A creative break

When I ride I don’t need to think about anything besides concentrating on the road, artist Ivan Ave says. 

Text: Silje Strømmen
Photos: Akam1k3

”It’s a pause from the creative process, which sometimes is much needed. You get a bit blinded when you sit in the middle of creativity for a long period. Riding lets me unwind. It gets my pulse racing and it clears the mind. After riding I can see things clearly again”.

Eivind Øygarden, known to most as just Ivan Ave, is sitting in the window of Oslovelo sipping on a beer. It is Monday afternoon and the place is buzzing with people. The workshop is still open and we watch bikes of all shapes and conditions roll in and out. The vibe is lazy; quite different from the energy Eivind and his crew Mutual Intentions create when they host Friday or Saturday evenings of disco, hip-hop and funk at the same scene. At the same time it’s not that different. Mutual Intentions can make you dance, but they are also the perfect soundtrack to lazy Sunday mornings with coffee in bed and late breakfasts, or the sound to go night swimming on a hot summer evening to. Evidently one can say that Mutual Intentions is the soundtrack to Oslo.

“I’m the only bicycle nerd in our crew, but it is nice to have a regular place such as Oslovelo to hang out at,” Eivind says.

Mutual Intentions mixes jazz, hip hop, soul and other genres and consists of some of Oslo’s biggest and brightest, such as Charlotte Dos Santos, Fredfades, Yogisould and Kristoffer Eikrem, and of course Eivind himself. After he started releasing tracks under the name of Ivan Ave in 2014 he has become known for his impeccable flow and brilliant way with words.

”I’m a cliché poet. I write about life. Somehow it works,” Eivind laughs.

“I write a lot about the relations in my life and to those around me. Often that includes different situations people are dealing with, both good and bad. I write about everything from the big stuff to the stuff that is so small that it sometimes becomes hard to put words to. I feel like it’s time to write a bit more political though. I went trough a period where I wrote a lot about that before I shifted into what I’m doing now. I felt like I needed something new, but now I’m on my way back.” Speaking of political. One of the hottest subjects concerning local politics in Oslo is the plan to shift the focus away from cars and ban all private vehicles from the city centre by 2019.

“I think that is really great. I live in Bogstadveien where the traffic is just idiotic. I like the thought of fewer cars in the city centre. In five years I’ll most likely own a car myself and will miss being able to drive there, but I think it will be good for Oslo to focus a little more on the urban environment. Bicycling has a lot of good stuff coming with it, and without knowing too much about the politics surrounding it at the present, intuitively, I am all for it.”

The first time Eivind cycled without his support wheels he immediately steered straight into a ditch and landed in some bushes. His father, who seconds before had let go of the bike, was laughing.

“My father laughing hurt. To me the experience was really scary. Now I see that he was just having a good time teaching me how to fall on my face, another important thing. I think it took me about a day to get the hang of it, but it is one of the most important things I have ever learned.”

That Eivind was once really into BMX doesn’t come as a surprise once you see him riding. He is the definition of laidback as he cruises around on his NS Analog or his Oslo-built concept bike by F5. They are both single speeds, a very conscious choice. He likes to go fast.

“I like things that are really simple. To me ecstatic can be how a single speed doesn’t make a sound. You don’t hear the crack of the gears, just the wind. I like appreciating something that is really simple. I try not to get caught up in the whole “expensive design bike”-scene. I have some things that I’m a bit snobbish about, like buying expensive records. I don’t need another fix that just drains money.” With biking being a big part of his everyday life, whether it is biking to his part time teacher job, to a gig, or to Nydalen for a swim, it is no wonder that his philosophy is that “a bike should be something that is used and that you shouldn’t be afraid of using”. Hanging out at places like Oslovelo also means that cycling finds its way into his writing, at least by the one line mentioning the Italian classic Bianchi. His effortless style has also been immortalized on film, for his video for “Circle” and on a clip for radio station NRK P3. In both he can be seen showing off his impressive abilities to ride with no hands.

“Its not something I have been practising. I like how riding with no hands lets you sit up straight. If it’s cold you can just tuck your hands in your pockets and stay warm. When it comes to bicycling in my videos that was mostly done because it is a cheap and realistic way to do a video. It is not something that I do consciously. A rap song has a lot of words in it. You start to look at what’s around you in order to fill the page and if I’m stuck I just go “oh look at this”. A lot of the images come from very everyday stuff,” he says.

“Cycling puts me out in the townscape and allows me to observe, but it doesn’t inspire me directly. It’s more about providing a break from being creative. So it definitely has a big function in my life and in what I do, but on a whole other level”.