VULKAN / SOLUM: "If you ever feel that you are in deep water while writing music, go even further!"
Sometimes it’s just a second in which our subconsciousness makes us recognize something special in the current information overload. Two years ago, a band called VULKAN woke my curiousness because of their name and beautiful cover artwork when I scrolled by - And I'm glad they did, as their mesmerizing music has been in regular rotation since then.
Their guitarist Christian Fredriksson is also the mastermind behind instrumental project SOLUM, and it’s my great pleasure to welcome him on my musical journey. Learn more about VULKAN and his solo work here:
Hey Christian, thanks for making time to answer my questions today. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm a 32 year old Swedish guy born in Karlstad, but now I live in Norrköping. I have a daytime job as a CNC operator, but 99% of my spare time revolves around music.
Let’s start with VULKAN and a little time trip: When and how did you guys get together?
I wasn't in the band from the beginning. VULKAN started around 2006 under the name “Morgeous Garvin”, and I wasn't familiar with the guys back then.
I got to know Jimmy in 2015 when we played together in a band called “Orb Designer”, where he hit the drums and I played bass. Right before VULKAN were gonna release “Observants”, their guitarist and bass player quit, so Jimmy asked me if I wanted to join them. Since I was already a fan, I said "Yes" of course, and so did an old friend of mine, Oscar, whom I contacted for the vacant bass position.
I still remember when I came across VULKAN for the first time, as the name sparked my interest immediately. How did you come up with it, and is there a deeper meaning behind for you?
I wasn't there when they came up with it, but they have told me that they thought their sound was like a musical volcano. It starts off with small quakes, then it just erupts in a satisfying chaos. The name is the swedish word for “volcano” and has nothing to do with Star Trek ;-)
Haha, I see! It's the same word in german btw :-) Your current record “Technatura” turns two years old this month, and it’s still magical for me. What can you tell us about the origins of the beautiful cover artwork, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
Glad you like it! The cover art is made by my dear friend Jonas Åsman, who is a brilliant artist in my opinion (he was the singer of Orb Designer btw). We gave him some notes to start with, and then he just took off.
It's about the clash of nature and modern technology, so he painted this kinda weird biotech figure wich we absolutely loved from the first sketch he did! There is also some hidden stuff in the front cover, if you look closely you might find them.
With SOLUM, you released your first instrumental solo record last year. What is the idea behind your project’s name?
My computer was full of songs that needed to be released, so I thought that a solo project would come in handy. I didn't however want to use my own name for it, wanted it to be more anonymous. The music should have it's own name without being directly linked to one person, 'cause I think that you listen to it in a different way like that.
Regarding the name I jumped around on the internet for inspiration and came across the word “Solum”, which I just liked because of its sound. It means “only” in latin, so it kinda fits since I'm alone in this project.
The cover for “Encountering Murk” is wonderful, invites the beholder to step in. What can you tell us about this piece of art?
It's also made by Jonas actually! We talked a lot about what the album is about before he started working on the cover, as it has a story even though it's an instrumental. I think it's easier to name the songs and create a cover if you look at the album as a story.
I don't want to reveal too much about what it is for me, don't want to take away the listeners interpretation. But “Murk” is the name of the forest that you are entering in the first song, and the cover shows some of the elements that this forest contains.
I wanted to have a little John Bauer feeling to it, and I think Jonas nailed it perfectly but with his own personal touch!
Absolutely :-) Whether for VULKAN or SOLUM, you always manage to create a mesmerizing and intense atmosphere with your compositions. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
That's very nice to hear, thank you so much! I think it started for real when I discovered Iron Maiden as a kid and became a metalhead, then I just kept searching for new music. In my teenage years I found King Crimson and started to look more into the progressive stuff.
The search for new music never stops, I guess you can relate to that? Don't care that much about genres, if it's good it's good you know... I'm like a sponge, just taking in everything I can find.
Oh yes, totally get that :-) Another striking element for me is your love for details, as there’s a lot to discover into your music even after countless listens. Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
Glad that you say that, I really like the idea with “easter eggs” - Things that aren't in front of the mix, so you won't hear it on the first listening.
The writing process often starts with a guitar riff or a piano melody, but it can also be a drum beat that comes up in my head while I'm driving or watching TV. Then I just record it in my DAW, start building around it and see where it goes. Sometimes it flies, sometimes it's a faceplant...
I usually make a simple demo at first and listen to it at work or in my car. I also like to get some distance to the song, maybe not listen to it for a week. The best thing is when I forget that I even wrote a particular song, then find it a year later and get a really good feeling from it. Then I now that I'm on to something...
The SOLUM album was recorded mainly at my friend Johan's studio in Forshaga, Sweden. We recorded drums first with four different drummers, myself included. Then I did all the guitars, bass and keys at home in my DAW. Just wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
With VULKAN it's a bit more “for real” so to speak. For "Technatura" we went to a studio in Örebro for a week and recorded drums, guitar and bass live. Then we put overdubs, keys and vocals on everything afterwards.
Let’s talk about VULKAN live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Hard question... I really like those summer forest gigs outside after sunset. We played on a festival called “Electric Moon Fest” in 2018 which was really atmospheric.
I also won't forget the first VULKAN gig I did, it was on a boat in Karlstad and I was nervous as hell. That boat unfortunately sunk a few years ago.
Sweden is well known for being the home of many great rock and metal bands. How would you describe your local music scene? And did you notice changes over the past few years?
There is a lot of small but great bands out there that deserve attention.
I feel that the easy access to information and knowledge through the internet has led to people feeling more confident about writing and releasing music. It has both pros and cons of course... Sometimes I feel that it's too easy to put stuff out there, so it just creates an inflation of music in a way.
There are thousands of tracks being released every day, and it's hard to sort out the good stuff.
Indeed. What can you tell us about your future plans?
Right now I'm in the middle of recording a second SOLUM album - Drums are already done, and I'm tracking guitars as we speak. Don't have a release date yet, it will probably come out next year.
We have a lot of VULKAN demos that we are working with, but right now we are focusing on playing some "Technatura" gigs that we couldn't do in conjunction with the release in 2020. So maybe by the fall of 2022 we will be more in focus of finishing up new songs for album #4.
I also play guitar in a death metal band called REINCARNAGE, and we're gonna play at Gefle Metal Festival this year which I'm really looking forward to!
Sounds highly promising to me :-) Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
If you came this far in this interview I salute you, glad that you found this interesting enough to go through it all!
… And remember this: If you ever feel that you are in deep water while writing music, go even further!
Thanks again for your time and these amazing insights into your work. All the best for you and your musical plans \m/