An interview with Amason

    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    Amason recently released their first album called Sky City and people are already talking about them as a “super group”. I guess it’s because of the members backgrounds, or maybe it’s because they have super powers? The five members of the band are Amanda Bergman, also known as Jaw Lessons and Idiot Wind, Nils Törnqvist and Petter Winnberg from Little Majorette, Gustav Ejstes, the frontman of the band Dungen and Pontus Winnberg from the producer duo Bloodshy & Avant who is also a part of Miike Snow.

    It’s a snowy morning and I’m the first one to arrive at the studio where I’m supposed to meet up with the band. One by one the members show up, brushing the snow off their shoulders and one has bought a huge cardamom bun. The mood in the studio is post weekend/first day of the week mixed with an eager to catch up since they last saw each other.

    FE: How did all five of you meet? When did your paths cross?

    PW: Petter and I are brothers so we met quite early in life. Petter and Nils became friends.

    Then they saw Amanda play during a gig in Gothenburg.

    AB: And then we had a beer together.

    PW: Yes, and after that Gustav and I met and decided to schedule a meeting in the studio and just try it out.

    FE: So that’s when the idea about starting a band together was born?

    PW: Yes, but this whole idea about being a band was for us pretty aimless. We booked a few gigs and then we became this band and then we just couldn’t cancel those concerts, ha-ha.

    FE: What’s an Amason? I know nothing about cars, but it’s a car right?

    AB: It’s a special type of Volvo from the 60s and it has these very soft shapes.

    PW: It has this aura of a romantic picture of Sweden during the 60s and the 70s, but also of some kind of glamorous spirit of the future? But still very down to earth.

    FE: Anyone who owns a car like this or has some kind of interest in cars?

    PW: I think Amanda is the one who really likes cars?

    AB: The weirdest thing happened to me this weekend when I just realized that damn I really love my car. That was such a strange feeling? But it was a great moment.

    PW: If you’re going to be tough and hard core car enthusiasts you should go for these cool vintage cars and all that but for me it’s completely the opposite. I like it high tech and secure.

    AB: It must have this feeling of a spaceship.

    GE: And then you drive in 140 km/h and listen to Brian Eno.

    FE: Amason released their first album SKY CITY in January. Tell me about the album!

    GE: Its 12 finished pieces out of 17 tries.

    PW: Yeah, that’s true. We tried a few times and then it felt complete.

    AB: It’s a direct reflection of our trying to be a band and we managed to create this record and that feels very good. Now we’ve been born and got some clothes on so next up is to make another one.

    FE: You formed back in 2012?

    AB: Yes, that’s when it all begun but it was in 2013 that we started to play in front of audiences.

    NT: It all happened very sporadically. Sometimes it’s been three months without any contact between us.

    FE: It’s like a long distance relationship?

    NT: Definitely. The first time we got the chance to play together for three days in a row it all felt very luxurious.

    FE: Then the process must have been very easy and fast since you managed to produce an album in such a short period of time?

    AB: I guess we all were surprised, or surprised might be the wrong word since we didn’t expect anything from the beginning, but of course we were happy when the process went smoothly.

    PW: In fact the album has existed since the summer of 2014 but in other forms. I talked about this with Peter and I think an album has to be ready 5-6 times before it’s definitive.

    AB: Yes, you are filling it with different things and then it’s sinking again.

    GE: It’s the same with cornflakes where the packages always tells you that if you think the content is less than its supposed to be, it’s because it all been shaken together.

    PW: Think about what would happen if we did that with our album? If it’s not what you expect it’s because it all has collapsed and sunken.

    FE: You guys are coming from different backgrounds, how do you combine them in the band?

    PW: I don’t think we’re different from other bands, the thing with Amason is just that all of our previous works are for public view.

    FE: Do you feel like Amason is like a sanctuary? A place for creative freedom?

    PW: When you start something up, whatever it is, you always has to feel that freedom.

    AB: The good thing about Amason is that everyone has their own experiences and knows how everything works in this business so we don’t have to spend time to figure that sort of things out.

    GE: But Amason gives us a lot of freedom since we all have other projects that we’re doing at the same time. Sometimes we create things we never would have done by ourselves.

    PW: My view on this is that as long as you don’t throw your stuff out to the audience it’s still yours. But as soon as you start letting it go you have to be prepared to get some kind of feedback, good or bad. Amason is suddenly getting its own life and starts to form something we can’t control. All we can do is to look after this baby and take care of it the best we can. What we can do is to make sure this baby is growing and that we, as parents, stay friends.

    FE: What up with all the animals? (At least five songs on the album are named for some kind of animal)

    AB: The names have just been working titles and from the beginning… it was… I really need some coffee.. anyone else?

    Amanda is running down the stairs.

    PW: I guess the names and the animals just came spontaneously when we improvised. Mostly for Amanda who thought that one song sounded like an animal and then we just started to say “yeah that song Ålen (the eel, editor’s note) we played before” so there’s no plan behind the animals.

