Sound-Forward Swedes: Simian Ghost

If there were a soundtrack to the spring equinox it might align with Simian Ghost specialty, Wolf Girl (Cloud Nation Remix) for a memorable day out of the year. Off their debut album, Youth (Playground Records) – and a recent sign with Super Mon Amour (applause), Sebastian Arnström, Erik Klinga and Mathias Zachrisson are taking their beat to tour UK in April and they are piercing soundwaves with their artistic flair for what every non-Northern European aspires to hear and make: Electro-chill-pop love.

Cloud Nation lends some expertise in the synth department to their Wolf Girl Remix, though the underlying tune remains ghostly raw. Their album pushes a more pastoral edge in it’s acoustic landscapes and raw vocals while still adhering to the spacey digital oxygen of a direction constantly changing with new wave music.

When music rolls out each day from another further point of origin to the next, listeners can reach up and grab an association and even collapse in the art-beauty of sound that resonates with something familiar from the title, to a drum to a lyric or a wail. The memory of sound slips past our consciousness and into our veins when we plug in. And when music can bear its roots or simply be bear bones, it often reaches further.

The songs are like scenes, rather than a whole story told from beginning to end. There is a way to read the entire record as one continuing story, but I’d like people to find their own way through it.

– Sebastian Arnström

Simian Ghost particularly resonates with such musical intensity based on the building of their sounds and collaboration. Starting out as a one-man band, Sebastian Arnström marched into the scene with a few solo tunes and EPs (The Legion of My Dynamic Dischord, Lovelorn) and some makeshift recordings until he roped in little brother Erik and high school pal Mathias. As they plow through the ice of media, stigmas, financial absence, and the exhilaration of the unknown while high up on the longitudinal map, they are making all the right noise to leave a path and tap a following. Sebastian opens up about getting started, keeping it going, and who they are out there in the dotted space.

Interview with Sebastian Arnström of Simian Ghost, by Angela Gleason

AG: A lot has happened since your music in 2010. So how has the group’s musical direction changed creatively, and what pushed you in a new direction?

SA: Simian Ghost was just me (Sebastian) initially. Our new album, Youth, is the first one we’ve made together as a group. Even though the first record contains a lot of traditional instrumentation, it is basically electronic music with drums, guitars and so on added “on top”. Working as a band, we’ve done it the other way around, the songs are written and recorded by us as a band and the electronic stuff comes in to kind of fill in the blanks. As to what pushed us in this direction, I guess it’s just what we felt like doing at the moment.

AG: What does your latest release Youth aim to convey musically, artistically?

SA: First and foremost we aim to do what we think is good music. If what you’re asking for is a specific message I don’t know if I can provide one. It is loosely about Youth, as the title implies. The songs are like scenes, rather than a whole story told from beginning to end. There is a way to read the entire record as one continuing story, but I’d like people to find their own way through it. I, personally, don’t like when musicians tell you what a song is about and what it means to them. It kind of spoils it. I’m not interested in musicians, I’m interested in music.

AG: Stylistically, the music of Simian Ghost reflects a raw, intimate and as noted “DIY” approach to production. Is this on purpose or out of mere resourcefulness, and do you expect your music to change as you grow?

SA: We don’t have a plan on how to proceed with our sound or our methods of working. We’re always open to change direction. I don’t think we’ll ever let someone outside the band into the decision making though.

AG: What has been the greatest challenge and reward with your latest material?

SA: It’s always a great challenge to write and record music with little or no funds. But when you come up with something good, especially under those conditions, that in itself is the greatest reward.

AG: What has the impact of the media had on the way you address music, or converse about your work? Has press prompted you to think more about what goes on behind your recordings?

SA: That’s a tough question. The press is a big part of how ideals are communicated in the western world society on a very fundamental level, so yes. Media influences how we perceive and discuss our work. And basically all other things as well.

AG: Do you feel there are certain gaps in the underground music scene (socially, lyrically, or culturally), and how you say you aim to address them as artists?

SA: Well, there is a trend in the alternative music scene right now of presenting a “sound” rather than writing good songs and records. Bands release singles and EP’s with tunes that sound basically the same.
I really think the album format is the most interesting way to present music, where every individual song, except for being good in itself, have a function in the progression of the record as a whole.
I guess we address this by trying to make interesting soundscapes but also good records. This critique is kind of limited to pop music, or whatever it is we’re doing right now.

AG: Artists that have continued to be inspirational on your music path, and any artists with whom you would like to collaborate?

SA: There is a lot of musicians who inspire us, too many to mention. I don’t know if I feel a need to collaborate with any of them though. I think we’re on a good path as it is. Well, maybe Björk. Or Kim Gordon.

AG: Are there particularly cultural trademarks consistent in your music, representative of Sweden, or Northern Europe?

SA: I’ve never thought about that.

AG: Can you talk a bit about the story and process behind Wolf Girl – Cloud Nations Remix (that is the song we are featuring on our music blog)?

SA: One half of Cloud Nation is an old friend from the town where we grew up. I asked him if he’d like to do a remix and he was into it and that was it. It is a really good remix!


About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: