In March 2000 we held an E-Mail interview with LARS of A78. For those of you interested, his music can be found on the huge IUMA site with around five free downloadable MP3s.
Tell us a little about your music?
My music can be creepy and weird, and it can be nice and gentle. It's the many sides of life reflected in there. One day I feel like being a folk musician, and the other day I feel like being an industrial noisemaker. This ambivalence has been present in my musicianship for many years. It wasn't until recently I managed to make the two sides glue. I composed a song called "Lost in the Woods", which was a kind of industrial song with a folk feel to it. It became apparent that the two sides of my writing could be combined, so I decided to release a CDR album. I decided upon a name and began raiding the DAT vaults for releaseable recordings. The oldest piece I used was from 1992.
The combination of Folk & Industrial seems popular - I know you like DEATH IN JUNE - do you listen to other people who combine the two elements - CURRENT 93, say, and the BATES / HARRIS "Murder Ballads" trilogy?  Do you think the two genres are natural bedfellows?
I don't know, but the two genres seem to glue without any greater effort. Maby it's a european thing. It's a very hard question to answer, and I'd like to dig deeper into that subject. I can just say that the combination appeals to me, because I'm brought up on Syd Barrett and Einsturzende Neubaaten. There is an Einsturzende track that was a real eyeopener for me. It's a song called Fiat Lux (from the Haus Der Luge album). When I first heard it I was struck by the potential the combination of folk songs and industrial atmospherics. Later I got into the Pink Dots and Death in June and I became quite fanatic about that. What I've heard of C93 is great, but it's still unexplored territory for me. I haven't heard the Bates/Harris thing yet, but I must say the line-up sounds promising. Mick is an real innovator in his own field. I have followed his career since the Napalm Death days, and I recognize him as a man who follows his own vision 100%, and he defined death metal drumming. Mick is genius!
I find it very satisfying to be a solo artist with an active project up and running. It's what I wanted to do for years, but I haven't been able to do it until now. I make the discs myself and I get distribution through Open Circuit (Staalplaat CDR offshoot), so I have absolutely no artistic limitations. I can do whatever I want, and I think that amounts in a playfulness which many should appreciate.
Do you think that easily accessible, relatively inexpensive CDRs have been the kiss of death to the Cassette Culture?
Maby. But I think the two formats can exist at the same time. I guess there will still be hardcore cassette fans out there for many more years.
I think there are so many opportunities with the CDR and people don't trust the rumour to be true. It's almost cheaper than a cassette, it sounds as good a DAT and with a little compression it's like a 14CD box at the cost of a cassette. You can squeeze something like 137 stereo mp3 files onto a CDR (average songs - 5 minutes), so now it's completely up to us, the users. There are practically no limits.
I allways said two my friends that home CDR burning would be a revolution, but they didn't belive me. "They will melt in the sun", "It doesn't look professional", they said to me. But now it seems I'm right. The CDR thing is happening, and with things like Open Circuit happening I think it will be succesful. Maby I'm over-enthusiastic, but it seems to me that the "Everyone can start a band"-philosophy of 1977 is finally coming true.
Of course that was true with the cassette too, but the general attitude towards it sabotaged the whole thing. People who weren't strictly into the cassette culture allways though of cassette albums as demo tapes. I remember trying selling tapes after Wounded Meadow gigs:

- "Wanna buy our cassette?"

- "We don't want your demo!"

There's all kinds of music on "Intervention" (present CDR album). It takes you to all kinds of places and tells many different stories. There's so much to say...the music is all over the place, basically. There are so many influences and so many ideas in my head that I have a hard time getting a record together.
Do you therefore see yourself as a storyteller?  Are they in any way connected?  Do they come from personal experience or are they purely fiction?
That's an interresting thought. I think the instrumental track tell stories. The stories are there, but I think they plot is in the listeners head. I'm a big fan of early Pink Floyd, and their early work is often telling a story too - the music describes something happening and a plot starts developing in your head.  That attitude is often forgotten in ambient / industrial music. The general rule seems to be that if the music changes, then it's a new track! I want things happening within the tracks. "Lost In the Woods" is like that; there's a dramatic change in the middle of the song. I think there's too much ambient and industrial music that has the music-as-a-painting approach. I want my music to be like a film sequence, as opposed to a still.
