Saturday, October 4, 2014

Anders Nilsson 13 Questions

photo: Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET
Anders Nilsson is a Swedish New York-based guitarist/composer/improviser. He primarily plays electric guitar, but also standard acoustic guitar and a nylon 11-string alto guitar designed by Georg Bohlin.

His musical output spans wide over the musical spectrum: from solo guitar shows (as recorded on “Night Guitar”), Anders Nilsson Group (a rhythmically oriented 5-piece band in NYC), Anders Nilsson’s AORTA (a jazz-rock type band in Sweden), to co-leading Fulminate Trio together with percussionist Michael Evans and bassist Ken Filiano, Hot & Cold (guitar duo with Aaron Dugan), and Exposed Blues Duo with vocalist Fay Victor, to being featured as special guest in other settings. He moved to New York in 2000 after having received jazz and classical guitar training and having worked as a musician and guitar teacher in Sweden for a number of years.

He has since performed and/or recorded with many musicians associated with the blues/jazz/experimental paradigm like Sabir Mateen, Raoul Björkenheim and Gerald Cleaver (in Kalabalik), Eugene Chadbourne, Paquito D’Rivera, William Parker, Elliot Sharp, Fay Victor Ensemble, poets John Sinclair, Bonnie Barnett, art-metal band Angelblood. Always into interdisciplinary interaction, he has collaborated with Butoh artist Akira Kasai and theatre director Doris Mirescu and video artist Arrien Zinghini. Nilsson’s work as a composer includes music for short films, dance performances, theatre plays, as well as a book of over 70 compositions including brief to epic works ranging from solo guitar pieces to large experimental ensemble works. Many of these works have been released on several acclaimed albums.
Anders Nilsson’s AORTA photo: Ninja Agborn

What gear did you use in your last works?

I have mainly old gear - a phaser, some fuzz, distortion, tremolo, reverb, all analog.

Elliott Sharp asked me to contribute a solo recording for an upcoming compilation of XXI century solo guitar music. In his studio I recorded “Variazioni su un monologo Funambolico”. Cd due out on Cleanfeed in October!

What's the main difference between your last and your first recording, in terms of experience?

I felt like I got comfortable with the studio experience, at my first day in one, at age 14 or so. I'd like to make a second solo album (after the initial overdubbed "Night Guitar" released in 2012 on the Soundatone label) next.

What do you recall about your guitar learning process?

I'm only just beginning, if you stop learning = game over. Because of the guitar's fretboard design voice leading tends to get lost until you really hone in on it. This is the musical study of 2 or more simultaneous lines in music - polyphony, homophony. Articulation of an idea, expression, tone and dynamics are also in the foreground of my practice - aiming to make it all click for myself.

Wich work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

Listening back to live group improvisations! I often forget what happened and/or what I played, because it's free form, no form or orchestral arrangement has been agreed upon, which can lead to unexpected and interesting aspects of group interplay. There was a recent tape with myself, Ras Moshe on tenor, and Andrew Drury on drums and percussion that had really ferocious energy, inspired ideas, and happening articulation (hitherto unreleased). Sometimes I get very positively surprised.

Where are your secret roots? 

Oh yeah, I'm glad you ask this question. Books give me a lot of food for thought. For example I wanted to become less uninformed about the history of the middle east so I read Tariq Ali's "The clash of fundamentalisms - crusades, jihad and modernity", Malcolm X's autobiography is unshakable, lots of "noir" - Jim Thompson and Charles Willeford especially, Rumi and some other Sufi guys wrote really beautifully - they give you something to return to, and autobiographies. Some other things that stimulate me: going to art exhibits, watching science programs, nature, hanging out, food, and on a daily basis - the political atmosphere we have to relate to plus the constant need to untangle ourselves from falling prey to the mindless forces of mainstream culture and politics of today, waking up - chop chop!

What is the difference for you between play alone or in a group? What do you prefer?

I enjoy both, solo is very enjoyable, playing together with musicians you like is often even better.

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

Paraphrasing..... "Dynamics separates the boys from the men in this music. " -Ken Filiano

Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music?

Gnawa music of Marrakesh "Night spirit masters" because of the weight of rhythmic propulsion and making a simple melody intriguing.


