Interview: Viktor Ahlgren

Viktor Ahlgren and I have been going back and forth for a couple of years now. He originally reached out to Music For Lunch for his duo collaboration, LACEI. Check out the interview we did here. Now, Vik is up to his ears in musical projects, just the way he likes it. Not only is he still writing music for LACEI, he’s also divulging in mixing, producing and engineering for his own solo work in addition to working with some prominent DJs and producers out there. We discuss all of this below!

 

MFL: Do you recall the moment in your life when you knew music would become a permanent part of it?

 

  • It’s hard to describe, but I’ve always felt a special calling to music. I’ve always felt that it has been a huge part of who I am. When I was younger, it was pretty obvious to my parents that music was extremely intriguing to me. For instance, at the age of four, I was dying to have a Beatles album. And at the age of nine, I cried so hard because my parents wouldn’t buy me a Britney Spears album haha!

 

MFL: You are from Sweden originally. Does culture influence your music today? If so, how?

 

  • I believe so. I listen to a lot of music from Sweden (both globally known Swedish artists as well as artists that are only famous in Sweden) and I’m definitely influenced by them. I also often find myself making dark, melancholic music. Maybe that’s because I’m from a place where its cold and dark for 8 months out of the year lol…

 

MFL: In addition to writing/recording music, I know you have gotten into producing and engineering. How is this kind of work different from just writing music if it is different at all?

 

  • It is a little bit different as it’s more focused on sound design, programming, mixing, etc. Instead of writing the song you are tweaking a song that’s already been finished (ie. changing sounds, mixing them, etc.). I have also engineered (recorded) other people’s sessions.

 

lexia Connor

PC: Alexia Connor

MFL: I know you have been working with some up and coming producers and DJs recently. Who are they and how did you connect with them?

 

  • I have been working with Grammy winning songwriter/producer DJ Dahi, Grammy nominated songwriter/producer Brian Alexander Morgan, and recently, I’ve been doing some music programming with the rapper King Mez.
  • I met Dahi in 2010. He was working at my school and my friend told me that he was a music producer. One day I decided to walk up to him during lunch and ask for some tips to get started with making music. At that time, he had not broken through the music business yet but I asked him to help me get started and he did. Ever since then, we have kept in contact. Once he started to gain success he asked me to work with him. He was the resident director at the school, so every time I got in trouble at the dorms I had to go and speak with him lol. I thought that was pretty funny.
  • I met Brian through Dahi. He was in a session with Dahi and saw the work I was doing. From there, he asked me to come and do the same work for him. His engineer had just moved away so the timing was perfect! I met King Mez through Brian. It’s crazy how one thing can lead to another… You never know who the person you meet will end up becoming.

 

 

MFL: What have you learned this far from these esteemed producers and how have you applied this knowledge to your current projects?

 

  • I learn so much every day, and I love it! Working with established artists and producers and watching how they work and think about music is so educating and inspiring. It can be all from how to program better drums, to how to build more interesting chords with unique voicings, etc. Everything I learn from the people I work with I try to incorporate into my own music making; lately I can see how it has improved me as a musician. Since the people I work for are songwriters and producers, they also work with a lot of well-known and talented artists. I get to meet some really cool people and gain inspiration from their work too.

 

MFL: I know you are also working on a solo project. Why did you decide to take on a project of your own and how do you plan to keep it unique from your collaboration, LACEI?

 

  • I think because I’m such a diverse music listener, I feel the urge to create different types of music. LACEI is my main focus which is more rock infused, but I also have other projects. Deeps is another project I’m working on with a friend of mine from Sweden which is more folk and soul infused. Vik Mikael is my solo project which showcases more of my songwriting and producing abilities, basically I’m gonna be making whatever music I feel like (no particular genre). Fourthly, I have also created music scores for tv and film as well as doing programming and sound designing for other people. All this music express facets of myself. They are all a part of me.

 

 

MFL: Do you have an opinion on music streaming and how it has changed the way people buy and listen to music?  

 

  • I believe that the idea of streaming music is great as it is more accessible and affordable for people to consume and discover. Playlists are great too. However, I do feel that the distribution of money to the artists are not yet fair, so they need to sort that out.

 

MFL: Finally, 2018 will be coming to a close before we know it, what are your major goals as a musician for 2019?

 

  • Release music! I have been working on so many different projects lately that I cannot wait to put out. It’s gonna be LACEI stuff, Deeps Stuff, my own solo stuff, and other artists stuff that I will be credited on. Let’s hope it will be a good year =) and hit me up if you want to collab! I love working with new people!!

 

You can follow all of Vik’s projects on Instagram: Vik Mikael, Deeps, LACEI.