When it comes to my vocal work, I think I'm less of a storyteller. A few tracks on "Intervention" tells stories, especially a track called "Wave Goodbye", which is about people losing their power. It's about a typical Swedish thing - old Maggie Thatcher-style ladies living on their own in their huge manors. They used to be the ones in power, but now they're just pathetic old relics who can't pay the rent. The story in itself is pure fiction, but it's a phenomenon that actually exists.
Apart from that there's a couple of plain lovesongs (We Will Meet Again and For the Vanity of Youth) and a song about insecurity (This Dog Dies Years Ago). Those songs are autobiographic mostly. Writing fiction is hard to me, because I don't read fiction.
I used to write a lot of lyrics, and I thought I was very good at it once (but I propably wasn't). Now I have a hard time writing lyrics. I think it has a lot to do with going to university studying psychology and sociology. I've got it in my head all the time, and it doesn't transform easily into good lyrics.
How long have you been composing?
I've been composing since 1987. I wrote rudimentary songs on my brother's guitar. In 1988 me and some friends started a band called the Wounded Meadow, and I wrote many songs for that band. I tried out strange chord sequence and unusuall rhythms, and it was a learning process. Allready back then I tried to make musique concrete and more experimental pieces, but that wasn't popular with the other members of that band, so it wasn't until recently I got the confidence to belive in my own ideas. I realized I was in love with the sounds, and that I didn't have to ask for anyone's permission to do what I want with sounds. Now this love affair is there on CDR for everyone to see, and I'm very proud of it.
Still, having my ideas rejected also brought something good with it. I learnt to compose in different ways. I could be avant garde, I could be all nice and folksy, and I could be all dark and gothic. I learnt the whole register in order to satisfy other people, to live up to their expectations.
How do you think people will react to this eclectic approach?  You find many people like one sound and are not open to another.  Would you separate the elements, or just expect people to accept the different approaches as 'Your Sound'?
I can only relate to how I listen to music myself. Most of the albums I own have 3 or 4 tracks that I really like and that I listen to often. I don't mind if there are tracks that I don't enjoy that much. I think of albums like Sergeant Pepper or Psychic TVs "Dreams less Sweet". There are all kinds of songs and all kind of songwriting styles. You may skip some tracks, but those albums end up being little adventures. They're like little worlds to explore. I like that approach.
There is a safe way to go, and that is to stick to your trademark. You won't surprise and you might get a reputation as an artist that will never disappoint. However that is  boring, and you might end up just manufacturing quality muzak for people with a certain lifestyle.
I expect a certain amount of curiosity from my listeners, because I use my own curiosity when I make music; what happens if I put THIS on my new record?
Do you have any influences?  If so, who?
Of course there are influences, but I don't know if it shows in my music. There are little bits here and there on records I hear, that I end up using. I guess you could here a little Edward Kaspel in my vocal pieces, but it could just as well be a Syd Barrett influence.
The noisier piece aren't influenced by anything special. It's bound to quite original, because I don't listen much to that kind of music. I would really like to, but I'm not the kind of guy that collects records. I stick with artists I know and love. I could mention a few; Robert Wyatt, Chrome, Black Sabbath, the Legendary Pink Dots, Death in June.
Have you done any live work?  Anything outside your own country?
Still haven't done any live work. I would like to do some in the future, but it has to be something more than just me going up and playing a keyboard. I would like to have a band, a few musicians who could jam and make noises. I would really like to do that.
So does improvisation appeal to you?
Yes, very much. But strangely it seems to be a taboo to many musicians. We did a lot of improvisation with the Wounded Meadow. We could play for hours, and beutiful and exciting sounds would emerge. I would sneek up and insert a DAT cassette to catch it on tape, but everyone would stop immediately. They were scared stiff anyone would get to hear us improvising. Some members didn't think it was "serious" music.
Much of the instrumental work on "Intervention" is actually part-improvised. It's a nice way to surprise yourself. I would love to improv�se with other muscians, but I have to find players who think at least a little bit like I do.
Guitar is actually my main instrument, and I use my guitarist skills more on coming A78 releases, and it would be great to play the guitar live.
