RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Originalljudet: Minimalism through a vodka bottle

img  Tobias Fischer

Originalljudet have a pretty unique approach. How did you get an ensemble of musicians together who could all imagine working on this kind of sound?
We looked for odd characters with a different approach to music. Vision, integrity and originality were therefore more important than virtuosity. Egil Sandström and I had made music together for quite a while when we finally managed to put together a group. Rosali Grankull joined the circus first and she knew Hans Jörg Ehammer who just came bicycling from Germany. Shortly after that I met Aron Junker in a bar, and was impressed by his beard and slightly unreal way. That’s the core of Originalljudet, but we've gone through several line-ups since we started 3 years ago.

To some, the line-up may look weird, but actually sound-color-wise it's a very tight ensemble – the reed instruments and accordion actually seamlessly blend together on several occasions. Were you thinking more in terms of timbre for the formation of the band rather than tradition?

Yes, I think we all are quite disrespectful towards tradition; It’s more about finding an odd timbre and unique sounds. Little thought is given to instrumentation and timbre while composing, more to melody and harmonies. But what you discover when you play our music as a band, in opposite to performing it as an orchestra or ensemble, is that the timbre really comes with the interaction of the group. If I gave the scores to a classical ensemble with the same setting, I believe it would sound sprawling and not as tight sound-color-wise. We try not to use scores, share a musical vision and rehearse in a rock-band-kind-of-way - which has an impact on the sound. We are all on the same flying carpet.

Do you rather see your music from an avantgardistic angle or more as a twisted kind of Folk?

Mainly as Avantgarde but in a non-alienating way. Or some kind of outsider music with a touch of twisted folk. The Avantgarde may also be a result of a lack of formal training in composing some would say. Its tricky to classify Originalljudets music, even for us. Maybe its up to a music writer to coin a word for it?

Was there any sort of concept at all for the band before you started playing?

Yeah, there was a clear artistic vision before Originalljudet was put together as a band. Some of it has changed and some remains the same. The concept was something like: Lets go to space and bring what we like. Mix it up and bring back something different, beautiful and twisted. Expressive and surreal minimalism, quasi-Avantgarde and shining outsider music. The music we miss on earth. And do it with a punk kind of attitude, not being very academical about it.
The first thing we did was to build a few instruments. One of them was called Originalljudet, a small box with square cymbals and a built-in brainwave generator. I used it for self-hypnosis to help me fall sleep. And liked it so much that I included it as some kind of distant drone in most of the songs. On the album it's rarely heard but right from the beginning, we were mixing it in to almost everything. Sometimes even with subliminal messages. That instrument gave the band its name.
This was also in the beginning of something that now seems to become a new Swedish underground scene. With acoustic music outside the Afro-American tradition, different instrumentation, DIY and quite disrespectful attitude towards genres, musical rules and formal training. Guitars are rare, thank god. I hope it will get more attention in the future. Not even Swedish media is covering it at the moment.

I was quite amazed by the ecstatic audience reaction to some of your live performances, though ...
I think the direct stage approach and unpolished aesthetics might be one of the reasons for that. And the interaction of course. But it varies a lot depending on where we play. Most live recordings you hear are made at scruffy, intimate underground venues. That atmosphere suits our music better than the traditional and the audience is focused in another way. It’s easier to surprise in these kinds of places and people feel more free to scream when they like or dislike what they hear. It might also be that people drink more.

Do you use concerts to try material out on an audience?
Even though the music develops when it meets an audience I wouldn't say that we are using live performances as laboratories. The music is all written and arranged, even though we have a few improvised parts here and there. That means it develops in how it’s played but not much composition-wise during gigs. But in the end of 2009 we had a few micro-concerts for 5-15 people in a small studio/carpentry where we rehearse. That, on the other hand, had that function. We invited random people, offered wine, oral solution and mashed potatoes, Hans Jörg talked about carpenter stuff and we presented fragments of new songs.

On several occasions, there seems to be an influence of minimalist composers, but it's a bit as though you were looking at them through a vodka bottle ...
Minimalist composers through a vodka bottle! I love your description, its much as we see it. The music is made in a very eclectic way, taking inspiration from multiple genres and techniques, where minimalism is one. Often we are using cheap software and an mp3 player with a microphone to make musical phrases, figures, and cells. Then puzzling it together into quite simple songs/scores that leaves space to work with pulse and variations for each instrument. You could say that the dynamics and a shared intuition are far more important than rhythmical precision. It can be magical to get that profound aesthetic sync with each other.

What's the news on the pink Banana? How are you coping with the loss of this invaluable item?
That is a tragedy. It had an important ceremonial value for us, and contained within it were melted objects that are irreplaceable. Some shady guys stayed to 5am at our release party and refused to leave. Completely stoned and fascinated by the banana. I think they stole it, its gone forever and we have to make a new one.

Picture by Christian Hagward

Homepage: Originalljudet

Related articles

Erik Friedlander: Overtaken by Memories
The title of Erik Friedlander's ...
Vassilis Tsabropoulos & Anja Lechner: "Melos" offers polychromatic music on ECM
Greek composer Vassilis Tsabropoulos is ...
Luca Francesconi: First, there was no Word
On his latest album, Italian ...
Gabriel Prokofiev: Concerto for Turntable rocks the RSNO
The grandson of one of ...
Anthony Braxton: Ghost Trance Music explained
Anthony Braxton is doing his ...

Partner sites