In many ways it feels as though 2011 passed by me while I was busy with other things.
Work, sickness and death overshadowed a lot of things. And for the first time in my life I suffered from severe writers block. After the whole ordeal with getting The Black Sun Transmissions into the world I found myself quite numb. I had pretty much poured every little idea and emotion I had in me into making that album and once it was released I was just exhausted and blank. And that my friends, is one of the worst things I have ever experienced. Music, and making music, is a big part of who I am and to suddenly find yourself void of ideas and creativity was more painful than I could ever have imagined. I’m slowly coming out of it now though and I have a ton of ideas that I will try and realize in 2012.
Looking back at it now I think it was a positive thing as it forced me to kind of reassess what I was doing and why. I realized that certain things were just weighing me down and that it was time for a change. Sometime during spring I will release my last Jasper TX album. It’s a vinyl album called An Index of Failure and will be released by the lovely American label Handmade Birds. The album is a collection of odd bits and pieces collected over the years spanning from 2006-2011. In my mind it’s the perfect last album as it collects tracks that were originally intended for something else. There are tracks from collaborations that didn’t pan out, from compilations and split singles that were never released. It’s the tracks that kept haunting me and finally I can let go of them and with that I let Jasper TX go as well. Eleven years is enough I think.
This doesn’t mean I won’t be making music. Right now I’m working on scoring two dance pieces by Gothenburg based dance group Iraqi Bodies. And I’ve just started working on a collaboration with Edinburgh based sound artist Matt Collings. I will continue recording with both The Silence Set (which is Johan G. Winther and I) and with From the Mouth of the Sun (which is Aaron Martin and I), both of which will have albums out during 2012. I already have a concept and titles for my next solo album, but when that will be released is any ones guess. The way I see it, this is not the end of something but rather the beginning of something else, something new. Trust me when I say that 2012 will be a very good year.
We reached out to Dag to see if he was receptive to discussing Jasper’s musical legacy. He kindly agreed to go over the highlights of his discography as a final send off; a parting shot. A full stop.
Instead of a lengthy description of a career most would already be familiar with, we present here a retrospective of those recordings – in his own words.
How long did I’ll Be Long Gone Before My Light Reaches You take to record?
I started recording the foundations for this album during fall 2003. At the time I was studying to become a sound engineer and was just starting to understand recording properly. Although in hindsight I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing…
I worked on it off and on during the first part of 2004 and then some more during the first part of 2005 just to get a better flow to the album as a whole.
So basically; two years, all in all.
What were your influences at that time?
Musically I was mainly into postrock/rock bands like Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, Labradford, Tortoise, Motorpsycho, The 90 Day Men and of course old death and black metal bands that I kind of grew up with.
It was at this point I was starting to get an idea of the whole electronic/drone/noise world that existed, but I really hadn’t heard that much to be honest. I was not what you would call an early adapter…
What equipment had you been using at that stage to record?
The entire album was recorded on a Korg D16 portable recorder. It’s basically 8 mono channels and 4 stereo channels so nothing fancy really. But it has some decent built in effects and I still use it today. It’s excellent when you just wanna fuck up something. And I’ve always preferred working with actual physical equipment, real faders and knobs as opposed to computer generated stuff. It’s not a statement, just my preference.
In addition to this I had some good quality microphones (among them a couple of awesome Microtech Gefells), a delay and a reverb pedal (both Boss), an old synthesizer, one electric and one acoustic guitar and a piano. I think that was basically it. The whole album (except for the piano) was recorded in my old apartment here in Gothenburg so there’s a lot of ”unwanted” sounds in there.
But I guess they helped with the whole “home grown” atmosphere.
Who mastered this one?
It was mastered by Andreas Tilliander (whom I believe mastered all the Type releases at the time) and I think he did a phenomenal job seeing as how crappy the source material was. Then Jonh Twells (from Type Records) did some editing regarding crossfades and stuff like that. At this point I didn’t own a computer, so I didn’t have the equipment to do these things myself.
