Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My name is Mattias Olsson and Im a hoarder.

So last night was one of those nights that usually happen in early January when you decide that its time to sort out "that" mess in the studio. So me and my wife spent 3-4 hours working on putting up shelves trying to get the stacks and stacks of drums organized and in somekind of order. But still when we left the studio I couldnt really see any difference. There are cases and dormant instruments...everywhere. Some of them are mine others are just visiting for years on end. A problem is of course a couple of illusions that I still harbour.

1. I still harvest the dream that I will repair things. 
Even that little organesque thing that I found at a fleamarket under a mummyfied mouse that needs a power supply/keys/drumheads. I think that there will come a day when I will start going through the entire studio and make notes in a cool little leather book about everything that is slightly wonky and then hand it to someone who is a general electronics wizard and also very handy with wood and formica. To my surprise she is extremely cheap because she likes tinkering with things and its nice diversion from her day job as international jewel thief/brain surgeon/hamster trainer. Two weeks later it will return sounding better than ever. And when I turn on that little weezy Hohner organ I will realize "My God! This is the sound that I have been searching for all these years. This will change everything". 
In reality I have stacks of amazing equipment that needs a little work on the key D. Will I ever sort it out...? Probably not.

2. "Sure you can drop off you grand piano/pipe organ/elephant drum! I have 280 m2! I have room...". 
Currently there are two baby grand pianos, three uprights and one piano frame in the studio. How does that happen? Because when you have the room you can...But when is it too much stuff stacked on top of each other? Ask someone else as I apparently have no idea. Apparently Eric Satie had two pianos stacked on top of each other. As well as 100 umbrellas and 84 identical handkerchiefs. Im not that weird, am I?

Umbrella number #54 and Eric Satie.

3. The illusion of value. 
The illusion that everything old, formicadressed and vintage will be worth something in the future. I think anyone who has some old gear is terrified of doing the classic "Yeah I had one of those in the 80s but double manual Mellotrons with Wakemans original shemale choirs were terribly out of fashion so I gave it to my nephew who used it first as a urinal fort and then let his sad rabies smitten pet kangaroo live in it. They put it out on the street three years later. How much would that be worth today?". I have probably 30 or 35 organs. They are cool and all but their actual worth? Probably not that much. But if I just wait 30 years....

3,5. Its worth even more because I have used it on an album or a song. 
This is one of the illusions I struggle with the most. I cant part with things that I have used because somewhere in my head I feel its emotional worth has increased because it was used on a specific track. It has nothing to do with the actual monetary value. It exists in a musical world so therefor it should exist in the "real" world too.  

4. Its better to have two of something than one. 
Yeah because if unit #1 breaks. I have a spare. And if the spare breaks I have a another one. Its also great to be able to have two in stereo. Makes perfect sense right?

Unimaginative Jonny Greenwood with his yawny CR-78 in the background. If only he had a Olson.

5. The music improves by variation in instruments and sounds. 
I have maybe 7 or 8 old organ autokomp machines and I love them dearly. Amongst them is the CR-78 which sounds amazing but when I look at the pile of drum machines I always think. I wont use that...its so much cooler to use the Olson beat drummachine because its so much rarer and people havent heard it. The problem is that I use that drummachine on everything so if you have heard my albums over the last 15 years chances are you have heard it on something. My wish to make it special and unique loops into the ordinary and pedestrian. I think this stems from being in a prog band where sounds were fairly limited. We had a hammond organ, a mellotron and a moog. And the genre wants the sounds to sound like they do. If the Mellotron doesnt sound like a Mellotron people get nervous and twitchy.

So nowadays I can use a different organ or analog synth on pretty much every song. Does the music improve because of that? Of course not. But I have some weird belief that 

6. I havent used it in 15 years but I know that there will be a song soon that needs that sound. what is the solution to this unnecessary hoarding? Well the problem is that I dont really have to do anything about it....right now. Which one day will become a huge problem. As a person in a 12 step programme I think I need to set short term goals and long term goals. I had a daydream that if I hadn't used a piece of gear in 18 months it would miraculously end up on ebay and the money would just appear on my account.

The last days of the Polar studio. from left to right Benny Andersson, Agneta etc etc etc

There is also another solution. Get shitloads of creative musicians and artists into the studio and let people have access to the gear...? Record loads of weird sounding albums with extremely talented musicians. Makes more sense than setting fire to my collection of ultrarare italian flea market melodikas doesnt it?

Oh yeah...and song of the day...

Needs some tuning love but still pretty good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The embarrassement of the solitary handclap

At the start of every new year I think we all have some kind of Idea that we are going to make some big massive changes. Lose weight, stop smoking, stop eating roadkill, no more doubletracking Mellotrons etc. Im not really big on those massive commitments or resolutions because I dont think they really work. Roadkill is tasty in all its forms so why quit if you´re not getting sick.

My resolutions are kind of easy. Im going to record shitloads of music and release it and tour the world. It makes perfect sense. As everyone Im wrestling with the notion of a fairly indifferent world and a complete avalanche of new music every day but the thing is that when I mumble away loudly in Sollentuna. The outside world has very little to do with what I do. My ideas come from the inside.

A couple of weeks back I was at Deluxe Music in Stockholm and spoke to Jesper Skarin, the Bassplayer and singer of Vak and occasional Necromonkey Bassist, Vocalist and Percussionist. We both were complaining about bashing our heads against the wall concerning liveshows and indifferent or ineffective record labels. Jesper said "If I was 20 I would have been completely heartbroken by all of this but once you realize that you arent quitting anyway, that this is what you actually do, everything becomes simpler". I find that to be very true...that and a big chunk of "Ill show the bastards".

Ok, so what albums are coming out this year? Well we have Il Tempio delle Clessidre (ITA), White Willow (NOR), Pixie Ninja (NOR), Fredrik Klingwall (SWE), Nacht (SWE) Necromonkey (SWE), Weserbergland (NOR), Tom Doncourt (USA), these murky waters (SWE), Molesome (SWE) far as I know...

Molesome is as you might know my own solo project and I think Ill start the year by printing a small batch of my second album Dial. If you want to hear it its on bandcampf.

The goal is to put out two Molesome albums this year.

Song of the day is an experiment in a couple of different ways. For one thing it is the first track I recorded using an old Hoyer guitar that was donated to the studio by Björn Edholm. Its an old german 60s archtop with a questionable neck but a lot of fun to play.

But the "real" experiment was the miking in this case. On the track I used a little clip on microphone that is for Korg tuners and used that as the main microphone. And you cant really try a microphone without playing. And what is the use in playing if you are not playing a song or a small this track was done simply for that cause. Also I submitted it for a American TV.-series about an exconvict coming out of jail and facing freedom. Oddly enough I didnt get it as the track is perfect....right?

One of the weirdest things you have to do in the studio is to fake handclaps. Doing multiple sloppy takes and moving them around for suitable wideness. You feel like an idiot when you are doing it and it never really sounds really "real"...maybe it is because I know that it is. I seem to recall that there was a group in somewhere in America who only did handclaps. They would come in and just do handclaps...and you could choose how the handclaps should be... tight or sloppy, bright or mellow. Sounds like a perfect job.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Queens Squirrel

Over this last fall I have had a young man staying in the studio. He is smart, ambitious and with a great ear. He writes songs and is into tinkering with sounds and making beats.

When he initially came to the studio we started talking about the creative process of doing things and what it means.

One of the first things I told him was the importance of finishing things. It really doesnt matter if it is good or bad or if the guitar needs tweaking. At the end of the day you want to have that stereofile so that you can sit in the car or at home and listen to it with a bit of distance. Things that seem incredibly important and the basis of the track might sound completely different when you step away from it. I trust my impulses when it comes to working in the studio. I follow them to the end. Do a roughmix of the track and then I leave it alone. If there is something good there I can go back and work on it some more but I need a roughmix so that I can listen to it with some distance and actually hear it as a whole and not just a collection of sounds running at the same time.

When you work fast and let all the ideas and impulses link into each other it creates a continous flow. You work within a line of reasoning. I hear the sounds in my head before I do them. This sounds incredibly naive and simple but its a lot harder than you might think.

There is also another aspect of working fast and that is that you sort of relax and lose you inhibitions. If you do a little weird track and its embarrassing and just move on and do another one...but you have widened your experience.

Also when finishing things you have to see a bigger arch going over the track. How you can build an arrangement in the mix by fading in and out. If you only have a handful of tracks you can create depth and dynamics with levels, panning and reverbs/delays. The more channels you have the easier it becomes to build a foundation in the arrangements. Its not very likely that you will be autopanning your floor toms in a wild erratic manner....and if you have vocals things have a tendency to become even more static.

One of the biggest autokomp organs ever made.

The track I posted yesterday...

...was a intellectual trap if you want. A version of a Readymade. The autokomp is from a Yamaha synth I bought at a fleamarket in Sundbyberg. Nothing really happens except that it fades out into a very luxurious AKG reverb. But what I like about the track is that it makes you actually listen to this weird autokomp pattern and instead of turning it off. It just stays there and then sinks into a great lush reverb. Did "I" create it? Well not really but I presented it in a way so that people would actually sit down and listen to a Yamaha autokomp machine for two minutes. There is also tension in the fact that it is so simple and doesnt really change.

There is also that thing with listening to something very small and self-contained where your creative mind starts spinning "What would I add to this?". What could I hear on top? Where is this music coming from? And by forming these questions something actually happens. There is an exchange.
Even if its something as simple as turning on a synth and pressing play.

The track of the day was recorded a week two after we got back from the Necromonkey tour. After the last show Jon drove from Chicago to New York. We dropped off our gear at Toms place and then wehn to Queens to hang out with Faye. The morning after I went to the store and I saw this super cute squirrel running on a fence. When I got back home I started recording a lot and needed a song title.

I think this track came from experimenting with triggering the Moogerfooger Murf with the Volcas sync out. when the young man left the studio after spending almost three months there I asked him " many songs did you finish?" He replied "One....I think. It needs just a bit more work"

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Cthulu Cream

So apparently its 2017 which is great as everybody seems to have become a bit fed up with 2016. For me 2016 was pretty ok with a lot of travelling and touring and then an incredibly productive fall.

Some of the highlights were without doubt the Necromonkey tour in October, Recording with Fredrik Klingwall, The Pixie Ninja album, The Gösta Berlings saga sessions, the Akaba tour in February, playing with Il Tempio delle Clessidre in Genoa just to mention some of the adventures. The Necromonkey tour stands out as it was a kind of weird struggle. Within 24 hours after leaving Stockholm everything sort of fell apart. Losing our luggage at JFK, our Fender Rhodes contact in Brooklyn being a no-show, trying to use a so called repaired set of Taurus pedals that turned out to be glitchier than ever and than slowly piecing our backline back together and finishing on a remarkable high note in Chicago with a guest appearance by our friend Mike Keneally.

Both me and David are fairly resourceful people but these issues and just the sheer amount of them were impossible to solve by ourselves. The tour would had been a very stationary quiet event
if it wasnt for Jim Robinson, Ray Loboda, Jon Yager, Cat Roache and Tom Doncourt. We cant thank you enough. We were also very lucky to get to open for Rikard Sjöbloms band. Great guys and a complete pleasure to tour with.

Jon, Jim, Tony and David in Chicago

Touring is a long series of problem solving, gaffa taping and spotify cruising and than the occasional music playing. Ive been doing it my entire life on different levels and I still enjoy it immensely. When you have a well oiled machinery on the road there is simply nothing better.

Thomas from Änglagård was asked in a interview why he wasnt touring with the band and he said "I try to make my life as simple as possible, touring (with Änglagård) is the exact opposite of that".

Someone asked me why Thomas wasnt touring with the band and I always replied "He is the smart one"

After I came back home a feverish flood of recording started. I try to do as much as possible without questioning or taking things apart. I just record them and wait. I might go back and add stuff but its also very possible Ill just throw them on the heap of 700+ songs I have written and just see how it survives. Picasso is apparently the most producrive Artist of all time and did 144000 pieces...They cant all be Guernica, right? Some of them must be small, simple and spontaneous.

Cthulu Cream is one song that is exactly that. Its simple, naive, clumsy and short. But it is something. And if you hate the song the title is still pretty great.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Favorite Girls and Wedding night 45s

Its been a pretty weird and wild year. A pretty confusing one as well. When people ask me what Im working on I often have a hard time remembering what Im actually up to which is strange as Im in the studio pretty much every day working on stuff. The year ended with finishing the debut album of Norwegian experimental proggers Pixie Ninja. The album is really interesting as they arrange the material in a fairly unique way. Pretty much no themes come twice. This means that the production has to lead the listener between the themes and melodies. I have realized that this is crucial in how I view music I work with. I am aware that this is only how I view it and its possibly pretty abstract from the outside but in my head a piece doesnt work if you confuse a listener without cathing their fall or showing them the right card at the end of the trick. There has to be a narrative in the production.  

