Becky, June 2007
It’s a beautiful, tarmac melting day, in late spring: Kid Vinyl (this time a tag-team of yours truly and Miss Sarah Bennetto) had the pleasure of meeting Emil Svanängen aka Loney, dear. We arrive at the very lovely (and mercifully, air conditioned) ICA. From the moment we meet, Emil is enthusiastic and amiable. This comes as a huge relief, as Sarah and I are experiencing one or two “technical problems” with our audio equipment! This interview could be very Lo Fi, thought I. Fortunately, with Emil’s good nature, and home recording experience all was go!: The perfect interview subject. The weather and surroundings being what they are, it is Emil’s wish to conduct the interview across the road, in St James Park. As we make our way through the busy foyer, Emil is spotted by fans. A trail of good-natured Loney, dear fans run up and ask for photos, whilst Sarah and I uncoil our mic wires! This seems to both genuinely surprise and please Emil. Later, he tells us he wasn’t sure if people were coming to see him play or look at pretty pictures. I am pleased to inform him it’s the former. This is typical of Mr Svanängen’s demeanour. We find ourself a patch of comfy grass; squirrels bustle at our feet! Emil noodles with our mini disc, and we’re all ready.
KV: Hi Emil, thanks for talking to Kid Vinyl. You’re in the middle of touristy and Royal London [literally in the middle, Buckingham Palace can be seen from here] Have you had time to explore any of the sights?
Emil: Well, this is the eleventh gig in London, in eleven months, but we don’t always get time to see much. We did get time to walk round Hyde Park this time though, that was nice.
KV: When you started putting out your own CDRs, was it with the intention of arriving at the point you’re at now; touring lots and releasing on major labels?
Emil: I’m glad to be getting music to more people [ponders this a while, as we’re encircled by an inquisitive squirrel .. he tells us the downside is not being able to control every single element, as he did with the earlier records]. It feels a bit like I can’t put the brakes on when I want but I’m not complaining really! [I laugh, and suggest that maybe it’s like someone else being in the driving seat instead of him and he’d rather just be at the wheel, I think he gets my drift. Ahh, well he did mention cars!]
KV: Loney, Noir is a re-release of one of these albums; any plans to re-release the others?
Emil: Yeah, I have three more re-releases to go! I do want to put them out at some point, but I’m not quite ready yet. I have to maybe change some of the tracklisting or take one or two things out. [He reflects on the fact that the current album Loney, Noir is regarded as his debut] It’s nice having four albums out, and still feeling like a debutante.
KV: I could imagine `Sinister in a State of Hope` being used in a film; I could see it working the way Sufjan Stevens was used in Little Miss Sunshine, or Echo and the Bunnymen opened Donnie Darko. Have you been approached to contribute music to any film/tv soundtracks?
Emil: I’d love to do something. I wouldn’t want to compose a score, because I see that as background music. But, I’d love to have one of my songs used in a good movie, but no-one has asked me about that yet.
KV: You’ve cited influences as diverse as Depeche Mode and Free Jazz. Have you ever played in an electro or jazz band, or even an electro -jazz band?
Emil: Well, I’m 28 now and when I was 18 I played in a Jazzy type of band (laughs) We were into these musicians, have you heard of EST?
KV: No, sorry, Jazz isn’t my strong point! [I try and explain my limited understanding of the free jazz ethos and “wigging out”, I fear I’ve confused him but he smiles at my over-zealous miming of a “wig out”. Somehow, we manage to meet somewhere in the middle of the road to understanding]
Emil: They were like these 40 year olds, playing instrumental jazzy stuff. We liked that, so we did sort of instrumental jazzy pop music. It was pop music but without words.
KV: What kind of sounds or influences can we expect from the next Loney, dear album?
[He ponders this, and talks about not necessarily wanting to be contemporary but to have a timeless-pop quality. He goes on to say how he is envisaging the new stuff as darker and is thinking in terms of colour. He describes vividly but is struggling for a concrete example until a couple of Indie kids with his` n` hers striped dye jobs, walk past and provide the inspiration…]
Emil: There are some amazing haircuts in this park! That’s what I mean! … Darker tones with lighter..redder hues coming through..like that (points) [I turn to spy the couple that have given Emil clarity]
KV: Ahh, Stripes! A stripey influence on the new album
KV: How are you finding life on the road?
Emil: [He muses on the highs and lows of roadlife, as with so many musicians, he wishes he could be putting down some newer ideas] I feel a bit like I’m out promoting a really good record, when I could be working on the next, great one.
KV: Have there been any strange moments..like Spinal Tap?
Emil: People keep telling me to see this, I haven’t seen it. I think I’ll have to make it a film I watch on tour. [I explain a bit about the film and some of the silly things that go on, then ask about bizarre requests on the Loney, dear rider.]
Emil: I’d like a double bass in every place we play in! When we were in Brussels, a man called Jacques let us borrow his and we had a lot of fun with that.
KV: How long did it take to get a band together?
Emil: Pretty much straight away. When you’re making music it always has to be with thinking about playing it live.
KV: If you were the curator of your all-time, fantasy festival who would play? The people can be dead or alive, using the medium of time-travel!
Emil: Ah, that’s a great question… usually people ask who I would like to support. One man has to play: Johann Sebastian Bach! That would be enough for me. But, maybe he would get tired playing the whole time. [He takes time to consider who else might jam with the great, Maestro] Maybe I would get a band together with him…I’d put John Coltrane in it too!
KV: Would you play too, or would you prefer to watch?
[At this point a mischievous grin appears across his face, as he thinks about a surreal addition to the fantasy bill….]
Emil: I dunno if I would play..I’d also like to get Brian Eno to do something. Brian Eno and some of U2 and some members of Depeche Mode…but I wouldn’t give them much freedom. I would have them playing in a cage too hahahaha!
KV: You’ve collaborated with Emmanuel Lundgren on the I’m from Barcelona song `This Boy`: any plans for more?
[He explains it wasn’t a collaboration as such, that he and Emmanuel are friends, but it was more a case of playing his parts on the day]. Emil: I would like to do something with this guy I know, called Oscar. He’s a 29 year old, Swedish man and he is a very talented musician, who has played bass with us before. [ He talks with great enthusiasm about his friend, explaining that Oscar hasn’t done as much musically of late. His enthusiasm is infectious, so much so that I too, hope Oscar will one day be a part of Loney, dear].
KV: Is it hard delegating the musical parts when you play them yourself on record?
Emil: Yes, it is hard to pass on. It’s kind of a dictatorship (laughs) not really, but you can’t just write parts that will be fun to play. [He goes on to explain, that writing good music /parts should be the first priority, rather than whether your fellow musicians are going to have a good or easy time with that. It is an ethos, which was passed on to him by a musical mentor:] A teacher once gave me the best piece of advice. He said: Emil, don’t write parts for musicians which are nice. If you want to be nice to musicians, buy them a coffee.
With the sage advice of Emil’s tutor, we thank him and head back to the ICA. We leave our squirrel to his foraging in the park. As he surveys the growing crowd, Emil says: You know, maybe I should go in the other entrance this time!