What quality do you empathize with most in another musician?

Respectable qualities: listening, contact, intuition and the ability to shock me.

Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money? What were other early records you bought?

I think it was AC/DC "for those about to rock" in '84 or '85. The most recent is a compilation of old New Orleans recordings. 


Why and how do you use personal [extended, special, strange, prepared] techniques on guitar?

I employ anything that comes to mind, I rarely work on these techniques (aside from alternate tunings) though - Shoe strings, 2 slides at once, several distortion and fuzz pedals simultaneously at low volume etc.


What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with? 

Salvador Dali, mainly observing.


What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

I am working on more solo guitar pieces and have the idea that I'm going to publish some of them in a book in the future, a second solo record, Anders Nilsson Group is a 5-piece heavy on percussion I'd like to record with. Also I have some ideas involving comics, film and my guitar driven music. It would be interesting to write pieces for an instrumental group in which there is no guitar; string quartet and percussion, or a piece I've been sketching out for harp, Oud and muted trumpet.


Get the recordings through the links below or contact the artist directly via email: Earraticart (at) enjoy!

Hogwild Manifesto (Hot&Cold) Buy Here Powers (Nilsson/Fonda/Nilsson) Buy Here
Kalabalik (Björkenheim/Nilsson/Cleaver) Buy Here Anders Nilsson “Night Guitar” Buy Here
Exposed Blues Duo “Bare” Buy Here Anders Nilsson’s AORTA Ensemble Buy Here
Fulminate Trio Buy Here   Anders Nilsson’s AORTA “KOPAlectric” 2007 Kopasetic Productions (KOPA fest ’06 compilation) Buy Here
Anders Nilsson’s Aorta “Janus” Buy Here Anders Nilsson’s Aorta “Blood” Buy Here

Upcoming releases in 2014:
  • “Have you ever meta Guitar?” Volume 3 co-ordinated by Elliott Sharp (Cleanfeed Records)
  • Jeremy Danneman with Anders Nilsson, William Parker, Tim Keiper (Ropadope)
  • Fulminate Trio (Unseen Rain)

Selected Discography

  • Derek Bailey Tribute Band Ictus Records 2013
  • Fay Victor Ensemble “Absinthe & Vermouth” Greene Ave. Music 2013
  • Ictus Nights @ The Stone Anthology Volume 1 Ictus Records 2013
  • Hot&Cold “Hogwild manifesto” 2012 Jungulous Records
  • Nilsson/Fonda/Nilsson “Powers” 2012 Konnex Records
  • Björkenheim/Nilsson “Kalabalik” 2012 DMG/ARC
  • Anders Nilsson “Night Guitar” 2012 Sound at One
  • Francois Grillot “Contraband” Hell’s Kitchen Records 2011
  • John Sinclair with Hollow Bones 2011 straw2gold pictures
  • Exposed Blues Duo “Bare” 2010 Greene Avenue Music
  • Anders Nilsson’s AORTA Ensemble 2009 Kopasetic Productions
  • Fay Victor Ensemble “Freesong Suite” 2009 Greene Avenue Music
  • Talibam! “Boogie in the Breeze Blocks” (as guest on a few tracks) 2009 ESP
  • Sebastian Schunke feat. Paquito D’Rivera “Back in New York” 2008 Connector
  • Fulminate Trio “Fulminate Trio” 2008 Generate Records
  • Anders Nilsson’s AORTA “KOPAlectric” 2007 Kopasetic Productions (KOPA fest ’06 compilation)
  • Angelblood “Mambo Mange” 2007 Locust LP
  • Talibam! “Ordination of the Globetrotting Conscripts” AzulDiscographia 2007 (guest on 2 tracks)
  • Fay Victor Ensemble “Cartwheels through the Cosmos” 2006 Artist Share
  • Tom Bruno & Anders Nilsson “In The Ozone” 2005 Bootleg 1
  • Anders Nilsson’s AORTA “Janus” 2005 Kopasetic Productions
  • Anders Nilsson’s AORTA “Blood” 2004 Kopasetic Productions
  • Sebastian Schunke’s Orchestral Expression “Mouvement” 2004 Timba Records
  • Matt Lavelle “Trumpet rising Bass-clarinet Moon” 2004 577 Records