The Line Of Best Fit Radio

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Q&A with Loney, Dear

The moment I heard Loney, Dear back in September of last year I was completely smitten. They were on tour with fellow Swedish band Peter, Bjorn & John and had popped in to do a live session for the Gideon Coe show on BBC6 music. I rarely listen to the station, in fact I can probably count the times on one hand that I've tuned in so I guess it might have been fate? The song I heard was The City, The Airport from last years Sologne - it had me hooked instantly, and, by the power of the Internet a day later I had the album. By the end of the week I'd discovered not only was Loney, Dear in fact a one man band, recording all of his music solely at his home studio but had, in fact self released four albums in three years! Burning CD-R's and selling them through his website he had slowly built an army of loyal fans. It wasn't until Sub Pop discovered him at last years SXSW festival in Austin, Tx that things really took off. Offering to release his fourth album Loney, Noir; it finally hit the streets on February 6th. Its mix of tender confessional lyrics subtly backed with layer upon layer of instrumentals has been met with open arms by fans and critics alike. The man behind the music Emil Svanängen graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me on a rare day off from a busy touring schedule. Here's what he had to say.

Hi Emil, as we are doing this interview by email - where are you right now?

I'm in Solna, Stockholm my last Friday off til summer!

Can you tell me a little bit of background history. When did you first realise you wanted to make music?

I have always wanted to record multitrack, as long as i can remember. Started off first as a kid with two cassette decks, moving on to midisynths, or some kind of built-in-2-track sequencers. Made some music on my Atari 1040, wrote folk songs for two acoustic nylon guitars a bit later. Finally I got a computer 4-5 years ago and everything started.

Where did the name Loney, Dear come from?

The feeling of staying home Friday night building a career instead of being out.

Loney, Noir has been released to fantastic reviews and you seem to be the new darling of the music press. 2007 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for you. How are you enjoying your new found success so far?

I am so glad for hearing that, its hard for me to understand how things are going, but I'm very happy with the reviews, especially since i originally released the album in august 2005 (05:00 13th august in the morning) and only my friends and a couple of fans noticed it. So, I am so happy for getting it out on a broader scale.

But! There is a bit too much touring and I don't have time for making new music. This has been a problem and has made me grieve sometimes. I hope to make some music during the year. I have a couple of songs ready for the next album Dear John, and some of them are very good. Hoping to finish it sometime.

The songs on Loney, Noir are the most consistent of your career so far. Did you have the songs ready before you started recording or was the whole thing a work in progress?

It was a work in progress. Started working on it right after the album Sologne was finished, so I didn't have anything old to rely on. (But Carrying A Stone is a pretty old song)

A lot of your songs start from a simple acoustic guitar backing and slowly build and build into multi layered symphonies. Do you intend for the songs to sound this way or do you just have way too much fun in the studio!?

I love seamless transitions in the changes. Never really liked when things are too obvious and I try to hide the parts to not be easily heard.

Is commercial success important to you? Or are you just happy to put records out?

Yes it is. It makes things a bit easier. But, everything is for the best of the music, I'm not interested in the commerce itself, just want to make the best home for the music. You know, I record the music quite simple, so its something else. Don't know so much about the industry, and don't want to know too much either.

You've been described in the press as Sweden's answer to Bright Eyes. Do you see any similarities there?

No not really, do you?

There is a thriving indie music community in Sweden at the moment, most notably in Stockholm. Is everyone supportive of each other or is the scene very competitive?

Impossible for me to say. The things lying far away from what you're doing is easy to encourage.

All four of your albums have been recorded at your home studio. Do you think you will ever consider recording an album with your full band in a professional studio with a producer in tow?

I might work with a producer sometime if I hear someone I like. I cannot think of any modern classic album I love being recorded live in a studio. I don't like the sound of bands on recordings. But playing live on stage is a completely different game, the band is essential there.

Since putting out Year Of River Fontana and the subsequent albums you have applied a DIY ethic to your work. Burning CD-R's and printing off artwork etc. Now that you are signed to Sub Pop is it nice to sit back and let others do all the work!?

Yes! I'm not finished with the two first yet, and have to fold and burn them still!

On the printed sleeves for your CD-R's it lists another album yet to be released "Dear John". Is this record finished or still a work in progress and, what can we expect from it?

In the middle of it. Have too little time!

Sologne was released last year through Something In Construction. Are there any plans to release River Fontana & Citadel Band commercially?

Yes. When there is time.

How did the CSS remix of "The City, The Airport" come about? Have you met the band or was it just organised through Sub Pop.

We were talking bout The City and remixes, and I said id like CSS to make it, didn't hear anything about it until I heard the song. Good one.

