Yesterday was Erik Jonasson‘s födelsedag (birthday) and autumn has almost fallen into winter. The Swede possesses a vulnerable voice which caresses the core as much as it hashes the heart. His latest single, ‘Autumn Falls’, recounts a relationship, as ‘Like a Funeral’ did, but this time around he appears on the single cover with open eyes, rather than closed ones, echoing the ‘I can feel your eyes on me’ line of the chorus. A melancholy permeates the song and pushes through our protective shell, pulling us into his contemplative space; perhaps a sparsely furnished parlour in a wooden cottage by a lake.
Here is an interview I did with the man in question last month…
Happy Birthday Erik.
Interview and introduction by Conor.[separator type=”space”]
‘I’m wearing winter clothes when the autumn falls’ is the first line of your new låt (Swedish for song). Are there any particular seasons you write best in? Does the weather play a role in your songwriting?
For the most part of the year in Sweden it’s cold and rainy, so I guess that makes it easier to stay indoors writing music. Otherwise, I don’t think the weather affects me.
Is Göteborg a place where you get a lot of ideas for your tracks? I record at Nacksving in G’berg and being locked in there for a few days, when there’s snow and biting wind outside, I definitely come up with a lot.
I have lived in Gothenburg most of my life so I can’t really compare it to writing somewhere else, but of course, most of my tracks are about things that have happened in my life there.
In the ‘Autumn Fall’s’ story, from what I understand, both you and the other have the power to hurt each other, but neither of you wants to be hurt by the other. Does the song detail the same relationship that you explore in your first single, ‘Like a Funeral’?
No, it’s not about the same person. I actually have been hurt many times. It doesn’t kill you, but in art you can make it sound like it does. To write about it is a way for me to go through it, allowing myself to feel everything I feel and then move forward. What some people don’t know though is that it takes a lot of time from the moment that you write the first draft of a song until it’s finished and released, so when the song is out the emotions I’ve wrote about might not be as strong as before, and what remains is a song.
There seems to be a looming sense of doom in the song; it seems inevitable that things are going to go badly. Was this a relationship where you knew from the beginning that there would be more pain that joy?
“Autumn Falls” might show that this relationship was miserable and painful, but before those sad feelings there was joy. I think a song about happiness and being very much in love could be a great one. But when I feel that and share it with someone I just want to spend time with that person. For me it’s in the break up part I have time and feel like I really need to write about it.
Do you write texts that explore themes away from romantic relationships? What else gives you the burning need to write words down and put your (beautiful ^^) voice to them?
I always write about things that I really feel something for (something I love or something I hate, not about everyday things). I do have songs that aren’t about relationships, but more about that when those songs are released.
Does it feel more natural for you to write in English rather than Swedish?
As long as I’ve been singing songs it’s been in English. I never thought about why I sing in English instead of Swedish but I guess it’s because most music I listen to is in English.
Are you a Vampire Diaries fan? Do you know how that synch came about?
Since a lot of my inspirations comes from movie scenes, I’m very happy that “Like a Funeral” was picked to end season seven of Vampire Diaries. I don’t know all details about how the synchronisation came about, but I’m happy to have professional people around me who are working to spread the music.
– By chance, I later would meet Terese Gustafsson, who was instrumental in this, through my new Berlin flatmates –
How did you get involved with your label, Hybris?
They contacted me on Soundcloud and I already knew a few of their artists, who I really liked. A few weeks after that we had our first meeting and both my producer and I felt like they really understood the music that we made, and since it went so well with the first single. I’m very grateful to be working with them.
I hear that you wanted to get into music since your big brother played guitar and that you were in a post-rock band in gymnasiet (high school). Were you already writing back then or is that something that came afterwards?
I was already writing back then. At the same time as I was in the post-rock band at Secondary School I tried to make my own indie-pop music with a lot of synthesizers and effects. My music has changed and grown a lot since back then and starting to make music with my producer Love has played a huge part in that.
You work with Love Sivik from Milano Sun: how did you two meet? Are you an open book with him regarding lyrical content? Personally, it’s very important for me to lay myself bare with my producer and explain the story behind my tracks to him.
Love and I started to work together while in the same class at a sound engineering school, but we were acquainted before that, as he’s a friend of my brother (who is also in the band ‘Milano Sun’). Being in the same class and working together was a good combination. We had the same teachers and were taught the same about how to record etc. Before that I used to end up wasting a lot of time arguing about how you should record a guitar, for example. Love is very good to work with, he was actually best in class and we have the same opinions about what makes a good song. I feel like we know each other very well, so we can talk about most things and it makes it easy to discuss lyrics etc.
Are you open with your feelings in general, or do you express that side of yourself more so through your music?
When someone asks me “what is this song about?”, sometimes I give an evasive response and sometimes I give a full explanation. I guess it depends on the situation, my relationship with that person and how I feel in the moment. Just like anybody else I sometimes want to share my feelings and sometimes not. I think that people who make songs or some kind of art are expected to share their feelings more than others. In any case, I have only released two songs and I feel like I have more songs to sing, more stories to tell, and the way I like best to do this is through music.
How does the process of making a track work for you?
I wish I knew the perfect recipe for making a song, but for me it’s been different almost every time. What most songs have in common though is that it takes quite a while before they’re finished, and I’m more practical than theoretical, so I’m not a person who starts with pen and paper. At first I usually start singing while I play the piano or the guitar, not knowing what to sing or what to play. Mostly it’s just crap, but I spend a lot of time that way, and sooner or later I find a melody or some combination of chords that I want to continue working on. I normally record sketches of my ideas just to be able to remember them. Sometimes I get stuck and then I abandon the idea, to pick it up later. The theme of the song depends on what is happening in my life and how I feel at the moment. Most songs we’ve been working on have sounded very different from one another.
What is the last film you saw where the soundtrack struck you?
I actually have one in mind, “Vanilla Sky”. It’s a great movie with a beautiful end scene accompanied by Sigur Rós’ music.
Give me an insight into your music listening? How varied is your taste?
When I listen to an album I usually only like one or two songs. I’m a very critical listener, both when it comes to others and myself, which sometimes can be a drawback when I try to find new music. There are some songs, though, that I always like to listen to, songs that in my opinion are timeless. Every famous artist or band has one song that identifies who they are, and those are normally my favorite tracks. It’s songs like Samson by Regina Spektor, Youth by Daughter, First day of my life by Bright Eyes or Heartbeats by José González. It’s hard to consider all the music I listen to, but to mention something in a different genre, I also like indie music with a touch of classical; artists like Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm.
Is there an artist’s writing that you really admire?
Some of the ones I just mentioned but I wish I had made some of the early Coldplay material.
Finally, where can we see you live in the coming months?
Nothing decided yet. I’m planning something with my label in the not too distant future. Anyway, follow me on social media for updates, search for erikjonassonmusic.