An unassimilable emotions – an interview with SVARTA STUGAN

15 mins read

Two years after the release of their debut EP, Swedish futuristic, jazzy experimental band SVARTA STUGAN finally catches up with IDIOTEQ to tal about their latest EP called “EP3: Aspects of our future lives” and art in general. Their offerings are addictive, as evidenced in the hookiness of the latest supernatural record. SVARTA STUGAN’s psychologically mysterious and avant garde energies are inescapable. Listen for yourself and meet the guys behind it.

SVARTA STUGAN is: Filip Bagewitz (Synths, Guitar, Noise), Emanuell Svensson (Drums, Synth, Guitar, Mayhem), Henrik Toresson (Guitars, Synths, Themes). The interview below is available both in video and text formats. Enjoy!

The ignition was a spark of inspiration from TV-series Twin Peaks and movie Blade Runner. The Swedish twee-noise/post-rock trio ”Svarta Stugan” started in 2012 with the release of their self-titled debut ”Svarta Stugan Ep”. The debut was a blend of cinematic themes, dreamy soundscapes and their signature twee-noise sound. Their second EP, “EP2: A Mutation and a madness”, was released the following year. EP2 told the tale of a man dragged down into HP Lovecraftian nightmare as reality started to mutate around him.  Facing the demons of his past, he did in the end return to the surface but as a mere shadow of his former self. EP2 had a darker sound than it´s predecessor.

This fall the trilogy of EP:s will be complete with ”EP3: Aspects of our future selves”. Once again the influences of Blade Runner and Twin Peaks can be heard but there is also sounds reminiscing of bands like Radiohead and God Speed You! Black Emperor. The set of songs on this EP can be seen as paintings, structures or silhouettes (if you will) of different aspects of our future lives.

Photo by AnnaCarin Isaksson.

Hey there! Thanks for your time.

F:Ok, welcome to the Svarta Stugan interview my name is Filip. H: I´m Henrik E: And I´m Emanuel. H: Thank you for making this Interview with us.

How are you? How cold is Sweden this year?

H: The weather in Sweden is, right now spring is happening so it is warm and sunny.

Ok guys. So, your new release, “Aspects of our future selves”, provides a wealth of great experimental, noise, post rock and jazz-inspired recordings. How did this project come about and how does it link to the previous 2 EPs in the series?

H: Well I think that this EP is much more.. the songs on this EP is much more like plain rock songs. EP2 was more conceptual post-rock songs, it was darker and this one is much more sunnier and brighter. And I think that it is more of an answer to EP2 than.. I don´t think they are related, it is more of an answer to EP2, It was darker and EP3 is more brighter and sunnier.

F: One big difference is also that in EP1 and 2 we used computer backgrounds to make the sound huger and they where recorded to a click but we have stopped doing that.

H: Now it is only humans playing. F: We only have humans now.

Could you reveal in more detail the processes behind recording it?

H: Well the recording is happening in this order: I bring some material and then we rehearse the material and then we think of ways to improve the material. We have a lot of fun for a couple of days and then we record it. Pretty fast recordings every time it is like from start to finish… when I bring the material to the band we usually have a record in our hands in maybe one week or two weeks. F: Are we that quick? H: Yeah I think so… a month maybe. Yeah so that is how it is made.

What are the criteria that make you feel extremely satisfied with a recording? How would you rate the whole trilogy?

H: One of the criteria for me is that the songs are made in just a few takes… it is not a process were we press the record button again and again. I like to work fast but still it should be pleasing. I don´t know. F: Why do you like to work fast? H: Cause I feel that you get bored playing the material in a recording situation. You want to make it fast so it is still alive. And how would I rate the whole trilogy?… I would rate it A+.. for the teens. E: Excellent music over all. H: Yes… for the teens…

What makes these particular musical fields so interesting to you? What’s so special and engaging in the subgenres you’re borrowing from?

H: I don´t know why I like experimental music maybe because it is exciting. E: Isn´t it about building an atmosphere? I guess? You use some electronic instruments, or a lot of electronic instruments, synthesizers and such. And you pick a little of this and a little of that to build an atmosphere. And try to make it with your idea? And what you are trying to express? H: yeah, I mean when we rehearse and when we record I mean it is like; Anything goes. We can all do whatever, we can try every idea there is no boundaries there is no restrictions to the music making process.

