Erik Braund's fingerprints are all over Anchorage's rock scene, and though he moved out of state nearly six years ago, he has kept one foot in Alaska ever since.
Now living in Brooklyn, Braund moved to New York City to complete his undergraduate studies at New York University's department of recorded music. He still keeps a studio here, and as an engineer, producer and mixer, his studio and musician credits include many of Anchorage's most noteworthy artists: Whipsaws, Jared Woods, the Audio, Kill Tango, the Hoons, Marian Call and 36 Crazyfists, to name just a few.
When he's in Alaska -- which happens three or four times a year -- he plays guitar in the popular local band Delmag.
At NYU, the recorded music department asked students to submit a paragraph explaining why they should be chosen to represent the school at the 2009 Nordic Music Week in Stravanger, Norway. Braund -- whose great-grandfather immigrated to Nome from Norway and was friends with famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen -- won the contest with a video submission.
"The minute I landed in Stavanger, I felt very at home and knew it was the beginning of something long-term for me," Braund wrote in an e-mail. "I see myself spending a few months a year there. The government is very supportive of music and the arts over there. It's refreshing."
He returned to Norway for the 2010 Nordic Music Week, which led to some further networking. "I've been building on my relationships over there since the first trip because I met so many genuinely good people with a desire to tour the States and work with American producers. I thought 'Hey, I'm an American producer, and I've toured the states!' thus Nordic Hus was born."
Nordic Hus is Braund's newest project, and his goal is to create a conduit for Norwegian artists to gain exposure in the U.S. He refers to it as "the Norwegian Music Embassy in America," which provides "a home away from home for Norwegians visiting New York to perform and record."
While the "embassy" is located in New York City, Braund's hometown connections provide a Norway-Alaska connection by extension. High-energy pop rockers Heroes & Zeros are the first band to venture on a tour facilitated by Nordic Hus, and of the shows on the Oslo-based band's two-state itinerary, six out of eight are in Alaska.
The compact trio alternates between sunny and expansive shout-alongs and textured, melancholic numbers. Both sounds stretch the confines of your average three-piece band.
Watching the Heroes and Zeros pull off those feats at the 2009 Nordic Music Week, Braund said that he was so blown away that he had to seek them out for the first Nordic Hus-aided tour.
The second tour will come later this year, but the third might be a longer wait.
These days Braund is working on a master's degree at NYU in interactive telecommunications ("a tech/art nerdfest"), so Nordic Hus is getting a slower start than he would like.
The only other U.S. tour he has in the works is for twang-y indie-rockers The List, a band Braund produced during his first trip to Norway and will be recording again on another trip to Norway later this fall.
"I would be going at 200 percent with Nordic Hus, but I am trying to finish my master's, manage two bands, book tours, build a studio, see my girlfriend and play with my puppy."Video: Erik Braund's Nordic Music Week Application
Video: Heroes & Zeros US Tour Promo
By Matt Sullivan