The Øresund Space Collective jams with Prog Sphere

Nick: Øresund Space Collective, as the name suggests, a group of people from Sweden and Denmark, those of us well-versed in geography will know about Øresund bridge that connects these two countries. You, being an American, are in the middle of that “bridge”, so can we say non-egoistically that the music OSC creates come through you?

Scott: I consider myself the manager of the musical collective and just one small part of the music that we create. The music comes together as a musical force through the strong ability of all members to find their own place within the complex sound of 6 or more musicians’ circling the sonic universe in search of a new universe of sound. I do the managerial part to pull it all together in the end and present it to the world. Of course I also play some space sounds as well.

Nick: Would you mind telling us where OSC started in the first place?

Scott: IT all started in the rehearsal rooms of the Swedish band Bland Bladen and the Danish band, Mantric Muse. Both are fantastic and still active bands today. The Danish band Gas Giant, played psychedelic stoner space rock and I played with them for a couple of years but they decided to change directions and this left me without a band to be involved with so I started to arrange these jam sessions with myself and the guys from Bland Bladen and Mantric Muse. For the first couple of years it was only these guys and Mogens, our long time synthesizer player.

Nick: Besides the main collective members, there are plenty of extra musicians that fill Øresund’s “Space”, so to speak, who all come from different musical spheres. So what is it like when all of these people join in? Due to this approach it seems almost natural that you guys base your music on improv instead of that traditional way of composing.

Scott: We have talked about creating some songs that are composed but this never does happen. Whenever we all meet, it is about creating new music at that time in space. People are always getting new guitar effects, pedals, synthesizers, new gear etc. so our sound is always changing some and new people are coming in all the time the last few years so this keeps the sound fresh and interesting. I think because we pretty much only meet for gigs and a studio session every year or so, we don’t really make time for composing anything. Everyone but myself plays in other bands also, so they spend their composing energies on making songs for their own bands and I think they enjoy the freedom of just letting their musician skills flow free in the OSC universe.

Nick: Speaking of the many members of your band, how many have there been in total?

Scott: Wow… that is a good question. I will have to go and check the web page for the exact number but I will list the bands whose members have played with us: Mantric Muse (all 3), Bland Bladen (all 4), The Carpet Knights (3), Drahk von trip (3), Sgt. Sunshine (2), Gas Giant (3), Zone Six (2), Taipuva Luotisuora (1), Siena Root (2), Kaabel (few), The Univerzals (2), Causa Sui (1), First band from Outer Space (1), Mathias Danielson (Makajodama, My brother the Wind)… that is around 30. There are maybe a few I missed but these are some of the most exciting bands and players in the underground scene in this part of the world.

The current most active line up at this moment is: Mogens and myself on Synthesizers, PIB on the drums, Thomas, Pär and Jocke share the bass roles, Magnus, Tobias, Stefan and Nick are the main guitar players at this time.

Nick: You’ve released 6 albums so far, the latest one, called “Slip into the Vortex”, was released recently on Transubstans Records. What can you say about this album? Has anything changed in comparison with your previous records?

Pär: Like the text in the booklet puts it out: this is a very honest piece of music. You can sense the mood changes as the jams progress and there is a tension as always when starting up the jam and though the progression. It is super fun but you also feel a slight pressure that you really want to perform well. But music is always better when everything is balancing on the edge and you play on your maximum capability…sometimes you mess up..but that is where the nerve is. The guys who have mixed this album, and previous ones too, have really contributed a lot and managed to pick out the most interesting sounds and ideas among all that is going in the live communication between the musicians and provided the whole sound-picture with an appropriate framing.

Scott: I am very proud of this new CD. It is a really different sound and band from our last studio record, Good Planets are hard to Find but the same high quality aural journeys with a great group of players.

Nick: It seems that the new album shows to be your most successful record out to date. It has garnered very positive reviews and it also debuted at #26 on the Swedish charts in its first week. How does it feel?

Pär: Ha ha! Yes its a very commercial album :-) To bad it didn’t go to no #1 cause then one of the radio shows would have to play a whole OSC song meaning that there would not be any room for any other bands in that particular radio show.

Scott: I think it is also pretty funny. I still have no idea how many copies that is but it must only be a few hundred, which also shows you the sad state of the music industry, that a CD selling only a few hundred can be nearly in the top 20!

Nick: As a part of the recording session for “Slip into the Vortex”, there has appeared a vinyl record named “Dead Man in Space” consisted of 3 “lengthies”. Was it your idea to have in the same year two different releases on different mediums? I guess that LP will be a nice dessert for all collective collectors. :)

Scott: Well, in the recording session that lead to these two releases (and we still have another one not out yet), we had a very productive session and created enough material for 3 releases. For the last several years we have been trying to gather interest to get our music released on vinyl. I think this is the best medium for music as the artwork can be presented in a proper way and the rich mixes we have deserve to get that warmth that you can only get with a vinyl record, so I am very happy our first vinyl is out.

I would like to see us release two records a year if possible as we have enough quality material.

