Richard Bjørklund, founder of the Norwegian electronic pop band called Spektralized, is today with us in the interview space. Richard, Vox Empirea is honored to have you as a guest: welcome!
> Thank you for having me.
Let’s start with a first question about the past: after the dissolution of the old band happened back in 1997, which was the force that inspired you to continue the course still keeping the original name and transforming that embryonic platform into the current Spektralized?
> The old members of Spektralized got tired of making music so they went doing the other things they liked more. I loved every part of the creative process and that sense of unity that I felt by it. The music gave me my personality, the same one that made me feel special: everything that was created came out of my one head. I felt that everything I did at that time had something to do with music. If I didn’t make music, I listened to music, talked about music with someone, wrote lyrics ore watched music video etc. I also have had a great passion going to see concerts and music festivals. There we could hang out with other likeminded, just listening to great music and having fun. I remember a thought that always went true my mind when I was watching a band that inspired me: “one day I want to be like him performing on that stage”. The first reason that I continued making music under the name Spektralized is because I felt that it was a great name. So I felt also that it would be a shame to see lost the name and all the hard work we done! So I promised the guys I would take again care of that name we created. when we started spektralized in 1993, we decided that this was going to be a band that would put together different styles in electronic music: in that way we felt more free to do what we wanted, without having to follow any specific sound. I always have tried to be the more faithful as possible to our original sound, letting the music development happened naturally along to me and to the other members of the band. When we change, the music changes with us, and I am not trying to change the sound just because the scene changes, like many other bands of today. Maybe, is this what makes Spektralized so interesting for some people?
1993/2013. Twenty years making music! I think that now it’s time for reflections. Richard: looking back in your artistic past and taking into account the current situation of Spektralized, which are today your personal considerations? What is, effectively, your level of satisfaction and which are also, if there are, your self-criticisms?
> I am more than thankful for every little bit of success that we have had so fare. And I feel honored to have worked with all the talented people during this years. I am also forever thankful to my fans and listeners for staying with us and for giving us their precious support. And we’ll not forget all the fantastic people that we have met along the way. All the positive experiences that we have had along the way have been wonderful, and the bad experiences have only made us stronger. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way that may have caused problems to our development as a band, but everyone should know that there is a meaning and a reason for every single thing that has happened. I think that everyone who read this have heard someone say ones or twice, that the run to the top is hard, but the way down is easy. That is true, that’s for sure! Life is hard, and so is the music business, and everyone needs a way to survive. Nothing comes easy, it is only hard work! Maybe that is why we love it! My main goal in everything I do is to have fun and to enjoy myself while I’m doing it. But I think that every artist wants to be remembered for their talent and all the passion that they have put down in their work.
Starting from the epoch of your debut until now, what has changed globally in the European electronic music and, more specifically, in your way to conceive and to reproduce it?
> I really think that Spektralized has had a natural development during the years. We have tried to evolve our sound many times, but we have still tried to keep our characteristic Spektralized sound all the way. When we released our debut album “Elements Of Truth”, futurepop, or technopop, was the biggest thing in synth music. This was in the end of the huge trance and techno hype that went in Europe while remaining for a long time. When the techno style ended, the technopop scene went into decline as well. Then came the Pop and RMB. Subsequently they came the synthpop and Electronica that were the main thing going on within the electronic scene in Europe. But this period wasn’t too long. Soon came the Rock monsters and they took over the whole music scene, both with commercial and underground music. Then, softly, it started the rock music inspired to Iron Maiden, AC/DC etc. that ended with the dark and grungy metal sound. It resulted a massive change in the electronic scene too, and along came the Aggrotec. I feel that this was a phenomenon that changed the things in a bad direction because it took away a little bit of oneness from the synthetic music. I have major respect for some bands around this scene, those ones that does things from zero trying to twist their sound. But a new and more urban techno/industrial new-school trend was emerging in the electronic scene, it brought the industrial club-style in a lot of rave and dancefloors. Suddenly it was not more cool to have a synthesizer on stage: instead it was replaced by a laptop or IPad that are yes more modern but, as freshness and visual image, they don’t reach not eben the half of a synth, if you ask me. It reminds me more the modern trance disc jockeys who’re only able to cut and paste distorted samples and loops they downloaded from internet. Effectively, you just need their distorted vocals to have a new modern techno/industrial one man band that reminds me more a screaming D.J. I just have to ask, “is really the D.J. the new frontier for the synth music?”. I know that big changes has happened economically inside the music business and I know that the people struggle for the money around the world. However, it doesn’t mean that we have to let other people in the same music business decide what is cool or not. Ok, it’s cheaper to book one guy with a laptop than call a band playing some songs. But people can’t mean at all that this is the worthy replacement of a good live band that makes its concert on stage. I think it’s time for the listeners out there to tell their local promoters and clubs what they like to see, instead letting the booking agencies decide which bands are good to show. I mean that the most right thing to do is to point out and book the bands that have the potential for further success and a true development in the scene, so that people get a chance to see all the new bands and the exiting stuff that is happening around the world. Instead they are ever the same bands that play repeatedly in all the clubs of our planet, and it makes the synth scene stand still repeating themselves over and over again!
Your artistic way has always been characterized by important collaborations kept in the studio dimension, as well as many co-partecipations at the live sessions of great projects belonging to the electro scene, for example Icon Of Coil, Sebastian Komor, Diary Of Dreams, Assemblage 23, Psyche… in which measure these artists have contributed to the growth and to the success of Spektralized?