F: And for me, I don´t think it is so much for you two but for me, I usually don´t play this kind of music at all so for me it is like a “lekstuga” (Swedish word for playground). For me it is liberating to do something that is very different from what I usually do. Cause normally I play more of oriental acoustic music. Here I can play more with sounds and live out my teen-age rock dreams. So for me it is more like an adventure. H: Yey! F: You are more like “in the post- rock office” everyday. H: yes we are in the Post- rock office everyday. F: I am more like the substitut teacher.

The relationship between movies inspirations and sound seems particularly close in your work. Can you tell us more about this connection and the cinematic themes you’re exploring with SVARTA STUGAN?

H: I always liked soundtracks to movies. And I guess that it is in relationship with the atmosphere thinking that we talked about earlier, that it is really about creating an atmosphere and a soundscape for us to live out our experimental dreams. F: And pictures. Making music that projects stuff in the head. H: Yeah…!


Art by Enrico Mazzone.

What were some of the experiences that have led you towards the discovery of the current form of musical expression? Can you tell us more about your background, other projects?

F: … my background. Well maybe we shoul start with that we have a common background in a way that we were class mates? H: Yep we studied music togheter. F: But we studied in different programs. I was in the world music program, I play mostly oriental music and also folk-music. That is mostly my background and then I have also done some experimental, electronic stuff like more on the side. H: And a lot of noise music. F: A lot of noise music and like free- improv like… but my main instrument is actually the Oudd, so I am not actually a synth player. But this is the main composer right here, the brain behind everything. H: And I come from a background based on different kind of rock music. Mostly experimental music like, Sonic Youth and different japanese acts like MELT BANANA. Also a lot of Brian Eno and Frank Zappa. So I´ve listened to a lot of music that has been unconventional in some sort of way. And I think that the unconventional thinking has inspired me a lot. You concur? E: I concur. Bye! (haha) H: (mumbling in swedish..) E: My background is from a lot of rock music I guess you could say. And my biggest influence growing up was the west- coast of USA in the nineties, with the grunge in Seattle and further down in California with the stoner scene. H: KYUSS! E: KYUSS. But also classic rock bands like LED ZEPPELIN. And other bands… well I play a lot of American folk-music nowadays with a band called “Det blev handgemäng” wich is the very exquisite language swedish. And it means, “There was a fight”.. I guess you could say. And I also play in a band called “The bitter, sick and die-alones”. Thats what I do. H: The best band in gothenburg! E: The best band in gothenburg right now. F: Isn´t that Svarta Stugan? E: Eh… together with Svarta Stugan (haha).

How about your biggest inspirations? Apart from movies, what else inspires SVARTA STUGAN to develop these extraordinary sounds?

I think that the sounds themselves inspires us. I think EP1 and EP2 was very much inspired by the computer sounds and the computer backgrounds and then I think that a big inspiration for us is the free-jazz outbreaks that we do; “Birth”, Re-Birth” and “Un-birth”, the trilogy. E: Yeah and the red wine is also an excellent source of inspiration. H: The red wine and the tea. F: and the “Fika” (Swedish for a coffee moment). And even more for me the synths. E. yeah the sounds really is an inspiration themselves. F: And also because no one of us really play those instruments regulary. So we always discover some new things, that maybe everybody else already knew, and then like “Oh my god!” Then we maybe build something from that or maybe we forget it… I have always been fascinated by analog synths for some reason.

What live shows and other artists are you looking forward to the most in 2015? Any special records and gigs you can’t wait to hear and see this year?

H: Well we missed EARTH when they were here playing.. I wanted to see them. And that I know that a childhood hero-band of mine FAITH NO MORE is releasing a new record, I don´t know how that record is going to sound or if I am going to like it as much as I did when I was a teenager but of course I am going to listen to it. F: At least for me I think that I have to much to do to stay updated about these big acts, which artist is coming to town. When I go to a live consert it is much more like improvised. Like: “oh are they playing here?” it is always a shock. Is it the same for you? E: Well I guess you hear about the big artist that are coming but I don´t know if that is something that you would like to see.. I am not interested in the big arena concerts and in Gothenburg this year I think it is like Foo Fighters?… and we have this festival called “Way Out west” but I don´t think that it is anything I want to see there. But ther is a lot of good music coming from Gothenburg. A friend of ours XENIA KRIISIN is releasing an album this year, I think. And TELLUS CHILDREN has just released an album which is excellent. I look forward to albums that I´m going to be apart of (haha). Like: “Det blev handgemäng” and “The bitter, sick and die-alones” and Alexander Ringbäck. There is a lot of good music coming out from Gothenburg and it is always nice to see what that is, I guess. F: Also some nice clubs and venues where you know that it will be interesting and good. So you can just go there when you have a free night. I wish I could do it more often.

