Ljudbilden & Piloten
Ljudbilden & Piloten is a single man, Kristofer Ström, as unbelievable as that is once his music starts flooding into your ears. The peace and quietude of each song is awe-inspiring, and just plain inspiring too. With field recordings and well-made compositions of more conventional instruments, Ström creates a world that makes all people into angels and all things possible. He reminds us that the ordinary is actually extraordinary; he reminds us to appreciate everything. So it was a delight to discover, from September to November, that he wasn't the monk or recluse that I had envisioned him to be, but simply a man who loves the world. This interview was conducted by Eden Hemming Rose.
KS: I started playing recorder in third grade, then I picked up trumpet lessons in fourth. I took trumpet lessons for about 9 years. In the beginning mostly classical then I got into jazz.
As I started my seventh year in school I got into punk music. I bought a used electric guitar from an old lady and started a couple of punk bands. Naming the band was almost the most important thing back then; a cool sounding name was high priority: "Zenil Xistenz" (hey Z and X are cool letters!), "Pre-natal", "Pee and Poo" and "Tardy".
I’ve played in many constellations in my 27 years of living, punk, jazz, folk, rock, electronica, hardcore, pop, and so on. I think all of these different styles has influence in what kind of music I create today.
KS: It means, translated directly, "the soundscape and the pilot". I came up with the name when the project was supposed to be me and my friend Martin Lindell but it ended up being just me. Everyone spells it however they want since it isn't that easy to remember. The Wire spelled it "Ljubilden & Piloten" and a magazine here in Sweden gave me the name "Ljudbilden & Poeten" (the soundscape and the poet). Just waiting to see what they can come up with next.
I like the name. It's just what it is. I am the pilot flying around with the music, sounds and harmonies. Cheesy...yes!
KS: I did thought of some English names at first but as I came up with Ljudbilden & Piloten, I just got stuck with it, never really reflected over the non-Swedes who would have difficulties pronouncing the name. I had the intention of putting Swedish names on my tracks also, but it sounded too cheesy and just not right. Might do it on my next release.
(Ljudbilden & Piloten is pronounced: jude-bill-denn oak pee-lou-ten)
KS: Apart from Ljudbilden I have two projects that has been going on for many years now.
"Adria" is a band I have with my girlfriend. She writes the lyrics and does the sketches for almost every song. After that we work together, add beats, samples and other stuff, argue...argue...kiss and make up. It's some kind of semi-electronic-pop-folk. Our album "Palio Faliro" (2001 on www.speakerphonerecordings.tk) is a bit more electronic compared to what we make today. Now it's more acoustic instruments involved.
Then there was (until just recently) "Lemko Hall," a so called post-rock instrumental band. Three other guys and me. We played in other constellations before the start of Lemko Hall (early 2000). We were like teenagers who couldn’t decide what instrument we wanted to play so we passed the instruments around; no one got bored and I got an outlet for my energy while playing drums!
Me and Osso Bucco trade sounds over the Internet. I have a lot of collaborations with other people also; there's a great demand on my trumpet knowledge. I like that. Keeps me picking up the trumpet more than I usually would do.
KS: I've been drawing my whole life. I have an education in design, illustration, 3-D and animation. Worked as an art director for about 4-5 years. This April the company shut down so right now I am unemployed but working to get my own business going.
I have too many passions. For some time now I’ve been doing a lot of clay figures when everyone is asleep and all is silent.
KS: No, the wonderful artwork was done by my girlfriend Julia "I am the sample of hope". We've gotten quite a few comments about the cover, only positive.… That's nice. I really like the idea with the (morphed)(combined?) animals, some parts Osso Bucco and some Ljudbilden = OssoBuccoLjudbilden&Piloten....
KS: I have two old and quite crappy zithers and I’d want a zither that could pitch itself just by pushing a button. But since that instrument isn't available with that function I’d like a harp. I've never before thought of the harp as an instrument that could be added to my music but as I heard Joanna Newsome’s music I came to think of it. I saw a concert with her last week and if I could get her or just her arms and hands included I [would] definitely consider buying one. She plays the harp in a way I’ve never heard before.
KS: Just opening my balcony door, the street gives me all kinds of more rough sounds, like cars, construction workers and loud people, but if I go all the way through my apartment and listen to my backyard it's just the opposite, especially in spring/summer. There's this magpie who likes to sit in our elder tree during summer, he/she utters the strangest sounds. It's like a gurgling happiness out there.
