Gidge are Ludvig Stolterman and Jonatan Nilsson, an electronic duo from Umeå, Sweden. Quite a bit more than an electronic duo actually… They produce an organic infusion of ambient and techno, and they never make an album just to have an excuse for collecting some unreleased material – each and every sound they make is an important piece of the whole package. So is the fantastic artwork and photography by Vilma Larsson. The listening experience turns into a mysterious trip to the subarctic climate, we not only hear but also see and become part of an unknown world. This is Gidge in a nutshell. After their debut record ‘Autumn Bells’ on Atomnation they just released their second LP ‘Lulin’. However, this is not just a record: it’s a collaboration between Gidge, the Lampray film production company and NORR arts platform. They wanted to break the traditional pattern of creating a music video for the pieces, therefore they treated the visuals as individual entity, which are separated from the music, yet strongly connected. We spoke to Ludvig and Jonatan about Gidge, Umeå and ‘Lulin’, Read, watch and listen!
You’ve known each other for a decade now and the passion for electronic music made the two of you start experimenting with your own sounds. Whose music influenced you the most back in the days?
Back then, it was pretty much anything electronic, anything were we couldn’t really understand the sounds or how they were made. We liked the idea of not just writing songs, but actually creating songs. And that’s still the case. But yeah, one of our biggest musical inspirations back in the day was when The Knife released their album Silent Shout. It blew our minds. Can’t believe that’s ten years ago today.
You’re coming from a really interesting part of Sweden. Umeå is the biggest city in Norrland, an exotic place for foreigners but most of the time it’s considered boring if you ask the Swedes. How is life over there? How come you decided to stay there and not to escape?
Boring is not such a bad thing really. We think boredom breeds creativity. A small city offers so much freedom, and it’s really up to you to make your town into what you want it to be. You can’t just go around and wait for other people to make it interesting. And Umeå is actually not that bad to begin with. Plus, 20 minutes by car in any direction and you’re in the woods. In fairness though, we’ve also been lucky enough to have travelled a lot, which probably helps to not feel ”stuck” here.
You lived in Paris for a while, so you got a taste of big city life as well. However, considering your music it’s quite clear that nature plays a vital part in your art. You seem to be fascinated by untouched landscapes, forests and everything that nature has to offer. Do you think your music would sound different if all of a sudden you would move to an urban environment?
Our sound probably wouldn’t change drastically unless we wanted it to, even if we moved to a really big city. Had we been born and raised in a big city however, things might have been different. Anyone from anywhere with a computer could in theory make music that sounds like ours, but it’s hard to deny that our lives here haven’t influenced our music in a very direct way. Both the film and large portions of the music for ’Lulin’ was recorded where Ludvig grew up, as well as most of the sounds for ’Autumn Bells’.
How was the electronic music scene in Umeå back in the days when you started focusing on production? And what has changed during the last 10 years?
Back then we were so young, we didn’t really know what anyone else in Umeå was doing aside from the hardcore and hip-hop that Umeå is known for. Maybe people were producing electronic music as well, but if that was the case, we had no idea about it. Now there are a few more people doing it, but that has nothing to do with us. Electronic music is an affordable, quick, relatively accessible way to get into music, and its popularity has grown immensely all over the planet in the past ten years. Also in Umeå.
Umeå has almost had a reversed change in club culture however. There used to be at least one or two good clubs here that we really enjoyed, but almost everything has turned into pubs aimed at middle aged people of upper middle class who are more prone to spend money. There’s been a pub gentrification, which is unfortunate.
Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that your music is more well-known abroad than in Sweden. Why do you think this happens to many musicians hailing from Sweden? Is there something wrong with the Swedish audience?
Haha, no, there’s nothing wrong with the Swedish audience. People from all over the world seem to be able to relate or feel impacted by our music, or our sound. We don’t have any lyrics, which probably helps. We try to speak through emotion instead, which we think everyone can understand. But to answer your question, we’re on a Dutch label, all of our social media contact is in English, we rarely do gigs in Sweden or interviews in Swedish. So we probably have ourselves to blame for not being more well-known in Sweden.
Although your second album ‘Lulin’ comes from the same place as your first ‘Autumn Bells’ (the idea was born actually before your first release), it portrays a more perplexing yet sublime state of mind, feels more mature. How do you see the difference between the two records?
There’s some really big differences. This music was spawned from the idea of Lulin, this mystical, lonely being. We wanted to make music that would reflect her world, her mind. ’Autumn Bells’ was our music. This, in a lot of ways, is her music, only it’s made by us. And while there are dance elements on ’Autumn Bells’, there’s none on ’Lulin’ really.
There’s always been a strong visual sense to your music, but this time there is actually a 24-minute film accompanying your sounds. What’s the idea behind this? How come you decided to create this visual aid and help out your listeners’ imagination by showing your actual world?
We’ve known for many years that we wanted to make this film, and it’s a bit hard to explain that the film is not a video for the music, nor is the music really a soundtrack for the film. Instead, it’s easier to think of it as two separate pieces of art that are connected to this being, Lulin.
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