MP3: Thee Gutted String - Feeling small

Hopefully you've heard of Viktor Sj÷berg by now. If not through his involvement with Jens Lekman as a member of his backing band, perhaps you saw this recent feature in Dagens Nyheter? Or maybe you've been following all the praise being heaped on him on behalf of folks such as myself and other corners of the interweb like Digfi and so on. Through it all, let me say this: he deserves it. He's not only a superb musician who excels in every genre, he's also a perfect gentleman and I'm honored to be of his acquaintance.

When I set out on this Gbg Spotlight feature at the beginning of 2008 Viktor was at the top of my list - it was never matter of "if", only "when". And that time is now.

You moved to Gbg for school, right? How long has it been now? Think you'll stick around once you finish your dissertation?

Well, not exactly, I grew up in Pixbo just outside Gothenburg so I have pretty much always been here. I lived down south for little over a year though, which is where I met many of the people that are my closest friends today. Some of them has since then moved to Gothenburg, such as Johan (Gustavsson, aka Tsukimono). I have been living in central Gothenburg since around 2004 and I don't think that I would want to live anywhere else in Sweden, at least not in any other city. I am finishing up school right now (for real this time!) and who knows what the future holds? But I can safely say that if I were to leave Gothenburg I would go to California rather than anywhere else in Sweden or Europe.

What do think is the most charming aspect of Gbg? On the other hand, is there anything about the city you wish you could change?

My mother, my dog and a lot of my dear friends live here. That's fairly charming. I think it has a lot of possibilities and it can certainly be a beautiful place when it wants to be. I could get into a discussion on how right now I think that we probably have more things going on musically than Malm÷ or Stockholm, but that feels kind of irrelevant. It rains a lot and it's very windy and more than often overcast. These conditions make for creative indoor activities and good friendships.

As far as music goes, you seem to be involved with both the pop and experimental scenes. Is there a lot of crossover between the two? What characteristics do they both share, if any?

I don't what to say, really. I guess there are a few artists that walk this line separating "pop" and "experimental". Personally, I think that this a hard thing to do and I think very few people succeed. Thinking more about it, I find that I generally think it works best when so called "experimental" artists incorporate popular music into their work, rather than the other way around. (If this is done in a non-ironic manner that is.) Pop music with an presumably experimental edge is generally just a bad make-up job and one of the worst things in the world. One big exception that actually lives in Gothenburg is Erik de Vahl, who to me is an excellent pop artist that not only writes beautiful songs, but also is sonically restless. It seems to me that he explores new areas because he needs to, not because he wants to make up for something that isn't there. I have been listening to his unreleased new album for almost a year now and I think it's the best thing he's ever done. I hope he decides to put it out some day.

You always seem to have a ton of amazing projects going on all the time - what are you currently working on now? What about stuff your friends are doing; got any tips on artists I should be paying more attention to?

I am finishing up my follow up album to "On a winter's day", entitled "Breakfast in America". I have been working on it for pretty much two years and it's definitely my most fully realised project so far. It is very much a pop album and it is inspired by the feeling of greatness that pop music can provide you with at certain points in your life. It's about seeing America out of a train window with your oldest childhood friend, catching all those youthful dreams and finding new ones. It's about finding love in people, in the landscape and in the golden sunshine. Basically, loving life.

I am working with my New Jazz Ensemble in different ways, we just did a show as a quartet last week and we are doing another one as a septet this week. After that there'll be a small tour with Malm÷ popjazztrio Auton. We are playing Copenhagen, Malm÷, Gothenburg and Stockholm. I am also putting out their debut album on my label, Structures Sonores this week, so there is a lot of work going on with that.

Gothenburg artists that you should check out? Well, I hope you listened to the song "Feeling small" by Johan Gustavsson's Gutted String project. He has another one that is called "Ferry from here" that is also fantastic and I know that he is working on some spectacular things. There's more things going on I guess, but that's the last thing that seriously blew me away. Oh yeah, and I like Madamm. She has the best guitar sound in town.

So do you have a song to share either from yourself or another artist you admire? Tell us about it.

Johan sent me this music while I was in California over the summer. I was sitting at the Escondido Public Library working on a paper when I suddenly got a hold of the library wifi and checked my email. I found this song in my inbox and I began listening to it over and over again. The idea of Johan singing his heart out on the other side of the globe was very appealing, but even more so it was a completely brilliant song. That the key line is dealing with drowning in noise is very fitting in so many ways. I hope to hear more things from Thee/The Gutted String asap.

Thee Gutted String - Feeling small