I listen to nature’s own rhythms or if the pedestrian crossing signal devices goes into irregular rhythm.… That can get me into a good mood.
Then my surroundings give me the images, shapes, and lights. If I had the time and money, I’d be making videos for all my tracks.
Right now the autumn is more than just around the corner. As summer goes into autumn I start getting annoyed and pissed for starters but after the first really great day with the sparkling colors I realize that I wouldn't want to be without this time of year, inspiring in its way, just as all other seasons.
KS: I don't know really. I've always been interested in everyday sounds. When I started recording "Balcony for Beating Carpets", the rain produced some rhythms on my balcony and the cars gave me some sub-bass (plus one car horn). I like the feeling when the intensity of the rain does a crescendo in unison with the music, not planned.
As a kid I recorded all kinds of sounds. When I did mixed tapes, I always played around adding stupid vocals, our pets, panning, holding down the pause button so that the pitch changed, all kinds of stupid things so that the one who got the mixed tape never really liked it.
I bought a Dictaphone when I was in Spain; I had forgotten my minidisk. There were all kinds of ambient sounds in Barcelona. I just had to bring them back home, high or low quality didn't matter. We had construction workers who did early morning rhythms just outside our always-open window. Two meters across from us there was a child that almost every night yelled "agua" in her sleep. Felt quite grotesque when I recorded that.
KS: On the split CD there are only five tracks with my compositions and there isn't a lot of distortion or noise; it's more clean sounds. Those songs don’t speak for all music that I create. If it would have been possible I’d have more tracks on it. Some of them would absolutely contain more rough and dirty sounds.
I really love noise and from time to time I sit and play around with really rough sounds and dirty beats. That might be the punk part in Ljudbilden otherwise it is shown in some of Lemko Hall’s music.
KS: I think it started as I sent Tomas (Nosordo) some songs via ICQ, more playful and non-polished sketch tracks. He kind of liked them so then I recorded a live track at home on my minidisk that later got into Greg's (Osso Bucco) hands. He enjoyed it and took some parts of it that ended up on his MP3 release on Komplott (the track "Less of Susl"). I don't remember if we had the idea of the split before or after my trip to Spain? Anyway....me and Julia took a flight to Barcelona and stayed at Tomas’ flat for a week or so. Hung around with him, Greg and James (James runs the label www.forkseries.com (Lemko Hall)). Back then Nosordo was a record shop/distribution. Seated in a really nice store.
That summer I recorded most of the tracks. We came up with a deadline. But just like all releases, it got delayed and the songs felt quite old as it came out. Nowadays Tomas and his wife live in the apartment just above ours. They got a little daughter today, their first child.
Greg has moved to Oakland where he studies at Mills College of Art. James moved to Chicago....all of them Barcelona emigrants.
Next release on Nosordo will be a split between "Jahbitat" and "The Idealist". Unusual mix of artists that'll make you wanna move your feet.
Did I answer the question? Feels like I am babbling out of subject all the time.
Nosordo and Glasvocht will do a label split with lots of great artists. I recorded a track that is quite different from the split songs. Stefan Schneider, Osso Bucco, Seth Warren, and det svenska folket are some of Nosordo's submissions.
KS: I am not really sure what you mean here...I’ll answer what I think, then you tell me in easy English what you really mean.
I want to make all kinds of music, all the time but there's no time.
I’d love to give all my projects equal attention but that just isn't possible.
Right now Adria is recording a couple of new tracks but it's so hard to finish them. Always something that gets more priority when you don't want it to.
KS: I might start a track thinking about the tension between the different sounds, textures and layers, but as it evolves it almost never turns out just as I planned.
KS: I do whatever I feel like doing at the time. Sometimes I end up with stuff that I can't place under Ljudbilden. I kind of archive them and forget them or send them to friends with a subject like "Just fooled around, have a listen!" Out of subject here...I’ll get back to it. I don't have the intention to keep my music unique. It is what it is, my mood, sounds I enjoy and all that. I am really fed up with the mainstream music that they feed us with night and day. I like to hear pop-stars hit flat notes though. That is the best thing about it all. Malice.
KS: Everything, everyone. I can't put my finger on just one thing that inspires me the most. It depends from time to time. One day it could be an email from someone, another day the silence. Movies, photos, art, friends, music. I can't decide what inspires me the most. It wouldn't be fair to the tree with no leaves if I said I got more inspiration from looking at its friend who has leaves. Again...a bit cheesy, but you get my point right?
-- Eden Hemming Rose (28 June, 2005)