Feels like a lifetime ago.
What sort of a run did this record have?
I think it was done in 1000 copies all in all, but I can’t remember anymore.
I initially sent it to John at Type records and at the time John was dating a girl named Monica who was just about to launch her own label, Lampse Audiovisual Recordings, so she got the release instead. And it turned out really great, I must say. She took care of the whole graphic design bit as well. Originally the tray was supposed to be clear but the pressing plant fucked it up (big surprise) and shipped it with a white tray instead. Which actually turned out really, really well. To me it kind of resembles an old toy or something.
What was the reaction to it, at the time?
The reaction to it was quite overwhelming.
I mean, there I was in Gothenburg, I didn’t have a clue about anything regarding the whole “scene” that was slowly starting to form then and I had just been recording an album, for my own sake. And all of a sudden people started emailing me saying how much the record meant to them. It was of course very flattering but kind of hard to handle to be honest.
And the reviewers liked it a lot too. I’ll never forget the write-up I got from Aquarius Records.
It was just… too much, but in a good way.
But I can’t listen to the album. I rarely listen to any of my albums but this one in particular is hard to listen to due to the fact that I was going through a very rough period personally when I was recording and compiling it. And to be honest, I mainly hear the flaws when I listen to my albums. I hear how it could have sounded and what I would do differently if I could go back and do it again. But that’s good, that means you’ve evolved as a musician and artist. And I will never be one of those artists that goes back and re-record older tracks. That’s just the fucking lamest thing to do. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it is what it is and that’s just the way it is.
All that said, it’s my debut album and it will always have a special place amongst my releases. It opened up a lot of doors and it is one of the reasons that I am where I am today.
Did A Darkness take a longer time to record?
Like all of my records this album is basically the product of off-and-on recording, mixing, writing, producing over a couple of years.
But once I started making the final assembly it went quite fast I think, if I remember correctly.
It seems to have the sound and feel of a document – the pieces sound like moments in time, especially with the field recordings. Does it represent any event in your life, or is it representative of any “stage”?
When I started working on this, I’ll Be Long Gone wasn’t even released yet. And the idea I had was to go through older, unfinished recordings and see what I could make out of that. I had countless hours on CD and on minidisc of ideas and more or less finished tracks. So I think that perhaps 1/3 of the album consist of older recordings that I then edited the best I could using a portable MD player and my trusty KORG D16. Then I added new structures on top and along those recordings.
For instance, the original version of “Destroy Detroit” was over 16 minutes long and the whole foundation of “Nightbirds” is basically me playing around with a nylon wound acoustic guitar that I then just processed and transformed. At this point I wasn’t really in a very good place personally so the title is very much true…
What instruments were you using on this release?
I used piano, electric and acoustic guitars, pump organ, melodica, glockenspiel, an old string synth and various samples and field recordings.
Was the reception different or similar to I’ll Be Long Gone?
I can’t really remember, but I think the reactions were overall positive. I know the track ”Some Things Broken, Some Things Lost” was very well received and I still remember people writing me over Myspace telling me how much they liked that specific track. It eventually also led to my collaboration with Dutch artist Twan Janssen who used it for an art piece ”The Stockholm Syndrome”.
What do you think of it when you hear it now?
Well, in general, I don’t listen that much to my own music.
But I still think this album is very good as it feels ”complete” (although of course flawed since I hear the mistakes and what I could have done differently). I had the ideas and the overall textures pretty much figured out and I think I came close to what I wanted to achieve. It also has some quite fucked-up moments like the drunken call in “Nightbirds”, and the whole voice thing in “Destroy Detroit” (which I know was kind of a ”either you like it or you hate it” kind of thing) that I’m very fond of.
I really wanted this album to be the title and in many ways I think it is.
I was always curious about the title “Destroy Detroit (The Sign Of Buildings Never Built)”. Where did that come from?