 

Featured Image PC: Guthrie Melchiade

 

Debut EP from A Box of Stars: “Days Drunk Off Heat”

A Box of Stars hails from a college town in Western Vermont where four of the five band members live. Despite their proximity, the record was born of isolation. One of the lead vocalists and main drivers of the band, Macaulay Lerman, would visit each of the other members’ homes to focus on their part of each track, rather than have the entire band get together to work. This method created something very different than their initial expectations of what was to become, Days Drunk Off Heat. Just like the band’s name, their debut EP is a shimmering collection of stars. Each track just as sparkling as the last but each glimmers in its own color, pulses with its own beat. I feel that this is the result of the bands’ unique creative process. The band is made up of Macaulay Lerman (guitar and vocals), Claire Londagin (vocals), Jens Hybertson (violin), Eben Schumacher (bass, piano, and guitar), and Tim Halteman (drums). The EP was mixed by Josh Druckman.

 

The record is a carefully curated collection of seven tracks that are built on the idea that life is in constant migration, evolution and motion. It is a record that acknowledges our existence in this perpetual motion machine that is life, constantly pushing us forward but also recognizes that we can and will always look back no matter how quickly we are moving into the future. More specifically, the record is a reflection on a period of Lerman’s life where he hopped on freight trains and hitch hiked across the US in his late teens, early twenties. He let the motion of life settle him in some towns for several days, others for several months. Days Drunk Off Heat is Lerman looking back on this period of his life, wondering if he had stayed forever at any one of his stops, what would his life be like today? A question many of us ask ourselves throughout our lives about daily decisions regarding life, lovers, and our occupations.

 

The album opens with my personal favorite on the album, “Cornfields.”

 

 

Within seconds, I knew this was a record I wanted to spend some time with. It simultaneously sounded like something I had heard before, some combination of bands already out there, but also something completely novel. I could not and still cannot decide if Lerman and Londagin’s voices are perfectly similar or completely different. I cycle back and forth between hearing their voices overlap so flawlessly that it seems like both voices are coming from the same body while at other moments, their voices could not sound more dichotomous, almost dissonant at moments. “Cornfields” is a hazy lullaby intertwined with lyrics that are thick with that summer heat that leaves you feeling dazed. The following track, “Sunshivers”, picks the tempo up and is lazily playful, just like those insanely hot summer days that leave you unsure of what to do with yourself. You never completely wake up. That is how Days Drunk Off Heat leaves you feeling.

 

“Tongue Tied” is a lilting waltz that seems to highlight specific memories or moments from Lerman’s travels. Specific stops along the journey, tastes, smells, sights and scenes are captured in this track perfectly laced with Hybertson’s longing violin. Each instrument has its place in each song and I find myself having moments throughout each song with each instrument. The record also highlights Lerman and Longadin individually. “Migratory Birds” lets you get drunk off Lerman’s husky, whispering voice while “The Leaving” highlights Longadin’s pure, rich and soaring voice. On “The Leaving”, Longadin sings of how sweet is to leave, her voice the perfect means of conveying this message.

 

 

The record closes with, “Static Companion”, another favorite of mine, leaving you just as dazed as you began. Days Drunk Off Heat is meant to be listened to slowly. It’s like honey. It’s sweet and it can’t be rushed. This dreamy EP is out now and can be found on Bandcamp, Spotify,  and Amazon.

 

New single from Danish singer, Alex Vargas: “Silent Treatment”

Danish singer Alex Vargas brings us his latest track, “Silent Treatment.” The sultry and soulful track features his velvet-clad voice and an undeniably sexy beat. Last spring, Vargas released his debut record, “Cohere”, and based on this new single, the upcoming record brings a new level of intensity and soul.

Check it out:

 

 

Listen for more from Vargas via Facebook, Spotify and his official website.

Featured Image PC: Seth Nicolas

New music video from Norwegian-Brooklyn duo, The Familiar

Musical collaborations like that of The Familiar’s are becoming more and more common with what technology, email and smart phones allow us to do. Ruth Mirsky is based out of Brooklyn and Mads Martinsen is in Tromsø, Norway, deep into the Arctic Circle. Ruth and Mads met at a Christmas party some time ago where Ruth shared her music with Mads and the rest is history. Neither felt daunted by the whopping 4000 miles between them and what came of their collaboration was something beautiful. Just shy of two years ago, I interviewed them about their collaboration (you can read it here) and a couple weeks ago they released their newest music video for the track, “Stuck Together.”

“Stuck Together” is a cinematic beauty in both a sonic and visual sense. It glides through that electro-pop sound that The Familiar has claimed as their own, the video following the love between a young boy and girl from start to finish. The video jumps around in the timeline of the couple’s lives together, just like our minds fly through memories and try to predict the future. The track together with the video creates something that is both sweet and tender but also painful, in a way. Check it out:

 

 

Follow The Familiar on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Summer Playlist

I had full intention of releasing two fabulous playlists this summer that encompassed all the music that I received. The summer escaped me so instead, you get ONE LUSCIOUS, VIVACIOUS, DELICIOUS playlist, a whopping 3.5 hours long. I hope all you MFL-ers out there had a wonderful summer.

