Peeking in the mirror
from another angle

Inspiration comes in various forms. To some it appears as a lightning bolt. To others it arrives as tide sneaking its way onto land. In the case of Norwegian musician Thomas Dybdahl it is the grandness of nature and the humdrum of everyday life that often spark his brightest ideas.

Here in the melancholic region of Stavanger, we have two main tourist attractions that have caught our guests’ attention over the years. One is Kjeragbolten, which is a large boulder stuck between two mythic mountains. The other is Preikestolen (The Pulpit) – a platform located on a frighteningly steep cliff overlooking the fjord. Last time I went hiking there, I brought my French friend with me. It was almost absurd to see how spaced out he was. With the clouds glooming above us and the water humming beneath us, it was as if we were standing on the unsheltered edge of the world. I really enjoyed observing his reaction. When you visit a place a lot, you tend to oversee its magic. It is as if you stop noticing the immense beauty that struck during the first encounter. That is why it is nice to visit old places with new people. The disbelief in their eyes triggers a rediscovery of surroundings. I like to share that inexplicable sensation you get when you are up on that rock. That is why I do not mind the tourists either.

It is not a place I go to write though. For that I go to our charming cottage located on a tiny island off the coast. It is a very desolate place. When the night falls, it is pitch black. When the stars emerge, the sky is lit up. When it rains, it pours. The wind arrives like a howling hurricane. In the forest rules my favourite kind of light: the one that sneaks its way through the pines. On this island everything is magnified. You feel completely cut off, yet connected to nature that is bursting with life and music. The idea that nature is available to everyone is ingrained in our psyche here.

Other than that, Stavanger is really just a city like any other. They call it The Oil Capital of Norway. Before the black liquid gold was struck back in 1969, the city was much like Cannery Row: living off its sardine industry. Needless to say, I have countless opinions about the oil industry, but I refuse to be the guy who points fingers and yells about how it only consists of a bunch of fat cats. For the past four decades the industry has provided for us. To think that we are not connected to it would be naïve. It is vital to just about anyone living in the industrial world, but this fact is much easier to ignore if you do not live in a city like Stavanger.

Personally, I moved here from my hometown Sandnes, because it was a natural progression. It was a bit bigger and a bit more exciting. Had I followed that idea to its logical conclusion, I would have ended up in Oslo or perhaps London or New York. Oslo oozes business. I only know people in the music industry there, so social life would be rather one-dimensional. Here I have friends who thrive in all kinds of ways and jobs, and I enjoy the variety that comes with it.

Continue reading in Oak volume Four