FIRMO

With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to FIRMO. Anders Ekdahl ©2018

When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
-First of all, hi and thank you for having me here,
Well…On the songwriting side, the main purpose to me is always to have something that is easy to listen to and that you can relax to, whatever you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how complicated a harmony or a melody is: that is something that should only worry the musicians. The listeners should always be put in the condition to enjoy music with no particular efforts.
On the production side, we chose to go for some old fashioned sound, with very full arrangements and very low levels of compression (or no compression at all). This allowed us to give the record a more natural and dynamic sound, but it also implied less power and less volume than nowadays average productions. It’s a risk, but at least there’s a choice also for those, like me, who need to hear the music breathing out of compression.

How hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
-It is hard, indeed. Basically because this kind of music is not really innovating since its heyday: i would dare to say that today average quality is even better than 30 years ago, but even the best songs today seem old-fashioned and already-heard. To really innovate you have to experiment and the moment you experiment, you stray from what defines a genere and from what people want to listen to. Concerning my album, there are lots of different conscious and unconscious musical influences (Bon Jovi, classic rock, country, songrwriters’ tradition, even eighites pop-dance music) and so the result is shamelessly less defined in style, thats’ for sure; this way, though, even if It’s not really innovating anything, at least it’s like a journey through different listening experiences.

I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
-I can speak for myself, of course: for me it begins very naturally with ideas that come to my mind at any time of the day or the night and that i often record as a memo for the future. The hard part comes later, when you have to create the harmony and the arrangements and this is the moment when you really give a direction to a song, so the choice of instruments, the musicians and their own peculiar style, the parts they play…literally everything.
Recording and releasing is relatively the easy part: this is only affected by the budgets that the bands or the labels choose to invest. Home recordings are sure less expensive and can grant you a satistfying result, but recording in a good studio, using mics for every instruments, is still the best choice: of course this is way more expensive.

Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
*-That’s one of the risks, no doubts. Maybe not so much in our style of music, where fans, often, are also collectors and want to own the physical copy of a record and so they demand for it.
But that’s where the music market in general is going: lots of singles, lots of new artists that you only hear for once and then disappear.
I still believe real talent doesn’t go un-noticed, though (look at Erik Gröwnall: he made his way out of a talent show – which usually chews and spits the “talents” it creates – and wherever he goes people are enthusiast about him).

I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
-Well… music as art needs no conditions to exist. It exists, always did, always will. And there will always be good music to listen to.
Music market is another story: my perception is that fans of each genere have their own approach on how to listen to music. And sometimes is just a matter of habit. It’s a good subject for a very long talk, but to make it short: nowadays we have liquid music which technically can reach quality levels unthinkable for any physical support (like CD or vinyl). So that would be the best option to listen to music, right? But then it takes that you listen to it on an audiophile system, and, before, that it was recorded to match the quality levels of the final device where you’re going to play it. From whatever side you look at it, it takes a lot of money AND a lot of music knowledge to appreciate the differences. So where’s the best balance that can make everyone happy? Damn if i know! I can tell you that I like to buy music, and I don’t mind if it’s on physical support or not, as long as it’s good quality.
For all the reasons I’ve spoken above, my feeling about the music business in general is that at the moment we’re in a transition phase (don’t know how long it’s gonna last) where professionals and amateurs are playing in the same league and without the filters done by the labels, all the choices are left to the listeners. But there’s a lack of musical culture (regardless of the genere and regardless of the technicisms) and that lack of culture has and will have effects on the music itself.

What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
-I’m very happy, indeed. When in 2015 we released Room Experience, it was a blast and we had lots of positive comments.
And I have to say that the feedbacks for my solo record are very good too: here and there there are different opinions about my vocals (some love it, some don’t), the variety of styles on offer (for some it’s a plus, for some it’s a less) and for some there are too many ballads (yeah…my fault!). The main focus, though, has always been on the songwriting (which is generally perceived as good). Of course i don’t expect to always make everyone happy with my works, and some bad critics are part of the game and also a natural consequence of personal tastes of listeners and reviewers, but until now I can’t really complain about how people reacted to it. The thing that makes me happy the most, anyway, is to see that the record is appreciated by listeners of many different styles of music: it gives me the feeling that it can potentially reach anyone.

We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-Oh well… every single musician I’ve worked with has been surprising. For “Rehab” the only distant one was Paul Laine, because all the other guys involved are from my area and we worked shoulder to shoulder in the studio.
But in general contacts by distant fans are surprising the same way: with some we became so close that we are now friends and we visit each other when we have the chance. That’s the power of music (with a little help of social networks!).

Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
-Yes, and that’s why I love so much working in the studio, when it’s possible. Working together is always a matter of compromising, but in the studio it’s easier cause you can work together on the same ideas and build a common one, while when you work from the distance (or from home) you basically work alone and it’s always someone putting his hands over a job already done, so instead of building an idea together, it’s like adjusting the idea through different steps.
It’s still good, but not the same.
On the top on that, you miss all the laughters, the silly moments and the beers 😉

What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
-I love going to concerts and I always take the chance to see live the bands i love. Also, I never thought that the live scene is in opposition to the studio projects: the live scene it’s just a natural continuation that studio project often don’t have (or can’t have) and in that sense, live shows do help a lot in building a bigger following, I guess because we all love to see how our favourite bands will entertain us live!
But I also feel like the live scene has the same problem of released music: there are thousands of bands touring and we get a lot of chances to see them in their own tours and at the festivals, so often happens that the live audience is very small in number. And often a big part of it is made by hard-core fans following their favourite band everywhere. So again: professionals and amateurs play in the same league and share the same audience.

What plans do you have for the future?
-At the very moment i have a few collaborations going on but the main thing is that I’m closing the works for Room Experience’s new album “Another Time and Place”, with the same team that delivered the first one and David Readman again on vocals duties. It will be released very very soon, so that’s where all my efforts are going now. After that it will be the perfect season to enjoy some icy beers in good company, and that’s definitely a plan.
Hope we can share one too, somewhere. Cheers and Rock and Roll!

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