Since the track itself is clearly divided into two distinctive parts I also wanted the title to be divided in the same manner. The first part was kind of my reaction to the whole music history and the nostalgia that comes with it. People tend to attach trends to specific times and places. And of course that can be true but it’s always such a generalization when it comes to things like that. People fantasize about how great it would have been to be part of the flower power wave in San Francisco, or the punk scene in the UK in the 70s. But that’s all nostalgia. Living in Detroit in the 60s and 70s must have been fucking hard for 99 percent of the population.
There never is a “scene”, it’s always a construction written by historians. It’s not the truth, it’s the world as we want it to be and if you’d been alive or there at the time I bet you that your life would have been just as dull and pointless as it is today. And I’m not saying peoples’ lives in general are pointless, but you’re not Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.
The origin of ”The Sign Of Buildings Never Built” part came from a walk I took one day in the area where I used to live in Gothenburg. All of a sudden, right in the middle of the woods, I came across a big pile of rubble and building material that was just discarded. Concrete blocks and household utensils just lay there, reduced to waste. And to me it just felt symptomatic of the world we live in: whenever something is not in fashion or the latest model we discard it and forget it. All of this potential and surplus wasted.
So basically the whole title, when tied together, is a critique against the whole society that we live in, the anxiousness of trends, the followers, those who can’t make their own decisions regarding their lives, who dwell in the past while anxiously trying to stay ahead. At this point I was more politically charged than I am today. I was more judgmental towards other peoples’ stupidity and ignorance.
Today I’ve just come to realize that the worlds is filled to the brim with shit and shitty people but if I just do my best to be a good person towards the people that I care about, I’ve done what I can to make this world a better place.
In A Cool Monsoon was recorded mainly at home, over three years. What is your main memory of this project? How do you feel it is different to your others?
I remember it was a very long process of getting this together.
First we were playing around with some cover art that didn’t work out because it was just too dark, and once the album got pressed the first pressing was fucked up. The plant (I think, if memory serves me right… ) had added two seconds of silence between every tracks and since a lot of the tracks flow into each other the result sounded absolutely awful and so we had to make a re-press.
That said, both the cover (done by the lovely Rutger Zuydervelt) and the mastering (done by Andreas Tilliander) turned out absolutely brilliant and really helped in tying the album together.
One thing I remember quite distinctly is the moment when I got the field recording that’s at the end of “I Will Be Birds When I Die”. I had just tried to make a recording while sitting on the tram here in Gothenburg. The recording didn’t work out so I turned my MD off and stuck that along with the microphone in my bag and got off the tram. And as I started walking down the street I passed a street musician playing the accordion. It didn’t really catch me so I just kept walking.
When I got back home later that day I realized to my surprise that I had not actually turned the recording off on my MD, so I had over an hour of totally unknown material, and amongst that the street musician. And all of a sudden, when listening back to it, there was just something that grabbed me with the recording. It’s quite crappy but there’s just something there, some quality to it that I just can’t put my finger on. When I started working on “I Will Be Birds When I Die” I knew that that sample would be the perfect end to that track, and subsequently a good closer to the first part of the album itself.
I think this album has a lighter touch.
I wouldn’t say it’s a happy album, but I definitely think it’s hopeful and kind of bright. It was also the first album where I used a computer whatsoever. My brother had a free audio program (can’t really remember the name now) but it was basically for editing stereo files. I had recorded a piece for two acoustic guitars that I kind of liked but that I think lacked edge. So I threw it into the audio program and started playing around with it. Compressing, reversing, cutting, EQ-ing and so on and the result is the intro track “Still A Tiny Light?”. And that convinced me that I actually needed to get a computer to take things to the next level.
What did you feel like you wanted to achieve with In A Cool Monsoon?
Overall I think I wanted a more open and acoustic sound than A Darkness. Although I like that album, it’s also very dark and claustrophobic. Like I said, I don’t think In A Cool Monson is a happy album. But it is definitely lighter and more hopeful. And I really needed something sunnier at this point in my life. It also has a slight nostalgic touch that I like. I’m no big fan of nostalgia, I wanna try and live in the present (and make plans for the future) as much as I can, but here’s a kind of a bittersweet form of nostalgia that I can really appreciate. It also has a sense of resignation to it, but I guess that’s tied into the whole nostalgia thing.
