Ihsahn has had some pretty great success with his unconventional music over the years, both with Emperor and his solo career. Ihsahn recently sat down with Ultimate Guitar to talk all things music and revealed that he's a pretty big Billie Eilish fan (who's also a big metal fan). Or rather, he's just a fan of people who are making rough-around-the-edges music that isn't polished to inhuman perfection.
In contrast to show what he's talking about, Ihsahn mentioned he's "not a big fan of Imagine Dragons. That does not resonate with me. I'm sure it's well-produced and all that."
"Yeah, I think that it sounds… The production that Finneas [O'Connell, Billie's brother, producer, and co-writer] does, the minimalism of it, the way it's put together – it's really brave. It's something to…
"If you look at pop artists like that… I think even in the extreme metal scene, there are so many bands concerned with what's the right thing to do. In a music genre that was really based on people not giving an absolute fuck about what people thought about their music – it was rather: go for what not to do. [laughs]
"So my general philosophy about this, I have this idea that the inspiration comes from the underground where there's no money or recognition to be had. People do it for the sake of their own enjoyment.
"And then, some of that becomes so unique that it actually has some commercial success, against all odds. And, at the very top, where you have people like Kanye West or even The Beatles or Pink Floyd – when they had so much money and resources – when they could do whatever the hell they wanted, they went on to make art records. Far-out experimental stuff for the sake of it, not trying to fit in.
"So on the outer edges of that, when there's no money and recognition to the point where you don't care… Basically these are the two edges of music where people really don't care about anything other than music. That's where you get the ingenious new things.
"And everybody in the middle who tries to polish their stuff to put it into this or that category and do the smart thing, and maybe do compromises with their music to make it fit someone else's needs – then it becomes this very bland and uninteresting thing in the middle that really doesn't contribute as anything new.
"That is a very harsh way of saying it. But I think you see my point."
Ihsahn recently released his all black metal, all Norwegian EP Telemark. He's also releasing a more progressive EP later this year but nothing has been announced yet.