This week’s artist is Svartbäcken – a duo from Uppsala. The duo consists of Tommy Tornberg and Johan Zeitler.
What is your musical background and when did you start with music?
Tommy: I was never really a part of any music community growing up. I guess I felt a little jealous of the people around me who got to play in bands and everything that comes with it. When I was 16 I learned a few chords on the guitar and wrote a whole bunch of songs but it took ten years for me to start playing with other people. It was a fun project that gained me some good friends but I didn’t feel it was what I needed to be doing. I dissolved the band and started searching for a new angle. I found it with Svartbäcken.
How did you two get together?
Tommy: I had seen Johan play several times and we had met before through mutual friends. I knew he wasn’t seriously involved in any projects at the time so I simply asked him if he wanted to make some music. I guess it’s not that different from asking someone out on a date. Anyways, after our first recording session, I couldn’t believe I was making music with someone that talented. It felt a bit like coming home. Finally I knew that this was the type of music I wanted to play. When you get to that place it’s easier to be diverse and try different angles because you have a good fallback position.
Who/what inspires you?
Politics, history and mythology. We get a lot of themes and feelings from greek mythology, biblical stories and historical figures. Of course music and art can be inspiring but has not been so much in the last couple of years. Politics is something we’re trying to fit in to our narrative because we see a lot of things we don’t agree with around us. We have to do our share and depict the different things we want to change.
What inspired your release Kvarngärdet/Underdogs?
Tommy: Kvarngärdet is a song I’ve been keeping around for a bunch of years. I wrote it for piano but I guess I grew tired of playing it like that. It got a new coat of paint and I was really happy to finally get it released. It’s about growing up, the different parts of my early life and some of the people I’ve met and places I’ve been to. Kvarngärdet is a ‘lower middle-class’ part of Uppsala and I’ve never heard of anyone from there doing something grand or becoming famous in any way. Just ordinary people trying to get by. There is a kind of sadness and a numbness about that part of town and I think it got to me at an early age. Underdogs is pretty much the story of the second half of my life and everything that happened after ‘Kvarngärdet’. It comes from figuring out that the game of life is rigged, knowing your class and heritage and wearing it like a badge of honor. It’s about creating your own premise and meaning from the value of work, what love is and the different sorrows of life.
What has the response to your music been like? What were your expectations?
Well, after sharing the tracks on Facebook and the other usual suspects, the reactions have all been positive. We haven’t pushed the music that hard and are yet to give a live performance, so we hope that when that happens there might be a bigger number of listeners/followers. If we find the time to finish the album this spring/summer we reckon things could start moving the right way even faster.
What does 2014 have to offer? What’s happening next?
We will continue to work on our songs and hopefully we can release an album or maybe another single before that. Also, a live show would really spice things up a bit. We hope we can do something different for a live show. We’d like to work with various aesthetics to make it something special and memorable. Other than that, who knows, maybe a music video. The most important thing is to keep making songs and feeling good about it.
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Don’t forget to listen to their release: Svartbäcken – Kvarngärdet/Underdogs