Interviews Music

One Track Mind: Julia Gjertsen

The Oslo-based pianist and composer on the cinematic journey and structural chaos of Fieldhead

The premise of One Track Mind is pretty simple: I ask artists to pick one track that means a lot to them – either something they’ve discovered recently, something that’s been with them for years, or one that reminds them of a specific time in their life or career – and tell me what makes it so special to them. I get to talk to the artists I love, and they get to talk about the artists they love. Love all round!

Julia Gjertsen is a pianist and composer based in Oslo. Combining contemporary electronic elements with the piano, she creates contemplative soundscapes and introspective compositions that draw inspiration from nature and reflect on moments from the past and present. Her music is characterized by a tender playing style and beautifully crafted melodies that aim to convey nuanced perceptions and emotions that can often be challenging to express through words.

Her second album Formations was released last year, while more recently she released the collaborative EP Dive alongside Finnish composer Juha Mäki-Patola. Her latest single, Embers, came out earlier this month as part of Fractals, Moderna Records’ annual piano day compilation featuring twelve pieces from composers and pianists around the world.

For her One Track Mind selection, Julia has selected the opening track from UK electronic duo Fieldhead’s 2009 album they shook hands for hours.

Julia Gjertsen on Fieldhead – This Train Is a Rainbow

“The first time I heard This Train Is A Rainbow was in early 2012 during a somewhat chaotic period in my life. Despite having listened to this track many times over the years, it continues to evoke the same feelings as it did back then.

“I feel that this track achieves a perfect balance of structure and unpredictability by blending order and chaos in a way that makes it stand out. I love how the entire track is splendidly constructed from start to finish while maintaining a simple structure. In my opinion, it consists of three parts that integrate perfectly with each other. The intro build-up consists of ambient noisy elements that I really enjoy. Then, at around 00:36, a breakthrough moment occurs with a more defined, noisy synth, making it feel as if something has just pierced through me and sent my mind spiralling into another place. As the track progresses, each element integrates perfectly with each other, creating a sense of circular motion that draws me in. For me, it feels like I am swimming in the sea of thoughts while remaining present, and as if this moment is preparing me for something. Then, everything fades out for a moment, creating a short silence before throwing the listener into the sidechained dance-like section.

“It feels like my thoughts and emotions have been invited to a private disco. The increased sidechaining towards the ending of the track creates a sensation as if my head has just been washed in a washing machine, in a good and refreshing way!

“The entire track is like a cinematic journey, one that I find myself revisiting quite often and never growing tired of it. Listening to this track gives me a range of emotions, such as joy, melancholy, a boost of energy, and a calming effect – all of which are experienced within three minutes and forty-nine seconds. This track feels like a palette of moods or “a train” of emotions. I don’t know of any other track that has managed to give me such a diverse range of emotions at the same time. For over ten years, I have been listening to this track several times every year, and I still love it.”

Julia Gjertsen & Juha Mäki-Patola – Dive is out now