Nick: I’ve been wondering how you choose track titles. There are some pretty interesting ones, such “I Teleported to Acapulco”, “Consumed by the Goblin” or “My Heel Has a Beard”.

Scott: A large portion of the song titles have popped out of my mind but we often have fun in the van or after shows coming up with strange titles and I write them down in the band diary and we try to remember to use some of these. For Slip into the Vortex, all the song titles except the CD title, were from Pär and Anders (Saxophone). My heel has a Beard was from my daughter, who has been creating some titles for me lately.

Nick: The core of OSC is based on psychedelic/space rock dating back from the 70′s, but then again you don’t hesitate to introduce in your music a variety of effects that help you in establishing that spacey/cosmic vibe. From where do you get all those elements? What influences/inspires you?

Scott: I don’t watch TV and more or less only listen to music, play or mix music and write CD reviews when I am not working, so I hear a lot of music, both old and new, all the time. My biggest musical inspirations for myself are Alien Planetscapes, Hawkwind, Cosmic Jokers, Pink Floyd, Ozric Tentacles, GONG, etc… These bands that have used a lot of spacey sounds and effects in their music. As for the rest of the band members, they all have their own bands playing all kinds of music but mostly in the psychedelic-progressive-space rock vibe. I think we all are firm believers that the best and most inspired music ever made was in the late 60’s and 70s, where all the rules were broken and new ones formed that lead to the format of music that we like best. Good songs, lots of space for solos, strange sounds, and different trips. The bands of today are locked into chains and it is sad to see so many young bands, who play great and write amazing songs, locked into playing them exactly the same every night. They can’t seem to allow themselves to break free and jam, improvise, explore, perhaps from fear of mistakes but if one does not make mistakes one never will grow and learn. We are a band about making musical mistakes that become something positive.

Nick: I myself am really obsessed with the cosmos and everything that comes with it, and personally, I may say with assurance that your music fits well with the amateur stargazing I can provide to myself by watching the sky. Do you find this to be the case as well with your music?

Scott: I get the Science magazine Nature in the mail every week and I love to read all the intense articles about space and our universe as well and where I live, it is pretty dark at night and on a clear night the stars are amazing. The universe is vast. I was blown away recently when I read that they found the largest planet ever and it is like 20,000 light years away and 5000 times the size of our Sun! Fucking massive…

Nick: My vision of your music is that it’s simply time-unlimited, although the tracks themselves are limited by minutes and seconds and milliseconds and so on. But, the music is that what makes me questioning about the time. I’m not a physicist, but in this case time acts like a relative factor. Do you agree?

Scott: I am a biologist and not a physicist either but I find physics fascinating. As far as our music goes, I like to think of it as musical journeys. It is music that is meant to really be listened to as the mixes are meant to really stimulate your brain and mind and also relax you as you float, glide or rock out with us on our music trip. I agree that you can totally get lost in some of our tracks and wonder where the hell the time went. We have a 56 min jam, which we recorded in Oct 2008 that will be unleashed at some point and that is a great journey, where everyone in the band was just flying in the same UFO and we made a fine landing…

Nick: I should probably stop asking these weird questions. Let experts spend their time solving the mysteries of space! I must ask, how do you guys work, considering your geographical positions? You live in the US, no? Do you actually cross the Øresund bridge very much?

Scott: I moved to Denmark from the USA 13 years ago. I do cross the Øresund Bridge many times a year to go to Sweden (usually Malmö) and from where I live, I can walk to the beach in 5 mins and see the bridge! I actually live on a street called Øresundsvej (Oresund street in English), which is quite funny. The bridge is very important though as we have more Swedish members of the collective than Danish, and without the bridge, getting back and forth for jams and concerts would be much more difficult.

Nick: Which album or track was the most complex/difficult to create?

Scott: This is a question that maybe several people should try to answer. Magnus, the guy who I would call the main guitar player in the OSC, he is the one who mixed “It’s all about Delay” and this consumed about half a year of his life, on an almost daily basis. I guess the most complicated one was putting together Good Planets are Hard to Find, as that was mixed by Steve Hayes (Secret Saucer) in the USA and so we had to send tracks, and mixes back and forth, etc.. and it nearly ended up badly if it were not for Magnus’s amazing ears. He detected that the guitars just did not sound right on the final mastering job. He suspected that maybe Steve did something wrong when bouncing down the tracks for mastering and sure enough we discovered he did not do it right and this additional noise was introduced. I am so glad we solved that as we are not a rich band and we play for all the studio time and mastering ourselves with money from our web shop and the rare occasion we get a little more money from a gig that we can save.

Nick: My favorite album from OSC’s body of work is certainly The Black Tomato, an absolutely brilliant piece, but “Slip into the Vortex” is close, as well as “It’s All About Delay”. Do you have a favorite of your own?

Scott: The Black Tomato is a great musical trip and we were all channelling the musical spirit world on this CD, which features just 3 long tracks (two were shortened as well). It is our best selling CD as well. My personal favourite is “It’s all about Delay”. I just have very special memories from those two days of recording and the many different musical moods and styles and the amazing long tracks on CD2. On a musical level though, I think that Slip into the Vortex maybe our most accomplished some how.

