Artists
...

 Neutral

Nihilist, urban no wave was a while ago a has-been genre, suited for old farts with a J.G. Ballard obsession, who cannot handle the confident optimism of generation Y. Reality is different nowadays, dystopia
is everywhere, and the Swedish
duo Neutral sharpen their songs
on it. Their debut album Grå Våg Gamlestaden (2014, Omlott) is a fuck you towards optimism and softness, with its broken guitar noise, misan- thropic industrial and warped tape experiments. We had some back and forth mailing with Sofie Herner and Dan Johansson, dwellers of the warehouse scene of Göthebörg.
07 March 2015 | AG 5
Ode Windels

Digging into your musical background shows you are quite embedded in the Swedish underground noise scene with other or previous projects like Sewer Election, Ättestupa, Heinz Hopf, Leda or Källarbarnen. Can you tell us more about these bands? In what way does Neutral relate to this background?

Sofie Herner

Utmarken, a rehearsal space, music venue, record store in Gothenburg, was the starting point for me when it comes to making music. Dan and Matthias Andersson (RTB records, I Dischi Del Barone, Källarbarnen, Heinz Hopf, Arv & Miljö) started up the place, and around that time Matthias, Dan and I started Källarbarnen. It ended up being mainly Matthias and me trying to play instruments. Neutral is what happened when Dan and I combined our influences and sounds. 

Dan Johansson

Neutral is just a continuation of what we did at Utmarken in some way. Friends who’re getting together and do stuff.

OW

Your music appeals strongly to the wave and noise scene from the eighties, both in the means of creation (reel-to-reel recordings and minimalistic tape experiments, coupled with trumpet and screwdrivers to bring out the best of your guitars) and in the overall industrial / no wave atmosphere. Was this heritage a source of inspiration for you? 

SH

No wave was a very important thing for me as a teenager; I spent most my spare time dreaming of James Chance, Pat Place and Nancy Arlen. Later on, I think no wave has been important to me as an attitude towards music. And I guess the screwdriver got stuck from there on. 

DJ

For me mid-nineties American harsh à la Macronympha, Skin crime and such have been huge influences on how I approach and listen to music. They were and are life changing. 

OW

How is your music conceived? What’s the general approach in the (writing) process? 

SH

I play something, loop some sounds, record it and send it to Dan. Dan deconstructs it somehow and sends it back to me. We chat about it and might do some changes. Dan tells me I should record some voice, I do it and send it to him. He mixes and fixes. It’s all very intuitive and uncomplicated. 

OW

Your debut album is called Grå Våg Gamlestaden, (‘a grey wave in Gamlestaden’, referring to a former industrial district in Gothenburg characterised by abandoned factories and dreary apartment blocks). In what way has the city been an inspiration in making this music, and what role does it play on the album? Would you agree with the interpretation of some, who describe the album as ‘an anti-urban statement’? 

SH

I’d say I’m more influenced by the area I grew up in (not Gothenburg), which is a dreary apartment block kind of area, but Gamlestaden is something else to me. It’s the first place I’ve lived 

OW

in and really liked. Dan and I lived very close to one another in Gamlestaden the last five years, but I had to move a couple of months ago. I’ll always love Gamlestaden, and I know Dan does too. The last months I’ve lived partly in the countryside and it’s really not for me. No one likes the word ‘urban’, but Neutral is, to me, definitely more ‘urban’ than ‘anti-urban’. But the most fitting word is probably ‘anti’. 

OW

What are the scarce lyrics on the album about? 

SH

Dull feelings and local characters in Gamlestaden. 

OW

Can you tell a bit more about the previously mentioned Swedish underground? Has it evolved a lot in the past two decades? What’s the state of affairs today? 

SH

I leave this question to Dan, I don’t know if I know what is happening, since I moved from Gothenburg and I generally don’t know what’s going on. New faces have shown up, people are trying out new things. I think lots of good things are happening, I like that it seems people are using instruments more. 

DJ

I’m the wrong person to answer this question, but if any interest in the contemporary Swedish scene, please Google Järtecknet, I Dischi Del Barone, United Forever, iDEAL Recordings, Tordon Ljud and Millstone Vinyl. 

OW

On a related note, can you tell us something about the Gothenburg-based Omlott-label (Peter Brötzmann, Peeter Uuskyla), on which Grå Våg Gamlestaden was released? 

SH

It is newly started and has a free jazz / experimental profile. Four records have been released so far. Gustaf and Anders, the owners, run a really nice record store in Gothenburg, which is called Music Lovers. Gustaf is also part of the Höga Nord label, (Dan and I play with him in Enhet För Fri Musik, our debut LP will be released by Holidays Records any time now). 

OW

Finally, which shows will you definitely go see at KRAAK festival? 

SH

I know so little about what’s going on musically, so I want to see everything but especially Kraus, Mathieu Serruys and Young Marble Giants.