Knutby is your latest release, can you tell us how you became involved on the series, and how much music did you compose for the series?
I actually made a pitch for the series and the director, Goran Kapetanovic really liked the mood of that music. So, I got the gig and started to write a lot more music without seeing any picture. When they got on to edit the series they used that music exclusively, so later the only temp I had to beat and replace was my own!
Knutby has a score that combines both symphonic and synthetic elements, what size orchestra did you have for the project and where was the music recorded?
Everything is recorded in my own studio, Studio Gagarin here in Stockholm. I played all the strings myself and have developed a little technique for that. I set up a stereo mic in my room and move around my chair according to general orchestral seating. I do 4 overdubs per instrument, violin 1, violin 2, viola and celli, and I own two of each instrument and play them with and without mutes. That creates quite a convincing sound stage which I then enhance with various analogue reverbs and tape delays! Other instruments I used frequently in the series is a Finnish instrument called Kantele, basically a type of plucked Zither. Oh, and then I used a Ondes-Martenot-based instrument, which you play on a ribbon controller. There is no set pitch, much like the string instruments so I utilised that by double tracking it and slowly going up and down from the pitch centre to create an unsettling, haunting colour.
The score is I think excellent, and employs many varying thematic avenues, dramatic, romantic, and emotive. The opening track Manifesto I thought was at times quite Herrmann-esque purveying a tense atmosphere but at the same time stayed melodic. Did the director have a lot of input into the style of music that they wanted?
Thank you! This was a dream project. No temp at all except from my own compositions and the input from the director was just “That´s great, thumbs up!”
Do you think that any composers or artists have influenced you, inspired you or prompted you to score a movie in a certain way?
I’ve always listened a lot to classical music and get a lot of inspiration from that. Antonin Dvorak is one of my absolute favourites and I think he has affected me on how to think about melody, harmony and voice leading, even on a subconscious level!
When you work on a series such as Knutby, are the schedules quite tight and do you score episodes in chronological order?
Yes, it’s a quite tight deadline once the editing is locked. I had 5-6 days to score each episode and I did it in a chronological order. However, since I already gave them so much music the editor had already spread out the same themes on different episodes. Sometimes it was great and sometimes they needed replacement. Prior to locking the episodes, I saw which of my music they repeatedly used, then I went on and recorded strings and other things on those as a template because there was just not enough time to record new strings for each cue. So, by the time I was scoring EP6 I think EP3 was already on air!
When you spot a movie how many times do you like to see it before the ideas about the music begin to formulate?
I like to spot the movie and take notes with pen and paper the first time I see it. In my experience the unbiased first impression is always the best! Then I put the movie in Pro-Tools and watch it again. This time I put out markers with cue names and further notes about where I really want a certain cue to go emotionally.
When thinking about music in a film do you consider any scenes that you think could benefit from not having music?
Absolutely, silence is as important as the music in my opinion! It can create so much tension. A good example is the first 30 minutes of “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” Totally quiet and totally magic. And they could have had music written by my absolute favourite, Ennio Morricone, who scored the movie, if they wanted!
Can I ask what musical education did you have, and was it music for film that led you to studying music?
I studied Jazz in high school with double bass as my main instrument and then went on studying for two more years. After that I got really fed up with school and picked up the violin, accordion, mandolin, and other instruments on my own. I was always curious on different timbres and sound and really wanted to play them myself without being academic about it.
There is a song on the soundtrack for Knutby, did you also work on this or was it the work of someone else and who is the vocalist?
The vocalist is Alba August, one of the main characters; “Anna” from the series. She’s a true multi talent and releases a lot of music as an artist by her own. The song “Du får göra som du vill” by Partik Isaksson was a big radio hit in Sweden at the time when the happenings of the series took place, early 2000s. In EP2 “Anna” and her boyfriend “Johnny” are singing this song live at a party and some brilliant person came up with the idea to finish of the series with this song.
In 2018 you scored the movie Esamma I Rymden, which was a futuristic story, and a movie entitled Sune vs Sune you are credited alongside Joel Danell on the movies, did you collaborate, or did you contribute pieces to the score individually?
Joel is a great, his is an old friend of mine and he was in a tight spot and needed to share the load on some projects. We wrote some music together and some of it he wrote, but I helped arranging and polishing it. It’s actually great to have a writing partner sometimes. Scoring by your own can be a lonesome process at times….
What for you is the main purpose of music in film?
Film music is like a character on its own, but often going other ways than the films actual characters. They are pushing forward the music is pushing backward vice versa. It’s hard to do this and I often follow the action more than I want. For me, the ideal film music is when it’s telling something that you can’t see on the screen.
In recent years several busy film music composers have utilized orchestrators sometimes more than one, do you like to work on your own orchestrations and is orchestration just as important as the composing of the music?
Usually I’m recording everything myself, so there’s even no sheet music to deal with! I like to write music in great detail but if it’s going be recorded at the stage I will use an orchestrator.
I was going to ask if you performed on any of your scores, but you already answered this, what about conducting I suppose this does not really apply?
I perform a lot! My music studio is literally flooded with various instruments. When it comes to recording ensembles outside my own studio I’m more of a control room person. You could also say that I suck at conducting!
What is next for you?
Currently I am writing music for a new TV-series for STV, the Swedish national television called “Spelskandalen” by director Patrik Eklund. It’s based on a big sports betting scandal that took place in 1990. The music will be totally different from Knutby, more of an uptempo heist feel and a lot of drums, guitars and nostalgia synths! I´m also working on a movie by Mårten Klingberg starring Lena Ohlin and Rolf Lassgård called “Andra Akten” It’s a feel-good romantic drama and it’s gonna be great. It’s the third time I have collaborated with Mårten and our previous movie “Ur Spår” will premiere in cinemas at the beginning of 2022.
Many thanks to the composer for his time and patience..