Lars Ekengren

November 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Lars EkengrenThe Örnsköldsvik citizen and the singer/songwriter Lars Ekengren plays a number of instruments when he creates his beautiful Americana-inspired music. The acoustic guitar is used frequently as well as the piano, but I think his strongest instrument is his voice, that seems to be made for this music. Sligthly rough like from one of the finest sandpapers and a soul-bluesy softness and feeling that makes it sound great. It’s obvious that he’s influenced by American music, and one of the sources of this is of course him living there for more than five years:

“I heard a lot of good music when I lived in the USA (Detroit) and it has probably sculpted me and my music somewhat. A lot of not especially known (in Sweden), but yet really good artists like for example Jeffrey Foucault, Mark Erelli, Richard Buckner, Jeff Black, Peter Mulvey, Patti Griffin, Buddy/Julie Miller, Richard Shindell, John Gorka, Peter Bruntnell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lori McKenna, Kathleen Edwards and others…”

“Then of course we have Springsteen, Dylan, John Hiatt, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Counting Crows, Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo, Emmylou Harris, Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and so on…”

About his songwriting he says:

“I have a love-hate relationship with the songwriting: 10% comes all by itself (a frase, a chord etc), the remaining 90% is pure discipline. If one should write songs only “when inspired”, nothing ever would be done. I think those that tell the contrary are lying. If that is the case, then I really lack inspiration.
The lyrics take time…” (translated from Swedish)

He claims that “I wouldn’t be able to play a barre chord even if my life was at stake”, so besides the ambition to play more concerts in the future and maybe form a band, a goal is to learn barre chords… :-)

Listen to and download three tracks from Lars Ekengren:

Hope & Faith

You will find more tracks to enjoy at Lars Ekengrens site, and you can also visit him on Myspace.

Hillström & Billy

November 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Hillström & BillyBehind this bandname hides Petter Hillström, who released his debut album “Hillström & Billy” on the 10th of November. If you are one of those that have started using your old record player again, then this release is perfect for you since the physical release of the album is on vinyl.

“American roots music and British folk with a light twist of modern pop” Petter describes his music. A good description, although in my ears the pop influence is more than a light twist in many songs. I have no problem with that since these songs are really good pop songs, and also quite varying, with nice melodies and sometimes with a retro feeling. This together with the more folk based tracks makes the album very interesting. Below you can listen to a couple of songs.

If you’re in Stockholm tonight, I can recommend a visit to the live club Bara Unplugged where Hillström & Billy will perform together with Mårten Lärka and Kinski.

If You Don’t Come Home
Hard to Grasp

Visit Hillström & Billy on Myspace

Hector Projector

November 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Hector ProjectorHere’s a voice that will catch your attention. The music reminds me of classic folk singers like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. . There’s something especially capturing in Hector Projector’s music, that’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s the ambience or his voice, or the combination of them. Well, judge for yourself by listening to the songs below.

Hector Projector is also a brilliant animator, and you can see a sample of it in his video for “It’s Art” here below. You’ll find more films on Hector Projector’s Youtube page.
Last spring Hector Projector released the album “Missing Limbs”. If you wanted a physical copy of the album, then you could send him a drawing, either according to his instructions or freely. A guess of mine is that this will lead to a new animation project, and it will be interesting to follow this.

You can download the interesting album “Missing Limbs” from Hector Projector’s site, and here you can listen to two tracks from this album with the addition of the song “In Retrospect” from the album “Ballpoint Covers”.

Hector Projector also has a Myspace page.

I’m Playing the Strings Tonight
Does It Matter
In Retrospect

Ulf Ljusberg

November 7, 2008 at 1:00 am

Ulf LjusbergI like the close acoustic feeling when I listen to Ulf Ljusberg. My thoughts wander of to a small jazz or blues club, where people in a relaxed way are sitting down, sipping their beer, with their attention on Ulf and his collegues performing on stage. It feels familiar in a way.

