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An Interview with Mosaik: “Releasing Music for Free is the Only Way”

January 26, 2010 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook An Interview with Mosaik: “Releasing Music for Free is the Only Way”on Twitter

The enigmatic Swedish electronica artist Mosaik released the stunning Leandi EP last year. Yours truly reviewed it and eventually managed to track down Jakob Svanholm; the man behind the luscious soundscapes of Mosaik, who is also known under the moniker Radix in the golden age of the demoscene.

We manage to get some time with him out of his busy schedule to discuss the Leandi EP and his creative process, and even go into the netlabel scene and free distribution of music. He has some interesting ideas about music as an industry, and even goes as far to say “Releasing music for free is the only way.” I wish other people saw it that way.

Read our interview with Mosaik after the jump.

OSV: First of all, let me thank you on behalf of OSV for your fantastic new offering in the form of the Leandi EP. Care to tell us a little about how your background and how you got involved in music-making?

Jakob: Thanks for having me. I’ve always been into music in one way or another. I’ve been playing the guitar since I was a little kid and I’ve constantly been surrounded by people that were deeply interested in music. I used to play in a couple of bands back then, but I felt I had all these ideas and it was difficult to get things your way in a band environment. By that time my interest for computers was growing and I discovered tools to build sample based songs. I suppose this was back in the early 90s.

OSV: Can you name a defining moment when you were growing up when you realized that it was music that was going to be your creative outlet?

Jakob: I can’t think of a defining moment as such. At school people had different interests that pretty much shaped their identity. I was the music guy and I have always resorted to composing as a form of ventilation. I can’t remember not having music as a creative outlet.

OSV: I understand that you were inspired by your son when writing Leandi. How does your family influence the creative process when you write music?

Jakob: Well, I have learnt to schedule my music sessions to the late evenings when there’s peace and quiet in our apartment. I can be inspired by any daily and ordinary things, but it’s exceptional to see a little person say and do all these really clever things, it’s quite a privilege to get to be a part of that. My family is a big inspiration and I have tried to capture that in my music.

OSV: The Leandi release seems to have gathered a whole lot of response on the netlabel Softphase’s commentators field. Were you prepared for this level of appreciation when you wrote the tracks for this EP?

Jakob: No, absolutely not. I was overwhelmed by the response because I had no expectations on how it was going to be perceived. Before this release I had come to the conclusion that making some music is better than no music, and that I can’t afford to be pretentious about it. The amount of feedback has certainly given me a new spark and motivation to continue making music and to take my composing in a new direction.

The tracks on Leandi are very true to my old influences and my sound roots that can be derived back to the demoscene. In a way I think Leandi was something I had to make, taking a few steps back to close the circle so to speak. It’s cool that people like it.

OSV: Exactly how does the typical Mosaik track go around being written? Where do you usually begin and how does the process evolve?

Jakob: I play the guitar for a while every day, and I try to come up with harmonies and melodies that I like and then I take it from there. After having played around in my sequencer software, Renoise or Ableton Live, the result can be completely different from how it started off.

It’s rather easy to get a track started, I can get some basic ideas down fairly quick, and after that I reach this critical point where I’ll find out if the track has potential to evolve. Quite regularly I put tracks aside for a long time and then picking them up again when I have new ideas. It can be for a few days or several years.

OSV: I know it is a tough question. But if you would choose a favorite track written by yourself, which one would it be and why?

Jakob: Right now at this moment I would say “Pillow Dance.” I listened to it this morning and it triggered some odd emotions and memories. If I would answer this question tomorrow maybe I’d say something else.

OSV: You seem to favor releasing your music for free; nowadays under a creative commons license, what are your thoughts of the increasing growth of netlabels?

Jakob: It’s good. I don’t really have an opinion about the netlabels but they offer some exposure to the possibilities of distributing music on the Internet. My opinion is that the music industry is living on borrowed time, and that music shouldn’t be an industry to start with. There’s so much to say about copyrights that I don’t know where to begin. Creative Commons is an excellent alternative.

In our age of the amazing Internets, releasing music for free is the only way. If people want music they will get it, and the only challenge is to have people find a solid channel that enables them to support their favorite artist directly.

OSV: You collaborate with the great Planet Boelex and Niklas Nummelin on Leandi. If you could dream, what artist would you like to find yourself working with?

Jakob: Perhaps Roisin Murphy or some other awesome singer.

OSV: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. We wish you the best of luck in your future and we hope for future releases as well.

Jakob: Thank you OSV! And many thanks to everyone who supports Mosaik. Take care!

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