> Me and Sebastian Komor were best friends since almost ten years before he moved to Canada five years ago. We were like brothers that did everything together. So the collaboration we gave to Monofader and the production of our debut album “Elements Of Truth”, in addition to other projects, they came naturally for us at that times. When spektralized and Hard Drive was planing the release of our first single “Allied” I talked with sebastian if maybe Spektralized could team up with Icon of Coil and Assemblage 23 in the end of their Europe tour in 2002. We came to an agreement with both bands and we decided to join them on their last ten concerts that were taking place in Germany and switzerland! During the tour we meet Adrian from Diary of Dreams who is also the owner of Accession Records: he wanted to see us play live and maybe afterwards we discuss a record deal between Spektralized and its label. When we came home, we signed the contract with Accession and soon a new tour was planned. This time the tour was together with Diary of Dreams, Lights Of Euphoria and Psyche. It was the merit of those concerts that we have played with bigger bands picking up the success we have had. That is how it happens in the music business: smaller bands hook up with bigger bands getting together an unique chain and showing themself to many people in shortest times!
The electronic genre that you created works beautifully not only in Scandinavia but in all the Europe. How far it arrive the fame of Spektralized? Did your music get a good appreciation in other areas of the world too?
> Considering what I know, we are starting to become well known within the synth scene in many other countries Of Europe. Out of our Continent, there are some countries where we are more known than others, such as North and South America, Mexico, Canada, Russia…
Your newest album “In Between The Opposite”, published by Space Race Records, the sub-label of EK Product, comes out three years after the full-length “The Puzzle”. Are there substantial differences between these two titles or they are connected in some way? Which are the most relevant tracks in which you entrust particular hopes? Richard, talk us in detail about this new release…
> All the titles on our earlier released albums have a meaning, but they are not connected among them. The title “In Between The Opposite” means that we felt we were undecided between different styles trying to find the right balance for the album. There was an hard time spent choosing which tracks were suitable as the active part of the album or not: we had a lot of tracks planned, so the biggest dilemma was, “should we take all the hard tracks making a clubby album, or should we must choose the more soft ones for a synthpopish release?”. After a lot of listening to different tracks and discussing back and forward, we finally made a decision. We decided for the more balanced choice, and that was to make a blend between danceable and relaxing tracks. In the alternative music scene we have a lot of hard EBM/industrial bands and a lot of synthpop projects, but we feel that our sound finds its place somewhere between them. I don’t like to tell the exact story behind the tracks, and that’s because I want that people may build up their own relation with all the songs. In that way the listeners can make up their mind and spirit around each track, and maybe get a personal attachment to the album.
Which specific goals do you want to reach with the new album? Which particular media strategy are you undertaking to get an adequate resonance in the scene?
> My goal is always to try reaching out as many people as possible to my music. I think that everyone who musically creates something of which he’s proud he wants as many people as possible to see or hear what he created. EK planned the promotion and the distribution for “In Between The Opposite”. They are focusing on the radios, Music magazines and the internet. I will promote as much as I can via Facebook, Sound cloud, Mix Cloud, MySpace and Twitter, I’ll contact D.J.’s with which I have interviews, and also promoting Spektralized by our friends trying to keep them and our fans updated along the way. We also hope to be able to have a mini tour in Germany in this year, and we will try to get as much gigs as possible in other countries. We need help with the booking, so if someone knows one or someone who works with bookin offices please contact us via our Facebook pages, or Space Race or EK.
Have you faced particular difficulties in the realization of “In Between The Opposite”? Everything worked as you had planned?
> It’s always difficult to find the right vibes when you have to bring the creating process of an album in the studio recording. A problem for me is often when I am starting to ask myself about which tracks are appropriate and which ones not. After we have made the final decision about the question, all this should be the effective part of the album, however is not a strange thing for us to change the list the day after, but very often the songs come back into the initial tracklist after a while, above all when I take a little break from them. It’s easy to get tired of sound and music when you are in the final process of making an album.
In the new track list, what are the relevant tracks on which you entrust particular hopes? And which of them are the ones that you have destined specifically at the dance floors?
> I strongly believe in all tracks of the album, I never wouldn’t let the tracks be a part of the album if it were not so. There are some tracks that I like more than others and, if I really have to pick some of them, I choose the soft songs “Unite Us All” and “Changes”. But, to be honest, I am not sure which one of them I like most. There’s a lot of tracks in the album that I believe people will find interesting after listening to them a couple of times. The synthpop tracks on the album “Reflecting Memories”, “Looking Forward”, the same “Changes” and “Different People”, are addressed to a very large audience, they are more suitable for commercial radio stations and to the mid-range listeners. The more harder EBM, futurepop and experimental tracks are instead more directed to the clubs.
Ok Richard, thank you so much for your time. Do you have anything you like to say to the readers of Vox Empirea before we end this interview?
> We want to thank you all for taking the time to read this interview. Thank you for buying our music and we hope you liked our new album. Thank you for staying with us supporting spektralized. We hope to see you all when we play your favorite song on stage at your local club. Take care!!! We love you all! I felt a sensation that I never felt before and it almost made me mad. Maybe is because I had to sit in the studio all day and but the tracks ended up ok, so I am satisfied at last. Thank you Max for giving me time in this interview and for introducing us to your readers!