Music, // January 15, 2019
Anna Lundqvist — MUSICIAN
Interview with musician Anna Lundqvist —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Anna Lundqvist and I’m a jazz vocalist and composer from Sweden. I’ve been working professionally since the year 2000. I mainly work with my own music and projects. My number one group is my quintet, ALQ (Anna Lundqvist Quintet), that I founded in 2005. A jazz quintet with a fairly traditional setting, sonically. Together we’ve released five albums. When I’m not singing and composing for ALQ, I’m a part of AGLAIA, a band from Gothenburg led by bassist and composer Johan Örtlund. Some years ago I wrote ten arrangements for a big band and I’ve also published a book with my songs. I try to constantly find new challenges, letting inspiration lead me. I also compose and produce for others, in a variety of genres. The latest project is a suite of three songs, LIKE A MOTH TO A FLAME, composed for violin and marimba where I’m also working on some video art collaborations that will be a part of the act. It will premiere during 2019. I occasionally work in Lisbon, with the goal of eventually having a part-time studio there. I love that city, the arts and the atmosphere. Such an inspiration every time I visit.
2. Why music?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. My parents were musicians, composers, and arrangers. “The apple does not fall from the tree,” as they say. But it wasn’t a sure thing at first. I tried to be interested in other things, but in the end, music was the answer. I’m married to the arts and I can’t imagine life without it. My inspiration can come from art, design, fashion and travel but music is my expression.
3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I really can’t remember, but I believe it grew from numerous concerts we did in music high school. Those important first performances when I started developing my own sound and musical direction and received positive feedback. I had fantastic teachers and a supportive mom, who made me believe that everything was possible.
4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I started with acoustic jazz, focusing on the interplay of my fantastic musicians and writing really strong tunes. Jazz fundamentals will always be a part of my music: improvisation, interplay and great time feel. I’ve always been attracted to the bass line and the beat. If you take a listen to my work, you’ll find lots of riffs and ostinatos moving around and being the foundation of it all. These days I am working a lot more with digital elements and electronic sounds, vocal transformers and the absence of lyrics. As I mentioned earlier, I also let my music stretch and allow the compositions to move towards other genres. I have always been interested in different genres, different kinds of productions and now it seems these influences are surfacing in my own work. Rule number one for me is to never compromise my musical integrity.
5. How do you work and approach your subject?
It’s always the same. First, my head is totally blank, sometimes for a year or more. Then I feel a buzz or a kind of itch that starts to move inside of me. When it’s ready, the music flies out. I can sit and write out 10 tunes right away. But in the “quiet” period, before the music creation begins, I work on other the aspects of the project: Concept and project name, ideas, design, packaging, marketing etc. By now, I am a well-oiled machine with regards to pushing out my projects.
6. What are your favorite artwork(s), artist(s)?
This is always a tough question because it is always changing. I’ll give you some names and work that had a huge impact on me. Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Charles Mingus are three very important jazz musicians and composers. They’ve had a huge impact on my writing and thinking. They continually moved forward searching for that next thing that they wanted to do. Vocalists include Nina Simone and also Swedish vocalist Rigmor Gustafsson. Rigmor was a huge inspiration when I was a student. She treated the vocals as an instrument and had a great facility that I emulated. I also need to mention a Swedish pianist, Jacob Karlzon, whom I idolized as a student. He was such a strong and important influence and fortunately have become friends over the years. In other genres, I’ve always loved old school hip hop because of its simplicity. I like the often political messages. My house gods are Led Zeppelin and most of all John Bonham with his direct and non-compromising way of hitting those drums. Gives me chills just to think about it. The list goes on: Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, Sting, Björk, Kenny Wheeler, J S Bach, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes and Joni Mitchell. Just to name a few. I’ve also always had a soft spot in my heart for baroque music. I believe that it shows up in everything I create musically.
7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
My latest album, MEWE, was a hit. I feel it’s my best and most honest work to date. It got great reviews from all over the world. Such an amazing feeling with so much positive feedback. I like to think it made an impact. There are however two types of reviewers. The ones who loved a new take on vocal jazz (no lyrics and very instrumental arrangements) and those who just couldn’t understand what I was aiming for.
8. What do you like about your work?
I think that I, like many artists, am driven by this feeling of 50% self-hatred and 50% hubris. You hate everything you do but you still go on, because you know you have to and you love the creative process. I can’t quit. In the end, I realize that I have something to say, I feel that I have a strong voice both as a composer and a vocalist. I am honest with myself and the drive to make my voice heard.
9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Never give up on anything that you want in life! Don’t let anything stand in the way of your dreams and artistic passion.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Probably doing the same thing. Same struggle. Same happiness. I might live in Lisbon part time then or be able to travel the world through my music. That’s always been my vision. And I hope I’ve done all of the projects that are in my pipeline for 2019/2020.
“TEN” – https://naxosdirect.se/items/ten-304039
“MEWE” – https://naxosdirect.se/search/mewe
“BEFORE YOU I WAS ALMOST FINE” – https://naxosdirect.se/items/before-you-i-was-almost-fine-154720
Article provided by Betina Huber, Art illustrated’s correspondent for Sweden. Betina lives on Öland, SVE.