We're huge fans of Sven Wunder here at Jumbo, since his breakthrough album 'Eastern Flowers', and follow up record 'Wabi Sabi'. Aidan caught up with the enigmatic Swedish producer and composer for a chat about his excellent new LP 'Natura Morta', film scoring, his creative process and his new found passion for Leeds United.
A.R: We've been following your music since your impressive debut 'Eastern Flowers', which is still on heavy rotation on the Jumbo stereo. That record was followed by sophomore LP 'Wabi Sabi,' which marked a change in sound reminiscent of 1970�s Japanese jazz. With 'Natura Morta', you have yet again re-sculpted your sound in interesting ways. Could you tell us about your journey through these differing styles?
S.W: Personally, I like when artists who find a good thing keep the same path without taking huge steps in completely different directions. Just for the sake of it. I believe that all Sven Wunder releases at least belong in the same rabbit hole, even if they obviously have differences too. The journey itself is pretty clear, I want to make music that I like to listen to myself and follow that trigger, wherever it leads me.
A.R: 'Natura Morta' begins in serene fashion with 'En Plein Air' and 'Impasto', and suddenly changes course with the highly energetic track 'Prussian Blue'. Can you tell us about how you sequenced 'Natura Morta'? Was this a process that was pre-determined, or that came together in the studio/mixing stage?
S.W: When I�m selecting tracks and making the sequence of an album, I usually like to take three or four songs that I like the most and put them at the beginning. But to make the narrative more colourful, I like that tracks of more serene fashion, like 'En Plein Air' and 'Impasto', blend with an uptempo track like 'Prussian Blue'. 'Prussian Blue' was one of the latest additions to the album, which also ties back to 'Wabi Sabi' and the track 'Shinrinyoku', to make the sequence more dynamic, and to get a nice experience when listening to the record. Similar to how 'Kachōfūgetsu' and 'North Wind Rattles the Leaves' function on 'Wabi Sabi'.
A.R: The artwork is also very interesting, with a consistent typographical and visual style across your three LPs so far, as well as the 7 inch singles. Is this a process that you enjoy as much as creating the music? Do you work with any collaborators?
S.W: Thank you, very glad to hear that you like the artwork too. John, who I run Piano Piano Records with, does all the artwork and graphic design for the label and my releases. We have been friends for a long time and work very well together. The process of making both music and artwork goes hand in hand, in a close dialogue between us two, and grows organically with the making of the record, that we both enjoy.
A.R: With your background in jazz and film scoring, there is certainly a cinematic feel to 'Natura Morta', especially on the evocative 'Barocco, Ma Non Troppo'. Does your process change when writing music for Sven Wunder albums as opposed to film and television work?
S.W: I would say the the process is the same; sitting for hours in front of the piano, writing music and trying out ideas, then arranging and recording them. The difference between my own work, as Sven Wunder, opposed to commissions for film and television work, is that there are no restrictions besides my own boundaries. There is no picture, story or director to adapt to. It is a lovely feeling to get that freedom to do what you want after working on a score for a longer period.
A.R: Your albums utilise a myriad of instruments, from the sitar stylings of 'Eastern Flowers', the hypnotic flutes present in 'Wabi Sabi', and the full blown orchestral arrangements of 'Natura Morta'. Are there any plans to perform your music to a live audience?
S.W: We are currently looking into that possibility. It would be lovely to get out in the world performing, meet people and to do some nice record shopping. Due to the spread of Covid-19 hasn't been possible to travel during this period, more or less when my record has been released. Let's see how things will unfold.
A.R: Can you tell us what you have been listening to throughout 2021? The influence of library music, 1970s jazz and Anatolian psychedelia is present in your music, but have you been listening to any contemporary music this year?
S.W: The 'Bartleby' score by Roger Webb that Trunk released made me extra happy. Such a splendid record! Lots of great music has been released throughout 2021, like reissues and compilations from our friends Now-Again, Sonor Music Editions, Four Flies, Finders Keepers, The Roundtable, but also really great contemporary releases like Molly Lewis' 'The Forgotten Edge', Menahan Street Band's recent album and a lot more.
A.R: And finally, we are of course writing to you from Leeds, UK. We are the major independent record store in Leeds, and are celebrating our fiftieth year in business this year. Have you ever been to Leeds, and if so do you have any fond memories?
S.W: I never been to Leeds myself, unfortunately. I have been watching almost all the games since Marcelo Bielsa took over Leeds United a couple of years ago. I would love to come to the UK and Leeds soon to visit your shop, buy some records and watch a game or two.