Unmistakably Nordic in flavor, Sofia Talvik somehow still conforms to American interpretations of her own original music, a North Sea siren blending sparkle and melancholy, creating a special niche of folk music.
Swedish music mag Lira recently published an interview about my tour and wrote a really nice review for my new album The Owls Are Not What They Seem or as I like to call it “TOANWTS”. As the magazine isn’t available outside Sweden, I’m sharing a translated extract of the review with you here:
[quote] What really lifts the songs are the symphonic but soothingly so produced string arrangements, the playful flute and not to mention – the warm-sounding trombone. The musicians give the songs the very personality you’re longing for, especially at the times when the soloists step outside the harmonious sound. My fondness for the singer/songwriter genre is not particularly large but Sofia Talvik’s music captures, touches and radiates at the same time an indefinable beauty. [/quote]
RVA Magazine in Richmond did this nice write up about my gig there last week. The gig was put together by the guys behind Radio Rubber Room so that made the gig extra great! I hope I get to come back to Richmond, VA for some more gigs in the future!
[quote] Despite being a solo act, Talvik’s technical assistant/husband worked wonders for her already perfected sound, providing well-placed vocal harmonies, doublings, and effects. Sofia Talvik is absolutely freaking gorgeous, and her charming stage presence drew me in, all the more. Not only is she a great singer, she fingerpicks her acoustic flawlessly, reminiscent of the steady subtle perfection of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. Talvik announced with assurance that she would “perform the rest of her set naked if everyone was quiet.” I must wave an incredulous finger at those who did not find this compelling enough. Come on people! Sigh… maybe next time. [/quote]
“…Not dread but a connection with our past is what we feel, a thread running back to the artless creatures we once were when we first heard the oboe-like notes from the Great Horned Owl. In Paleolithic times, we suspected omens in its voice, heard in it questions we were unable to articulate, but which have stayed within us, incomplete and taunting. We are certain that ancient, taloned bird sees what we do not, knows what we never will. And some night, silent as a gliding feather, its immensity will engulf us at fireside to tell us things we want to know as well as those we don’t. In the shadowed forest we’re pulled by that lurking and alluring ghost and we are enthralled.”Welcome to Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town
2011 was a busy year for me. I worked hard to get an artist visa to the US, preparing for a tour that might go on for as long as two years. At the same time I wrote and recorded a new album. Now that I’ve landed in my tour in the US it’s also time for my new album to land. “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” is a collection of 12 new songs. My musical journey started out in 2004 when I recorded Blue Moon and me and my musicians all gathered in a basement studio in Stockholm recording acoustically and almost all the instruments at the same time. After that I tried a more common way of recording in layers, adding instruments upon instruments. For my third album I hired a producer, Tobias Fröberg and for my fourth album Florida i experimented with a bigger soundscape with more drums than I had ever used before.
For “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” I went back to basics. After having done an acoustic solo tour for my album Florida Acoustic in 2010 I felt I was in my best element when I was playing and singing at the same time without the restrains of headphones and click-tracks. So I decided to make an ablum that was the essence of that me. Just something I could record in my bedroom without the pressure of a big production, time and opinions from others. All the songs on “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” are recorded that way. Me – playing and singing at the same time, then sparsely adding other instruments to enhance and highlight where I thought it was needed. My goal was to keep it down and make an acoustic album with a live, organic feel to it. I had no interest in changing the world or inventing something new. I just wanted to make a beautiful acoustic album. And here it is: “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”
Soon the last part of H.A.T.E will be released by Swedish metal band Akribi. We managed to keep them still for a few minutes to ask them some questions about the meaning of life and metal…
Hi Akribi! You guys are doing “E – Part Four of H.A.T.E”. How has the experience been so far? Definitely different. We’re not at all used to interpreting other musician’s materials, nor working with such tight deadlines, but it’s been a very fun and rewarding experience so far.
Great! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? We’re a female-fronted progressive metal band based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The band started out back in 2003, based on the idea of playing ambitious metal with strong songwriting. It’s an ideal that has remained intact through countless lineup changes over the years. As a consequence of this, we like to work with a slightly expanded palette of scales, chords and time signatures in our music. Oh, and let’s just get one very common misconception out of the way… “female-fronted” in this case does not mean “gothic” or “operatic”.
