Interview: Jakob Olausson.

01 Dec 2011 — Henning Lahmann

When the debut LP of Swedish songwriter Jakob Olausson, Moonlight Farm, was released by De Stijl Records in 2006, it encountered a cohort of distinguished music critics that was eagerly anticipating any record that could at least loosely be linked to the still prevalent "New Weird America" scene in underground pop music. And it surely did not disappoint anyone: Having been dubbed a "modern classic" by no one less than David Keenan himself, Moonlight Farm received more or less unanimous acclaim. Next week, five years after his debut, Jakob Olausson will finally drop his sophomore record Morning & Sunrise, another collection of eight rusty - if cleaner - folk gems, again an utterly brilliant effort that this time however does not seem to be at risk of getting sucked into any kind of hype maelstrom, which after all can only be to the artist's benefit. A few days ago I've had a little email chat with Jakob about his musical output. Read it below and take an exclusive listen to the breathtaking album track "Keep the Sky from Falling". NFOP: When did you start making music - and if there’s a reason, why? Jakob: I picked up the guitar as a teenager. My grandfather had bought me and my brother a guitar when we were kids, but it took me a few years before I, sparked by my growing interest in music, dusted it off and wanted to learn how to play myself. I started to record on a boom box some years after that, and released a tape in '97. Later graduated to a 4-track and then onto my trusty 8-tracker. NFOP: Your first album "Moonlight Farm" virtually came out of nothing and received a tremendous amount of praise - had you expected something like that? Jakob: I had no expectations at all. I was just happy to have my music out on a label I really liked. And it was a nice surprise that people actually were moved by the record. NFOP: A lot of critics have linked your music to the “freak folk” or “New Weird America” scene of the mid-noughties in the States. In which way do you feel attached to that scene? Jakob: I haven't really thought of that. It's nothing that keeps me awake at night. I'm probably too old to care about ”scenes” made up by writers. It's way more interesting with people who create their "own universe kind of scene" than the ones buying into every new thing. But maybe I'm just cynical. NFOP: Apart from modern fellows, which musicians inspire you most? Jakob: Maybe more inspired on a personal level by currently living humans. I don't get much musical inspiration from modern music, quite the opposite. Apart from maybe some hip hop. I get most thrills from cheap bargain bin records, and classic stuff like Dylan, Beatles, Neil Young and maybe even more so bands who tried to sound like them but on a really small budget. And of course TONS more. I listen to a really wide range of music. NFOP: Quite a lot of fuss had been made about the fact that you lived in rural Sweden and were a beet farmer by day. Would you say that this circumstance informs your music substantially? And, has any of this changed since the release of “Moonlight Farm”? Jakob: Since the release my first LP, I've moved to a bigger city. Mostly due to practical circumstances. I wouldn't say that it changed my life very radically. I still spend most of my spare hours at home. Playing guitar or recording, or making/eating good cheap food. I don't go out that much. NFOP: If you compare “Moonlight Farm” and “Morning & Sunrise”, what did you want to change, and in which way have things musically changed eventually in the time-span between both albums? Jakob: Recording ”Moonlight Farm” was a whole lot of trying out the possibilities of recording to eight tracks. I feel more confident singing now than I did before. The new record has bass and drums on most tracks, and I think it just sounds better. The two records sound pretty different. My interest and knowledge in recording, equipment and technics has really grown over the years. And it will be more apparent on the next record. Of course it's still all analog chain. NFOP: What’s next for you as regards touring and recording? Jakob: I record all the time. Lately a lot of quick instrumental stuff, too. Like a weekly exercise. I have a whole lot of songs im working on. It'd be stupid of me to talk about next releases as it'll most likely take quite some time till it'll be out anyway. And I hope to do some touring next year. There's been some talk. We'll see...I take it as it comes. I never take stuff for granted. Would be fun though! Morning & Sunrise is out December 6 on De Stijl Records. Jakob Olausson - Keep the Sky from Falling (exclusive)