Bottenvikens Silverkyrka: Listening and dancing together to techno music is one of the more spiritually fulfilling things

August 21, 2017

It’s always super exciting to present local artists who haven’t conquered the world yet but got all the potential to take over one day. Hailing from Northern Sweden, Ludvig Widman and Andréas Brännström go under the name of Bottenvikens Silverkyrka and preach some quirky acid techno with synths and drum machines. In order to give you a proper introduction, we had a chat with the energetic duo who also put together a trippy mix for your listening pleasures. If you’re lucky enough, you can even catch them play this weekend at the PLX: Tjärö Festival in the Blekinge archipelago, Sweden. They sure know how to throw a party, amen!

Bottenvikens Silverkyrka: Ludvig Widman and Andréas Brännström

Let’s start from the very beginning. How did you guys meet and how did you get interested in music for the first time?

Ludvig: Let’s see, we met in the summer 2014 during an occupation in Umeå. It was an attempt to make a culture house out of an old trainyard building, a good time with a lot of nice energy to it. I think we started talking about music, and I said something about church music and acid (I had found an old record with a preacher that I sampled) – and Andréas was completely into the thing. It seemed we thought about it in similar ways, which was great!

Andréas: Yeah, we met during the occupation and I think that was a key ingredient to this whole thing coming together. All of a sudden we were surrounded with so many new friends who had a thousand times more ideas!

I can’t really recall the first time we talked about the idea but at the time I was living in the train station and I went to Ludvig’s flat the first time. He played me the track with the preacher, pretty sure it was an American baptist preacher who reminded me of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor track I heard in high school where someone’s predicting the end of the world or the rapture. I thought it was really amazing combining it with the monotonous beat. Some weeks later we went to celebrate Midsummer at a friend’s house in Dalecarlia and I think the idea of making Swedish revivalist movement techno was born somehow. The week after we went back to Umeå to the train maintenance hall which at this point was more or less emptied due to a backstab by the municipal. We weren’t allowed to stay in the building any longer even though signing a legal contract due to certain building permits forbidding public and/or cultural activities inside – but that’s where the first EP ‘Det stora uppvaknandet’ was recorded.

Ludvig: I’ve been making and DJ-ing electronic music, maybe for 8 years or so, DJ-ing the last 4-5 years, so that’s where the acid comes from, I guess. I love dance music. It has also been a way to come close to music and sound and dance without having the skills of playing instruments with strings or keys or being in a rock band or something.

 

Bottenvikens Silverkyrka Guest Mix

 

Where did you find this old record with church music? It’s quite a fresh angle to combine it with acid, not the first thing I would think of if I hear a preacher…

Ludvig: I found it at my family’s old summer house, not really sure how it ended up there. Hmm. It’s been done a lot before though. Mostly with pop music but still. Madonna (and Madonna 303!), Prince… Heaps of trance music also has that religious (new age:y) wackiness to it.

Andréas: Also House music’s been using gospel melodies since the start going hand in hand with its cultural history. The Revivalist movement’s been really progressive using “secular” instrumentation; have a listen to Curt & Roland who has a synthesizer and made the album ‘Tidsmaskinen’. Sister Rosetta Tharpe picked up the electric guitar playing at clubs and the Catholic nun Sister Irene O’Connor used a drum machine, I don’t think we’re really that unique we’re just approaching it from the other way around.

Are you guys religious at all?

Ludvig: Not at all. But I believe listening and dancing together to techno music is one of the more spiritually fulfilling things there is.

Andréas: Amen.

How was growing up in Umeå, north of Sweden? Even though it’s one of the bigger cities in Sweden, one would not exactly imagine it as some sort of acid mecca. How is the dance music scene like over there?

Ludvig: I actually grew up in Stockholm, but I’ve lived in Umeå for five years or something now. It’s funny that you bring this up because Umeå is a former punk city which is now a pop/rock city. Not really my thing. But this is good because it forces you to make up your own stuff: Small raves and dance music parties wherever possible, which I’ve done for a couple of years with the local dj-collective “Liquid Sky”.

Andréas: Neither did I, I grew up in Ursviken by the coast of Skellefteå, at the end of the river. Skellefteå had a really big thing going in the 90s and early 2000s with an internationally recognized pop scene with bands like Wannadies, This Perfect Day and Backfish but not much effort was put into it after the peak and it wasn’t that well maintained or kept alive so as I grew up, it was kind of in a vacuum. Umeå at the same time had its peak round 94 or so with the xveganx hardcore movement but I was too young and lived too far away to be part of the scene and its glory days had already past as I discovered it. We created our own microscene, ‘The Scene who celebrates itself’ as sung by the band from Skellefteå, Salenko. It was a co-op more so than a collective and I think a lot is to thank for due to the development of broadband connections parallel to the peak of Myspace so we could discover completely new obscure bands who had the same DIY spirit as us. Also people who worked within the municipality were given the opportunity to lease PCs and made it way more available for a lot of people!

I really like the ‘rave’ scene in Umeå if you could call it that, or I really like the subculture in Umeå in general. It’s the perfect size so it can’t be that exclusive; the punks, the pop people, the ravers, the metal heads, the poets, artists etc. etc. are quite well mixed and often consist of the same people.