    Amanda comes back and passes around the coffee.

    AB: I guess that’s how it is, even though we don’t have a concept from the start its always ends up being a concept. But the animals are just a reference to the way the songs sounded.

    GE: The interesting thing is to think about what song would have scales and which one would have fur?

    FE: One thing that I really like is that you manage to combine both the Swedish and English language and it still has this cohesive sound. Has this been a challenge?

    GE: Well, I always write songs in Swedish so when we brought everything together it all just falls into the right place, so it has never been an issue for us.

    AB: It just happened naturally. Most of the songs are made from an instrumental ground and then we add the lyrics just from the feeling we get from the music.

    FE: Are you going on tour now?

    PW: Right now we’re looking at the summer and we already have some shows booked, like in Norrköping during a festival and one gig in Gothenburg.

    AB: Of course we’re hoping for a busy summer with a lot of gigs but you know, there are always these practicalities that need to be considered. But we’re very happy that people seem to like Sky City which gives us more chance to be booked.

    FE: So the vision for Amason in the future would be…?

    PW: To do more live performances. I don’t think it will take that long until we start thinking about another album… or maybe that’s exactly what everyone is saying? But we have this ambition about to get started on one pretty soon. 

  • photography by ALEX WESSELY
    photographer’s assistant STELLAN RUNGE

    An interview with Eshraque Mughal

    Written by Weronika Pérez Borjas by Michaela Myhrberg

    How much do you know about hip hop? We need somebody to interview iSHi, an artist and producer who just came out with a new song with Pusha T.- these short lines from Odalisque pop up in my inbox and make me both eager and slightly concerned. The only thing I surely know about hip hop is that I will mispronounce the names of most of the singers. And interviewing iSHi I would certainly have a pile of very important names to mix up.

    Eshraque Mughal, Swedish music producer and songwriter performing under the mysterious name, has until now, taken the lists with his collaborations with such figures as Usher, Ne-Yo, Shakira, Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco, Tinie Tempah, Avicii, Sebastian Ingrosso and many more. Growing up in Stockholm and producing his first acts at the tender age of 17, iSHi gained worldwide recognition and set off to continue his career in the UK and US.

    I get down to my research about iSHi a bit shaky and check out his newest video: ‘’Push it’’, directed by Alex Wessely with the powerful voice of Pusha T.. Suddenly I understand it all. A cold tornado of swirling snowflakes, burning roses and underwater ballerinas washes down all my uncertainty and when I call iSHi, I just want to say how much I love the music and the stunning visuals.

    WPB: Hi iSHi! You have just hypnotised me with your extremely graphic vision. I still cannot get these scenes out of my head… How much influence did you personally have on the way “Push it” looks?

    EM: Everything you can see on the screen is the effect of my tight collaboration with Alex. When I met him, the first thing I said was that my music is extreme and that we need to create equally sick visuals. ‘’Push it’’ is quite different from what you can usually see. I can be very picky when it comes to my concept. I want it all to be coherent and thought through. I would never make a hip hop video with the singer dancing in a night club full of chicks. We’ve all seen that way too many times.

    Alex and I have actually started our own production company, and after we have done some more stuff for my personal project, we want to start collaborating with other artists. I feel there is a great response both from the public and other musicians towards our kind of imagery. I was actually in the studio with Rihanna when the final version had come out and she was the first person watching it. I was extremely happy to see her reaction. It was exactly how I wanted it to be!

    WPB: You have kidnapped Pusha T into a Nordic realm of white wolves, snow and freezing water, why did you choose to concentrate on this northern imagery?

    EM: I am so extremely proud and in love with all that we do here in the North and especially in Sweden. We have a unique way about all we do, be it music, arts, or clothes. I haven’t seen Swedish hip hop celebrating this Nordic element in this way yet, so it was important for me to bring it up. I often tell my friends that are complaining about how cold and dark it is here, that they should be grateful for the real seasons. There is something indefinable here that makes so many artist successful in the world. I sometimes think that the harsh weather is actually beneficial for the creativity. I mean, when it is dark and cold you just want to sit in the studio; you don’t care about going out. In LA I felt I could be losing my drive because of so much sun and distraction.

    There is something extreme and romantic with the snow and white dogs. At first we were searching for real white wolves, but we soon realize they are too rare and dangerous too. We found an albino shepherds’ breeder who helped us out. The dogs had been with us 6 or 7 times during the filming process, so they became much more than just a video detail for us. We have tested a lot of ideas before we got what we really wanted. We tested different way of burning the roses; we tested girls’ feel … (laughs)

    WPB: Exactly, the flaming roses, what do they symbolise?

    EM: It all started when we were filming Pusha T in New York. He had an excellent stylist, Marcus, who brought some very interesting outfits to the set. We finally went with a jacket with a huge rose on it. Since we wanted to have a lot of recurring motives in the video, we starting playing with flowers and fire.

