Mathias Danielsson, My (second) Brother the Wind

About 2 weeks ago we interviewed Nicklas Barker, a fellow of a certain Mathias Danielsson, with whom I had an opportunity to talk about My Brother The Wind, a common project of Mathias and Nicklas. Mathias also has a band called Makajodama, which we spend a lot of time discussing, as well as a country rock band called The Usual Suspects. We also talked about his other projects, future plans and collecting vinyl records!

Nick: Hey there Mathias. Thanks for your time. How are you doing?

Mathias: I’m fine thanks! I’m really enjoying the weather here in Sweden at the moment, and my upcoming vacation.

Nick: I’ve spoken recently with Nicklas Barker and I asked him few questions about My Brother The Wind, but I want to deepen it more, so how did it turn out from your point of view? You guys recently released an album called Twilight in the Crystal Cabinet, are you happy with how it came out?

Mathias: Well, it isn’t out yet but it’s said to be available from June 21st. We’ve had some problems with the release.

I’m really pleased with the result. The sound of the recording is just amazing, you can’t beat the analogue thing. It’s the real thing!

Nick: Twilight was recorded and mixed in just two days. What was that like? Did you have clear vision of it was it all a product of pure jamming/improvising?  I guess that you knew its base, which is rooted in psychedelic rock, but who was initiator of this project?

Mathias: The vision as far as we were concerned was to meet and record an album totally out of the blue, with no rehearsal or arrangement whatsoever. We wanted a sound so pure and free that you seldom capture in a recording session nowadays and I think we succeeded. We didn’t talk about direction or influences, but we did know we had a common enthusiasm for psychedelic rock from the late 60s-early 70s.

Nick: I have to say that it’s amazing and weird in the same time that you managed to do all the work in just two days. Were you driven by spontaneity? I wonder how it would sound if you guys had spent a lot more time. I don’t mean it might sound better that way, as a lot of bands are known to spend months on an album, and end up with a weak product.

Mathias: I’m convinced that the result is a product of it’s spontaneity and the short time we spent on it. If you only get one chance to make a statement you’ll focus more and play more convincing. And I got to mention that the communication between us when we play is almost subconscious, never experienced anything like it. It’s almost as the music plays itself sometimes…

Nick: MBTW is signed by Transubstans Records, a label that’s mostly focused on releasing albums from psychedelic/progressive bands. Are you satisfied with them? A few of my favorite bands are also signed by them, such as Carpet Knights, Gösta Berlings Saga, Lucifer Was, Magnolia and now MBTW. Would you recommend some other bands which are on Transubstans?

Mathias: Transubstans Records is home of many great bands, and is runned by true music freaks! Check out their mailorder shop Record Heaven and the vast supply of  great obscure albums.

I got to recommend Oresund Space Collective, a jamband from the Copenhagen/Malmö area that’s really doing their thing. They’re releasing their new album soon. I’ve been doing some gigs with them on bass, guitar and pedalsteel. Mattias Ankarbranth, the drummer in my band Makajodama, used to play with The Carpet Knights when he lived in Malmo. They’re great too!

Nick: What are your next plans with MBTW? Will there be any concerts? It would be great to see you live.

Mathias: We’re looking forward to the album release of course and to promote it. We played our debut gig a couple of weeks ago at a club in Stockholm. Sure, we’re looking for gigs so we’ll see where we’re heading next time. Hope to see you there!

Makajodama

Nick: Let’s move now to your other band Makajodama. First of all, I would like to solve mystery about the name. I have a theory that the name of the band is connected with the first letters of the band members’ names, so we have MAthiasKArinJOhanDAnielssonMAttias. I hope you will not break my theory down, but let’s hear what you say.

Mathias: Bingo my friend! With one exception, the DA is from the first letters of  the name of a guy that played with the band in the early beginning.

Nick: I’m afraid to label your music, so won’t even try. But let me say that from my point of view, Makajodama is what happens when Comus meets King Crimson meets Gryphon meets Can. Did any of these bands have influence on your music or am I just wasting my time?

Mathias: All of the bands that you mentioned have big influence on me, as well as a dozen others of course. I think it also owes a lot to the Swedish contemporary composers Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Allan Pettersson, check them out they’re something else. The idea was to fuse contemporary music with edgy progressive rock and some folk added for good measure…

Nick: Would you mind telling us about Makajodama’s beginnings and your musical background?

Mathias: Makajodama began 2007 when I met drummer Mattias Ankarbranth at a audition for a band I was in at the time. He didn’t get the job but we clicked and started jamming soon after that. The violin player Johan Klint lived in the same building as my rehearsal studio so we could here him practice eagerly, after he joined he told as about Karin Larsdotter who plays Cello and that she would be interested to join too. Well, said and done! I asked Dante who played bass with the band that auditioned Mattias if he wanted to play with us. I already had some material that would fit the ensemble so we started rehearse that.

I started playing in punk bands when I was 12, and as I progressed on guitar and discovered other music I played a lot of different kind of bands. I try to keep the punk spirit in my playing though…

Nick: Your self-titled album has gathered very good reviews and I have to agree with them. Please tell us something more about its beginnings, as well as the recording & mixing process, the special guests that helped in its making, etc.