I think the albums main flaw is the track “Waking Up”. I think it’s based on a good idea but I just wasn’t good enough of a musician/producer at the time to pull it together. You live and you learn and you grow…
How did Black Sleep come to Miasmah?
I started working on this album in 2006 and it was supposed to be my second album for Lampse Audiovisual Recordings. I sent the album to Monika (who ran Lampse) and I think that she was the one who also sent it to Andreas Tilliander for mastering. But after that nothing happened for a very, very long time. And I think that, by chance, Erik K. Skodvin heard it when he was visiting John Twells in Manchester (I may have mixed things up here as it’s a few years back) so when the Lampse label finally collapsed I approached Erik about possibly releasing it and he was very keen on doing so. Said and done, by summer 2008 the album was released and I think it was one of my most successful albums if you look at sales.
What is your recollection of the time this was recorded in?
This album was made during a transitional period from 2006-2008 where I went from being single into getting married and from working at a job I absolutely hated onto going back to school and finally finding out what I wanted to do with my life (well, sort of, you know…).
The first one who heard extracts of what was to become the finished album was actually Greg Haines. This must have been back in 2006. He was travelling around a bit at the time and had previously been visiting Erik in Oslo and then came and spent a couple of days here in Gothenburg. One day we went to my studio and he played me some of the stuff that was later to become his Slumber Tides album and I played him segments of tracks that would end up on Black Sleep. It was on this occasion that we also recorded the pump organ that comes in right at the end of Slumber Tides. I know some people think it is me who’s making the sounds but I’m gonna take this opportunity to say that I only recorded the thing, it’s all Greg making the actual sounds.
I remember this was around the time where I started working more on getting live shows. With the help of Greg Haines, I did my first, very brief, UK-tour. This was March 2008 and I think it was only three dates in all but it was a really good experience and I started to meet loads of really ace people in real life. Most of whom I had previously only communicated with through email. Some of whom I still consider dear friends.
One big inspiration for the album is the movie Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. There’s something hallucinatory in that film that I wanted to capture with the album as well. The film also has these objects appearing and reappearing in different scenes throughout it and I wanted to do something similar musically. So a lot of sounds appear and reappear in various shapes and forms throughout the album. But I guess you have to listen pretty closely to hear it. But it’s there. And when Erik found the wonderful photos by Miranda Lehman everything just kind of fell into place. That album couldn’t have gotten a more fitting cover, even though some people think it’s too dark…
The last track (“Black Sleep Part VI”) was mainly put together on a five-hour train ride from Gothenburg to Stockholm. I had recorded loads of pump organ, melodica, zither, piano and acoustic guitars and while sitting on the train I also did a field recording that tied the track together in a very nice way I think. The main structure of the track was done by the time I reached Stockholm and when I got back to Gothenburg I finished the track in my studio. Which on the other hand took ages, but I won’t bore you with the details of that.
What is it exactly that you went back to school to study? What did you used to do that you hated so much?
I studied to become a Project Manager, with a focus towards culture and the cultural sphere. It was a two-year education where theoretical studies and periods of internship were mixed.
It was actually my then girlfriend (now wife) who spotted an ad for this education while we rode the tram one day, saying I should apply to it. And I think the last day for applying was like a day later or something like that so I kind of rushed something together, sent it in and hoped for the best. And I got in. During the two years we had three periods of internship planned and I did my finishing period at a place called Producentbyrån, working with the GAS-festival here in Gothenburg. After I had finished my education, I was asked to come work at Producentbyrån to fill up for one of the girls going on maternity leave and during spring 2011 I was asked to become a partner. So today I am one of four co-owners of Producentbyrån and I absolutely love it. I have no boss telling me what to do and that is something that suits me perfect. Sure, when you run your own company, the workload can at times be overbearing but I’d rather have that than working with something I hate…
Which brings me to the job I left to go back to school. I worked at the warehouse of a computer company for just over 4 years. The thing is the job wasn’t so bad. I was the only one working at the warehouse so I kind of had a lot of freedom to do my work as I pleased. And the job didn’t really require that much intellectually, although it took its toll on my back.