But I could have a trouble touring, since I have a severe migraine. When I feel preasure or stress in any way, I can get a fit and be paralyzed for hours. Happened in Denmark once, when I played the bass with Dawn (Swedish black-metal band). We had travelled a whole day and when we got there I just collapsed.
That can't make things easy.  If you had the opportunity, who would you most like to support?
Of course I'd like support the Legendary Pink Dots, but most of the time they seem to support themselves. First it's the drummer's solo project, them it's the keyboard guy with his solo project, then there's the whole band backing the singer's solo project. There would be no room for me. :)
But I guess I'd go along with bands like Sanctum or Deutsch Nepal. I wouldn't support a band which attracts nazis (no names mentioned). I shouldn't be able no handle that. I would need a very open-minded audience, and I know there are a lot of them out there.
Has the IUMA site helped widen your audience?  Have you had much reaction from people?
Strangely I haven't had that much response from people visisting my IUMA page, but apparently there are people who download my music. Since december last year, 248 mp3 files have been downloaded. Not bad for being a new project with practically no media exposure.
Anyway I think IUMA is great, reliable and very serious in what they do. People actually interrested in music goes to IUMA and listens. There are so many mp3-hosters (no names mentioned) who are only visited by bands who vote for themselves in some chart.
My philosphy is that most of my music should be available through the internet for free. I don't aim to make my living out of music, and I don't want anyone to profit from art. I stick with the ideals of Karl Marx - one should work by day and develop ones interrests in your spare time. And the internet makes this possible. I don't have to involve myself with Sony or their pressing plants. I just put the music out there for anyone to enjoy.
Which is noble, but a little financial success would give you more time & better facilities to make your music.  Is A78 a hobby, or would you like it to go further?  And would you like to be in a group of similarly minded individuals rather than solo?
I don't think of financial success as being a likely scenario. I think few artists in this genre get to earn money. Someone like Peter Andersson (Raison D��tre) sells a lot of record and is one of the bigger names in his genre, but he has to keep his day job. As far as I know you can't afford to live from music until you sell 10.000 copies / release.
Theoretically you can buy yourself time if you get earn a little money, but that's almost impossible to do in Sweden today, especially if you're an academic. You have to work 150 percent, or become completely unemployed. That's the two options you have. There are no half-time jobs unless you're a woman and work in the health sector. That's they way things still are - the woman's supposed to stay home and take care of the kids while the  man should be out there earning the money. I've been trying to get half-time un-qualified jobs, but I don't get any!
The alternative is to quit your job and try to live from your art, and that corrupts your art. That's my opinion. There are a few exceptions - artists who remain true to their spirit while being professional musicians, but I suspect they're having a hard time financially. And even if they remain true to their ideals they still can't afford to do a 180 degree turn musically, because that could mean they'll lose fans and that would mean no food. A78 or Raison D��tre could become heavy metal bands tomorrow if they wanted to, and it wouldn't affect their economic situation drastically.
In an ideal world each citizen would have a satisfying day job and work 5 or 6 hours a day. That would leave people free to form a band, paint picture, have a football career or do whatever it is they do in their dreams. It is just my opinion that professionalism does not belong in art. I'm not badmouthing people who do careers in music. They work hard and they deserve the rewards they get, but something happens to music when your dinner depends on it.
You also asked if I'd like to be in a group. Well, yes I would! I'm allways looking for colaborators. I'd like to work with other open-minded musicians but there's a problem; I live in a small town and there are perhaps 10 people around who are interrested in the kind of music I make. It's Peter and his Raison D��tre, Johan Levin and his Desiderii Marginis and the Wounded Meadow folks. I know them all, and they got their hands full with whatever it is they do. We all got a long history of working together, and that is a millstone around our necks; I have liberated myself from the expectations and opinions of those people, and when I come together with them we polarize, both musically and otherwise.
However I'm moving to Gothenburg this fall, and perhaps I'll find people there who would be willing to swap ideas. And maby there will be a little group. Whether that will be called A78 or something else is a later question.
Also, A78 is not a hobby. It's reduced to a hobby if you look at the time I get to spend on it, but calling it a hobby would be degrading. It's just a thing I do, and it's a serious personal expression.