Mathias: After we’ve rehearsed for a while with Dante he decided to quit, so I started to play bass instead of guitar for a while to get the rehearsals going. We recorded three of the songs on the album, “Buddha & The Camel”, The Ayurvedic Soap” and “Reodor Felgen Blues” first. Then we took a kind of hiatus due to child birth. I continued to write material for the album and after we were asked to play a gig we got a new start and continued the rehearsals and recordings. The other sessions produced “The Train Of Thought”, “Wolof”, “Vällingby Revisited”, “The Girls At The Marshes” and last but not least “Autumn Suite”. The suite was pretty complicated to nail, we tried to do the string parts live with a trio but it didn’t work out so we got to do it part by part. Me and Mattias recorded the rhythm tracks for all the songs and then I’ll call the others to come down and do their stuff, with exception for “Wolof” and “The Girls At The Marshes” when me, Mattias and Johan played live before we added the overdubs. The guest musicians are friends that play in different bands and were asked to give their special touch to the songs. Christine Jost came down and recorded the weird Bassoon parts for “Autumn Suite” in 3 hours, and she was dancing while doing it!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears for that matter, truly amazing.

Nicklas Barker of Anekdoten helped me mix the album and Hans Fredriksson who also works with Anekdoten did the mastering, both of them did a fantastic job.

Nick: “Autumn Suite” is a wonderful suite-piece, influenced by a lot of Eastern styles. I love the use of sitars on this one. Have you listened to Oriental Sunshine, perhaps? Their “oneshot” album called “Dedicated To The Bird We Love” is a really nice record.

Mathias: Haven’t heard that one! Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out. Yeah, “Autumn Suite” is a tribute to the best of all seasons in my opinion. The time when things start to mold and new things emerge. The suite can also be heard as a cycle of life for example, variations and twists and turns that ends up with the calmness of eternity. That’s where the sitar comes in.

Nick: Speaking of records, what’s the most valuable vinyl in your collection? Sorry because of this little digression, but I’m always interested in talking about these things. Are you searching for any particular records lately?

Mathias: I’m not really interested in the value in the records, just the music. The list of records goes on forever I’m afraid…. To give you a more pleasing answer I’ll give you some examples;

The Pretty Things-”Parachute”, Third Ear Band-”Abelard and Heloise”, John Fahey-”The voice of the turtle”, The Flying Burrito Brothers-”s/t”,  Älgarnas Trädgård-”Framtiden är ett svävande skepp förankrat i forntiden”, Hatfield & The North-”s/t”, Michael Yonkers-”Microminiature Love”, Tim Buckley-”Goodbye and hello”, Simply Saucer-”Cyborgs revisited”, Phil Pearlman-”The beat of the earth” (this one is gonna cost me a fortune….)

The Usual Suspects

Nick: Another band you are involved in is The Usual Suspects. This time you play some classic country rock. How come? Tell us something more about it.

Mathias: The Usual Suspects is a tribute to the California country rock scene in the late 60s; The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, Nashville West, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Why? Well, because I love this kind of music as well. It’s a four piece band with two guitars (one plays a Fender B-bender in the Clarence White tradition), bass and drums and harmony vocals. We’re playing clubs and pubs around the Stockholm area on a mission to Hillbillyfie the Swedes, hahaha…

Nick: I have to mention that you are former member of Gösta Berlings Saga, you’ve contributed to Magnolia’s album, and you’ve played with Oresund Space Collective, I think that I’m missing something, thus it would be nice if you would come up with the full list of your bands/projects/involvements and whatnot.

Mathias: I’m sometimes playing with Swami Coco & The Maximum Meetha Orchestra, an Bollywood outfit that mostly plays Ananda Shankar tunes. I’m going to Kathmandu, Nepal to play the Himalayan Blues Festival with Baba Richie & The Raags in October, it’s gonna be a blast!! Sometimes I do recording sessions for others than my friends, but then it got be something interesting. I’m gonna do an session with Pete Molinari in a couple of weeks that’s gonna result in a couple of tracks on a MOJO magazine CD.

Nick: What have you been listening to recently? Give us some recommendations. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Swedish Prog.

Mathias: The Finnish band Tasavallan Presidenttis “Lambert Land” has been spinning quite a lot recently, and so has Frank Zappa “Uncle Meat” and The Rain Parade “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip”.

If you haven’t discovered them yet you better check out Arbete & Fritid, a great swedish progband from the early 70s.

Nick: What gear/equipment you own?

Mathias: This is the stuff that I got that I use the most;

-1973 Gibson SG with factory Bigsby tremolo.

-1972 Univox Hiflyer, a Mosrite Ventures model copy from Japan.

-Fender Telecaster 50s reissue

-Fender Blues Junior 15W tube amp

-1973 Marshall JMP 50W tube amp

-1965 Hagström 310 tube amp

-1979 Roland Chorus Tape Echo

-1968 Nu Fuzz/Nu Wha (Wha and Fuzz in one pedal)

-Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wha pedal

-Rogue Electric Sitar (reissue of the classic Coral from 1968)

Nick: Is there anything you would like to add in this interview or maybe ask me now that I’m out of questions?

Mathias: Go out and buy the June issue of Guitar Player magazine where Barry Cleveland reviews Makajodama on his top three list!

Nick: Thanks for the interview, Mathias. Hope to hear more from you.

Mathias: Thanks Nick, take care now!

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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