Photo Credit: Fabian Rosenberg / Klangriket
Jakob Lindhagen is a composer, music producer and multi-instrumentalist based in Stockholm, Sweden. He often collaborates with Vargkvint, a low-key, largely instrumental musical act from multi-artist Sofia Nystrand*. In conversation with Jakob and Vargkvint we chat about their UK tour, live setup, new music and more.
*Words from both Spotify artist pages.
You’re both currently on your UK tour, how is it going?
It’s going well, thanks! We have just left Scotland after a couple of gigs in Glasgow, and played a gig in Manchester yesterday. In Glasgow we played one concert together with Richard Luke, who’s an amazing Glasgow-based composer, at a concert-series called Piú, and at Sofar Sounds here in Manchester. Tomorrow we’re heading off to Leeds where we’ll play at Brudenell Piano Sessions, then we’ll do a secret gig in York before going to Newcastle where we’ll perform at Atmospherica Concerts. We’ll end the tour in London on December 2nd, with “Contemplative Classical: An Afternoon By The Piano” together with Simeon Walker and Lucy Claire at Pushkin House. We’re very excited and are looking forward to a very cosy and intimate afternoon before heading back to Stockholm. Thanks for helping us making that happen!
All has been well so far, the concerts have been well received and both audiences and arrangers have been really friendly. We were a bit concerned before our second gig because Jakob got sick and we weren’t sure if he would be able to perform but everything worked out well in the end!
What is your live set up like? Do you play together at gigs or do you have completely different sets?
Good question – a lot of arrangers have been very confused by this! We play as separate acts but use each other as backup-musicians – usually we play a Vargkvint-set first, where Sofia plays the piano and sings while Jakob plays what we refer to as ”the cool stuff” – musical saw, zither, glockenspiel, synthesizer and do some backup-vocals. Then we switch places, play a Jakob Lindhagen-set where Sofia get’s to be the cool one playing saw, zither and glockenspiel while Jakob plays the piano and a bit of sampler and synthesizer. And we also have a radio we use for funny effects!
Jakob, we love your recent single ‘Luftslott’. Have you got more music coming out soon to follow this single?
Thanks, I’m very happy to hear that! It was part of ”Piano Cloud Series Vol. 4” and when David, the founder of 1631 Recordings, asked me to contribute a track for that compilation I was very honoured, but also nervous – there are so many fantastic piano players out there that are technically so much more accomplished than I am, so I was a bit afraid a solo piano track would look amateurish in comparison. It was also amazing that several artists that were very influential on me when I first started to make instrumental music a decade ago – Eluvium, Balmorhea and The Album Leaf – was also on that compilation, as well as recent friends and discoveries like Alice Baldwin, Tim Linghaus and Danny Mulhern.
I actually have a couple of releases coming up early December – a track written for a charity compilation by Hawk Moon Records, raising money for YoungDementia UK coming out December 1st, and a rework for Sergio Díaz De Rojas EP ”December 03” coming out December 3rd. Both of these go in quite a different direction from “Luftslott” though – there’s no piano on them at all actually! I also work on a couple of film scores at the moment with, what I consider, some of the most exciting up-and-coming directors in Sweden, with music ranging from everything between straight-forward pop to experimental tape-and-violin stuff. I have a few collaborative projects coming up I’m excited about as well, and slowly start on new solo material. I’m trying out some of the new stuff on this tour, actually!
Sofia, we saw that you recently finished mixing your new album, how exciting for you! Can you reveal anything about this new album or is it a secret for now?
S: Yes, I’m very excited and really can’t wait to show this music to the world! The previous EP that I released, ”Brus”, came out of a strong need to prove that I could finish and release something, but this new record is the first thing that I feel really proud of – not only as a songwriter but as a producer and mixing engineer as well.
The album is going to be called ”Hav”, which translated to ”Sea”, and it’s a concept album. I grew up in a small, coastal city in Sweden, and the sea has played a massive part of life there. It has given so much to us, but it can also be scary, wild and cruel. I’ve been inspired by both old folklore tied to the sea, as well as timeless and current themes, as migration over the seas for the seven tracks that make up the album.
‘Björk’, your reworked track on Klangriket’s Tjärn Reworked EP is stunning. What was the collaboration process between each of you like? Is it something that comes naturally or do you work on collaborations separately and then come together later in the collaboration process?
Thank you – it was a whole new thing for us, actually! Even though our creative processes are very intertwined – we use each other for feedback and inputs from early stages onwards to the final product and of course perform as a duo for both projects, but there’s always a very clear line who’s in charge and who has the final word on everything when it comes to our respective solo projects. So it was a bit strange when we started, knowing that we might disagree on stuff and if so, would have to compromise. But it all came together very naturally, we did all the writing, recording, arranging and mixing together and we both feel that we got to put our own personal touch to it. We had a lot of fun, so we’re open to do more collaborative reworks in the future!
Any favourite albums at the moment?
S: I’m ashamed to say that I listen more to songs than albums, but have listened a lot to songs from the artists we are sharing stages with on the tour and have really enjoyed their works. One of my favourite tracks is Richard Luke’s “Washing Day” that also has such a lovely video! I also really enjoyed listening to the new single “Ninety-Nine Stones” from Lucy Claire’s upcoming album. One record that completely blew me away this summer though, was Tim Linghaus’s “Memory Sketches”. Apart from that, since I’m such a fantasy-nerd I have listened embarrassingly much to Rob Lane’s soundtrack to the series “A Discovery of Witches”!
J: I have to be really boring and admit that I really haven’t taken time to discover new music recently, as I’ve been so caught up in listening to whatever it is I’ve been working at, which is a different way of approaching music. I really enjoy listening to albums on vinyl though, and have been spinning “Tidal Patterns” by Kinbrae, “Waende” by CEEYS and Simeon Walker’s “Mono” quite a lot this year. I constantly play a lot of Nina Simone as well, she seems to fit any mood. I also enjoyed the latest Jon Hopkins album!
Do you have a favourite place in the UK?
J: I lived in Brighton for about 1,5 years and had a great time there and have quite a few friends in London and spent a lot of time there, so am a bit biased. I haven’t had the chance to see much else of the country earlier though and have really been enjoying that – Scotland was amazing!
S: Yes, I really loved both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and would seriously consider moving there! I wish I had the chance to see more of the Scottish countryside though, as I really think I would have enjoyed that!
Photo Credit: Fabian Rosenberg / Klangriket
What do you think of the current state of classical and contemporary music in the world? And what do you think we can do to get more people listening to this kind of music?
It’s both an exciting and a challenging time, I’d say. From what we’ve experienced touring both now and previously is that people really seem to (and have expressed that they) enjoy this kind of music, although they don’t necessarily knew themselves that they would. Judging from Spotify playlists etc., people really seem to crave relaxing music, although it’s quite a long step for the average listener to go from pressing “play” at a playlist while reading/ sleeping/ studying/ doing the dishes, to actually realize what they are listening to, look up that specific artist and attend their concerts or buy their music, and that’s where the challenge lies. It’s great to see that initiatives for live music like the festival Q3Ambientfest in Potsdam and concert series like Brudenell Piano Sessions here in the UK are starting though, and that it seems like they have been really well received as well!
We are also totally blown away by how incredibly supportive this community has been, and still is. It’s the third time within a year for us now touring internationally and met so many helpful, friendly and supportive people along the way. When meeting several people from this scene for the first time in real life it feels like we have known them since forever – we feel it’s a real and quite unique sense of belonging in this scene, and we’re very happy to be a part of it.
What is the meaning of music for you?
To us, personally, music is everything.