Interview: Jonas Odhner (Sonores)

I had absolutely no expectations when I started the IAT.MP3 netlabel. I figured I'd offer some additional exposure to a few semi-unknown acts and that would be it. Now it's come to pass that two of the artists I've worked with are releasing official full-length albums. The Grand Opening's debut comes out later this fall and Sonores' marvelous "Elefanten" is out now. I'm proud of all the releases I've done, but Sonores is something special and original. Dark, dreamy and drenched in reverberating layers of sound, the music they create under the guidance of main songwriter/mastermind Jonas Odhner is incredibly evocative. The mood drifts between soothing and disturbing, sometimes even within the space of a few bars. It is music designed for headphone listening, walking the city at night. I hate to ruin some of the mystery and allure of what goes on behind the scenes, but I cannot resist. Jonas was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Tell me about how Sonores came together - what inspired you to begin to create music like this and how did everyone get involved?

I met Viktor 4-5 years ago, I was going with a friend to his place and lay some scratch on a song they were working on. We started talking about doing something together. I don't remember how long it took, but it took some time before we actually started making music together. Then we decided that we wanted a singer and Viktor knew Elisabet a bit so we asked her.... I don't remember if we ever discussed what kind of music it should be, maybe we did, but I think it just came quite natural because of the musical background we had.

The album has been in the works for a long time now - what took so long? Also, how does your creative process work? Are all the songs composed note-by-note or are there also elements of improv?

One of the biggest reasons is I work 5 days a week and it's often hard to sit on the tram for 1 hour to the studio after work, be there for 2-3 hours then 1 hour home because I must get up early. Quite depressing, but it could be worse of course. I'm glad I have a job, otherwise I could not have bought all the instruments or even have a studio. But it's also the first time I wrote songs and I don't always know how to do it proper, so that takes a long time just figuring it out. I often just sit in the studio playing on some sort of idea, just adding layers of different instruments, then Viktor comes and he is adding something. We have always done the vocals last, Elisabet wants an almost-finished track when she starts working with the vocals. That means we are not a "traditional" band that hangs out and jams, even if it would be great to do that sometimes... we have talked about it, but it never happens.

You use a lot of what I can only describe as jazz textures - are you formally trained in music theory at all? Where does the inspiration for your music come from? How much of what you do is your ideas alone and how much comes from collaboration?

I'm not trained at all in music theory, sometimes I wish I was though... I have picked up a little from friends. Mainly my inspiration comes from films and sounds, with sounds I'm meaning... for an example I'm sitting in the studio and playing guitar and I'm always using tape echoes... it's often very long echoes kind of reverb/echo, that's why the music tend to be quite slow. You get in a certain mood when you sit and play/pick the same chordstructure for two hours very slowly with tons of tape echo and that's maybe the main reason we don't have a traditional structure on the songs with verse-bridge-chorus etc. But of course I get inspiration from other music, but I only have a few favourite artists that I listen to VERY much and the past year I've listened to Anekdoten, Morte Macabre almost too much according to friends. But I have my iPod and the shuffle button is very good. I also have a little book at work where I write ideas, I always here things in songs like a types of effect on the vocals or sound on a guitar etc. but I always forget the book at work...

Now that the album is finally out, what's next?

Now we are re-arranging the songs for a live situation and it's quite hard since we are only 3 in the band. If we are going to perform it without pre-recordings we need to be like 6 or 7 people and we have tried with friends, but they all have other bands that are more important for them so right now that's not an option. So we are going to use pre-recordings and change the songs a little. It would be great to be a full band with 7 people though, but sadly there's no way right now. So hopefully we will get some live dates and get out and tour... and of course start working with the new album. This time it will go faster... hopefully