Pär Grindvik has been a central figure in the Swedish electronic music scene since the 90’s, he has released music on numerous electronic labels such as Semantica, Marbacka, Sinister and Dystopian. In 2002 he founded Stockholm LTD, which started out as an outlet for timeless electronic music and has since developed into a trademark for quality electronic music from a wide range of international artists. Even though he has released dozens of EPs and played in the best clubs in the world, the time for a full-length release has come just now. ‘Isle of Real‘ is a ten-track album and will be released on Stockholm LTD on May 24. We had the pleasure of chatting to Pär about the Swedish music scene back in the days, his new album and his collaboration with Peder Mannerfelt, who’s one of the most exciting characters in Swedish electronic music these days. We even asked Peder to tell us how studio life looks like with Pär.
Pär, how are you doing these days? These are really exciting times with your first album finally coming out soon… How’s Berlin treating you?
Pär Grindvik: I’m great thank you! Berlin is treating me with charm, I get reminded every day why I love this place. The album finally coming is exciting indeed, I’ve been doing this for so many years now and thought that I was used to the process; in the end it’s quite a different thing and the feedback and reactions have been overwhelming.
We like to focus on the present and the future, but it’s always so interesting to go down memory lane a bit and see where and how everything started. Do you remember what was the first record back in the days that made the biggest impression on you? That sort of made you feel like you wanted to be part of the music world?
PG: It’s a bit odd to mention this as I was just a child, it wasn’t my first record or favourite record, but in 1984 Howard Jones released an album called ‘The 12″ Album‘. I was just 5 years old and totally obsessed with his whole artistic persona, everything from his clothes to how he acted on stage and with all of the machines around him. I guess that was it.
How was the Swedish/Stockholm electronic music scene back then? You had and still have an enormous part of shaping it to its current state of being. How would you summarize these years in-between and where do you see it heading?
PG: For me Stockholm in the nineties was both an exciting and inspiring place to discover music, even though we were pretty young we didn’t have any problems finding places to hear new music. For me it had its peak around 96-97. There were some really exciting events around that time and we could even see international artists playing great venues on weekly basis. Then things changed quite drastically. Suddenly it was taboo and you couldn’t even mention the word techno without being eyeballed. On the other hand we had way more time for making music when there weren’t any proper parties going on.
I’m not sure if I’m the right person to comment on the current state of the scene as I left before it took off again, but I want to believe that it’s healthier than ever. For me as a Swede I’m super proud of all the great music coming from the country and I’m happy that the younger generations are into electronic music as much as they are.
Even though it’s a small scene, when we talk about Swedish electronic music, I guess we can say that it’s always been extremely fruitful and successful, there are so many iconic acts who left a recognisable mark in the music industry, be it mainstream or underground. What do you think that the Swedes are doing differently, what is that makes this small scene so special?
PG: I think Swedish people in general are looking for new things and the next thing. In my opinion, what counts in Sweden, is to be kind of first in first out, while other countries are a bit more patriotic about their music scenes. So I think that we are pretty good at picking up things to make our own, but still be open to changes. So to answer the previous question, I think that the Swedish scene is more trend sensitive than countries which might have a bit more tradition connected to each genre.
You’ve been in the music scene for over 20 years yet this is the first time you’re releasing a full-length album. How come you’ve waited so long?
PG: I think that the time was right. Nowadays I know what parts of me are good for my creativity and I really don’t have to be destructive towards myself and my surrounding to be able to write interesting music. For ‘Isle of Real’ I used every minute that I had over to write and sketch. The goal was to have a demo ready for a scheduled recording session in Stockholm at the beginning of 2015. I wanted to record this album in a traditional way. Write a “demo”, record it, mix it, master it all in separate sessions. And I learned so much during the process.
‘Isle of Real’ revolves around the idea of spaces once inhabited but long since abandoned and reclaimed by nature. Could you tell us a bit more about the concept behind the album?
PG: I don’t want the listener to have me interrupting their first impressions too much, but there are a few elements which have been with me all throughout the process, and what you mention could indeed be one of them. For me the record is equal parts political and romantic.
One of your long time collaborators and friends is the Stockholm-based Peder Mannerfelt. How should we imagine when the two of you are in the studio?
PG: Both Peder and I are two busy fathers with a great amount of projects going on, but I think where we kind of meet work-wise is how effective we are with our time nowadays. Peder said the other day that I’m his role model for multitasking and I envy Peder’s way of organising his time, he’s working when he should and sleeping when he should. I never sleep and always work.
Peder Mannerfelt: We have this kind of open line/chat between us. The subjects we cover range from dirty diapers, hi-hat grooves, dinner planning and just talking about nothing. We kind of have the same hours both at home with the kids but also when we travel so it’s almost as having someone there with you.
You have a busy touring period ahead of you… you will be playing every weekend in various locations in Europe, then in June you will head to Colombia for 4 days, playing in a different city every day! Are you familiar with the Colombian music scene? Looks promising!
PG: Indeed, I’ve been lucky being able to travel and play in Colombia for over ten years now and this tour will be my second this year.
Do you have a favourite setup when it comes to gigs? Do you prefer more spacious venues or you also like the more intimate crowds?
PG: I think all kind of venues have their charm, I like the diversity of the the shows I get to do and I can only say that I’m looking forward to continuing what I do for many years to come.
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