But what I couldn’t stand was the people there. The majority of them were basically idiots and all they talked about was sports, cars and hunting. None of which has ever interested me in any way whatsoever. And their political views were just horrible as well. There were racist and sexist comments all the time and they totally lacked understanding and appreciation for culture in any form. Luckily there was one person who I actually liked, who shared my thoughts and ideas and that I could actually talk to. Him and I are still friends and I think that without him there I would never have been able to stay there for that long.
How do you find touring? Do you enjoy it, or do you find it tiresome?
Well, first off, playing live has always been hard for me. I think the studio is my real element, it’s where I can sit and ponder over ideas, re-do, delete and try again. Playing live is always in the moment and if you fuck up, you fuck up, simple as that. I’m not a very technical guy either so finding a live set-up that will allow me to do what I want, without using computer, has been quite hard although I now have something that I am actually pretty pleased with.
And the reason I won’t use a computer live is simply because I don’t trust them. During one early gig I had my computer freeze up on me mid way through and I don’t wanna allow for that to happen again. So it’s not an elitist thing, I just don’t trust it enough plus I like real faders and dials as opposed to virtual ones.
That said, I do like to tour. I like to get out there and present music to people and to meet people, hang out, have a few beers. There is also something very detached about being out touring by yourself. You are completely alone but also completely free which is sort of a mixed but kind of pleasant feeling. I like travelling alone that way, hopping on a train in Manchester going up to Edinburg, watching the scenic route along the coast. Or going from Amsterdam to Antwerp watching this completely flat and very organized landscape rolling by outside the train windows. And then you arrive having no idea who will meet you or where you’re going next.
My life in general is very organized, I’m just put together that way, so going away like this is a challenge but I must say I enjoy it. It adds another layer to reality and gives you nice memories.
But I don’t wanna do long tours. I know this may sound spoiled but I don’t really wanna do more than a week, maximum two, at the time. The thing is, as I rely quite heavily on improvisation when I play live (and since I do it alone), I always want to keep it fresh to myself. And after ten days you start repeating yourself, you become “competent” and it’s kind of going through the motions. And I don’t wanna do that to myself or the people who actually pay money to see me play. I want to be on top at every show and I would rather play less than more in order to maintain the level I’m after. I am a perfectionist and I am almost always dissatisfied with my performances. A lot of the times when people come up afterwards saying they liked the show, I kind of have to “lie” a bit and agree with them.
I think it’s important to not ruin their experience with my own thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. But I’m getting better and better at actually not trying to focus on the things that went wrong and instead focus on the things that went well. But it’s fucking hard.
How did you come to make The Bending Of Light with Anduin?
Initially he approached me to do a remix for his upcoming album. I think it was me and Xela that were asked to work on stuff. And once that was done we started talking about doing some recordings and see what we could make of it. So it came together quite easily. And I knew I wanted to do something differently for this one so I used very little guitar for these recordings and instead borrowed various synths and keyboards from friends. To me it was a nice exploration of machines that I had not worked that much with earlier and I think it gave the album a great over all feel. I
It’s a very short album but that’s also a good quality about it. It doesn’t over stay its welcome, it’s precise and to the point and I like that. People (including myself) have a tendency of always making long albums these days, which of course is not a bad thing in itself, but sometimes you just wish that they would have edited it harder to trim off the fat, leaving only the good stuff. But I guess people say the same about my albums so who am I to judge?
How did the idea for the tracklisting develop?
It was Jonathan’s idea to use quotes from Carl Sagan as track titles. In my mind the tracks were different parts of a bigger picture and the whole cosmic thing was something that I already had in the back of my head when listening back to the tracks. So that fit very well I thought. Then Jonathan just sent me a bunch of quotes that we bounced back and forth until we found the right ones for each pair of tracks.
