Rule number one as a reporter Journalist: When doing an interview make sure that your equipment works and you press Record on time.
On the evening of me interviewing Henrik Bergqvist of Prins Svart I obviously did NOT do that. But kindly enough he had no problems in returning my questions with his answers via e-mail.
Thank you once again Henrik! I promise you Henrik, I will see to it that my equipment will work and I will press record the next time I do an interview.
Prins Svart did what many other artists weren´t sure about doing this summer. Playing live, you can almost say touring Sweden during the Pandemic. Low key and very intimate.
Imagine having the band just one or two metres away from you. No need for a binocular if you stand too far away from the stage and no barriers or security guards in front of the stage.
I sat down with Henrik before their gig in Sala on July 30th to discuss his influences and how his work affects his writing in Prins Svart and touring during a Pandemic.
YOU ARE HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY THE 70S?
Of course, we are formed by the decade we discovered music But the thin line between the 70s and the 80s are so fluent so I would say we are children of the 70s and 80s musically, but then we didn’t stop being influenced when the 90s came, we were formed in many ways by that era too.
THERE IS A LOT OF DARKNESS EMBEDDED IN YOUR LYRICS. IS IT FOR THE LISTENER TO MAKE THEIR OWN MIND UP ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT?
The advantage of writing in Swedish is that the lyrics gets an immediate contact with the listener, while the downside of it is that all the manners and phrases become obvious and often a little bit embarrassing.
When you write songs in your native tongue its a balancing act between saying something that does not become too cryptic or poetic. At the same time not throw around platitudes and manner. But people often seem to think that we end up on the right side in that balancing act. Which is nice.
Thematically death is a reference point. We are not unique in that way. In that respect, it has even been said that all relevant art has death as its theme. I don’t know if its true, but impermanence and the inevitability of death are themes on which we explore on in different ways.
The most important thing for us is that what we do sounds true. No matter what a text and a song is about, it must be rooted in ourselves as something relevant and genuine. If it does for us, the listeners tend to feel the same way.
AS A LINGUIST, DO YOU BENEFIT FROM IT AS THE LYRICS ARE QUITE SUBTLE?
Yes. my profession as an academic and linguist obviously affects how I write and perceive lyrics. I spend a lot of time weighing words and phrases to be as accurate as possible and to describe what I want to say, so I take that skill with me in my songwriting. Having said that, the types of texts I write at work are very different from the ones I write for Prins Svart. My hope is that I can achieve a synergy where all creative work is interrelated. But its probably just me who will know if that happens.
I READ SOMEWHERE THAT YOUR MUSIC WAS “PORKCRASH”(bad translation of the swedish word Fläskrock) OR “HARD TO PUT LABEL ON” ROCK MUSIC?
Laughs “Porkcrash”, sounds a bit meaty but rather that than mechanical and anaemic. We might be labelled in a retro genre, but we strive to be open and to be modern in our expression. Personally, I can only dig where I stand and I have never been able to adapt creative impulses from something that does not concern me. What I hear in my head is what I use whether it is an addition to other peoples ideas or my own.
IS THERE A COMMON THEME ON THE ALBUM?
There is. The album is called Sanning/Makt (Truth/Power) and suggests a theme that can be seen as a red one. But not all songs are about the same thing. Relationships, isolation, life and death are themes that fits the album. Musically we let our format as a band control the direction. We play rock music in some form, but which subgenre- that is up to others to decide.
WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE BAND AS A“SUPERGROUP”?
Yes I think so. At least in the sense that all the members of the band have a long and sometimes well known history behind us in various musical contexts. We all bring our experiences to Prins Svart both in terms of music and everything else that being in a band brings.
WHAT ABOUT FOREIGN FANS. WILL THERE BE AN ALBUM WITH ENGLISH LYRICS IN THE FUTURE?
Perhaps. We’ve been talking about it and there are quite a few bands that mix languages on their own albums, both Swedish and foreign. However we will not abandon Swedish as a language for the bands lyrics.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DO THOSE “CORONA GIGS”
We just wanted to come out and play live and spread the bands music. Last year we were on the verge of releasing the bands new album and we wanted to play and carry the flag so to speak. Considering on how it looked like last year those “Garden Gigs” were the only thing that could be achieved. So then we began to check where and who had a large enough garden and wanted to organize a gig with the band. Funnily enough we got to do a few gigs and this summer we continued that beaten path. At times we have been alone out there (playing live). Maybe its because we are used to fairly simple circumstances when playing live and others have higher requirements. I don’t know.
YOUR NEW ALBUM COMES IN QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT VERSIONS ON VINYL. AS A FAIRLY SMALL BAND, HOW DO YOU DARE TO DO SUCH A THING?
We have noticed that our fans like vinyl as a format to listen to music. In addition, many of them are record collectors and have quite high expectations of what an album should look like and sound like. So if there are numbered and signed deluxe editions that really feels luxurious and special, its appreciated by many of our followers. Its all about planning, costs and design from our side and we had plenty of time last year to design the Sanning/Makt album. Seen through the rear-view mirror I think we ended up right where we wanted to end up.