Yesterday was supposed to be some kind of new beginning in the studio as I got a really good solid vinyl player to the studio. A direct drive vinyl player. The idea was to start messing with scratching and manipulating vinyl. Not a very revolutionary idea but for a 41 year old prog rock drummer it is really exciting. I hooked it up and started messing with some LPs but I couldnt get it to work properly because the LP stuck to the mat I guess so a bit more tweaking needs to be done. The 45s work better.

One cool thing is that I got a chance to hear some of the vinyl Ive bought at fleamarkets over the last couple of travels. Just before christmas I visited Houston to go to Andy McWilliams and Lindsay Burns wedding and went to a Mexican flea market in the afternoon before the wedding.

The fleamarket was massive and there were possibly 3-400 stalls. Great for weird and unique last minute christmas shopping. My son is into the whole Pokemongo thing so I bought a couple of cards for him. I have been going to fleamarkets for over 20 years so I think I have developed a fairly good eye for the different levels and sublevels of crap that seems to be in abundance.

At one of the stalls they had some vinyl and vintage video games. Everything was pretty dusty and it all had that classic Flea Market sticky surface. I picked up two or three little 45s. One thing that I have really enjoyed about getting the turntable is that its like the the birthplace of ideas. I have been walking around thinking about the infinite possibilities of this new piece of equipment.

So yesterday I had the chance to try it out. One of the discs was a 45 called education in sound. I put it on and found that it was an educational disc about the wedding night and how it works which I found to be a bit eerie considering I was going to a wedding 3 hours later. It was oddly enough fairly modern (not graphic at all) and ttalked about how the groom needs to be patient with the bride.

Anyways...I recorded a little piece yesterday using the Volca Sample and some little words from the Education in sound...

There is something very rewarding doing these pieces as they feel like a scavenger hunt. I also like how one sounds triggers your imagination to find the next.

So there we are. The last day of 2016. Scavenger hunts and intently listening to wedding night 45s.

Ill see you on the other side.

Love, Always.

// Mattias

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fed up with being annoyed. and fed up.

Its been weird coming back to Sweden after the Akaba tour. I generally feel a bit weird coming back. You have a short window when you have some kind of distance to everything you usually do. This has made me feel both really happy and slightly sullen.

Chernobyl 1985

There is a lot of things that Id like to get rid of. As a "member" in many bands I deal with everyday band things every day. And to be completely honest its wearing me down. Everything is friction. Everything is discussion. A lot of my energy is spent on doing other things rather than working with music.

Also People around me seem to think they know what Im supposed to do. A lot of people have suggestions. A classic one is that I should sell gear from the studio. Makes sense doesnt it.

Did a mix on the these murky waters track Ophelia yesterday. A lot of fun. Im trying to pace the album now in a way to make it listenable. Not really sure on how Ill be releasing this. One possibility is to make a series of 7" singles. Would you buy one?

Anyways....tonight is the releaseparty for the Akaba album. Its at the studio you are very welcome to drop by if you are around. Three bands playing. Probably my last gig of the year.

A review of the Akaba album. They compare it to a cosy blanket which is just eerie because that was exactly was I was aiming for.

Now Playing:

I cant quit you baby - Led Zeppelin
This photograph is my proof - Paul Armfield

Now Reading:

No Logo - Naomi Klein
The Norm Chronicles - Stories and numbers about danger and death

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Victoria Moralez and these murky waters.

Victoria Moralez at the Pipeorgan

The day started with a visit from my old friend Victoria Moralez and Frank Sanderson. A great talk about first albums, sounds and general good times. And they had a chance to play with the bass Marimba and the Pipe Organ.

Ewik listening to the album so far.

Afterwards me and Ewik started taking apart the these murky waters album and decided to push the release and releaseparty to November. If you havent heard any of it...its something extra. I wrote the songs using only my favorite instruments. The Optigan, the Mellotron, the Chamberlin, The Orchestron and the Chilton Talentmaker.

Here is a little taster....for you.

It looks like we will be doing a pesky digital release on the album and then a sexy LP.

Today me and Ewik will continue working on all those extra things you have to do when you make an album. Pictures, videos etc.

Now playing: Mogwai & a bit of Depeche Mode