Norway's Kim Hiorthøy is a multi-faceted artist whose work has included painting, illustration, graphic design, film, photography, and writing in addition to his music, which is primarily electronic-based. In any given field of creative endeavor, and certainly in his musical explorations, he tends to defy conventions and rigid definitions, taking an unstudied and deliberately amateurish approach with typically curious and sometimes whimsical results. His distinctive, often minimalist style of graphic design has graced countless releases on Norwegian labels Rune Grammofon and Smalltown Supersound. His albums including the playful, melodic electronic music of 2000's Hei, the more beat-driven techno of 2004's Live Shet, and the mellower, classically influenced piano compositions of 2014's Dogs.
Born in 1973, Hiorthøy studied at the Academy of Fine Art in his native Trondheim, where he began experimenting with both graphic art (publishing 'zines and designing record covers) and sound recording (at first in the school's studio, then investing in his own sampling equipment.) His work in both audio and visual fields progressed more or less in tandem. As he furthered his fine art education with stints of studying in New York City and Copenhagen, he carried on dabbling in these and other areas (adding film to his résumé with several videos for the band Motorpsycho), eventually settling down in Oslo but continuing to participate in national and international gallery shows. In the musical arena, he is most closely associated with two highly respected Norwegian record labels: Rune Grammofon, for which he has designed all of the album artwork, and Smalltown Supersound, which has released essentially all of his recorded output (as well as a fair number of his album designs). Save for a self-pressed CD, Fake, which was included with his Book Without Function, a limited-edition art book from 1996, his first true foray into record-making came with a 7" on Smalltown in 2000. Hei, his well-received full-length debut, emerged that same year, followed by the odds-and-ends compilation Melke in 2002.
2004 brought a disparate trio of small-scale releases; the mellow IDM of the Hopeness EP; the "acoustic noise music" of For the Ladies, consisting of unmodified field recordings arranged without any actual "musical" material; and Live Shet, a mini-album focusing on the more straight-ahead, beat-driven electronica that Hiorthøy had been featuring in his live sets. My Last Day, released in 2007, was a full-fledged album of predictably unpredictable electronic music that drew on elements of most of his earlier work. In 2009 he announced the completion of a new recording project with a band called Drivan, a collaboration with three dancers-turned-singers from Sweden and Finland. The group's trip-hop-influenced full-length, Disko, appeared in 2010. Hiorthøy's 2014 effort Dogs was a much more traditional effort, featuring no sampling and mostly piano works. 2018 saw the release of Let's Put It to Music: 20 Years of Rune Grammofon, a 224-page art book collecting Hiorthøy's sleeve designs for the label, packaged with a 7" of previously unreleased tracks by some of the label's artists. ~ K. Ross Hoffman