acoustic guitar on the song "Fabel" on the Amethystium 2004 CD "Evermind" (2004), an album that climbed high in the ambient and new age charts around the world. I also played djembe, electric guitar (with Ebow) and Alembiq electric bass and Wooden Flute on the track "Moths Drink the Tears of Sleeping Birds" from the American ambient artist Kit Watkins' 2006 CD "SkyZone".
In 2005, I began working as a video editor (in NRK), a profession that made it possible to combine all my experience from drama, storytelling, sound design and graphic design. I am a big fan of Eric Wenger (U&I Software) and his software tools ArtMaticPro, ArtMaticVoyager and MetaSynth, and I have created several futuristic animations and graphics, which I am using in my video and music compositions.
Even if I was very eager to start using MIDI and compose with samplers, my heart is beating stronger for using real instruments when composing and recording music. My taste for jazz and improvisational music has grown during the years. I have invested in quality instruments like acoustic and electric guitars, a Rhodes electric piano as well as various percussion instruments and a real, MiniMoog Voyager synthesizer. I slowed down composing for television from 2006 and instead started concentrating on remixing my best music as well as composing new, independent pieces. In 2008, I sold most of my musical gear, except my real instruments. With my two, strong Mac's, LogicPro, Ableton Live and ProToolsLE and a Kurzweil PC3 keyboard, I feel I am much more free and still have all the need tools to create whatever sound or musical expression my mind can make up :)
Because of a row of misunderstandings and confusion about my name, I decided to release my music commercially under the project name "Homeless Balloon" from the spring of 2007. In Augus 2007, I released my first two commercial CD's, "Travel in Silence" and "Mysterious China", the very year I also celebrated my first twenty years as a composer. In August 2008, I released the rest of the best of my compositions on four new audio CD's, "Ancient City", "Oriental Spaces", "Electronova" and "Hurry Slowly".
In the spring of 2009, I started to compose new music again, and in contrast to what I had believed, my fascination for electronic music was not dead, and I believe my next album (autumn 2009?) will be an experimental, electronic chillout album.
- July 2009
copyright 2007-2017 Helge Krabye