Tim McConnell makes dark music for dark film
Exit takes you as far from National Romanticism as you get
Exit is a drama series as far from Norwegian National Romanticism as you can get.
A popular Norwegian-American artist, Tim Scott McConnell, was brought in to compose music for some of the seasons. One of his songs is known through Bruce Springsteen, who was recently awarded with the National Medal of Arts. The music is dark.
Exit has since become the most streamed series in Norway’s history; a fifth of the population saw the show. We met McConnell on his birthday, as he played for a handful of listeners outside Oslo. He made his appearance with he his guitar, a stomp-box for each foot, and a remarkable voice.
Tim Scott McConnell won a Spellemann prize (Norwegian Grammy equivalent) in the blues category for his latest album White Crow. He calls himself Ledfoot when he releases his most personal and honest songs, his “Gothic blues.”
The American-Norwegian musician was born in Florida and developed his own playing style using a 12-string guitar with extra thick strings. Norway has been his home for the last 30 years.
“They asked me to make a song of 1.5 minutes,” he tells the audience. “But as the badasses in the film got more bad, they asked for 4.5 minutes—and that’s no problem for me, as I grew up with badasses,” he said as the audience laughed.
Four and a half minutes didn’t do, and he was asked for 10 more songs. In the series, McConnell/Ledfoot is responsible for “The Man I Am,” “Where I Lost Hope,” “The Devil in His Eyes,” “Heaven Must be Falling Down,” “Take Away the Hurt,” “House of Restitution,” “Sound Of The Sun Going Down,” “Dead Man Can Do,” “Crossed My Heart,”“ Right Down The Hole,” and “The Devil’s Songbook.” The songs fit the themes in Exit, as the lyrics are dark, his voice is deep as that of Johnny Cash, and his blues are performed as if he has a tear in his voice.
After Exit, Ledfoot became a popular interview subject, and cameras love his looks, the white hair, his tattoos, and overall presentation. Therefore, he was an obvious character for a role in the film.
Exit takes place inside a secret, exclusive world with corruption, drugs, sex, and too much money. Four friends in business and in their private lives from the west side of Oslo are spicing up life to such a degree that they all become mentally ill. Their facade, their family life, comes into conflict with their clandestine lifestyle.
Filmmaker Øystein Karlsen has based the film on real life, interviews recorded with people from Oslo’s world of high finance. Over dinner, they reveal the truth, their coping mechanisms, and pursuits of drug-enhanced pleasure.
Simon J. Berger, who plays Adam, has a role in the murder mystery miniseries, Modus. Agnes Kittelsen (Happy, Happy) plays Adam’s wife, Hermine. Kittelsen starred in Norwegian sitcom Dag from 2010 to 2015 when she worked with Karlsen, who co-wrote and directed Exit. Television, film, and theater actor Jon Øigarden plays Jeppe, Tobias Santelmann, who had a starring role in BBC TV series The Last Kingdom is Henrik, and Pål Sverre Hagen, who appeared in Valkyrien and played Thor Heyerdahl in the Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated film Kon-Tiki is William. Playing William’s wife is Ine Marie Wilmann, who stars in the film Sonja: The White Swan.
The third season of the series is not for those who expect Norwegian landscape and harmony, not even for those expecting run-of-the-mill crime, as Exit is about prostitution, explicit sex, violence, and greed, based on anonymous interviews with four men. It is a dark film that makes for dark music.
The series Exit can be streamed on ViaPlay at viaplay.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.