Enjoy!

 

Interview: Terence Jack

Terence Jack first reached out to me in 2016 with the release of “Eastern Rise.” I was instantly captivated by the his powerful voice and the commanding rhythm. Now Terence and his band will be in Bozeman, MT this Wednesday at The Eagles following their stop at the highly anticipated Philadelphia Folk Fest. The band’s tour kicked off earlier this month and Terence answered some questions for me while they were on the road. Check it out!

 

MFL: I first heard from you when you were releasing “Eastern Rise” as a collaboration with Daniel Klenner. How did you two come together and create “Eastern Rise?”

Terence Jack (TJ): Daniel Klenner and I played together in a band about 8 years prior to us working on Eastern Rise, the band auditioned him as a drummer and it was a great fit. I’ve always like his musical choices. When I was checking out studios and meeting with different producers, I got the feeling that Dan’s studio was the right space to create the album. Eastern Rise was pretty well developed before going into the studio, we ended up producing a dirtier sound than I had in my demos.  

 

 

MFL: Has Daniel become part of the band or did you only collaborate on a couple singles from your Never Get Back EP from 2016? Additionally, tell me who else is in Terence Jack and how they contribute to your sound!

TJ: Daniel isn’t part of the band, he doesn’t tour much as he has a couple kids at home. I’m actually working on the next album with him at the moment, which will be released early next year. The current band is Cameron Stephans on drums, Thomas Hoeller on guitar, Adam Willey on bass and Keegan Schuh on keys. Everyone sings harmonies except for Keegan.

 

MFL: When did music become part of your life and how have you allowed it to continue to be part of your life?

TJ: I first played guitar at around 10 or 11 years old because I had to choose an instrument for band class. My mom had a guitar sitting around the house and I was hooked right away. Never have put it down. I was immediately into creating sounds, and songs. That’s been and continues to be my true love in music.

 

MFL: What was the inspiration behind your Never Get Back EP and was there a concept or common thread between all of the songs?

TJ: The inspiration behind Never Get Back is a message, or some form of reminder, to not let the material world weigh you down and think for yourself. To not save your whole life to die before you can live. The album is a thread of stories and themes that I’ve experienced. Stories about people, places and things that have affected me. I feel the album was sort of vague and indirect which has always sort of been my style, however I’m experimenting with that.

 

MFL: Tell me about your experiences touring. What are some of your favorite destinations/highlights and why?

TJ: We’ve toured fairly extensively, especially around Canada. Some highlights would be our first cross Canada tour in 2016, east to west coast. The Maritimes are always a favourite as well as playing Haida Gwaii, off British Columbia’s coast; it’s an incredible place that feels like you’re going back in time, there’s an energy buzzing out there that’s pretty magnificent. This year we have some exciting stuff on the horizon including Newfoundland and 2 USA tours.

 

MFL: Name a few musicians from the past or present that either inspire you personally or inspire your sound.

TJ: I’m always listening to new music and drawing on anything and everything. A few current favourites are Justin Vernon, as I respect how he’s pushing boundaries with new sounds, and Daniel Auerbach, his new album is really great. As a band, we listen to a lot of different music from Jazz to Indie to R&B and Hip Hop. Always listening and learning.

 

MFL: Since the release of Never Get Back, what have you been working on and when will we get to hear it?!

TJ: We’ve just started recording the new full length album, to be released early 2019. We’re really psyched for it and have been sitting on songs for 2 years so we’re ready for it!!

 

MFL: What destinations are you looking forward to playing most on the upcoming tour and why is Bozeman on the map for you?

TJ: Philadelphia Folk Fest is something that we’re honoured to be a part of, this will be our first time playing on the east coast of USA. I love Bozeman and came here a few years ago for the first time. We’re excited to play every date on tour because it’s our first time on a tour in USA.


MFL: Tour questions.

  1. What do you guys do to pass the time on the road?

TJ: We listen to a lot of music and podcasts, we chat and solve the world’s problems and, when we need our own time, we just put the headphones on and tune out.

 

  1. What is playing while you’re driving more often than not?

TJ: There really isn’t a constant it just matters who’s DJing at the time. Lately I suppose Anderson Paak has been on a lot.

 

Don’t forget to check out their show WEDNESDAY August 22nd at The Eagles in Downtown Bozeman!

