Often, when somebody visits my workspace, I am met by polite laughs when they discover how many album sleeves I have designed, but not written music to yet. I guess they compare it to schoolbands who use more time discussing how they are going to spend the money they earn as rockstars than actually practicing.
That is, however, not how it works for me. I have always thought that the visual artwork was just as important as the music. Great music could give me a bad experience it the cover did not do the music justice. My personal favourites has always been Storm Thorgersons works for Pink Floyd. Storm has worked with a lot of other artists, but has never had the same impact as with the Pink Floyd sleeves. I love the cover for 'Wish you were here'. An album I consider as Floyd's finest. Other great sleeves includes Einstürzende Neubauten's 'Silence is sexy' and 'Haus der Lüge', Jean-Michel Jarre's 'Oxygene' and 'Equinoxe', Nine inch Nails' 'Ghosts' and 'The Fragile' and not least Massive Attack's 'Mezzanine' cover.
When I start working on an album, I need a focus in order to know in what direction I'm going. As I try working in a new genre every time I record an album, having a musical focus is very hard. Normally during the working process I analyze and absorbs a genre, and it is a learning process every time. A visual focus, on the other hand, helps me a lot better to steer me in a certain direction. This means, that the sleeve is designed at a very early stage. The artwork for 'Constructions' was created before the first song was even written. If I had not had the cover all the way through the process, the album would not have been nearly as coherent as it is.
This, of course, means that I also have artworks for abandoned projects. Musical excercises that were going nowhere.
Like the Kraftwerk-ish 'Pictogram',
the 80ies King Crimson-ish 'Foul Play'
and the recently abandoned 'Evenkia'
Recently this passion for visuals has drawn me into the world of directing. This takes a lot of my time, and I am not as devoted to music as I have been. But I do have a sleeve for the next one...
It'll take a few more weeks before it becomes available on iTunes.
The last few weeks I have been knocking some dust off my 2004 album 'Tabula Rasa'.
The reason is, that I've decided to put it on iTunes just like 'Constructions'.
When it was released in 2004 I just wanted it out of the way, as I was already working on 'Constructions'. Hence I rushed it. There were parts which was intended for acoustic guitar or mandolin that was just played on keyboard, because it was easier. With 'Constructions' finished more than a year ago and 'Tabula Rasa' about to go online, I thought it was time to do the rushed bits properly.
All six parts of 'Tabula Rasa' was reworked for the digital download. Most significant are the changes applied to parts 2 and 5, while the changes to part 4 are only subtle.
Two days ago I went to see Klaus Schønning in his studio. He had done an entire new ending for part 2. This session also marked the compleasion of the reworking.
Yesterday the master was send to my distributor.
The rest of it is out of my hands, but soon it'll be on 60 different online stores around the world...
One of my hearts friends, Liz Cook has been featured on Hungarian MTV. Together with her husband she runs a gallery in Berlin. I am not as familiar with visual genres as with musical, so I honestly don't know how to explain the gallery's profile. Better watch for yourself: here
It is a tricky question, and I haven't found an answer yet. The what part is the easy one. I am a composer of weird songs, occational video director and from time to time sound engineer. Unpaid or underpaid, of course.
The why is a lot harder.
To be honest, I don't know why. But I can think of a few reasons:
1) I can't help it
2) to earn a dime doing something fun
3) to work with people I like
The first one is a clichee, but it might be true.
The second one is a laugh, because I have never earned enough to pay my bills.
The third one is sympathetic, but not necessarily true. I have worked with a lot of people I liked, but also with people I've disliked. Sometimes the result has been the same.
This takes me back to reason one again. Is this reason enough? I don't know, and from time to time I seriously think about selling the equipment and just quit.
Will I be able to do this? I don't know. I just might...
Here's the video I shot for Majbritt at Ladonia in the beginning of July. I'm very satisfied with the editing and all. I hope you like it too....
The reason for these eight hours of driving, was to have a meeting and some lessons from the best Stick player we have in Denmark; Lennart Marrot.
I bought a Chapman Stick a few years ago, and I used it all over the Constructions album. However, Constructions is a studioalbum and a lot of tricks can be done in the studio enviroment. So, it all come down to this: I can't play stick, and I needed a teacher. Luckily Lennart was more than happy to teach me some techniques. Now I've got a sore wrist....
lonely Planet's guide on micronations is currently on my night table. It is some great and mostly hillarious reading. I got very interested in micronations about a year ago, and even more interested after visiting Ladonia last month. Lonely Planet's book has got a nice feature on Ladonia, by the way. But the pictures could have been better...
Yesterday I went to an enchanted place on the northern frontier of Kullaberg called Ladonia. Ladonia is a micronation that has declared independence of Sweden. On the shore of Ladonia two majestic pieces of art, the nimis and the arx, rises from the ground.
Yesterday these two artworks provided the backdrop for the filming I did of a musicvideo for Majbritt.
Majbritt sang the opening track of my 'Constructions' album, and it was a pleasure to be able to return the favour by filming a video for her track 'Utopiernes tid' - the time of the utopia.
