Eight Sleepless Nights

27 September 2017

Photographer Johanna Siring
Model Håkon at Heartbreak Models
Interview Johanna Siring
Words Berit Warta

The best thing about memories is making them. Often based on nights which shouldn’t end, when you grabbed your friend's hands, feeling life in their veins. When your adrenalin makes you start running down the fields and taking all of it in, before stumbling over your own feet. Left with next day bruises as proof - like love bites from life, reminding you how you conquered the day. Eight days of festival spirits, melting into the blue sea of souls. Swimming through, until your fingers touch the cold metal gate of the front stage. You, swaying between hundreds of bodies, all moving to the same fluid rhythm, you are a wave in the ocean of music. That’s where photographer Johanna Siring captured Håkon at Heartbreak Models - in the heart of the festival.

It is the charm of these sleepless nights, which draw the smile on faces like Håkon’s. In this interview he talks festivals and those dark circles under his eyes, which remind you what it tastes like to be young. The sweet flavour of heating up canned ravioli over a camping stove after waking up in the wrong tent. Håkon loves to get lost and there is no better place to do this, where waking up means 1pm and afternoons are filled with drinking games.

Surely these games can make you lose your belongings, like Håkon’s favourite hat, that got lost at a Macklemore show. On those days you learn lessons; like the fact that it's better not to climb backstage, or security will let you listen to the Kings of Leon concert from the isolation of your lonely tent. Håkon was busy creating stories to tell for years to come. The gift of taking in every moment, and leave any worries till later. Next week it doesn't matter if your throat is sore, because you sang your heart out. You danced with your arms wrapped around your friends and listening to your favourite tunes. Blood pumping. As Johanna and Håkon documents these moment for us all to experience with them, as if we were there, it is a reminder to simply let go and enjoy sometimes.

Who is Håkon, since the last time BBG photographed you?

I’ve gotten more confident in what I’m doing and what I do it for. I’m also more comfortable around money and I’ve figured out that the funniest and best work I get to do is mostly the least paid, and I’m totally fine with that.

Describe what it is exactly that you are doing?
Now I mostly make music, simply because it makes me feel better about myself, but I also know that when I make good music I can gather people and share the happiness with them. I think that's why I do it - for myself, but also just for everyday people. I really want to do more performance art too, just to challenge people to feel emotions they may not be completely comfortable with. The discussion between the audience and the artist is something I've always been interested in.

What kind of music do you make and what is your instrument of choice?
Mostly rap, but I love singing. Don’t care if I hit all the notes, I just try to make it sound cool. I’ve got two producers; one who makes trap music, another who makes weird symphonies - so I just like to try all types of things. I got a project going on now, which I’m really excited for. It’s something different and honest, it follows a narrative, and with it I get to challenge my voice a bit. I’s so fun. I don’t play any instruments, wish I could. My sister always told me I got piano fingers, so I think I’ll try to learn that.

What's it like growing up in Norway?
Beautiful. Nature is everywhere, we got every season and people are real. If you ever get tired of it all, there’s plenty of places you can just escape and be alone. We’re lucky here. We’re safe, we got clean water and we’re not poor. But when all the basic necessities are fulfilled, a lot of psychological problems usually arises. We got everything, but some people are still not happy, because humans need love, friends, support and all those things you can’t buy. I don’t complain though, haha. I’m loving life.

Let’s talk festivals. I photographed you at Roskilde this year. What is so great about festivals in your mind?
For some reason you feel free - free to do dumb things without anybody caring, 'cause they are there to be dumb too. I also like the feeling of sharing a moment with so many people, a sense of that togetherness, for the same reason.

What was the dumbest thing you did at Roskilde?
Haha, I don't think I did something extremely dumb there. Just basic dumb things like being drunk, throwing chairs at tents and losing all your friends after a mosh-pit. But I have a story from the Hove festival in Norway from some years back. It was at a Macklemore concert and the show was packed. I was kinda close to the stage, so it was extremely tight. I couldn't move. I fell to the floor, but luckily somebody picked me up. I thought I was going to be stamped to death or something. Then suddenly I saw a friend of mine who shouted that I needed to give him my hat, and for some really dumb reason I thought it was a great idea and gave it to him. He instantaneously threw it with all his force at the stage, and I was like WTF?! Why did you throw my dearest hat? And he was like; “Man, I just wanted Macklemore to wear it”, and of course he didn't, ‘cause why the fuck should he? So then I was really pissed, had no space move in the crowd, and I had just lost the hat of my life. I pushed my way out of the crowd and looked around. The staff girl told me she could search for it after the concert, which didn't satisfy me. I wanted my hat now. I was also pretty drunk at this moment, and when I get drunk I tend to lose my patience. So I quickly went around the corner, found a dead spot and snuck under the fence. I saw a guy some meters away, yelled something at him and he immediately turned around while grabbing his walkie-talkie and starting to walk angry towards me. I tried to be calm and tell him what had happened, but he wouldn't listen, took me back outside the concert and just rambled on about how I wasn’t allowed to be here.

