VI SOM ÄLSKADE VARANDRA SÅ MYCKET is one hell of a name. Drawing directly from the classic Italian movie “C’eravamo tanto amati“, this emotional screamo / post rockish hardcore act managed to create one of the most touching and soulful records this year. Due to my great enjoyment for this beautiful, wistful and poignant record, I have decided to reach out for a bit more and ask the band a couple of questions that will hopefully widen your perspective on their work.
Play it loud, dive deep into the rich, breathtaking soundscapes and unadulterated emotions, and read the full interview below. This is highly recommended.
Hey there guys! Thanks a lot for taking some time with IDIOTEQ, which is obviously some of the most appropriate homes for the saddest music in the world.
Hello. This is one third of VSÄVSM answering your questions: Mark Shaw (guitar) and Arvid Ringborg (vocals). The rest of the guys are Tomas Brisman (bass), Gösta Jonasson (drums), Johan Angantyr (guitar) and Jens Gentzschein Lager (guitar).
Your debut 12’’ set yourselves a high target. Musically, it’s definitely one of the most interesting blends of scream and post music I’ve heard in a long time. How are you proud of what you managed to accomplish on “Den sorgligaste musiken i världen”?
Thank you for the kind words. We worked really hard to make it come together. One thing that we are especially happy about is that we were able to put so much time and effort into it. It allowed us to build up songs in the studio with many layers. In fact, so many layers, that we ourselves still hear new things in it when we listen to it now.
Making the record was truly a group effort: everybody brought in ideas and helped others develop their ideas. The end result is a record that we are happy with, which is representative of us, which hopefully still has a realness and rawness. You never know how others will feel about it though, so it´s been incredible to get such a positive response from people.
The sound that you’ve managed to create with this album is like a cinematic experience. What films other than the obvious influence had a huge impact on you guys?
We do like the cinema and there are some obvious references, but we are mostly inspired by life and art. When it comes to song structure, our songs often contain a dramatic build up. We are always playing with dynamics and tension, so our music does sometimes have a cinematic feel to it. As far as referencing movies, we found the titles to which we alluded to be beautiful. They sum up what we aspire to do musically. Arvid studied film at the university and also worked as a scriptwriter, which has been a major influence on him especially, but it´s something we rarely discuss as a band.
The name of the band contains an direct reference to the eponymous movie by “C’eravamo tanto amati” by Ettore Scola. Why did you feel so strongly about it and what makes it stand out from other pictures from your perspective? What initally brought you to this inspiration?
It is a beautiful movie that also deals with a lot of the same themes that we do. We thought the title was a fitting name for a band so we made it ours.
I’m really glad you decided to use your native language to go along these heartfelt compositions. How important was it to stick to Swedish on this record? How does it relate to the core concept of the album?
Initially it was something that we just tried and were really happy with how it came out. It was a very conscious decision to stick with it. Sweden has a huge number of bands, but most decide to sing in English. Thats fine and understandable, but we thought it would be more expressive to write in our own language. For Swedish speaking people, we hope it really adds something: there is almost more of an emotional truth to hearing something expressed in your own language. At the same time, for those who don’t speak Swedish, there is a different effect, almost a mystique about hearing something emotional and expressive in a language you don’t know. At least that is how it has been for us, as we have listened to a lot of bands that sing in their native tongue – it does give a different feel to the music. As listeners, we have felt it makes the music more sincere, more true. Especially in the screamo genre where there is so much raw emotion behind it.
The strong emotions in your music may give a listener a pessimistic feel, but I’m almost sure you don’t want to sound entirely pessimistic, but also promising and encouraging, am I right?
There definitely is a sadness to it, but we don´t feel it´s pessimistic at all. While parts of it do express arguably pessimistic viewpoints, as a whole, it is meant to express a wide range of complex emotions one feels when dealing with things such as loss or deep uncertainty. But in the end, there is always hope and one must always move forward, even in the face of hardships and challenges. We would love it if others are able to find comfort and hope in our music when they are going through a hard time. So, yes, you are right!
The artwork is obviously a very important part of the message. Can you tell us more about the amazing job done by your friend Martin Jacobson?
Martin is an old friend whom Arvid has known since they were small kids. As you have seen, he is a great artist and we admire his work. We thought he, of all artists, would be able to find an appropriate visual expression for our work. We had some general ideas of what we wanted and we expressed that to him. But we also told him that we trusted him to do what he thought was best. In the end, Martin built our idea into something even better than we could have reasonably hoped.
How important were some of your musical icons and heroes for forming your own dramatic language in music? Can you name some of the most important acts and artists in your life?
Since we are six people that come from different musical backgrounds, it´s hard to quickly summarize the wide range of music that inspires us. However, because we all are involved in the songwriting and the arrangements, our diverse background become an asset. One thing that might differentiate us from some other screamo acts is the fact that we use different song structures which you can derive from us listening to music from other genres. For example, we are willing to use more traditional song structures and even have our own version of choruses in our songs.
To go back to your question, with the sound of VSÄVSM there are countless bands that have inspired us. Some of the wide range of bands that have inspired us are: PORTRAITS OF PAST, SHOTMAKER, ENVY, SAETIA, RAEIN, MOGWAI, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, SAGE FRANCIS, MOUNTAIN GOATS, AT THE DRIVE-IN, LOWERCASE, ELLIOTT SMITH, JAY REATARD, CLINT MANSELL, TRAIL OF DEAD, HELMET, TOOL, HIS HERO IS GONE, REFUSED, JOHNNY CASH, MURDER BY DEATH, PORTISHEAD, DRIVE LIKE JEHU, LOW, THE PIXIES… This list could go on forever, we all listen to a lot of music. You get the picture.
How about some of the newer bands? Can you share some good new names worth checking out?
There are some really good screamo bands coming out of Sweden right now. Like RAINMAKER, YOUNG MOUNTAIN, HEART ON MY SLEEVE, TOTEM SKIN, SHIROKUMA, TREMBLING HANDS, ELDSTAD, VIA FONDO, CARELESS… There is a lot going on. Some of our favourite bands right now in screamo from outside of Sweden are ØJNE and VIVA BELGRADO. Though it´s not exactly in our genre, MARIJUANA DEATHSQUADS is doing something really new and interesting, especially when seen live.
Ok guys, so what are some of your upcoming projects (recording, touring, or otherwise)?
We are preparing to record a split with a Mark’s previous band from the early 2000s, the KHAYEMBII COMMUNIQUE, where they are finishing some of their unreleased songs. We are also working on figuring out how to make touring work with everybody’s lives. Besides playing local shows in and around Stockholm, we are playing Miss the Stars Fest in Berlin next May. We are very interested in getting out of Sweden more – especially overseas – so we welcome any contact or ideas anybody might wish to share with us. Also, at some point hopefully soon we will start working on a new record and maybe do some other releases on the way.
Awesome! Thanks so much for your time and the insightful answers! I really appreciate it! Take care and please let’s keep in touch. Cheers!
Thank you! Keep up the good work.