What was the collaborative dynamic?
We would each create some kind of foundation or idea for a track, send that over and then the other would just add stuff and send it back. It remember there were a lot of discussions regarding details: should that sound really be there, and for that long? Does this track need to be this long, is this too much or too little… ? Like all collaborations it can at times be very frustrating, but I think it brought out the best of the music and I am really proud of the album as it was really an attempt for me to do something else than what I had previously done.
How did the project develop over time?
After some initial bouncing back a forth I think we kind of had the tone of the album set and from there on it was just a matter of getting it in the direction that we wanted it to go. The last track that we completed was “…Walking In The Snow”. I strongly felt that the album needed a coda, just something that could sort of bring people “back to reality”. So basically I took the piano line from “Like The Foot Prints Of An Invisible Man…”, pitched that down and added some synth sounds and there it was. Well, it took quite some work to complete, but that was basically it I think.
With Singing Stones, where did the cover photograph come from?
I have no idea to be honest. Petter (who runs Fang Bomb and also did the graphic design for this album) showed me a couple of ideas for the cover and instantly I knew I wanted this for the cover. He also had some other images that he really wanted to add to this but I just didn’t felt they fit with my ideas regarding the music and the underlying story. We battled back and forth for quite a while before it eventually fell into place.
But I really love it. I know there was one online magazine that criticized it for being too minimalistic with all those white surfaces, but I love that. There’s nothing distracting you from the music, there’s just the front cover image and white. Perfect.
It sounds like a very considered album; did it take a long time to complete?
Well, yes and no. The various sounds and field-recordings were collected over a couple of years but once I started putting these tracks together and incorporating these sounds and recordings the assembly didn’t really take more than a month or something like that. But at that point I had the whole story line for the album done and I also had demo versions and drafts for all of the tracks so it was basically about finding the right tone and feel for the album as a whole. And as soon as I had finished the track “Sleeping Rivers” I knew how to proceed with the others. Already from the start I set out to create something that felt kind of lo-fi and broken. So even though I had a very nice studio at the time, a lot of the recordings were done at home on pretty shabby equipment. Most of the recordings were then also heavily processed digitally and with various analogue devices. This album and The Black Sun Transmissions are the two albums I feel are fully realized, from idea to how they sound and look. There’s nothing I would like to go back and change about Singing Stones. Well perhaps getting it released on vinyl but I think it’s a bit too long for that…
What was the inspiration or method behind this one?
There is a scene in the book The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx where an outcast family drags their house in thick ropes across the ice. That image got stuck in my head. There’s something monumental and quite deranged about the whole scene. It’s scary in a way I can’t really put my finger on. It’s also very beautiful, just imagine the determination, the sheer muscle force required to do this…
So basically that image or scene became the starting point for the story behind Singing Stones. Out of that, and the whole idea about living and dying in a place such as Newfoundland, a story unfolded and then I basically created nine different scenes, telling the story I had come up with.
Where was the piano sample at the beginning of “A Box Of Wood in a Storm” taken from or recorded? I’ve always wondered.
That was just a very quick recording I did at my former studio here in Gothenburg. It’s basically me playing on the piano strings with a piece of metal.
Did you use a lot of guitar on this one?
Thinking back on it now I guess I used a lot of guitars on the album, guitars and mandolin. Even a lot of sounds that doesn’t really sound like guitars anymore are guitars. I guess the usage of a certain instrument comes and goes. As I write this I’m slowly re-discovering the guitar again but give it a month or so and I will be obsessed by something completely else and the sounds you can make with that. The guitar was the first instrument where I started to see what else you can do but just play it like you “should”. It could be and sound pretty much any way you wanted.
How did A Voice from Dead Radio end up at Under The Spire?
