Henrik Björnsson, originator and composer of the compellingly provocative Singapore Sling gives a glimpse into his netherworld.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with rock 'n' roll?
Yes, rock´n´roll was never played at home when I was a kid so it was a kind of forbidden fruit, which obviously made it very exciting. My exposure to rock´n´roll was through Joan Jett´s I Love Rock´n´Roll and I loved it. A bit later when I heard Eddie Cochran and Bo Diddley I guess that´s when my love affair with rock´n´roll really started. What I fell in love with was the simplicity, the beat and the attitude. It doesn´t require any technical mastery or any goddamn professionalism! I think too many musicians these days are too professional. They know how to play their instruments and work their Pro Tools but there´s little attitude and little inspiration. We need more rock´n´roll!
When did you begin playing the guitar?
When I was 19 a friend of mine taught me the basic guitar chords. The rest I discovered myself.
Do you write and record all Singapore Sling material by yourself?
I write all the material, but my friend Hákon has contributed. I used to record demos on a four-track and eight-track and then I´d finish them in a studio, sometimes with the drummer and sometimes we´d record drums, bass and a guitar together with a band, but now I like to finish a whole record by myself. That doesn´t mean though that I won´t ever record with a band again. I just like to make music by myself. I was making music by myself long before I ever formed a band.
What is a recording session like for you? Do you have your own studio?
No, I record at home. It works fine as long as I block out all contact with the outside world so I can have complete focus. I am like a Nazi monk during a recording session.
I once read that you describe your sound as "dance to my dropping tears", and it has resonated with me ever since. Do you think your creativity is enhanced by feeling sad, without which you may not feel the need to create?
I think sadness is very underrated. You need to be able to feel sad to be able to feel joy. When I´m happy I´m creative/inspired but when I´m sad I´m not, so feeling sad or down doesn´t make me creative but I think it is necessary to experience sadness or feeling down to be able to experience happiness/inspiration. Nobody can be happy and inspired all the time.
When you write a song which element usually presents itself to you first?
Often the song comes to me in one piece and all I need to do is figure out a way to record it. Sometimes it´s a riff, a melody, a beat or even just a sound. It just depends. And usually some words come with the song, the melody or whatever. The words are always a part of the atmosphere.
Can we discuss "Singapore Sling Must Be Destroyed"? There is so little information available about this amazing record. What was your head-space like at that time? What kind of atmosphere were you communicating? Also, will this ever be given a physical vinyl or CD release?
Well, that record is mostly recordings that I had that I felt I needed to finish and release to be able to start working on something new. It´s not good for ones creativity to have too much unfinished stuff sitting around. Some of the stuff I went through I didn´t like though so I threw it in the bin and the good stuff I put on this record.
It was actually given a physical release on CD, just very few copies and no proper distribution. It will however be released on vinyl by Fuzz Club and so will all the other releases.
How important are altered states of consciousness to the creation of your art?
Altered states of consciousness? What, like altered by drinking beer and smoking pot? That´s the enemy! I just need to focus. Sometimes ideas come to me when I´m half awake in bed, which is a kind of altered state of consciousness. However when I´m mixing a record I think it´s important to listen to it in different situations, different environments and different "altered states of consciousness", whatever they may be.
What is it about The Cramps that you love? What elements appeal strongly to you?
I love the sick, silly humour. Sex and horror is a killer combination. I love the primitiveness and simplicity. I love their covers (I have discovered a lot of bands through the Cramps). I love Lux, I love Ivy, I love their whole world. I love that goddamned rock´n´roll!
Who is your favorite musician?
What are you listening to these days?
Other than listening to the music I´m working on myself I have been listening mostly to classical music, sometimes that´s all I want to listen to. It can do something good for the soul, like this composer called Gurdjieff. It´s very beautiful and sad, of course. Without sadness there is no beauty.
Is there a new Singapore Sling album in the making?
There is one coming out in early October called "The Tower of Foronicity" and another one called "PSYCH FUCK" coming out early next year. I am of course always writing and recording ideas. When there´s time and there´s a place there´s a record in the making.
The Tower Of Foronicity will be released on October 20th. Pre-order the record here: http://goo.gl/EL70c2
© Heiða Jónsdóttir
Interview made by Gina Kantner/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014