By Kyrre Tromm Lindvig
- The making of "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil" has been a logistical nightmare, Hillestad tells us. - We submitted over 50 inquieries, but some simply declined to take part in the project, while others feared what reactions their eventual participitation might lead to, he claims.
The greatest challenge of the recording process was to make it all come together. Some of the tracks were recorded on different locations around the globe, in Uzbesikstan, London, Texas and Oslo, others -like Mexican singer Lila Downs - would record their tracks in their own studio.
- There were a great deal of audio files that were submitted via the internet, there is no doubt about that it is a great tool of exchanging information. It facilitated the complex process a lot. The main challenge was to decide who was to record which song, how to divide the songs between all the involved artists. Since they were spread all around the globe it took a lot of time to communicate with everyone involved, but in the end we managed to make everyone happy. The whole process took a year and in this connection I would like to stress the enourmous importance of (Norwegian guitarist) Knut Reiersrud in making this recording into a coherent whole. His role cannot be emphasized enough, without him this recording would be merely a gimmick, Hillestad says.
He is very clear on the fact that this recording is very important to him, also on a personal level.
- One feels a certain impotence, despair and even aggression when confronted with the actions undertaken by the US after the 11. of September 2001. Bush is making a big mistake when he stigmatizes countries as being evil. Since I believe that non-violence is the only way to solve the problems the world faces today, I decided to do the only thing that was within my limited power: Namely to release a record that hopefully will contribute to change people's view of these countries and their inhabitants, Hillestad states.
He also adds that the recording of this CD was a process that has changed him. How so?
- I travelled a lot around the world in conjunction with this record, among others I visited eight countries in which I had never been before. Due to my involvement in this project I got a more profound insight in these countries than I would if I had been there as a tourist. Today I think of a country like Iran in a completely different way than before. The same applies to Afghanistan and Syria. The stereotypical notions conveyed by the mass media simply do not apply anymore, Hillestad says.
He is clear on the fact that the primary goal with this recording is not to nuance the picture George W. Bush conveys of these countries.
- Nuance is a much too weak word, the world view that Bush tries to impose on us is fundamentally wrong. On my travels I noticed a surprising openness towards both Americans and westerners in general. There seems to be a understanding of the fact that our leaders do not necessarily represent all of us. That is why I believe that those who want peace will succeed in the end and that Bushs crusade will simply go down in history as an unpleasant footnote. At least, that is what I hope for, he adds.
KKV, which is one of Norway's most internationally active labels, faced great difficulties when trying to get an American distributor to release the record in the US.
- I was a bit naïve. I though the anti-war movement was so strong that this record could have been released, but nobody would even touch it. It will therefore not be distributed via the regular channels, meaning record companies. Those I talked to were afraid of boycott and other severe reactions. It is clear that most of Bush's power is based on media control, and I have gained a different view on the freedom of speech in the US. It is 100% free, but only theoretically. However, the record has gained interest with small groups, and I hope it can be distributed via the peace movement, which since Vietnam has had a strong following in America, Hillestad says.
He wishes to point to the fact that there are also several war protesters also in the musical and clerical environment in the US. He especially mentions the participation of "National Cathedral Girls Choristers" on the album.
- This is the most official choir that you can find in the whole of America. They actually sing at the presidential inauguration! But the leaders of the choir and the church actually are strongly opposed to Bush's war mongery, and they were very interested in participating on this recording.
But do you think that this record will find an audience in the US? That is perhaps the country that needs this record the most…
- Well, we know that the protest movement can give birth to a whole industry, the anti-Vietnam protest is an example of that. Once one understands that there is money to be made on this, then the greater labels will want to play ball too, Hillestad claims.
But how would an eventual commercial success fit with the idealistic scope of the recording?
- Well, we used over one million NOK (144.000 ,- dollars, 119.000,- Euro) on this recording, and if we actually earn anything at all in the end, we will use it on other recording projects. I have no problem with that, the money will anyway not be used on a swimming poolor a cabriolet for me, he concludes.
Erik Hillestad, Managing Director