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  • Interview: Pelle Carlberg

    Fri, 12 Oct 2007 12:12:10

    Interview: Pelle Carlberg - Part Morrissey, part one-man Belle & Sebastian, this Swede wryly croons his way into our record collection

    When a man compares his national music scene to tennis, you know he's got some class. Pelle Carlberg is the distinguished elder statesman of indie pop who's paid his dues in bands like Edson since the mid '80s. Now Pelle is taking a detour and going solo on his latest album, In A Nutshell. We stopped in with the dapper, cheeky Swede and got his opinion on all things "twee," the new album and, of course, Swedish tennis pros.

    Name a musician who has influenced your sound but that people may not expect.


    Who or what inspires you to make music?

    Every day life.

    Was there a driving concept behind your new album?

    The first album was based around my nylon string guitar. When I started to record the new album I bought an old Gurian steel string. I also wanted the new album to be richer, faster and brighter.

    What's the most exciting part of the music-making process for you?

    Coming up with ideas in the studio while recording. I like the feeling of time standing still (or flying).

    If you could pick a dream band to open for, past or present, who would it be?

    The Hidden Cameras.

    Your irreverent lyrics are a highlight of your songs. Do you have direct writing influences?

    I think I'd rather call them irrational, quirky or strange. My first guidelines when it comes to writing are that it has to be genuine and something I can relate to. Then of course I did listen to The Smiths a lot when I was younger, and I have always felt a relation to the way Morrissey manages reveal his inner thoughts in a clever and subtle way. Still, he has the advantage of writing in his native tongue.

    Someone might be apt to call your sound "twee." Does that offend you, or do you feel a part of that whole movement?

    I've been around too long to be offended by misguiding epithets. Still, I make the same kind of music I have always made, and when I started it wasn't even called "indie." Personally I don't like any so-called twee acts.

    How do you feel you fit into the Swedish music scene; what's it like at the moment?

    The Swedish music scene is really flourishing. There are thirteen good bands to the dozen these days. Funny, 'cause it hasn't always been like that. I think we are experiencing a kind of Björn Borg effect. Before tennis player Borg became number one we didn't have any top ten players at all, and then all of a sudden we had Edberg and Wilander and a few more world class players.

    You play solo as Pelle Carlberg, but your music sounds like there's a full band behind the songs. Do you ever wish you worked in a band atmosphere?

    The solo thing is pretty new to me; I joined my first band in 1985. So I have had nearly twenty years of struggling with different ideas and egos. For the moment I'm very happy to be able produce my music the way I've always wanted. My old band Edson made three albums. I'm proud of them all, but there are many things I would have done differently today.

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff

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