Nick: I believe you’re a fan of Hawkwind, which seems clear listening to your music because there are a lot of similarities. I have to ask you if you prefer United Artists era or Charisma era? “Warrior on the Edge of Time” and “In Search of Space” are my favorites. Have you checked the new album “Blood of the Earth”?

Scott: I am a big Hawkwind fan and I have all their records on vinyl and CD and of course the new one as well. Warrior on the Edge of Time is my favourite record with In Search of Space my 2nd favourite. I like a lot of their other records a lot as well like Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music, Electric Tepee, Palace Springs, Chronicles of the Black Sword, and Alien 4 as well. The Space Ritual deluxe edition that came out 1½ years ago with a 5.1 surround mix is really awesome as well. Mind blowing stuff. As for the new one, I have written a review of the record and overall, I like it quite a lot. It is a very psychedelic record but there are just too many ambient pieces and not enough rock music but it has some great new songs. I was at the 40th anniversary concert in London last August and had a great time and they played some of the best tracks from the new record at that concert. Dave and Dibs are fans of OSC and we were invited to play the Hawkfest on the Isle of Wight this August but sadly, their invitation came too late for us to make the plans and figure out if it was possible to finance it but I am in contact with them and I think we might get a chance to get to the UK in 2011 with something Hawkwind related. We will see. It would be a dream comes true. I have met and interviewed the band several times and they are great people.

Nick: Do you find it to be a tough task today to create something new and innovative, as the bands used to do back in 70′s, when there basically was much more musical freedom?

Scott: As I mentioned early in the interview, the late 60s and early 70s were the most creative times ever for rock music. We have more or less the same instruments, played in the same way, with the same tunings, so to create something totally unique and different is quite difficult. We understand the limitations and our approach is to just dive off the board straight into the deep end and create a sonic path to the surface and back out into the expanding universe and to use the sound machines that we have at hand. We more or less releases all of the music that we create to the fans since all our concerts are up on the internet and all the best stuff from our studio sessions gets released.

Nick: What’s it like for the band to play live? There must be a huge stage for you guys and all your gear.

Scott: Sometimes the size of the stage is a real issue and Mogens and I end up having to be on the floor in front of the stage and this is not always fun. We do have a lot of gear with the guitar players always having a lot of pedals, and Mogens and I have several synthesizers to set up as well so we can be pretty packed in. The only stage we ever played on that was too big was at Malmöfestivalen.

Nick: I don’t know if you already know about a DUNAjam festival on Italian island Sardinia, it’s an open air festival and it seems to be like a paradise on Earth. What I want to say is that it would be great for you guys play there, as I think your music fits well with that ambient atmosphere and surely the people would love your music. I don’t have any particular question about this, I’ve just been thinking about this festival a lot lately.

Scott: I am very well aware of this festival as the organizers really like the Danish psych bands so my friends in Causa Sui, Baby Woodrose (Dragontears), and On Trial have all gone to play there and said it was amazing. Also my good friend Dave Schmidt has been and played several times. Everyone seems to have a great and relaxing time. Maybe we will get invited one day.

Nick: What have you been listening to recently?

Scott: Today I have been listening to the last two Monster Magnet records trying to get ready for their new one, which I really look forward to. I also heard Virus – Revelation (Germany 1971) and Scorpions – Lonesome Crow. Yesterday I heard Brainticket Celestial Ocean (Switzerland 1973), Blackcherry Smoke – New Honky Tonk bootlegs, the new Kings of Frog Island, Armored Saint – La Raza, Melting Euphoria – Beyond the Mystic Machine, Rotor 4, Second hand – Death maybe your Santa Claus (UK 1971), Hypnos 69 – Legacy (brilliant!), and that is about it for the last couple of days. Last night my friend Nils (Doomed Denmark) came over for our once a month music night at my place and we heard one side of the following LPs: Frank Marino – What’s Next, Camel – Camel, Eloy – Floating, Circle – Soundcheck, Brant Bjork – Gods and Goddesses, Hawkwind – Electric tepee and we also heard some tracks from the following CDs as well: Arc of Ascent (the guy from Datura and Lamp of the Universe), Hypnos 69 – Legacy, Mountain of Judgement, Triad – Tribute to Hawkwind with US Christmas, Minsk.., Ozzy Ozbourne – Scream, Serpentian satellite – Mecanica Celeste, and some Øresund Space Collective live stuff…

Nick: I have no more questions, so if you want to add anything, now’s a good time.

Scott: Thanks for this great chance to chat with you on a number of interesting subjects. The only thing I want to add is a special thanks to everyone who buys directly from our web shop. This is the money that keeps this project running and you also get to see your name in the next CD! Also, we hope to have the CD version of Dead Man in Space out later this year with a bonus track from that session.

Nick: Thanks for the interview, Scott. All the best and I hope to see you somewhere in space!

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.
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