A Voice From Dead Radio consists of the three long out-of-print EPs “Harrisburg”, “D+A EP” and “Pilgrims”. These were all self released in editions ranging from 75-100 copies and I had been getting quite a few emails regarding a possible re-release. I’ve never been one for nostalgia so I wasn’t really keen on doing it to begin with. But then I came up with the idea of letting people work on the tracks as they were. No separate stems to play around with, just the limitations of the stereo track. To those of you who aren’t sound geeks this must sound like jibberish but it’s basically a very brutish and limited way of working with remixing material.
This also led to the next idea of having someone working on something that would include material from all of the tracks off the album. Sort of the ultimate interpretation of the material. And Cameron (Seaworthy) did an excellent job at that! At this point Chris had already released the double 3” EP ”Lungs” so we had been talking about working together at some point and when I finally decided to get this thing together I asked Chris if he’d be interested. Which he was and the rest is, as they say, history.
How did the many people that contributed to the record come to be involved?
A lot of the of the people involved in this was people I was already in contact with since before so I basically just asked it they’d be interested in working with me on this and almost everyone I asked was. And even before asking Zelienople I knew I wasn’t gonna get a simple remix which was just even more enticing.
What was it like having so many different people involved in the project?
To be totally honest with you, it was a pain in the ass!
I took me over a year to get all of the remixes in and the amount of email going back and fourth was just ridiculous. But as soon as I started to get contributions from people, I knew I needed to follow this through. The first submission I got was from Aaron Martin and it just sent shiver down my spine, the fact that someone could take what I had done and turn it into something so beautiful.
The last contribution that came in was from Peter Broderick. At the time I was working in The Hague and I was sitting in my hotel room when I got it and I remember the feeling when I listened to it. It was so demented which made it all the more perfect. And it also made me realize I was done with this thing. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with all these talented artists. It’s their record, it’s not really mine to be honest.
I only have one regret with this one and that was that we were kind of cheap in how many copies each artist were given and for that I apologize.
It seems from what you’ve written about The Black Sun Transmissions that it was a torturous release, and it disillusioned you with the industry in general.
Is that fair? Can you look back on it and laugh now, or did it contribute to you wanting to put Jasper TX away?
It did very much contribute to me wanting to put Jasper TX away.
Not so much due to the fact that I was tired of the music industry but because it felt like I had reached the end of an arch I started 11 years ago. I can’t listen to it with any distance whatsoever, but I am very proud it became my final album as it basically contains every idea that I wanted to express. To me it’s perfect and flawed all at the same time. So no, I can’t really laugh at it, but I have moved on and I will always consider it the best Jasper TX album.
From The Mouth Of The Sun grew (in part) out of this project, didn’t it?
Well, yes and no. I approached Aaron to record some cello parts that I had written for the track “Weight Of Days”. He then later re-used those recordings for the track “Water Tongue” off of the Worried About the Fire album for Experimedia. And when Aaron then approached me about doing a remix of one of the tracks from that album I just knew I needed to make a remix of that one, to sort of close the circle in a way. But when we started recording for the From The Mouth of The Sun album I wanted to do something differently, something that was a bit rougher around the edges. It may not seem that way, but basically every sound on the Black Sun Transmissions is meticulously mixed, edited and planned.
So with From The Mouth of The Sun I wanted to create an album that felt more vivid and spontaneous. I’m not sure it comes across that way but for me, and I think for Aaron as well, this was a pretty fast process. All the mistakes were left for everyone to hear and there was very little processing involved in the whole making of this. Most of the sounds are basically just recorded, placed in the mixed and faded in and out. And that’s it.
You’ve indicated it’s the record you’re most happy with; are there any specific things you’re most proud of?
I’m proud of everything about the album. From the ideas and the concepts, to the song structures, to the emotions I was able to capture. How it sounds, how it was recorded, hot the cover turned out. I’m proud I got such talented musicians to contribute to it. And I’m proud I stuck with it for such a long time and finished it. There were times when I thought I would never complete the album at all…
Since you’ve put away Jasper TX, have you had a bit of a holiday or have you still been working on music as much as ever?