You sang on "This Boy" from I'm From Barcelona's current album. Any other plans to collaborate any other artists in the future. Perhaps a duet with Jens Lekman or El Perro Del Mar? That would be rather special.

I really like what they do, but I'm not sure they feel the same about my music.

"Now, Let It Go" from The Year Of River Fontana is a personal favourite of mine. Can you tell me a little bit of how that song came about?

Oh nice to hear, which version? The one with the modem sound? I'm glad you like it, interesting to get response on the old songs. I've been working on redressing them now when I guess its gonna reach a wider audience. I've gotten to learn so much since then and i felt it was a good thing to do to renew them a bit. [The album Year Of River Fontana was originally released in 2003, but remixed and re-recorded in 2006 and re-released as River Fontana Redux]

About the song.. I read an article a long time ago about a song I had never heard. The writer was raving about the bassline, the bassline! And I got inspired. A good friend told me "let nothing let you down" and I stole it.

Was the sound of a modem firing on the track recorded by accident? Strangely, it adds to the atmosphere of the track.

Ok there it was. No it was intentional, felt it was a great sound. It felt a little to much like a Swedish schlager from the 90's song "World wide web" by Nick Borgen, some kind of Internet romanticism, and I got tired of it. I guess I'll have to put it back now!

Name one song from your past four records that you are proudest of as a songwriter. Where the words, music and the way it has been recorded are, in your opinion, to complete perfection.

In With The Arms from Sologne. The recording in combination with the growing of the live version makes it a great song.

Ignorant Boy from Citadel Band for being such a strange song.

When you're writing - what comes first. The music or the lyrics?

Music comes first, but I'm trying more and more to write everything in the same moment.

Loney, Noir opener Sinister In A State Of Hope is such a beautifully arranged song, both vocally and musically. Can you tell me a little about the history of that track.

I thought I wasn't gonna make any more songs, still think so, and sat a bit sad in an apartment too close to a road, so I could record there. Came up with the chords and started to make a little melody. Don't remember when the words came up, but I think it kind of grew for a while.

Can you tell how you went about choosing members for your backing band? Were they all originally friends or did you audition for parts?

Malin [Ståhlerg, Tambourine & vocals] just joined one gig to get free entrance and then it turned out so good. Ola [Huntgren, Drums] jumped in when the first drummer resigned. Trumpeter Emils advice. I met Samuel [Stark, Keyboards] at a concert for our old folk school, and really liked his playing. I wanted to play with David [Lindvall, Bass] for a long time and when bassist Oskar [Schönning] took a timeout I asked him to play. Ola had ideas to bring the hornplayers Emil [Strandberg], Thomas [Backman] and Nils [Berg]. Oscar [Svenningsson, Guitar] is the one I've played with for the longest time.

If you could choose only one, what would be your all time favourite album?

My inner picture of "Dear John"

What new music are you currently listening to?

JS Bach. Not so new.

What is your take on illegal downloading. Do you think it helps or hinders artists?

Don't know. Its not possible to stop it so you better like it. I think it can be good. But you must remember the western society is built on the principle of owning. I don't feel that way though, if people want to support what I'm doing I'm only happy. On the other side, what is the difference between a patent and a song? Dunno.

What band would be your dream act to open for on a major tour?

I don't know, is it fun to open up for a huge band, or is the audience not listening. I would say Of Montreal. Can we start 10th of March please?

What are you passionate about in life, apart from music?

Love, life, death. The last as a contrast, not as a goal. No, I'd say near and dear ones.

Any plans to come back to the UK this year?

Sure yes. I heard something bout middle of April.

Loney, Dear will be on a US tour with Of Montreal in March. Dates are:

03/10/2007 New York,NY - Irving Plaza
03/11/2007 Boston, MA - Avalon Ballroom
03/16/2007 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
03/17/2007 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
03/18/2007 Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern (Headlining show)
03/19/2007 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
03/20/2007 Newport, KY - Southgate House
03/21/2007 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
03/22/2007 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle Tavern
03/23/2007 Columbia, SC - Headliners @ Banana Joes
03/29/2007 Gainesville, FL - Abbey Road
03/30/2007 Miami, FL -Studio A
03/31/2007 Orlando, FL - The Club at Firestone
04/01/2007 Jacksonville Beach, FL - Freebird Live
04/02/2007 Tallahassee, FL - The Moon

[mp3] Loney, Dear - I Am John [via Sub Pop]


Loney, Dear - In With The Arms

Official Site
Sub Pop
Photos by Kathryn Yu (website)


Bridget said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bridget said...

Very nice interview, Rich! What I wouldn't pay for a Loney, Dear/Of Montreal bill here in Denver... :)

PS and for what it's worth, I'd never have heard of Loney, Dear if it weren't for you and illegal downloading. So cheers for that!