How about yourself? Can we meet SVARTA STUGAN on the road somewhere?

H: Well maybe.. E: Book us! H: If you want to see us then book us! Well probably I think we will play…eeeehh.. I have not told this guys! (Haha). E: Bring out the calendars!! H: Maybe we will play in Gothenburg soon.. but that is not for… E: (haha) That is not for people H: That is not for people to see (haha). We will play in Gothenburg soon we will hust have to check our calendars and see if we can squeze it in between every other projects we are doing. Perhaps we will go to Germany if we have the cash to do so. There are venues that are interested so perhaps we will play in Germany. F: We hope so… E: Cliffhanger… But you can always follow us on Facebook for updates. H: And perhaps there will be a new release this year, for all you cassette lovers out there. E: To be continued…

Ok guys. One more thing. Are you excited about the new Twin Peaks series coming up this year? :)

E: I can´t even start to describe how excited I am about the new “Twin Peaks” season. But I heard just the other day that it was some uncertainty? H: Yeah… David Lynch has.. I´ve read somewhere that maybe it won´t be another season? E: Yeah, and like Twitter blew up… I heard… I don´t have Twitter…. H: Maybe they fooled us… E: Yeah but Showtime, which is the channel that will produce and air it, said that “it´s all good”. H: They are still on? E: They are still on. H: Maybe without David Lynch? (haha) E: Well he is a pretty important piece of the puzzle.. But yeah, Super duper excited about the new Twin Peaks. H: Bu actually, when I first heard it I was like: “Oh no they are going to ruin it for me”. Cause I liked the two old seasons so much that… Always when they return to something, they seem to ruin something about it. E: Yeah, but you trust David Lynch. H: Yeah definetely. F: I have mixed feelings I have to say cause I don´t like season two. Like sometimes it is good but sometimes it´s.. E: Like when “James” is on his motorcycle,well James.. what a piece of crap character (haha). When James is on his motorcycle and gets involved in that murder, I don´t know… But they make up for it in the last episode. H: When the dwarfs and the gigants re- appear. E: When the little people and the big people come in. (haha) Then it´s all good again! F: But season one is amazing. E: And the very nice floor and the drapes… I do love those drapes! (haha)

How do you think, why is Twin Peaks considered such a groundbreaking show?

H: It is because of the mixture between mysterious themes.. well the almost sci-fi themes that are in the show and the people and the atmosphere. And the music of course the music! The music is almost like the whole thing for me… the music with the pictures. F: …and this soap-opera kitch, everything has like a gleam to it. But as I understand it, when talking to like my mom or people who did see it when it was first aired in the nineties, then it wasn´t so many channels so everybody was like watching it. In these modern days it is hard to imagine like everybody whatching something like Twin Peaks. Like everyday at work after it was aired they were talking about what was happeningh. Like regular people that wouldn´t necessarily like it if it was aired today. So that is nice how they liked mixed it with soap-opera to mainstream it. It would be impossible today I think. For a broad audience. And they screwed up in season two I guess….

What attributes must a masterpiece musical recording have to be remembered for ages?

H:A masterpiece recording must have… I don´t know if I think about the records that I like… they balmost always have a thematic theme to the recording as a whole it. It is like… the recording is one piece. I think thats the way I can describe it. It has to have good songs or melodies or an attitude.

