Havenaire is John Roger Olsson from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s released his debut tape ‘Tremolo‘ on Constellation Tatsu earlier this year – an album that would definitely need more attention. For this reason, we spoke to the Swedish musician about his new electronic project and we’re also happy to premiere four videos that accompany four tracks from the album, made by Magnus Dahlbäck.
Lots of interesting and unique experimental electronic music is coming from Sweden these days. What’s your story, when did you get interested in music?
I have always been interested in music. My mother comes from a family with many musicians and when I was a kid she always played my brother and I tapes in the car with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, etc. I still know all those songs and as a grown up, I have found my way back to some of that 80s stuff. My uncle is a guitarist and was a big inspiration to me when I was a kid, I started to play guitar when I was about 12.
How did you discover electronic music? How did the Stockholm scene influence you back in the days?
Electronic music is a recent interest to me. I’ve made melancholic acoustic music as The Grand Opening since 1999, musically pretty far from what I am doing at the moment. I’m a record collector and when I find something new I like, I dig deep into that specific genre and listen to everything that comes my way. At the moment I am buying a lot of ambient and electronic stuff. I think from the beginning, my way into electronic music was Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Harold Budd. Their ambient records was the start towards something new. I have never felt like I have been part of any music scene in Stockholm. I have a lot of friends making music but we all work in different areas.
‘Tremolo’ is your first release as Havenaire. Tell us a bit about the birth of this project and the album.
I’ve always been doing instrumental songs for my projects and I’ve been in bands and duos before releasing somewhat similar music (most notably Hearts No Static on Bureau B and Linus Larsson & John Roger Olsson on Headspin). I think some kind of turning point for me was getting Ableton Live five or six years ago. It really opened new ways for me to work. Also, I got my second child two years ago which left me with less time being away rehearsing and recording with bands. With Havenaire I am more flexible, I need to be in the studio at some point though using my instruments, but I can edit and work on songs anywhere when the basic source is recorded. I co-scored a Canadian indie movie at the same time I was finalizing Tremolo. Some of the music from the album can also be found in the film in other versions.
Could you tell us a bit more about this Canadian film? How did you get involved in this project?
It’s called On The Horizon and is directed by Pascal Payant. We initially met on MySpace back in the days and he used some of my instrumental music for a couple of short films. I made a lot of music for his debut feature film OTH, but only a few songs ended up in the final version.
Was it difficult to find a home for your electronic debut? How did you get in touch with Constellation Tatsu?
It was easier than I thought actually. I sent out some emails to labels I like. Got a couple of offers to release. Steven at CT was answering fast and was stoked, so that felt right. He was offering a cassette release and I thought it was the right way to go for the debut.
Do you care about the format when it comes to releasing your music or it’s more important to find a proper home for your work?
It’s hard to chose one of the two. Format is obviously important to me. I might be old fashioned but I hardly listen to digital releases at home. It’s convenient in the car to use Spotify but I tend to rather listen to the mp3s that I’ve gotten from vinyl download cards or ripped from CDs. I will always prefer physical media. A great label for a new artist is extremely important. Many people follow labels and their releases rather than specific artists. If I would’ve released Tremolo on my own I would’ve had a hard time reaching out.
I often think that many Swedish artists are actually much more well-known and appreciated abroad than back home. Why do you think this happens or do you feel affected by it?
I don’t know, it’s a difficult question. Sweden is a such a small country with a rich musical tradition. All of us can’t fit within the successful group. Me, like many others have turned towards other markets to reach out. I’ve done about ten tours in Europe and the nearby countries with The Grand Opening, haven’t had any real success yet though, but a small devoted following. I have also experienced that it’s easier to get press in other countries. When Tremolo came out, I was surprised that so many blogs picked it up and wrote about it. Quite a few radio stations in the US played songs from it as well.
You brought us some videos that accompany tracks from ‘Tremolo’. Who made them and what’s the background story?
The videos are made by Magnus Dahlbäck. Magnus is a visual artist whose motion pictures are examining the non narrative. The videos are his interpretation of my music and I think it turned out great. I met Magnus two years ago when I moved to the Stockholm suburb Bagarmossen. We’ve been discussing new ways to work together, we’ll see what comes after this.
What’s next for Havenaire? Any new sounds in the making?
I finished a new album a couple of months ago, it will be released during 2017 on the great Italian label Glacial Movements. I’m really happy about that. The sound of the new one goes really well with the GM theme.
At the moment I am working on another film score. This time for a Swedish horror movie hopefully released sometime next year. It’s the first time for me making a full score for a film. It’s exciting and difficult to compose to finished scenes. Right now me and the director Jonathan Katzeff are trying to puzzle it all together.