It’s hard to directly put Ulf in a single genre. I would say that the base is the blues that often marries folk music in the songs, but there is more than that. There is a nice jazzy playfulness, which surprises me and catches my attention, and an experimention with rhythms that I seldom hear with other artists. Maybe it’s this last thing what makes me sense the uniqueness in Ulf’s music. That he can take an apparently common style and make something new out of it, with a different accent.

Ulf has released a number of EP:s, some of them under the name “Something From a Forest”, but since 2005 in his own name. Read an interview with Ulf on It’s a Trap.

On Ulf’s page you can listen more and download songs. You can also visit his Myspace page.
Here’s three songs to enjoy:

Whatever Was
Caught In This Skin (acoustic)

Hans Lundgren

November 5, 2008 at 1:00 am

Hans LundgrenPeople have created fantastic film music throughout the years. I think it’s strange that there’s so few collaborations between musicians/artists and movie creators. A director I spoke with the other day explained to me that he always set aside a rather large sum of money for the music of the movie. But when the movie project takes longer time than expected and other events, unaccounted for, need to be taken care of, this sum of money is used, and compromises have to be done.

I want to tell you about Hans Lundgren, 26 years old, whose music makes me shiver of well-being. Here he describes how he started making film music:

“For me the interest for film music started already at the age of 7 when I used to rush to the TV to be able to see the intro to “Dallas”. I loved the music and how it interacted with the moving pictures. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I became aware of film music at a deeper level.

After playing and singing several years, I started study music on high school in Skellefteå, and it was there that I seriously started composing music inspired by movies. After that followed studies in composition on Skellefteå Music College, Framnäs Folkhögskola, Musikhögskolan i Piteå, film science at Luleå Tekniska Universitet, and now in Stockholm at KMH (Royal College of Music in Stockholm) and DI.

This is the first time that they have created a film music program on a higher level of education in Sweden. The education is divided more or less with half of the time at KMH and half of the time at DI. The theoretical parts at KMH and the practical parts at DI. And just like with all the other students at the movie department at DI, 4 students are admitted every two years. That is, 4 directors, 4 producers, 4 dubbing editors, 4 film editors, 4 screenwriters, 4 photographers, and now this year also 4 film composers.

As a first project at DI we were assigned to write music for four short films. Every team has their own movie that is supposed to work both as a story that stands for itself and also in a context together with the other three movies. All four films are spun around the same central event which binds the movies together, but from the different perspectives of four people and their unique experience of the situation. It has been a very interesting and fun process to be a part of. My first meeting with the short film I was to compose to, was at a spotting session where I, together with the director, the producer and the others, watched a raw cut of the film where we started discussing how, when and what function the music should have in the movie. When should the music start/end? What’s the emotional style? What’s the musical style, and so on?

After that, I watched the movie a couple of times, without starting to compose anything, just to absorb the movie. It was easier to get to the core of the story then. For this project I made a couple of different versions of the music, before we found something that felt right from an emotional and dramaturgical perspective. We have recently finished the project and made the final cut of the movie. That’s when the dialogue, the music and the effects are mixed together to create a good sound picture for the movie. The premiere will be in November.

Soon the recording of the next project starts, and I am looking forward to being part of telling a story in a musical and dramatic way that drags people into the story. Finally I would like to say that I really hope that this education will help to lift Swedish film music, and that people who want to write music for films can have a place to meet, develop and work together with the professional film makers of the future.”

Here’s a couple of tracks from Hans’ production:

Resan mot ljuset
Death Is Not the End

Do you want know more about Hans? Here is his site.

There you read that he has arranged and orchestrated “Sjökor och Stekare” for the Umeå Symphony Orchestra, that he has been played in P2 (Swedish national radio channel), and that TV4 has shown his short film “Att återvända” (“To come back”). Just the images on his site are worth a visit. Beautiful!
And of course you can listen to his music.

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