mwe3.com presents a new interview with
Henrik Hytteballe of The Haiku Project
mwe3: Is Life a concept album of sorts dealing with the preciousness and complexities of life and how everything is interrelated? Being a humanitarian, did you feel obligated to take on a musical undertaking of this scope and magnitude? Life is a great album title that hasn’t been used too much in the past.
Henrik Hytteballe: The music I make reflects very much, where I am positioned in life at the time, I make it. The last two years there have been big changes in my life, which makes me reflect deeper about the meaning of life, and how we are using our time on earth. Unfortunately a lot of the time spent here is wasted — or even worse — it is spent destructively. As humans we are not just consumers. We are here to help each other and learn kindness and accountability towards all living. The greed for money and power is destroying life. We must learn to share and be grateful. Poverty is a result of not sharing. It is when we give that we receive. This high speed culture, we are living in today leads to alienation. The response to this is not to own more, or to gain more control, but to open up and listen, creating a resonance which makes transformation possible.
mwe3: “Little Calf” and “Turtle Song” are both about animals living on the planet. What’s your opinion on the life of animals being that they’re living creatures like us, but they also serve us by providing food. What’s your opinion on how animals are supposed to interact with humans?
Henrik Hytteballe: I am very much inspired by Francis of Assisi in his respect for all living species. I do not want my mission to become a vegetarian, but I wish that all humans would become aware of the fact that we are not separated from nature, that we are part of it, and each time we abuse another living creature we hurt ourselves as we are destroying the whole.
Concentration camps still exist in the way many animals are treated in the food industry today. Chickens not producing enough eggs get stifled slowly in large silos. Pigs lie in cages without being able to turn around. In China, dogs’ limbs are ripped off while they are still alive, and everywhere on our planet more and more species are endangered by human behavior. All because profit is valued the highest and animals are considered as things. We need a paradigm shift in the way we behave and treat animals and our common earth. We are not just facing a climate crisis, but also a global mental crisis caused by greed. Every time a calf is being born it’s part of life’s miracles. The turtles are amazing creatures, using the same paths through generations, if we would let them. They are among the most endangered species.
mwe3: “Au Revoir les Infants” is about children killed the holocaust in World War II. Tell us about the way the Louis Malle movie of the same name impacted you. I want to thank you again for having your late friend from Poland translate the final postcards from my family who were killed in the holocaust. Sad your friend passed away shortly after he sent me the translation.
Henrik Hytteballe: My friend Ireneusz was happy to help you with the translation. He was one of the kindest persons I have ever met, and his passing away remains a huge loss. “Au Revoir les Infants” is my favorite Louis Malle movie. Louis Malle experienced himself as a Jewish boy that was fetched by Gestapo, what it was like to disappear in a concentration camp during World War II. He could never let go of blame, and he made this fantastic movie many years later. We follow a group of boys in a catholic school in France. It is a heartwarming movie. There is a wonderful scene, where all the boys are watching a Charlie Chaplin movie and they are all together having a good time laughing. But when Gestapo comes to pick up the Jewish boy and the monk who was responsible for hiding the boy, the group is divided into them and us. That is the harsh reality when we are excluding people.
mwe3: Is “Bright Side of the Moon” kind of a twist on the Pink Floyd title? How are the roots of humanity part of the universe and how can we expand and evolve on such a wide-ranging concept as the universe?
Henrik Hytteballe: Pink Floyd was one the first bands I became a fan of. Dark Side of the Moon is a fantastic album and I would guess their music has been a huge influence on many musicians. So yes, “Bright Side of the Moon” is a twist of their title. I have replaced the guitar solo with the beautiful tones of the duduk played by Canberk Ulas. On the album Nebula I described how we all come from the stars. We are part of the universe and the history of mankind is rooted in space. Life is a huge mystery and I am sure that many questions will remain unanswered. This is not a problem for me … I think we have to accept that we cannot find answers to everything we ask, but that doesn’t make you stop wondering. For me it makes life even greater that there are so many things we don’t know.
mwe3: You say in your liner notes that “Unfold” is about the mystery of life and how we can’t control too much of what goes on. What does the unfolding of life mean to us in the bigger sense of the word? And is “Abandoned” the other side of the coin as you say in the liner notes. If we can’t trust the unfolding why do we feel abandoned?
Henrik Hytteballe: I think your question is spot on. It is when we cannot see the unfolding of life that we feel abandoned. Sometimes the grief is too big. When we are in despair, we cannot see the things that could have brought us joy. When you are able to move your focal point, you realize that changes are possible. Every day miracles happen. Each day life unfolds everywhere on the planet. I have experienced myself that a solution to a problem came up in a way I could never have imagined. Life can be cruel, and I know the feeling of being abandoned too well. It leaves me behind with great sorrow, but everything that occurs to us has different stages … after a while the sorrow becomes a miss and you are able to open up and give space for new things in your life. You open your eyes to the miracles again.
mwe3: Tell us about working with guitarists Kim Jeppesen and Olav Madsen. They add some great guitar sounds. Have you worked with them both before?
Henrik Hytteballe: I agree with you – they both add some very nice guitar sounds. On my first solo project back in the 1980’s I worked with both Olav Madsen and Kim Jeppesen. They played on the track “Morning” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj7KwgIVpa4 from my first album Haiku. Olav and I were in a band together for several years, and Kim and I made music for a short movie about autistic children. They are both very talented musicians and I feel that their guitar playing reflects the fine qualities they both possess as humans.
mwe3: Also Sara Grabow returns to Life, making another appearance on a Haiku Project album. What does she bring to the track “Existence?”
Henrik Hytteballe: “Existence” is a human matter. It is a philosophical topic and therefore the track needed a human voice. Both Sara and I are interested in the spiritual and emotional aspects of music. We make music because we want to touch people. What she does on “Existence” is the absolute perfect voice for that song. It was a great pleasure for me making the track. Each time I was working with “Existence” I went into a meditative state in which time no longer existed. And I could take this inner peace with me during the day. It is my hope that people will get that same experience listening to the track.
mwe3: So now with the release of Life you’ve made your greatest album. How does Life fit into your discography and what other plans do you have for 2019 and beyond?
Henrik Hytteballe: I am very pleased that you think that Life is my best album – especially as I know, you liked the Flow album very much. Life is my 7th album and the 4th released by Real Music. It is my hope that filmmakers will discover my music, as I would love to make a score for a movie. I am working on songs for a new album, but I am in no rush to release it. I will focus on giving more concerts in 2019 and do some serious painting, as I would like to combine my music and painting a lot more. Thank you very much for your continuing interest in my music, Robert, and my best wishes to you.
Interview with Henrik and Hytteballe (The Haiku Project)
mwe3.com presents a new interview with