Ketil has listened to and played different kinds of music since the late teens. He has no musical background but got hooked on tin whistle after hearing The Pogues, The Dubliners and local band The Rovers. Went to visit Ireland and discovered the traditional music scene in Galway.
Spent quite a few years learning whistle and later wooden flute. Then got interested in alternative country music and bluegrass. Decided to try to learn pedal steel guitar and lap steel and played in local bands in Halden for a good while. Got back to acoustic instruments playing the dobro (resonator guitar).
Tried to learn bluegrass dobro but then after a while had a long hiatus and almost gave up music altogether. During a long, cold winter he translated a bunch of songs by the great american singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt to norwegian and started a band with good friends. Performed and recorded with Zandt NOK for a couple of years. During that period he got back to whistle playing and incorporated low whistle into the bands sound.
The passion for whistle and irish music really came back when he got in contact with a local couple singing and playing irish songs and tunes. Together they started the band Beyond the Fields. Came in contact with Juha in the spring 2019 and discovered that they have very similar thoughts and ideas on how to make music. Started Fir Arda and Juha also got invited to join Beyond the Fields with great success. The musical journey continues.
Fun facts about Ketil
During the country music years Ketil could be seen performing (and even walking down mainstreet) in boots, western suit and a full size Stetson cowboy hat.- Very fond of sixpence flat caps and still use his first tweed cap bought in Galway about 25 years ago. – There are two musical instruments sharing the throne of «the most difficult instrument to learn». That is the pedal steel guitar and the uilleann pipes. Ketil tried and failed to the pedal steel guitar but the pipes are slowly giving in to submission. Very slowly…
Juha has been obsessed with music all his life and varies between the ubiquitous pop and rock via Celtic folk music, country and western to Greek rembetika music.
He made his first electric guitar by hand as a teenager and has not been afraid of tweaking and perfecting all of his instruments since that. The Celtic first bands he was very into were Fairport Convention, the Chieftains, and De Danann.
During holidays in Greece he fell in love with the bouzouki. He played all kinds of Greek music but the ancient rebetika from the 1920’s to 1950’s eventually became his favourite. This led to Juha playing the bouzouki in many Greek restaurants in Oslo.
Through an international folk dancing group he met his future wife and also came in contact with folk music from the Balkans. He played a few years with the group Akkompagniet touring in Scandinavia and appearing occasionally on national radio and TV. The instruments Juha played here included guitar, bouzouki, tarabuka and tapan (percussion instruments from the Middle East and Balkans).
Marrying and having three kids in less than two years meant that Juha had to reprioritise. Musically this meant playing country rock and blues in amateur groups he lead. As the kids grew up he and his wife moved from Oslo to Halden. His daily life is now filled with yoga, painting and music.
It was here that he in 2019 was lucky enough to meet a very accomplished musician right in his own neighbourhood. Ketil and Juha immediately found their characteristic other-earthly sound with the core based on Ketil’s low whistle and Juha’s Irish bouzouki. The duo Fir Arda was born.
Fun facts about Juha
Juha’s singing in elementary school was so bad that he was excused from singing. His music grades were still upgraded because, as the teacher put it, ‘a low grade in music would look strange as the other grades were acceptable’.
Restaurant guests took plenty of photographs of Juha playing the bouzouki, believing he was a true Greek musician. There may well be several pictures in family albums across Norway featuring Juha as Giannis the Greek bouzouki player.