After The Black Sun Transmissions was completed I was struck by severe writers block and over the last couple of months I’ve finally been coming out of it. I have the concept for my next album drawn out and I’ve done some recordings for it, although I think I will have to re-do loads of them as they’re not really exactly the way I want them. I’ve also been working on some music for a dance company based here in Gothenburg. I’ve also done a couple of re-mixes, amongst others for the upcoming (or perhaps released once this interview is out) Amon Tobin boxset.
But I really feel I’m taking the time I need for this next album. I don’t really feel any pressure to release another album now so I’m just gonna let this one take as long as it needs to be complete. There will be one last Jasper TX album released this fall called An Index Of Failure. The album will be released by American label Handmade Birds. It’s a compilation of odd bits and pieces collected over the years. I got the final cover artwork a couple of days ago and if everything goes well, this is gonna be a phenomenal looking (and sounding) release.
When you were touring recently, did you have any second thoughts about retiring the name? Did anyone ask you about your decision while you were travelling?
Yeah, I got a lot of questions why I decided to put the name away and someone actually said it was stupid to kill off a career like that. I guess then you’d have to have a career to kill off in the first place… But no, I’ve never had any second thoughts or regrets about putting the name away. I had come to the end of that and I knew (and still know) that I could never make another Jasper TX album. That doesn’t mean I can’t go back to older recordings and re-use things I like if they fit whatever concept I’m working on at the moment but for me the moniker is and will remain dead.
How did you find time to do all the remixes you were asked to do in your career? How did you approach dealing with other people’s material? Were there any that were hard, easy or otherwise notable?
Well, remixes has always been sort of a “breather” to me. A pause from my regular work so to say. And I don’t mean that I take remixing lightly, cause I don’t, but remixes has always been sort a break from my regular work. And I’ve always liked working with other peoples’ material. The thing is, when you deal with other peoples material you don’t have the same kind of respect for the sounds, cause you don know the effort that’s been put into making all those sounds. Or rather, you put those thoughts aside.
When recording your own stuff everything is crucial, everything has to be just right and sound the way you want. When you’re presented with a sound or a recording that you haven’t done yourself, you’re totally free to do whatever you want with that. Often when I make remixes I choose tracks that are not in the veins of what I do, because if it’s too close to what I do, I don’t really know how to “improve” the tracks or the sounds, or rather making them my own. I find that the most successful remixes I’ve done are the ones that aren’t music that is too close to mine. Like the remix I did for the Swedish pop band Friska Viljor. Their music has nothing to do with what I do (but they are old friends and I love their music) so then I could just go ahead and create something that was completely my own, removed from their sound world.
When I make remixes I tend to trigger on one or two sounds and then just go with that and there has been occasions when I’ve done remixes where I just totally re-build the track. And some of the artists have voiced concerns regarding that what I’ve done is not really a remix but rather a re-interpretation. But I think that’s the point. I don’t wanna just slap on some effects to the original track, I wanna make something that could just as easily have been a Jasper TX track. And sometimes that’s not what the artists expect but I really can’t be bothered with that to be honest. If you ask me to do a remix you will get something that I wanna present and if you don’t like it, then don’t stick it on the album. And there has been occasions when the artist has decided to not include the remix… but I respect that because just as I have to be true to what I do, so do they.
But yeah, I’ve always enjoyed making remixes in any form or shape they may come and it’s always an honor when people ask me to do one. I did a remix (or re-interpretation as the label called it I think) for the upcoming Amon Tobin box set and that was really fun and I’m really proud of how that turned out.
Are there any things that you wanted to achieve with Jasper TX that you didn’t accomplish, or did he exceed your expectations?
To be totally honest I had no plan.
I just started recording and then when I had some stuff I wanted to release I did and then it just went on like that. Of course it wasn’t that easy (it never is), but I really didn’t have any master plan. I mean I got to tour when I wanted to, I went to the US, I’ve worked with people I respect and I’ve done things I could never dream of.
I know I will always be making music and this was just the first part and there are still so many things that I want to do and experience.
So yes, it did exceed my expectations but as far as I’m concerned this is just the beginning.