Just like Badmouth you’re releasing this EP only a few months after your album release. Are you always this productive? Given the right circumstances, sure. As hinted above, the band has had a bit of a rough history with lineup changes and whatnot. We have begun writing the next album and it’s going surprisingly fast so maybe we’ve learnt a thing or two about efficiency.
Did you think it was hard to interpret Sofia’s songs into your own style or did you get ideas straight away? We decided to transcribe the chords and scales that Sofia used. After we had done that we stopped listening to Sofia’s versions and began working. We sent note sheets with ideas to each other; “Could this be something?”, “Would this passage sound better if we changed scales to Lydian?”, “What happens if we add this chord there?” and so on and then we tried playing the ideas. We changed a lot, added riffs and details to make it more Akribi. It took us about a month and then we recorded it, sent it to our mixing guys in Brazil and voilà.
Which of the songs are you most pleased with and why? It’s difficult to pick a song. It sounds weird but when you live with a song in the intense way that’s required for writing and recording it it sort of becomes your baby. The song we play the most often nowadays is The Garden. The guitar solos are great and Alexander gets to play his Chapman Stick and that always makes him happy. Our songs are usually pretty long and that makes set lists tricky to do so it’s good to have a shorter-than-four-minutes-song up our sleeve.
What’s your favorite gig memory? That must be the first time we were on stage and the audience sang along with our song Carry the Rain. It’s an incredible feeling. But if you’re looking for an awkward anecdote it must be when the guards didn’t let our drummer back into the building after a sound check. He tried to convince them that he was in the band but the guards told him “yeah right, that’s what everybody says”. The rest of us were backstage ready to go on stage not knowing where he was.
Can you tell us a little bit about the recording sessions and what was most fun with being a part of this project? Well, the recording workflow was the same that we always follow. When we’ve written the chord progressions, melodies and overall structure of a song, we record (or in this particular case, program) a drum track and have everyone record their parts individually to that. All recordings are then assembled in a sequencer and a rough pre-mix is done. Feedback is sent out, obscene words are exchanged, and adjustments are made. When everyone is sufficiently satisfied, the tracks are sent away for mixing. The most interesting and fun part of this project was that is was far out of the realm of what we usually do. Apart from on a few auditions, we don’t play or record external material. Oh, and we finally got to put a growling part in a song, courtesy of Rafael Basso of “Unlit Face”.
What’s next on the agenda for Akribi this winter? In October we got a new drummer and we’re in the process of getting to know each other musically and he’s learning all our songs. Parallel to this we’re in contact with booking agents and promoters around Europe. Music is always better live and life on stage is great so we’ll play live as much as possible.
If you would record a Christmas metal album, which three songs would be on your list? Hey, we’re a metal band! We don’t do Christian things 😉
Thanks for hanging out! We look forward to hearing the songs 🙂
The greatest thing about doing these videos is that so many fab artists from so man different genres has participated, doing their own thing with my songs, adding their own touch!
Emma Nylén, singer in the band Paris and her own electro/disco project Emmon joined me on my first “Jonestown” single “As summers pass”. Emma reminds me of Modesty Blaise with her jet black hair and beautiful big eyes. If Modesty could sing, I’m sure she’d be thrilled if she sounded like Emma.
The 15th of September, I’m releasing my third album “Jonestown” in the U.S and later in Japan. To give you a preview of the songs from the album I have gathered 12 of my favorite Swedish artists who will each do one song from the album live with me on tape.
You will get the opportunity to meet well known artists as well as up and coming new stars, and when the videos are all released we’ll turn it into a competition where you can win signed albums of “Jonestown”.
Emmon is the solo project of Emma Nylén. She is also one of the member of the Swedish pop-band Paris. The Emmon-project was started in 2001 as an experimental music vs. art project under her art studies at Konstfack University Collage of fine Art in Stockholm. Emmon’s computer based music lies on the border between pop, synth, electro and disco music. Its based on her vocal resources with a lot of attitude and melodic pop songs. She also working as a DJ and doing remixes for other bands and artists. For example: The Knife, Melody Club, Homy, Soviac, Postplay