    WPB: You seem to be equally extreme as your fantasy- ‘’Push it’’ is the first video where you show your face and you even have your own, unique scene as a dark rider in the end of the song…

    EM: The whole concept and also my character is developed in the series of four videos we made for my EP, which will be out on the first of May. We have also created a short movie entitled ‘’Spring Pieces’’, which, together with the videos makes the whole puzzle complete.

    I want people to identify me more and more and understand me as a whole. That is why I am starting to act in my videos. I want them to recognize my style, even later, when I collaborate with other artists. I want them to feel: this is such an iSHi song.

    My character and the pictures are a direct extension of what’s happening in my head. Nothing is just a pose. It is me, iSHi, the wanderer, the one that is on a journey, on a way towards something better, bigger or simply new. A new music, new trend, new time, new epoch. When I made ‘’Push it’’ I felt quite fed up with all the rules and principles one should follow. I wanted to do something genuine and honest.

    WPB: I know that you are even planning to go into fashion. What can we expect from your first collection?

    EM: It will consist of two major parts. The first one will be mostly comfortable street style that I often wear myself: ripped jeans, bomber jackets, big hoodies, with a lot of layers that you can put on everywhere you go- on the street, in the studio, at the gym.

    The other part is a collaboration with the Swedish designer Erik Bjerkesjö. This one will be much more extravagant pieces that I can wear when I go live.

    Since I have started my own project, I have become much more sensitive to the aesthetics and started following runaways, blogs and trends. My personal fashion is a good mix of everything. I love such designers as Damir Doma, Maison Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, but I can add it to some Acne Studios or Nike. I also make my own fashion discoveries, such as Horisaki from Småland, an amazing hat designer I found online.

    WPB: What is a real ’’push it’’ for you right now- what are your plans and collaborations dreams?

    EM: If it comes to big collaborations, I would love to work with such legends as Kanye West and Jay Z. But I am not limiting myself to hip hop. I can see myself working for Daft Punk, Justice or even Elton John.

    I simply do iSHi music. Many of my friends are surprised when they visit me at home. I listen just to jazz and lounge music privately. Everything can inspire me, everything can be thrown into one mixer and come as a new genre, not just rock, reggae or dub step but a unique quality, led by a read thread.

    But right now I am simply looking forward to seeing how people enjoy my music. The EP with 12 new songs, 4 videos and a short movie is just on the way. And it is absolutely not just about hip hop. It is so much more.

    all clothing ERÏK BJERKESJÖ
  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Anna Nordenström

    Written by Michaela Myhrberg

    Call Me

    Up and coming songbird and writer (Call Me), Anna Nordeström, creates sad and lucid pop music. The sound is young but the voice has got the sound of experience. The album A Sort of Company, just released on the 25th will keep you from feeling alone, or get you feeling lonelier depending on what side of the bed you woke up on. Either way it's a very impressive first record. 

    Anna grew up in the quiet small town of Karlstad, but later on moved to Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, where she started high school in a musically focused class. She quickly became tired and uninterested in it all because of the strong social structures surrounding her. For example she says, “I played a lot of jazz music, but most people were convinced that girls could only sing jazz”. Those kinds of patriarchic rules ruined the fun and joy of music. It wasn't until her move to Stockholm that she felt excepted and found her place in the social contexts. That is also when she started enjoying creating music again; but this time on her own terms.

    MM: So what happened in Stockholm?

    AN: In the beginning not that much. A friend of mine asked me to play at one of his clubs, I think he'd heard me sing or something and I said yes. I didn't have any songs then, but this event gave me a reason to start making music again. I did everything by myself which gave me a freedom I'd never experienced with music before. It was liberating. I performed at the event and in the band Palpitation, which got on stage right after me I found Ilon Vejde who later became my producer.

    MM: What happened after you released your first song on Soundcloud?

    AN: There were a lot of bloggers who wrote about the song and I'd just started talking with Ilon about a collaboration so we decided to start working on one song. We released in on Soundcloud and later got a call from the record label Luxury.

    MM: When all of this started, did you think that music could be an actual career for you?

    AN: No, I just thought it was fun, I had no expectations whatsoever. Of course it became a lot more business when I started working with Ilon, we didn't really know each other then so it was strictly work. Ilon's the one who definitely developed the sound of the record.

    MM: What do you think your music sounds like?

    AN: That's a difficult question, but I think it's quite melancholic, although at the same time there are glimpses of hope. I hope that's what others feel too when they listen to it. As the title of the album says, I hope that the record can be a friend and a company to others.

    MM: What do you think will happen when the record's out?

    AN: I really like the album and that's most important to me. I know my mom and dad will listen to it and that they'll like it. I'm trying not to get too high expectations. I mean, I'd love it if I could work in music business for a long time, but I won't put all of my cards in one place. Mostly I'd like to perform, I'm a tired of sitting in the studio for now.

    MM: So it gets lonely?

    AN: Maybe not lonely but monotone. The thing I really love about music is being on stage and preforming live for an audience.