 

Interview: Intercontinental band, Maven Grace

You think it’s a challenge having two musicians collaborate from across the world? Try four musicians in four different places, scattered all over the wold. Maven Grace is a collaboration between four musicians in Ireland, Hong Kong, Rome and London. Regardless of the incredible distances between them, they create incredible music and I was lucky enough to get Jason and Henry to answer a handful of questions for me! First off, check out their new single and accompanying music video:

 

 

It is my understanding that Maven Grace unites members from Hong Kong, Ireland, Rome AND London. How on earth did you all find each other?

 Henry: Jason and I have actually known each other since we were children. Jason spent some time in the UK as a child, and we were drawn to each other at school because we were both obsessed by music.

 Jason: And we both had terrible shoes.

 Henry: Mary and I have also known each other for ages. Our paths used to cross on the gig circuit, and we always said that one day we’d end up working together.

 Jason: Mia and I met in Rome as teenagers. She was the coolest girl in town, and it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. So, even though we’re scattered all over the world now, our ties to each other go way back. That makes everything much easier to deal with.

 

Touch on some of your individual projects before you came together as Maven Grace.

 Henry: I was in a band called Psychid that ended up supporting Radiohead at a big homecoming show in Oxford. I was so excited and then reality struck when I hit the stage – endless rows of people looking at their watches. By about the third song, a Japanese girl right at the front of the barriers had had time to create a big sign which she waved at us. It said “How long are you playing for?”

 Jason: I’ve always wanted to bridge the gap between east and west and after going to college in the US I ended up back in Beijing putting on a big festival. The Beijing Pop Festival was the first of its kind, and it was pretty insane introducing acts like Nine Inch Nails to a Chinese audience. Although it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t want to put Fist Fuck in their set.

 

Do you work together in one place or remotely?

 Henry: We work all over the place. Often we end up having to work remotely, but it’s great when we’re all in the same place. Mia just got in from Rome this morning for a rehearsal, and she was practising her parts on a small keyboard during the flight.

Jason: Writing at a distance can have real advantages, too. I love coming up with an idea in Hong Kong and winging it through cyberspace to the other side of the world.

 Henry: Because of the time difference, I have more time to work out how to say ‘I don’t like this’.

 

Tell me about your songwriting process. 

 Jason: Every song is different. Innocent Dreams all flowed from that opening line – ‘Innocent dreams don’t disappear’. Henry and I were just sitting there together playing guitar, and I don’t even remember why those words came into my head. But we just developed the whole song then and there from that opening idea.

 Henry: It’s great to have lots of different writers and processes all going on at once. The only constant is that we all rely on each other to get things finished.

 

How and when did music become part of your lives?

 Henry: My mother is a singer, so I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a central part of family life as I was growing up. And she loved everything from Bach to The Beatles. She actually sang with the Rolling Stones on the Let It Bleed album.

 

Who were some of the most influential people musically, be it friends, family or celebrity?

 Jason: I’ve always loved Springsteen and that classic strain of American songwriting. But as a kid I was also into some fairly extreme metal, actually! So my influences were all over the place.

 Henry: Let’s be honest – they still are.

 

What is the story behind the band name, Maven Grace?

 Henry: I’ve always loved the word ‘grace’. It has so many interesting and powerful connotations, so I knew that if I started a new musical project Grace would have to be in there somewhere.

Jason: The word Maven just feels like it belongs in front of it, though. You can spend forever analysing these things, but when you’ve got it right, you just know.

Name a few musicians/bands out there today that you really respect and who are doing things musically that are inspiring and important to you. 

Jason: Funnily enough we’ve just been thinking a lot about the artists in Beijing who mean the most to us, and I have to mention Howie Lee. He’s like the Chinese Aphex Twin and his videos are insanely imaginative and beautiful. Dead J is another Beijing-based musician I can’t get enough of. They’re not so well known in the West, but you should definitely check them out.

Henry: Whatever you think of their beards, it’s impossible not to respect ZZ Top. Next year will be their fiftieth anniversary without a single line-up change. That is truly inspiring. As someone once said, bands often form by accident, but they don’t stay together by accident. And when we need a shot of something coming from a completely different universe, Hot, Blue and Righteous off their Tres Hombres album works every time.

 

Is an EP for full length in the future for Maven Grace and when can we expect another release from you?

 Jason: We’re planning to get another song out there before the end of July. SEE “Something Strange” above! 

Is performing live/touring something you all would like to do and how difficult will that be to achieve given the distances between you?

 Henry: We’ll be performing live and touring, for sure. In fact, we’re playing a great festival at the end of the month, Standon Calling, alongside Goldfrapp, Bryan Ferry and Gaz Coombes. Rehearsing is a bit of a challenge when we’re thousands of miles apart, but nothing worthwhile is ever that easy, is it?

Jason: And I don’t really need to rehearse as much as the others anyway. I’ve got it all down.

 

Big thanks to Lewis Fromberg for setting this up and for the band finding time in their busy schedules to answer my questions! You can follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.