Interview with KRISTOFFER GILDENLÖW

Kristoffer Gildenlöw

Kristoffer Gildenlöw is not a foreign name on the progressive rock scene. Being a member of Pain of Salvation for eleven years, he has been involved in inception of some of the genre’s defining albums. After his split with the band, Kristoffer went on pursuing solo career, but he has also been a part of many different projects.

Gildenlöw is currently promoting his solo debut album entitled RUST released in 2012, but he also has new ideas for the future. He will be performing on the upcoming Generation Prog Festival in Nürnberg.

Few days ago, you revealed over at your Facebook page that you have 25 half done songs and ideas for the new album, but that you can’t get it to (sic) speak to me. What are the similarities and differences in the creative process for this new album compared with your previous works?

Music always has to “speak to me”, otherwise it’s no working out for me. So I listen to ideas round and round until a solution pops up. Sometimes it’s a small thing like changing a sounds or even the volume on an instrument, sometimes a complete songs appears on the spot. And sometimes there’s nothing and I put the idea away for the next time. Usually the songs come bit by bit, I record a few more bars and when it ends it ends. I don’t push it but simply save what I have and put it away. At this stage I also enter the studio and start by listening through all the ideas I have. If something pops up, I go with it, if not I continue with the next one. The same goes for lyrics.

I’m bad at it and it’s always the last thing I do with a song. I then just sit and listen to the song over and over again until it “speaks to me” and tells its story – usually a state of mind or feeling that I then express in words. Sometimes the lyrical concept then changes the song and I’d even need to rearrange some things. What’s best for the song is what’s best for the song.

You also mentioned that you have been checking some of your old ideas while working on the new material. Do you think that for an idea time is not a relevant factor?

A good songs is timeless. Only productions can be traced in years and time and sometimes that’s even what makes the song so good. And if that’s the trick, then so be it! A good idea was good five years ago and is still good today. But still, it has to be worked at and be given the right attention.

Ask any creative person, no matter what media they use. Everyone has a good idea stored in the back of their head but haven’t found the right time or place to give it justice. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment. As I said, I don’t want to push things. Some ideas I had years before I started with RUST, they didn’t fit the album so I saved them… Many of them aren’t ready for the next album either. Who knows… They might never see the light of day.

Kristoffer Gildenlöw - RUSTIn 2012, you released your first solo album entitled RUST. Compared to everything else you have been a part of in the past, and you have a long and steady career behind you, where does this record stand in the big picture?

Well, I was actually busy with a different album, much closer to my previous musical stage. But RUST just came out of me, I couldn’t stop it. Finally I realised that I had to record RUST first to see where that path would lead me. It’s far away from my previous work within progressive hard rock and metal. Uncomplicated, small, minimalist, fragile, quiet. No rock star here, just me, straight from the heart. I still live in the two worlds and have no problem in switching between them but I can understand that the audience might be confused about it. Hardly any bass on the album and the one you hear is very basic, just supporting the song and nothing more. Doesn’t mean I don’t like to play “flashy” stuff no more, but it’s clear to me that things have to be separate to keep purity.

Are you satisfied with the reception RUST received?

Well, people who have heard it seems to like it very much and the reviews have been very good. But it’s very hard to reach out to an audience these days so I think that this album flew under the radar for many people and probably missed by many who would probably like it. If I could reach more people, I’m sure things could take flight and become somethings. But I’m grateful for what I have and the people who support me so far.

You will be performing at this year’s Generation Prog festival in Nürnberg. What will the setlist be like?

We will break things down a bit halfway through the festival, giving the audience some time to breath. I’ll bring a drummer, a keyboard player and a guitarist and we’ll do a half-electric version of the album RUST with a few treats. I’m still working on the details so we’ll see what will happen. I’m aiming for a personal feel, up close and cosy together with the audience. The atmosphere is the most important.

What do you expect from this event?

I expect nothing but hope that I’ll be able to reach out and touch some new listeners. I know the other bands pretty good and know they’re great people and musicians. I’m sure we’ll have a great time back stage together.

With The Shadow Theory you released an album in 2011 called Behind the Black Veil. Are there any plans for a follow-up, or this was just a one-off thing?

I asked Devon about this a while back but didn’t get a clear answer. As for now, it’s all stowed away in the fridge with no expiring date. Who knows what will happen in the future.

How do you look at your time spent in Pain of Salvation from this point?

I’m very proud of what I’ve done in my eleven years in PoS. I was there from the first album and helped build up the band to the status it had in 2006. We did some amazing things with hardly any budget and help and still we managed to climb our way up there. Of course, things could have ended better but that’s all in the past and probably things are better this way. At times I sure miss playing in a good band with great musicians and my ego sometimes misses being “someone” even if it is “only the bass player.” [Laughs] Now I’m introducing my self as ex-PoS and that’s a bit pathetic really. [Laughs]

Kristoffer Gildenlöw (photo by Mattias Vanderhoeven)

Kristoffer Gildenlöw (photo by Mattias Vanderhoeven)

I have to say that some of your recent comments on the whole business of making and releasing music, while sensing sarcasm, are in the same time spot-on. Any comments?

I have a love-hate relation to the music industry. While I see things going straight down the drain on some issues, others are the ones helping me even being able to release an album at the first place. This could become a very long answer but to keep it short, yes commerce and technology is killing musicianship on several levels. Like so many other things in life and media (that has become life now) we’re being lied to and manipulated and made into thinking we know what is good and bad. And don’t get me started on Spotify and iTunes…. They made me an astonishing €0.16 last year. But things go in waves and I think people will return to quality in a while (this isn’t just music but every form of entertainment at this point). We’ll see.

What are your plans fort he future?

Well, working on a follow-up to RUST right now that I hope to record during the Spring of 2015 with a release in the Autumn. Meanwhile I’ll be taking any form of session work, I guess, to finance this album. So if anyone needs bass on an album… you know where to find me. I’m surprisingly affordable. [Laughs]

I have lots of other ideas as well, including the album I started with before RUST, which is more progressive rock oriented. But we’ll see how far time will get me.

Cover photo: Mattias Vanderhoeven

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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