Tired of releasing poetry for Swedish audiences, Swedish poet/singer-songwriter Linus Gxrdfeldt chose to bring a band together and record an album with English lyrics. Merging elements of post-punk, pop and rock, his music is unique, eclectic and engaging. We speak with Linus about his album Animal Tongue, musical inspiration and much more.
What drew you to music?
It’s something that’s been with me since I was really young. I started my first punk-rock band at the age of six together with two friends and I continued playing and writing songs in various constellations up through my teens. But then the lyric writing part of it slowly turned into pure poetry writing. I’ve always been interested in making stuff, building stuff, creating stuff – it has been an inseparable part of my life for as long as I can remember.
You originally released poetry in Swedish, why the switch to English lyrics?
I’ve released five poetry books in Swedish but I think I came to a point where I needed to do something new, needed a new kind of challenge. Writing lyrics in English is a challenge and it is also a different kind of writing than writing poetry for the book page. Book poetry needs to have all the rhythm and all the “music” incorporated in the words and in the lines, while song lyrics get the luxury of support from the drums, the instruments, the melodies. But also, I have friends in UK and US and I thought it would be fun to do something that they could understand for once.
How would you describe your music?
I guess it’s some kind of indie-rock with influences from post-punk and pop. It’s melodic and has a clear forward movement. I tend to like songs that sound like horses.
What can you tell us about Animal Tongue?
I started writing the songs in the summer of 2019 and I probably wrote around 20 songs in four months. Then I gathered a band of old friends (and great musicians) and Mattias Alkberg, a Swedish songwriter and poet, came in as a producer and we recorded the nine songs in late summer 2020 in Studio Cobra in Stockholm.
Thematically the album deals with transformations and change in different ways, but I hope that the songs and the lyrics are somewhat open to the listeners own imagination. I personally prefer things that don’t spell out everything too explicitly; things that are more absurd, strange or poetic.
Did you experience difficulties when writing and recording Animal Tongue?
It all went pretty fast and smooth actually. It was fun. The whole album is recorded live and most of the songs were done on the first or second take. But, well, one of the days we got locked out of the studio and the engineer had to drive out to some remote island in the Stockholm archipelago to get hold of an extra key. Meanwhile, we all probably had too many drinks in a nearby restaurant.
What do you hope people take from your music?
I hope they feel some kind of vibrant energy from the music and I hope they get some kind of confused intellectual experience from the lyrics.
What inspires you to make music and write poetry?
I like to build and create my own worlds. It’s something I’ve always done. Maybe it has something to do with a need to deal with the fact that it’s totally arbitrary that we all exist and that we all are going to die, but I don’t know.
Do you feel there is a natural transition from writing poetry to writing songs?
In some ways yes, in some ways no. One big difference between the two is the physical side of songwriting – in poetry you’re working inside your own head, but in music, you use the whole body; you sing, you strum the guitar or whatever. The physical part of music-making has been some kind of relief, as well as the creative collaboration with other people even though I enjoy being alone and locked inside my own head while writing.
Do you have a message for our readers?
If they listen to the songs I would like to say, thank you so much for listening!
Do you have any future plans regarding your career?
I have a bunch of new songs that I hope to record, maybe during this year. I’m also working on a new book (in Swedish). The plan is to keep working, keep doing these things. Keep moving forward like an old horse.