Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I really like routines, they help me enjoy the small things and to focus on what’s most important to me. I love touring and travelling as well, so I’m always trying to find a balance with these things.
The last two years have probably been the most work-intense years in my life (actually it’s been way too much, way too much different stuff at the same time, way too much organizing and administration). Anyway, normally I’m waking up around 7, eating the same breakfast every morning, start working, eating porridge for lunch, hopefully go outside for some air at some point during the day, doing Ashtanga yoga for roughly 90-120 min, eat dinner and go to bed around 23, after some reading. Watching a movie every second week or so.
I believe that all parts of life — what I do, who and what I’m connected to and attaching myself to — will affect and influence everything else, in one way or another with me having to actively doing the blending. This doesn’t mean that one always can foresee casualties of course, or what form the desires will take or how they will be channeled.
Thanks to Sweden’s (still) remarkable education system, last years I’ve been constantly doing a bit of part time university studies (in Arabic, Greek, political science, science/history of religion, musicology, among other things) and this has been a great thing for me, to combine with the sonic activities.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Some ensembles and projects that been of huge importance to me: the early bands with friends (Anton, Raeel, Isabella, Christian) from my hometown who all pushed me into the music path; further on to college bands like duo Magiska Teatern (with Johan Jutterström), Dragspelssällskapet and free jazz/impro bands Nkiru, Silence Blossoms, and Crime Scenes; Niklas Barnö’s Je Suis! which was the first band I toured more professionally with; the Sofia Jernberg initiated impro/folk project with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Olav Luksengård Mjelva where I was asked to join both as a composer and a musician; being part of Martin Küchen’s Angles 7-9 since 2010; playing with Goran Kajfeš Tropiques since 2011; the Arrival-edition of Fire! Orchestra, and all the various projects that Johan Berthling and Mats Gustafson has dragged me into during the last years 5-10 years. All of these have been incredible.
And so much more could be added … sitting in temporarily with the Magic Spirits Quartet (with Majid Bekkas), playing the big band music of pianist Cecilia Persson, working with Mariam the Believer and Sven Wunder … all of this has meant EVERYTHING to me as a musician.
In particular, I'd want to mention the work with Crime Scenes during 2007-2010, because it nourished the belief in the strength of collective improvisation and the magic of interplay: what trust mean in a musical context.
My first work for solo piano, pole of inaccessibility, was important for me since I went in depth with the idea and practiced for two years. Some of them were never unprepared was important since it was a kind of naive and simple seed of an idea that I nevertheless followed to the end (in a process that was really quick!) and I think it turned out okey. The trio Yokada and the music I write for us is important because it seems to me a relevant way for me to play post bop music.
All the bands and I’m working with are important because they all challenge the perfectionist in me, and forces me to do the best I possibly can at that given moment and not to complain about all things I don’t like with my playing etcetera.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The lovely violence of an idea entering the mind and body is quite beautiful. And for me, practicing presence, tactility and breathing in various ways is key in order to try to create an openness for new sensations and thoughts to be able to arrive.
And for me, a rich musical performing experience is when there’s a sense of trust and a collective responsibility of carrying the music together. By careful listening and careful way of treating of details, of everything that’s sounding. When the only thing that matters is the sounding here and now, when the interplay and/or presence is at a level where it’s like the whole world is immersed in there, you are sculpting time and you are in a state of outmost vulnerability together … moving into the unknown, sound by sound, sound ways …
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
When composing or making the disposition for a record, I have a sense that I want to be able to ‘see’ the full form in my inner eye. If that’s picture is unclear I find it more difficult to trust whether the whole makes sense or not. For me this is one way that visual aspects is involved in music making.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I think and hope that art could generate a large span and variation of actions or non-actions. I believe that creating art demands critical thinking, and that it also can support and stimulator critical thinking, something which – needless to say – is badly needed these days.
Moreover, if someone’s experience of a certain music or art piece leads them to form an activist group working towards radical system change, or if it makes someone stop eating animals, or to breath deeper, or to make something nice to someone else, all of these outcomes are much welcomed.
Also if it gives the person sonic pleasure during the listening, or makes doing the laundry more fun — then that’s also much welcomed.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I believe music is one of few phenomena these days where people quite easily (without knowledge of quantum physics let’s say) have the chance to connect to something beyond what we know of or can grasp. Through listening we’re welcomed to enter the realms of an important, humble uncertainty and a state of abstraction.
Sounds are certainly direct but also extremely multifaceted and multilayered. Sounds are strange and I think life and death is strange. We can learn that we don’t know shit, and that we can’t control much in life.