E: I also like those thematic albums. But I also think that a lot of it has to do with timing and luck. It has to come in the right time and the right place and speak to an audience and you know speak to it´s time and the enviroment where it is released. H: I think it is a hard question. E: Yeah it is a really hard question. Cause if we released like a masterpiece record it wouldn´t necessarily be remembered for ages it wouldn´t necessarily even be released, you know?. So I think that it is a lot about timing and luck. And then there´s also like the business and that the right guy, because it`s almost always a guy I guess, has to hear it and be like “well this I can make money out of this”, you know. Then there was another time I guess you know a couple of decades ago when bands got to work in the studio for like a long time, you know when they where already experienced. That improves the odds I guess for making a masterpiece. That you get 2-3 months in a studio like, do whatever you want. Then probably we could make a… H: Probably we would make like 20 albums in that time (haha). Because we only take like two days recording something. E: And they would all be crap (haha). H: And no one would get it.. E: I think that if we got 6 months in a studio, I think we could record something that was really good you know? It is a lot about how much work you put in to it I guess. And you have to get that chance. Because a lot of it is like timing and luck, it´s a bit cynical, of course it is like talent and… H: And also the histories around the recordings I mean, usually you have this icons in the music industries like Syd Barret and the PINK FLOYD albums is remembered, I mean it has a lot of histories behind them. Syd Barret was a really-….well.. messed up guy. And you have Kurt Cobain and the suicide… I mean, things is happening around the recordings which could help the recording to live on. E: Or maybe it is the other way around that those stories come up afterwards. You know “yeah, he showed up drunk to the studio”, you know there is this guy in the documentarie in front of the mixing-console, “yeah, you know he showed up drunk in the studio and then he went in and nailed it!” And you know that could happen to anyone (haha). It is only hyped up stories that comes up afterwards to help the album become this iconic.. I don´t think that the difference between us and PINK FLOYD is that big (haha). It is just about timing and luck and, of course it is excellent music, but there must be hundreds of thousands of albums out there that is excellent and also has these wonderful stories but it has not come in the right time. H: It has not been hyped. E: Of course PINK FLOYD is better that us… I didn´t mean it like that… H: Up to I point I think… before “The Wall”. F: But I think the scope of media today, the amount of music, new music being released all the time and the catalouge of days gone by. H: There is to much music? F: I think that no record made today will be a classic like “The Wall” is a classic or like any other of these really classic rock albums. E: There might be, I´m thinking for example of Bon Ivers albums. Maybe they´re not this mainstream highly commercial albums but I think they came in the right time and filled some kind of void. Maybe not in the same way.. F: I don´t think so. H: But I know what you mean I think the first Mars Volta album might be remembered. F: But that is already old (haha). But also when you talk to kids like 14-15 years old, I mean they play songs as I did when I started playing. I mean when we played Niravana it was new, but they are still playing them. They are still learning NIRVANA and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE songs. E: But our generation, I mean we are the teachers for them now. F: Yeah but my dad didn´t teach me “Come as you are” I learned that one from I friend. The kids aren´t playing MARS VOLTA… but maybe that´s to hard to play. E: I think it is hard to say now when we are so close to it. H: Yeah, we will see in ten years time. E: Lady Gaga might be like… the album of our generation…. or the trilogy of Svarta Stugan. H: Perhaps the trilogy of Svarta Stugan and perhaps on Cassette (haha). F: But aren´t albums dying out really? I mean it really depends on the style of music, in a lot of modern styles they aren´t really doing albums anymore. Their albums are more like collections of singles they made. Us musicians are making the albums cause we are the ones who like albums. But everyone I know, who isn´t a musician, don´t really have a cd-player. E: but maybe a LP-player. H: Or A Cassette deck? F: Definetely not a cassette deck (haha). E: But the Lp is making a comeback. F: But that is only the people who would buy a CD, the collectors, but there is no average joe buying the CDs, it is only we… who made them. E: yeah, we and the hippsters.

Do you think you’re getting close to this level with your art?

H: I think it´s really hard to tell our level of art E: What level? F: I think it is like the ”be remembered for ages”-level. The classics-level. H: ….. I don´t think we know. E: I don´t think it is up to us to decide. I think we do what we do, just like other bands do what they do. H: And if someone wants to listen I think they could tell. E: I guess we are happy with the results… F: I think it is just like you said earlier that the classic recordings is not so much about the quality actually I mean they are all good but it is not like ” this is a particulary amazing song” it is just that people have listened to it a lot and therefore it´s… H: It is famous because it is famous. F: And people like it because they heard it before and stuff like that.

Thanks so much for the interview guys! It’s been a pleasure.

[email protected]

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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