This time I present you something really different. Laike is a solo project by a swedish flutist and composer called Christofer Ståhle. Långt från stadslivets dån (which means far away from the noise of the city) was released in february 2012, it is a work inspired, among other things, by british folk rock bands of the 70'. Some parts are improvisations recorded in an oil cisterno in Shangai. The whole record has a somewhat "magic" atmosphere, with really enjoyable melodies, the singing in swedish adding to the eerie feling of the songs. All that makes a really special record. If you like folk, prog', soft psychedelia and 70' rock or just good melodies you should give it a try. You won't regret it.
Christofer Ståhle kindly answered to some questions I sent him so you can read it below :
-tell me about the birth of the Laike project, your first solo album after having played in bands for ten years isn’t it?
I had been playing with a band called Mashbrick and the Horns of Plenty for over 10 years but for different reasons we got stuck with some recordings. The fact that I wanted to play, record and finish different recordings of my songs without being able to do so made me think about controlling the process myself instead. Since I had no experience in sound engineering it took a lot of effort to learn all that, but it was fun at the same time. During the period when I made the album I was very focused on my music and it was quite intensive. I sat mostly in my studio/bed room and recorded or went to different friends to fulfill my arrangements. It was great fun.
-how would you describe the music of Långt från stadslivets dån?
I guess I would say it is moody music, sometimes with an energetic groove, but always with focus on the melodies. I'm sure you can hear that my sources of inspiration mainly come from the 70s and in particular folk rock bands, but since I like more funky and groovy songs from that period as well I didn't want to confine myself to the folk genre.
-what about the musicians playing on the record?
All the muscians on the album are my friends and people that I play with in other constellations. When I made the arrangements I thought about which musician would fit which song. After that I travelled to different places to record them. Without all these friends the record would have become something totally different, probably more boring. I like to get new inputs to my music from other minds
and I think the music benefits from that.
-Have you played the music of Långt från stadslivets dån live or do you intend to do it?
Yes I have. Sometimes I have played on my own and that makes the musical expression of my songs very different. Some songs fit better than other for this and I think it's more difficult to play on my own, but at the same time it is a very direct and naked expression to play on your own. When I play with a band the groove is better and the drums give more energy. I prefer to play with a band, but sometimes it's easier and more practical to play on my own. Lately I've been playing with muscians from the Stockholm-based band Lisa and Piu.
-what about the lyrics? What are the main themes?
The main theme is a critique of modern society. Perhaps I have studied too much sociology and human ecology but I think about society and how it affects our behaviour a lot.
I guess some songs deal more with existential questions but I often write about how the individual is connected to social patterns. In a way you could say that my lyrics are pretty serious and sometimes a bit dark. It is not a very positive image of modern soicety that I portray, but I think about this very often so I think the lyrics say something about me too.
-the album was recorded part in Sweden and part in Shangai, tell us more about that, and especially concerning the Shangai part?
I studied sociology in Shanghai for one semester after recieving a scholarship. After meeting a friend (who was very interested in stocks) in yoga classes at the university, she asked if I wanted to come to a party in a suburb with "creative people living very differently". It sounded interesting so I went along and eventually we ended up in a Chinese hippie collective. The attributes were the same as elsewhere. Long hair, bearded men and colorful clothes. They liked the Doors and the Beatles... One of them was a sound artist
and he told me that he used to record with different sound artists in an oil cisterno close to their home. The day after we went with a shabby rowing boat to the cisterno and improvised with singing, overtone singing, hand claps and my flute. Fortunately another Chinese friend came along and filmed everything with her mobile phone. Back in Sweden I thought the recordings sounded very fascinating so I decided to use parts of them on my album between different songs.
-was the time you spent in China an inspiration for your music, or not really?
I made some songs in China that later was used on the album, so in some ways I got inspired in China, but at the same time most of the hard work was made back in Sweden.
I had a lot of time for playing in Shanghai, but unfortunately I didn't find the right people to jam with so I mostly played on my own. I can't say I was that inspired by Chinese music.
-I read that you took musical inspiration from british folk bands of the 70’, how did you get into this kind of music?
Hmmm, I'm not really sure. I think I borrowed a CD with Fairport Convention from the library in my home town and since I liked it a lot I started exploring different bands from that period. When I heard Pentangle and Steeleye Span I found an expression that I had been searching after for a long time without knowing exactely how it would sound. I think it is the direct, organic and restrained expression, quite sensitive but without getting sentimental that I fell for. Somehow it fits very well with my personality.
-is your next record already written? How will it sound?
I will record with musicians from the band Lisa and Piu in late June. I have made a demo for them that they are working with now so it will be very interesting to see what they come up with. Some songs will be more folky than last album and pretty monotonous, while other will be faster and more energetic. None will be that funky as two of the songs on the last album. There will be more clean electric guitar and Wurlitzer piano than last album. In some ways I think the songs are more complex on the new album.
-what do you plan for 2012?
My plan is to record another album and to stop playing in most of the 10 musical projects i participate in so that I can get more time to my own music and to other things I want to do in life. I will continue to play with the psychedelic forest reggae band Storskogen (means giant forest) though and we will play about ten gigs this Summer.
-which bands playing in a “spirit” close to yours would you recommend?
Youngbloods, Steeleye Span, Espers, Mikael Ramel, Wolf People and In Gowan Ring.
-want to add something?
Not really, thanks for the interview!