So I snuck in once more. I thought if I could just wait till the concert was over I would be able to meet Macklemore and tell him how much I needed my hat back. I had all sorts of fantasies about meeting Macklemore and that he would be so touched by the story of my hat that he would be totally chill and be like; “I'll get you a new hat, I'll get you plenty of hats”, and then we would chill and drink, and he would be glad that he met me. We would be best friends. So I'm heading towards the stage, confident that this was going to work out perfectly. But midways, the same guard that was there from before caught me and this time he had no chill. He grabbed his walkie-talkie, yelled; “Kode rød, Vi har en gjerdehopper” (Code red, we've got a fence climber). Now he was really pissed so he took a firm grip of me and dragged me outside, where I was held until some festival guards took over. So there I was, 16 years old and drunk in festival custody. They ended up cutting my bracelet for the rest of the night, and not just the festival site, but I had to be in my designated camp until the day after. I layed down on my shit madrass, and felt the tree roots in my back - still kinda drunk, and from a distance I could hear the Kings of Leon concert I had looked forward to for months. And I still didn't have my hat.

You have been juggling modelling, photography, filmmaking and making music - what is your greatest passion?
Living! Skinny dipping, smoking weed in the woods, loving, eating good food, snowboarding in beautiful nature. I don’t have any specific goals or like one thing more than other. I just like doing shit and to always be busy with something I can ponder on.

Where can we see the awesome things you create?
My Instagram, you could follow @prettyboihaakon, or go to soundcloud/pengutt that contains mostly Norwegian rap. But fuck borders and languages, let's all unite through good music. Oh, I almost forgot my website, I got a lot of work on prettyboi.net, and I'm currently working on a new site for our prettyboi collective. You don't need to follow me though, you should just follow yourself instead of other people, then you'll really get the time to perfect your craft.

How does social media influence your creation of art and how you share it with the world?
I love social media. You get direct feedback on whatever you choose to put out there. If I make a video or a song, or post a photo, I can figure out in just one day how well it did, or what emotions it provoked. So I definitely think of how people will perceive it, but usually I just post things. I don't want to think too much, I like getting my thoughts out in the world, but I believe that in some distant future, you won't even be able to read or transcript the files we put out today. So I'll be fine.

How does social media influence who you are?
Fuck social media, haha. It can't control me. It's nice to have a tool available to more easily communicate with people, but otherwise fuck it. It's the people that influence the social media, not otherwise. They can't do anything without us.

Imagine a world where you weren’t allowed to express yourself through art, where would that leave you at?
Could I surf? Snowboard? Any type of sports? I would easily have tried to by an athlete. I could've been a gardener, but that's the purest type of art if you ask me. That's a tricky question. What is art anyways? I don't know.

What motivates you at the moment?
People and nature.

Any particular person or place that gives you the best vibes and inspiration?
I like low-key people who make great art. Like for example, there is this Norwegian rapper called Linni, who makes the sweetest rap music I've ever heard. Instead of talking too much of himself, he empowers the ones who listen to the music. He uses the word “you” way more than “I”. You should also check out a new movie called 'Drib', the producer and the main role really got me inspired when I first watched it. They did this movie, but the project is just way more than that, and they completely fuck with media when they're getting interviewed. People don't really know if the movie is documentary or fiction, and I quite frankly can't figure it out either. That's what motivates me, people who do weird and different stuff, then I'll become completely obsessed.

I also really like parks. When I was in commuting back and forth to London I always went to the parks when I didn't know what else to do - or just to eat my lunch, write something, read a book or observe things. It was and still is like medicine for me. I should do it more often.

How would you define masculinity?
Damn, that's tough. I can't really answer that. I've never felt that masculine, and if I did it was just something I put on to try to be something I'm not. Maybe that's what it is, pretending to be tough even when you're not. To say everything is going to be okay, when you don't really know for sure. It's sort of a mask you need to put on to get through pain.

What do you want to be when you "grow up”?
Me. I’m happy where I am right now. I just want to continue being me.

And who's that exactly?
Shit, I don't really know. I think it's easier to be described by other people for who I am. You could decide who I am. I'll be whatever you want me to be, as long as you let me be free.

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