Over the weekend, listeners were treated to the melodic, atmospheric "Ice" by t61 favorite Ve. Unfortunately, Ve also revealed that "Ice" is the last track he has available to upload. We encourage you to let him know how you feel about his music, and hopefully there will be more someday soon. He was kind enough to answer a few questions from MaxBumps and share some thoughts about his creative process, inspirations, and experience with thesixtyone.com.
silkworm: Do you create all of the music in your songs by yourself or do you collaborate with other people? What instruments or tools do you use to create your songs?
Ve: No, I do everything myself, and I’m not particularly interested in co-writing songs either, to be honest. I wouldn't mind collaborating in some sort of mixed-media project though, where I do the music. That could be fun.
I have a bunch of instruments in my much too small apartment, it’s a mess, looks like a rehearsal room. And getting a digital drum set a month ago didn’t help one bit. But when writing a song I almost always just use an acoustic guitar, sometimes a piano. I’d use the piano more often if only I was better at it. It’s an amazing instrument. Other than that I use the computer and various music software.
silkworm: Where do you call home? It could be someplace different from where you're living, of course. Does that place (or places) have an effect on your music?
Ve: Oh, I like historical places. And I love history and reading about people who lived like a century ago and their adventurous lives. I’m obsessed by real-life stories. They are definitely a big source of inspiration for me and some of them end up in songs. Jimmy Angel, for example - you can find fragments of his life story embedded in “Even microbes Have To Eat.”
And the song I’m working on now have references to the life of Isabelle Eberhardt. Not sure I answered your question there, but when I think about where I’d wanna be it’s always in some exotic country hundreds of years ago :). Other than that, my home is around here I guess, in the north of Sweden. This is where I’ve lived all my life.
silkworm: I grew up when loving music meant hunting through crates for albums and cassettes, and finding new music was limited to hearing songs on the radio, or from your siblings or your friends. As a listener it seems like a dream to me to have a digital, global, social medium for discovering music. What has your experience been like with thesixtyone.com so far as an artist and as a listener?
Ve: The problem with sites where you can upload your songs has always been the massive amount of tunes and that your songs simply vanishes among them. I had no expectations whatsoever when registering at thesixtyone.com, but so far the bump system has been great. I really hope it will continue to function just as well in the future, when there are more artists, cause right now it’s just awesome.
I listen to music at thesixtyone more or less daily. I'm not very good at discovering new music, I don't have a radio or a TV, so thesixtyone suits me pretty good, always new stuff.
silkworm: Musicians always get asked about their influences, and I do want to ask about that a little, but first - it could be that someone's downloading Ve tracks right now and getting inspired to create their own music. What do you imagine your influence could be on them? People will have very individual reactions to your songs, of course, but is there something about your songs that you'd like people to feel or notice?
Ve: Uh.. I've never thought of that. That would be flattering of course. I think the fact that my music is fairly simple and that I’m a pretty mediocre musician/vocalist could be inspiring. You don’t have to be a professional to make interesting music.
I never think about what a listener might feel or notice when I work on a song, I don't picture a certain audience or anything like that. I know that much of my music is dark and introverted but if anything I hope that the listener find the songs uplifting. I always want my music to have a core of “hope”. I also think it’s very important that a song, even though it might be mellow, have intensity, a nerve. I’m not very fond of songs that are just soft and mellow and “nice” to listen to.
silkworm: In your myspace I saw a brief exchange with one of your readers about Kate Bush, and I noticed that in thesixtyone.com you commented on the fantastic Imogen Heap track "Hide and Seek" that "it's so hard to find a fresh and interesting artist that inspires me."
What are some things that inspire you in music or otherwise, and why do you think those inspirations are so hard to find?
Ve: I like all kinds of music but I’m especially inspired by music that is uncomplicated but still unpredictable and by musicians that strive to make something new. Too many musicians and bands set out to sound like their idols. That’s pointless, if you ask me. I also don’t like is how many bands aim to make a "catchy" tune, how they intentionally set out to make it sound like something you've heard before. Not to mention all those who are into music because they feel it fits their image or something, makes me angry just thinking about it :) Music has to be the most abused and exploited art form there is. That said, I know there are plenty of good artists out there, as I said earlier, I’m just horrible at discovering them.
silkworm: To me, your songs have a wonderful feeling of layers, and intricacy, and a sort of hushed thoughtfulness. But at the same time they don't feel cluttered or crowded - there's room to breathe and think and feel. How do you go about creating that sound? How do your songs usually evolve?
Ve: Hushed thoughtfulness, I like that, thank you :). I usually start out by playing the guitar and singing at the same time. I seldom try to come up with a good riff and then add vocals to it, that’s why all my songs have a pretty standard chord structure. I don't even think about what I’m playing on my guitar to be honest. Like the song I'm playing around with now for example, it took months before I even realized that I play exactly the same chords on the verse that I do on the chorus. When it comes to production I just try out different ideas. I try to relax and not force things, if you’re in a creative mood it just happens. I always create my music at night which probably has some effect on the sound as well.
silkworm: It also makes me wonder, now that .mp3 is the standard for digital music, do you ever think about the quality of the sound? Does it bother you, for example, that when people hear your intricate songs, what they are listening to is compressed and probably played on lousy speakers or headphones?
Ve: No, it doesn't bother me. They can do whatever they want with the songs and listen to them however they want. In fact, many of the songs I've uploaded to thesixtyone have been created using lousy speakers and headphones :).
silkworm: T61 listener and MaxBumps founder batface89 mentioned an interview that she conducted with a musician who had synesthesia, where different notes would appear to him as different colors. Do you ever involve your other senses in the process of creating your music? Have you given any thoughts about how you would interpret your songs visually (e.g., for a video)?
Ve: Haha, yes, when I’m relaxed and/or semi-asleep I can see sounds as shapes and interpret the tones as people interacting with each other, but that’s just the mind playing tricks with you, I can’t say I have any use of it when writing music. Anyway, when I think of what art form could be more “powerful” than music it’s always music and images/video combined. I’d like to experiment a bit with that. What it would look like depends on what song it is I guess, but you’ll never see me in a video miming a song, that’s for sure :).
Ve - The Sleep
silkworm: I've noticed that all of the songs that you've shared on thesixtyone.com are freely available to download, which as a listener I really appreciate. At this stage, do you have any feelings about starting to generate a bigger audience, about possibly selling your music instead of giving it away?
Ve: I don’t know why, but I've never cared about getting an audience. Every time I've uploaded my songs to sites like thesixtyone.com it's because someone has begged me to do so. I haven’t sent any demo to a record label or anything. I mean, I like it when people listen to my music but I've never promoted myself. Actually, most people I know have no idea I write songs and I never ask people to listen to my music. I’d love to get a record deal though, not to make a career out of it or anything like that, I just want to record maybe two albums with proper equipment and make them as good as I possibly can. That would be a dream come true, nothing less. Then I’d be happy.