 

 

What was that shaped your taste mostly back in the days? How did you get into acid?

Ludvig: I didn’t really understand music until quite late in my teens. And then I think I liked dance music because it felt simple. And the groove, I love everything that is groovy (for a lack of a better word! Groovy in the sense that the sound makes you move, in the head or the body). And techno is nothing but groove, rhythm and sound. This leads to acid. The acid lines are almost always groovy to me. It’s a simple way to make and listen to music that makes you move. Also it’s very much machine music, and that’s always nice.

Andréas: My first memory of electronic music in a sense other than the 80s stuff I heard on the radio was in a TV-show in 1998 I think was called ‘Bondånger’ by Ronny Eriksson. It’s set in a rural village in Norrbotten and revolves around their everyday lives and the threat of market economy and centralization in Europe. In one episode all of a sudden there’s an elevator in the local bar, something none of them had really seen and a person steps out of the two sliding doors, lit from behind and surrounded by smoke dressed in a very alien outfit and sings (with vocoder): Feel – feel – feel your bodies – in – in – elevators and BAM, 4 to the floor! I was so excited and grabbed my tape player with a built-in microphone, pressed it against the speakers of the TV and recorded it. I listened to it so many times, wearing out the tape until someone on in the Eurovision pulled out an electric violin and I had to record that!
That’s where I first heard electronic music even though it was just a few seconds it intrigued me enough to go to the supermarket and get the Thunderdome and Happy Hardcore compilations.

I can’t really say that I’m that into acid haha. I listen to a lot of dance music but I think it’s Ludvig’s cup mainly! That’s why we like making music together maybe cause we bring quite different things to the mix.

Ludvig: I hadn’t heard that story with the TV Andréas, wonderful! Yes i guess the acid is mostly my “fault”. Yes somehow we work really well together, but with different experiences and ideas. I think a lot of our sound is also shaped from Andréas’ punk history, a certain roughness maybe?

Happy hardcore and thunderdome, now that’s the spirit! I’ve had a thunderdome phase too back in the days. What are you guys listening to nowadays when you’re not deep down into your own music?

Ludvig: I listen to more or less stupid acid, and maybe some ambient.

Andréas: Hmm… recently I haven’t listened to a lot of music. I tend to be quite bias and listen to my friends’ music so mainly music from Västerbotten and Norrbotten. I got a hold of a demo from our friend Simon Einemo’s new project the other week and that’s basically all I’ve listened to the past weeks.

You live in different sides of the country right now, how do you make it work when you feel the need of some quality studio time?

Ludvig: Yes, that’s right. We have really only recorded stuff for short, intense periods. The last two EP:s were recorded in about one week each. And then we meet up for gigs and such and rehearse a bit before, but not too much. It works quite well I think.

Andréas: Yeah, we never really spend time ‘in the studio’, there’s no studio really. We tend to exchange ideas and as Ludvig said when we recorded the two past EPs we made them during one week each. When it comes to live sets we improvise a lot and try out ideas. Last time when we played in Gothenburg at Oceanen I’d watched a lot of YouTube videos of American baptist masses and read about shout music in church and especially praise breaks. It’s a break with a drum solo where the preacher can praise God and bless the congregation so we tried doing the same thing but with an amen break.

 

 

I saw you guys for the first time performing at Art’s Birthday in January in Stockholm. It was probably the best thing I have seen in a really long time, it felt as if you would have done this thousand times already, the energy in the room was just immense. Natural born showmen?

Ludvig: Haha wow, thanks so much. That was really our first big show. For me it’s a lot like DJ:ing, so I’m sort of used to it. The music brings that energy, and then you’re fine, basically.

Andréas: Thanks! I think that’s a proof of belief, we really believe in dance music so it’s revealed on stage through our joy!

You’ve just released your latest EP called ‘Arken’ on Swedish label Lamour, a sequel to your first one ‘Det Stora Uppvaknandet’. Limited edition of 404 copies, haha. Could you tell us a bit about this new record?

Ludvig: It’s about eternity and dance. Somewhat like a manifest, but a lot looser. We also wanted to work with our musician friends. The tracks were loose sketches at first, and then came to shape during the recordings, It’s the best way to work, to let things evolve and soak up inspiration and ideas along the road.

Andréas: On Arken there’s quite a lot more vocals involved to create ‘catchy’ hooks that people could sing along with and create mantras. I think that’s the main difference from ‘Det stora Uppvaknandet’. We’ve started on some sketches and ideas for the next record but we’ll see where it’ll lead. On the back of ‘Arken’ it says it’s recorded in June 2017 so I think we’ll have to record that one first somehow.

When I discovered Bottenvikens Silverkyrka, I just really wanted to literally shout it out in the world that THIS IS IT and everyone should check you out. Not being a Swede I found it quite difficult, took me some time to remember your name, let alone the track titles. How did you end up with this name?

Ludvig: Again, thanks, great to hear. Hmm yes, I guess we wanted something that felt a little bit obscure, that raises curiosity. And also to have a local feel to it.

Andréas: That’s basically it, I like that it has the local connections so that it’s kind of a local chapter and one could imagine there’d be: Österlens Silverkyrka, Västgötaslättens Silverkyrka, Dalälvens Silverkyrka, Tornedalens Silverkyrka, you get the idea!

 

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