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Marcus Fjellström: the perverse sense of freedom.

May 9, 2011
  • What’s your (original) profession?
    >I’m actually lucky enough to have gotten by working as a full time composer / multimedia artist ever since I graduated from music university in 2005. Of course, it only works because I’ve got a very inexpensive, ascetic, frugal lifestyle…<
  • How did you get in touch with music?
    >Music was kind of ubiquitous when I grew up, I was always surrounded with music and musicians. When I started composing on my Amiga 500 at the age of 12, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.<
  • What would you do if there wouldn’t be music, starting with tomorrow?
    >I’d probably throw myself into some other random creative / artistic discipline.<
  • …and what if you had to produce in a different music genre? What would that be?
    >I think I would get me some old electronic music equipment and do some kind of stripped down lo-fi techno, like Drexciya or early Aphex Twin…<
  • You just released your newest album (Library Music 1), what are the feedbacks so far?
    >Feedback’s been good so far, it’s my first self release and I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but people seem to appreciate the easy going ‘candy bag’ nature of the album, which is nice.<
  • Contemporany classical music, experimental electronica and vintage film music – how did you manage to combine this triangle?
    >This might sound cheesy, but the truth is I just let myself be inspired by whatever inspires me and then I create naturally from that. I think that if you consciously try to combine different genres it’ll be very forced and self-conscious, it won’t be a natural fusion. It’s like some of the ‘neo-classical’ people who make Michael-Nyman-like music and then put Alva-Noto-like glitch rhythms on top. That’s no fusion, it’s just one thing on top of the other. I aim to make the outcome a third, new element, I’m aiming at a+b=c, not a+b=a+b. The way I do it is to let the influences work on a deeper, subconscious level where they can truly merge, and then try to create as honestly as I can from there.<
  • You have a special relationship with movies, you have provided many scores for independent productions. Tell us about this.
    >There haven’t been that many, maybe 7-10 short film productions over ten years. What’s embarrasing is that I enjoy it the most when I get to do real cheesy, clichéd soundtracks. 🙂 There’s a perverse sense of freedom in that, no artistic demands, just the joy of making and instant gratification. But of course, most often I do try to bring artistic qualities into it, and it can actually be quite difficult at times, since you must take special care to really support the scenes you’re working with — as well as meeting the director’s demands, whatever they may be — while trying to be artistic and original.<
  • What are your favourite movies?
    >Off the top of my head; “Eraserhead” by David Lynch, “A Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick, “Stalker” by Andrej Tarkovsky, “Blow-Up” by Michelangelo Antonioni, “Brazil” by Terry Gilliam.<
  • If you had to direct your own movie, how would it look like?
    >It’d probably be something that includes elements of all of the above… and maybe in the style of Guy Maddin, who I also admire.<
  • What’s your next plan music-wise?
    >I’ve got some commissions for classical ensembles coming up, most of them actually also including animation and electronic music. And then I’m working on some new audiovisual works including books/booklets, but that’s gonna take a while, the concept isn’t quite worked out yet.<
  • Who would you like to collaborate with the most and why?
    >Hmm… I was very impressed by György Pálfi’s “Taxidermia”, would love to work with him on something similar. Also, Ilya Khrjanovsky’s “4” was very impressive, would love to work with him too. And Takashi Miike, and Guy Maddin… I’d like to work with good, unorthodox directors with original visions that I can relate to.<
  • Who would you like to collaborate with from Sweden?
    >Since I seem to be way too autocratic to collaborate with other composers/musicians, I’ll just keep going with film directors… I was very impressed by Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One in”, as well as the films he did with the Swedish “Killinggänget” troupe. I wouldn’t mind collaborating with him.<
  • Is there a band/music genre you can’t stand listening to?
    >Not really, it’s all about specific songs in specific situations.<
  • Is there some music you like – but ashamed to admit it?
    >Probably. 🙂 But I can’t think of anything right now.<
  • What kind of music does Marcus Fjellström listen to at home?
    >Not much — I spend so much time working on my own stuff that I usually can’t find the energy to listen to other things — which may sound a bit arrogant but I don’t mean it that way at all. When I do listen to something it’s usually old records that I already know I like, or new albums that I get from friends in the business.<
  • The beauty of silence or the chaos of noises?
    >Silence, no doubt.<
  • What’s your favourite album ever?
    >Hard to say… but Aphex Twin’s “I Care Because You Do…” is a strong candidate.<
  • …and your favourite album cover?
    >Probably Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine”.<

  • If you could be a rock star, who would you be?
    >Christoph Schneider, the Rammstein drummer. Seems like great fun.<
  • Do you have a role model?
    >I don’t think so…<
  • How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
    >Introverted, tired, friendly, creative, restless.<
  • What are your vices?
    >Too much coffee and sugar… and not enough sleep.<
  • What is the most unusual comment anyone has ever made about you?
    >Thaddi Herrmann (the editor of De:Bug magazine), who I’ve never met, called me an “arrogant asshole” in his review of Gebrauchsmusik (2006). That was quite unusual…!<
  • What would you do today if the world would end tomorrow?
    >Call my friends and family.<
  • What’s your favourite flavour?
    >Pickled ginger.<
  • What’s your favourite picture about yourself?

  • What is the question you always would have liked to be asked but nobody ever did?
    >May I be your patron and support your art financially for the rest of your life?<
  • May I be your patron and support your art financially for the rest of your life?

Born in Sweden in 1979, Marcus Fjellström is a composer and multimedia artist. His work ranges from the purely orchestral through electronic music and audiovisual work. He has worked with the Swedish Royal Ballet and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as well as numerous ensembles and soloists, independent record labels, artists and filmmakers including “Salad Fingers” creator David Firth.

Fjellström studied composition and orchestration at the School of Music in Piteå, Sweden, graduating with honors in 2005. One month after graduation his debut full-length album “Exercises in Estrangement” was released by Lampse Audiovisual Recordings to enthusiastic reviews. The following year his second album “Gebrauchsmusik” was released by the same label, after which he focused on orchestral and chamber music for two years. In 2008 he completed his first major audiovisual work, the experimental cartoon / electronic music piece “Odboy & Erordog, episode 1”. Since then he has written several audiovisual works involving classical instrumentation, including “Lichtspiel Mutation 1” for Sinfonietta Cracovia and “Odboy & Erordog, episode 2” for The Peärls Before Swïne Exerience.

In his works, Fjellström often aims to combine opposites so that they don’t contradict each other, but rather fuse into a natural, third element. There is often a challenging of the gap between “high” and “low” culture, of the naïve and the sophisticated, of good and bad taste. Musical influences range from electronica such as Aphex Twin and Autechre, to 20th century composers such as György Ligeti and John Cage. Further influences include impressionist composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, and film music composers Bernard Herrmann, Angelo Badalamenti and Zdeněk Liška.

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