Unfortunately the filming was made difficult by the presence of numerous visitors, but Majbritt performed well and totally ignored all the curious eyes. The next few days will see me sorting through the footage, and picking the clips with no other persons present.
Yesterday should also have seen the release of a new album of mine, 'Evenkia', which was based on the Tunguska event and the first expedition going to the epicentre.
However, as I worked on it, I realized that the album was sounding too much like it was going to be a 'Constructions 2', and so I left it.
Who knows, some of the tracks might see the light in other forms on other albums some day.... maybe not...
It is a good thing because it is fantastic music, and I don't have to buy any records, as I already have all her releases here in my collection.
It is however also a bad thing because while listening to Laurie Anderson's music, I realize how dull and uninteresting my own music is. Or at least that's how I feel about it while listening to 'Speachless', 'Big Science 2' or 'Slip away'.
It might take a few days before I'm ably to work in the studio again without this feeling of inferiority...
You can find a recording of the interview here
The show starts at 4 pm friday the 13th of june, and will be aired on 94,5 mhz in the Copenhagen area.
I will be on the show for about 20 minutes and will talk about 'Constructions', Berlin and arts.
This new work is very thrilling, and might proove to be my most eerie piece yet. Unfortunately I am unable to reveal much more right now.
But I would like to add a few words about the genre. Much has happened since music videos was labeled 'eye gum for bubble brains'. The genre has become an art form itself, and eventhough there's still a lot of eye gum out there, there are also short films of very high quality. Please let me reccommend these videos:
EMP herself did not perform, but sat in the audience - listening very carefully...
And by the way, I've found a title for my new album 'Love Borne Future'...
Right now I'm giving the music a pause, and devoting my time to work on video installations for a very prominent american musician, whose work I've followed for ten years....
Now Roy Glover - Gunther von Hagens'competitor - brings his exhibition 'Bodies' to Cophenhagen. Once again I am disgusted, but I think I have to go see what it is...
The second concert was very different. After 10 years absence 'Portishead' is making noise again. The show was highly fueled with a perfect mixture of old and new. A very welcome return!
Please keep it coming, it means a lot to me to know what you think.
This may be the occation to reveal a record release planned for 2010. I am brainstorming a new ambient album as follow up to my 2001 album 'Odyssey'. These albums are, as you probably have guessed, based on Arthur C. Clarkes books. The new album has the working title 'Two Suns' and will be a collaborative album.
But we are still only brainstorming...
It took me quite some listening to a-ha albums (which isn't bad at all) before I managed to get it working. The opening track from the forthcoming album is now on tape!
It is very satisfying working on the new album, and I'm progressing fast. This album will be much more simple in approach than the earlier - but that doesn't mean that it isn't effective....
The look of it and the finish makes me want to play it. A guitar just after my head.
I haven't had a humbucker guitar since I sold my Ibanez a couple of years back, and it's great fun to hear the thickness of it's sound. My other electrics are all single coiled, and eventhough I like the sharpness of the sound, I am thrilled with this new beauty and I suspect it will become my main guitar from now on. Poor old Jazzmaster....
I have bought a lot of concert tickets. I'm going to see both Roger Waters and Portishead. Both whom I haven't seen before. I decided not to go the Jean-Michel Jarre concert in Copenhagen, but couldn't resist and bought a ticket anyway. That will be the 6th Jarre concert I'm going to....
In the studio I have my ten new demo tracks on repeat. I am starting to get them under the skin. Yesterday I worked on some sequences with Modularmoog sounds. It sounds tremendous. The new tracks are upbeat, electronic and very influenced by The Alan Parsons Project, Moloko and Madonna....
What a mix!
There's a beautiful halo around the full moon tonight. I haven't seen a moon halo in about ten years. It reminds of Andreas Vollenweider's 'Down to the Moon' album. Haven't heard that one in ten years either by the way.
Andreas Vollenweider was the first real musician I ever met. A very nice person and a great inspiration for me at the time.
Now back to bass lines performed on microchip pitch corrected analogue synthesizers...
Realizing that my live performance dreams has been put on hold, I have started working on new material. I now have ten tracks. Some of them have song like structures, and others are merely loops. This time I try to make the music more radio-friendly. Some of it might even work on the dancefloor (!). Once again it will have lyrics, but I haven't written any yet. Right now I focus on beats and pulsing synth-basses.
Yes, I've got a new album out! Back in december 1999 I boldly announced that my forthcoming album 'Constructions' would be released 'within six months'. How naïve I was. Just about eight years later it was actually released, and about a week ago it went online on the iTunes Store in Canada, USA, Australia, Japan and most of Europe.
And now, within a month of it's release it has sold much more than my two previous albums.
As you might have guessed, I'm quite happy. Now I am looking for business partners in order to make 'Constructions' available as regular release as well. Actually I have considered having it pressed on vinyl and packaged as a gatefold. I looove gatefold LPs.
Anyway.... I'll catch up with you soon!