Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? 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?
A normal day is getting up around 9, working with emails and admin stuff for the work with Nathalie until lunch time, then head off to the studio for the rest of the day. I can’t really work effectively for too many hours in the studio anyway, after half a day I easily get lost or my ears get tired. A few years ago I got an external music studio. Before that I’ve always worked at home and then everything was blended into each other, but it wasn’t good for my creativity, I got too easily distracted with other stuff, and I was also listening back all the time to what I was doing, I never got to rest from it. This is one of the best things now with an external studio, it’s a place where I only make music and nothing else (except drink coffee and lie on the couch, which is a big part of the creative process). So, separating things have turned out to be a good thing for me.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I think the process is kind of similar to all the work I do that I like, it often starts with me finding something almost randomly, I noodle around and suddenly I do something that intrigues me. I think the improvisational beginning is important because it takes me out of preconceived ideas and thoughts, in order to make something new I need to go someplace new, and that’s the exploratory phase of playing around. Where do ideas come from? I don’t create ideas, I just listen and catch them as they appear, from somewhere. The best I can do is to notice when something good is coming along. Suddenly I catch on to something, I explore it deeper, start bending and sculpting the sounds and melodies, and put myself in there, make conscious decisions about the work.
From there I might start getting a vision of what I want the finished music to be like, and I work more from experience and knowledge on what I want to do. Finally I might tweak everything so it works within a context of an album or an EP for instance. But the best music I do is when I don’t know what is going to happen when I start. The worst music I do, is when I have a very specific idea, and the idea is based on something someone else has done, or when I want to make something I think people will like. That’s almost always bound to be shit, because it feels dishonest.
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 absolutely most important thing for me is to be completely present and focused, meaning learning to minimise distractions. When I had the music studio at home there were too many distractions all the time, it was so easy to go into the kitchen and make some coffee, go into the living room and water the plants, etc. When I’m in my small music studio I have up in the country side in Sweden, by a big lake, I’m very focused, because there’s so little around, just vast skies and forest. The worst thing are the Internet and my phone. My best strategy is to be aware if I’m fully present with what I want to do or not, and if I’m not, try to slow down, focus on just one thing.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
They are very different but help each other. Writing in the studio is slow, gives you time to test things out, be analytical, thorough. Whereas playing live is all about improvisation, everything on the fly, no time to think about things, just test without any safety net. So when I’m playing live I don’t have time to hesitate, I just do, which makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do in the studio. So it’s a great tool to open up unexpected things. There’s adrenalin and a live audience. I take a lot back from what I learn by playing live into my compositions. But the foundation and knowledge of what to do live comes from sitting in the studio and taking the time to go though everything, alone.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Sound is everything, especially in techno. I like that a song can consist of only one note, but constantly changing in timbre and intensity etc. You can get a melody from just changing the sound. Sound and melody are in that sense the same.
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? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
I think about this a lot, since I'm making music for the installations and videos with Nathalie Djurberg, the music goes straight into your brain without any filters, there’s really no time to analyse what you are hearing, your feelings are instantly influenced by music, and then you are already in a certain state when your brain takes in images and process and analyses them. So music can really steer someone in a certain direction. It’s three dimensional and physical. It’s a powerful medium to make people feel something both physically and psychologically.
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?
My approach as a producer and performer making instrumental music is a very direct and feeling based one; physical and in the moment. I really wouldn’t say it’s political, it’s rather very individual. I think the best results I can get is when the listeners can reach something inside themselves when hearing my music.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I don’t think that’s really needed, I see music as a part of the universe, it’s really mathematics, symmetry, harmony; harmonically and rhythmically arranged sound waves. How can we be without music constantly? Our heart beats and everything pulsates. And I can as much appreciate someone beating on two logs, as hearing something on a 4D top of the line sound system.