Here is an interview I did with Mark Manney and the Abscondo Podcast. Mark is an American songwriter and Jamendo (CC) artist living in Slovakia. We have a lot in common and the conversation is centered around life, music and our hopes and dreams. I really enjoyed doing this interview and I like how it turned out. Let me know what you think. And don’t forget to check out Mark’s band “Abscondo” on Jamendo.
It should come as no surprise that Neil Young’s music has been a heavy influence on my songwriting and – perhaps even more so – the way I play guitar. I am also very much inspired by the way Neil always seems to go his own way regardless of what critics and fans think.
I remember when I first got interested in Neil Young. It was back in 1994, I was 18 years old and part of a band called “Cosy” with Henrik Johansson and Niclas Lindvall. Niclas was the singer and wrote most of the songs, Henrik played bass and I played electric guitar. I had started writing songs back then but I thought Niclas was a much better songwriter, and I wasn’t particularly interested in singing. Instead, I spent my time and energy trying to become a great guitar player. We were mostly listening to Britpop bands like Blur, Oasis, Suede and Supergrass at the time. I preferred the Britpop bands over the American Grunge scene. I was way into Suede and their guitarist Bernard Butler was my hero.
I wanted to play like him and I spent hours and hours learning Suede licks and making up my own. Niclas had written a really good song called “Sparkling Champagne”. We recorded it and I poured my guitar-wrenching sould into that song. It was the best song we had done so far. It probably had something because it got picked for a demo review on Swedish national radio.
That spring there was a big music festival in Lund in southern Sweden and our demo was going to be reviewed live by a panel of well-known critics and artists during intermission in the live music program. We were there, of course, waiting eagerly for the review. I don’t remember much of what was said, but the jury seemed to like it. We felt great!
Host of the radio show was a guy called Andreas Mats and I went up to him afterwards and thanked him. I introduced myself as the guitarist in “Cosy” and he got really excited and told me how much he liked my guitar parts. He then asked me if I listened a lot to Neil Young. “Eh, no,” I said, honestly. “I get most of my stuff from Bernard Butler”. He started laughing and said: “Yeah, but where does HE get his stuff from?”. I was baffled, thinking to myself I better go buy some Neil Young records. And so I did.
I’m not sure he was completely right about Bernards Butler’s influences, but that doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that he gave me a push to start going back to the roots of music instead of just copying what I heard on the radio.
And now, 18 years later, on November 3rd I will do a Neil Young Tribute in my home town Kalmar. It’s just going to be me, my guitar and a piano. I’m going to talk about Neil Young, his life and career but most of all I’m going to play Neil’s songs. November 3rd at Stensökrogen. It’s going to be great.
I managed to dig up the original version of “Sparkling Champagne”. I still think it rocks. It was recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder so the sound is not very good. But pretty impressive for a bunch of teenagers just starting out, don’t you think?
And here is me rehearsing Neil Young songs in my home.
Since the FAWM project in february I’ve been busy with a completely different project. Orphan Songs is on hold at the moment, right now I’m all about Dinosaur Songs! I’ve written and recorded an entire album of songs about dinosaurs, for kids, in Swedish.
About a year ago our son Svante became very fascinated with dinosaurs. I realized there are a lot of dino books and dino toys but hardly any dinosaur music at all (at least not very good). So Svante and I started making up our own dinosaur songs. The idea of making a children’s album grew as we wrote more and more songs and in april I decided to I was going to start recording. It took me about two months to record and complete the album. I was kind of impressed myself by my own achievement, but after I wrote 15 songs in 29 days during february I feel there are no limits to what I can do if I put my mind to it. It’s a great feeling knowing that if I make a real decision to do something, I will do it. I’ve never had that before, but right now I have it.
There are twelve songs on the album and one of them is written by a friend of mine, Christian Nilsson. I’ve also written a story to go with the music and I am putting on a show this summer in my home town, Kalmar. I intend to turn the story from the show into an audio book (and perhaps also a book). For the artwork I am fortunate to work with Peter Svärd, great illustrator from Malmö who did the album cover. I have no idea what will come of this, but I had a great trip making the album. It was fun, playful and everything came together without much effort – creativity at it’s best.
There is a separate website for my new kids music alias ”Pappa Kapsyl” here: www.pappakapsyl.se
I’m not sure what I will be doing the rest of the year, but I have promised myself to release a new Orphan Songs album. I intend to keep that promise.
When Japan was hit by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 I was moved in a way that I had not been before. Sure, I’ve always felt for people who are suffering, whether it’s from hunger, poverty, war or natural disasters. But this time it was different. The feeling was deeper. I don’t know why. For some reason I have always been very fascinated by the country of Japan and Japanese culture and I would love to go there, but that’s not really the reason my compassion was so strong – it just was. So I followed the news in the media, I donated money and sent the people of Japan my thoughts.
Shortly after the incident I wrote a song called “Help a brother”. It came to me while I was doing the dishes one day. As I recall it, I wrote it all in one fell swoop. I started recording it right away, but then for some reason I never finished it.
Today it’s been one year since the disaster and a week ago I decided I would finally finish it. Here it is, and even though it’s specifically about the events in Japan its message is one of brotherhood and oneness.
The song is free to download and share. If you like it, please don’t donate to me this time, instead consider donating some money to people in need.