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Christian Kjellvander

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Christian Kjellvander, am: 21.02.2010 ]

Bei seinem neuen Album “The Rough and Rynge” wollte sich der schwedische Singer/Songwriter Christian Kjellvander nicht lange mit unnötigen Studiospielereien aufhalten. Ganz nach dem Motto: Wenn es beim ersten Mal schon passt, muss man nicht mehr länger daran herumdrehen. Diese schlichte und direkte Herangehensweise hat dem Album gut getan. Die melancholischen Atmosphären des Albums stehen für sich und hinterlassen ein nachdenkliches, wenn auch nie weinerliches Bild. Auch sonst hat Kjellvander jeglichen Ballast über Bord geworfen, doch die zehn Songs sind über jeden Zweifel erhaben. Wir sprachen mit Kjellvander über das Reisen, die Einsamkeit und die Unterschiede zwischen Schweden und den USA.


Musicscan: I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how you approached this album. Did you do anything differently compared to your previous efforts?

Christian Kjellvander: Well, I always try to approach every album differently. Sometimes song wise and through different lyrical themes but usually by how and where it is recorded, who's on the record and so forth. This record I recorded at home and the coffee is better there. That might seem like it doesn't matter, but it does. It's the little things.

Musicscan: How much are your songs informed by the notion of “loneliness” or “aloneness”?

Christian Kjellvander: Never loneliness but often aloneness. I love to be alone - I also love a room full of people, good food, good stories etc. But you need both to truly appreciate them, at least I do. The thing with aloneness is that it catches you at a crossroads - aloneness gives you the ability to choose, to stay in it or to seek something or someone out. This fascinates me - how one chooses to go back to familiar things even though a world of opportunity awaits the one who is alone. Do we do it because we want to feel at home or do we do it because we're afraid of losing something, because we don't want to hurt people or because it's what we truly want?

Musicscan: Could you picture yourself living in a big city as well and how do you think that would figure in your music?

Christian Kjellvander: From time to time I've lived in big cities and it's very easy. There of course is a constant money hustle going around every corner but there is also stimulation waiting on every street. Whatever you want, whenever you want. There is something new every day if you just open your eyes. I can't really work like that if I'm in New York or Tokyo. I don't want to sit inside and write a fucking song about birds, I want to dive in and get my fix. It's too good to be passed up and right there is the problem. As much as I love those cities they are just built around consumption only, which is sad and it gets to you after a couple of weeks. It's like eating cake. It's great the first 15 minutes.

Musicscan: What makes for the perfect song in your opinion? Have you ever achieved something like a perfect song in your opinion? How would you define a perfect song?

Christian Kjellvander: There is no perfect song, as there is no perfect person either. There are people you like more or less but they are never perfect. The word “perfect” should never have been invented. I have songs that I feel stand out and can be played in all kinds of settings and have grown well and will probably have a good life but they are not perfect. I think a song should leave you with the same feeling that a really good conversation evokes. And when I lay my pen down that is when I feel that enough has been said.

Musicscan: What continues to fascinate you about traveling? I was particularly interested in how you reconcile your constant traveling with your believes in environmental preservation?

Christian Kjellvander: I've been waiting for that question! I travel mostly by train and boat - never by plane and at times by car. When I go somewhere I stay for a long time because it gives me more insight and also I'm not going to cross the Atlantic for 7 days and then spend a weekend in New York and then go back. I have, of course, thought about not touring and living off the land only and I could definitely do it but I feel that my horizons widen from meeting new people. I rarely ever use other people's stories in my own songs but other people's stories, of course, help me to understand my own. I think that the most important thing in life today is perspective and one reaches this mostly through travel, I believe. I also think that we all have a need to feel as if we are doing something good for the world. I believe strongly in music's power and also the power of live music. I don't believe that a song could change the world but as long as it changes one person's afternoon - it's worth it.

Musicscan: Having both lived in the States and in Sweden, what do you most like and dislike about these countries and how might this be reflected in you as a person?

Christian Kjellvander: The best thing about the States is the western half of the country. The nature - it's amazing from the deserts to the Rockies to the coastline. It is absolutely beautiful. People are very friendly and because there is little government help people tend to take care of each other more in a sense. People make there own lives. I am definitely inspired by this. On the other hand, they use up more than half the Western world resources in order to attain this, so I am back at the "eating the cake" thing. In Sweden it's different. People often want society to make their lives for them. This is a better system by far but a bit boring. I believe in a social democracy where everything that is necessary for survival is taken care of by an elected government (not by CEOs at big companies who only care about their shareholders) and the rest is up to you. How is this reflected in my person? I am never sure of anything.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

Christian Kjellvander: There is none. But if I was hard pressed I'd say that art sees itself as wanting to change things for the better, whereas entertainment is just one happy, pleased son of a bitch. But generally art is entertainment.

Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from a Christian Kjellvander show?

Christian Kjellvander: A CD, a vinyl record and maybe a t-shirt.

Musicscan: Did you have certain musical or aesthetic goals for this project?

Christian Kjellvander: Definitely, every time I do a project I have different dogmas. This time the concept was "fuck it, it sounds good - next song."

Musicscan: You suggest that albums or recordings of any kind are “produced as anything more or less than documents of time.” Do you think there is something like a progression or growth as a songwriter? If yes, how would you describe this process? What constitutes musical and artistic growth for you?

Christian Kjellvander: Of course, but I think that the hardest part is finding a reason to write one more song, put out one more record. In order to justify this, it has to be real good. When I was much younger it just had to be. It's like my good friend Lloyd Cole said "Be brilliant or don't even bother". Like I said earlier a song should be a good conversation. The older you get the better you get at communicating. Hopefully.

Musicscan: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any tours, collaborations or further releases planned?

Christian Kjellvander: Yes, two European tours are being planned in March and May and some festivals in the summer. I'm writing a lot right now and I often write more in the spring, so I have some new projects coming up.

  Christian Kjellvander
  Startracks Records