Unsere Interviewserie „Wie klingt der Sound der letzten Dekade“ hat uns schon nach Amerika (Bestial MouthsLINK), Ungarn (Black Nail CabaretLINK), Iran (Xerxes the DarkLINK) und Schottland (Kill ShelterLINK) geführt, und die Antworten der beteiligten Bands waren so unterschiedlich wie hochspannend.
Mit Torny Gottberg konnten wir eine Koryphäe der schwedischen Synth-Szene gewinnen, und er hat unsere Fragen sowohl in seiner Eigenschaft als Chef des Göteborger Labels Progress Productions (das kürzlich seine 100. Veröffentlichung feiern konnte – LINK) als auch als Teil des Duos Cryo beantwortet. Zwei sehr interessante Perspektiven also, und genauso interessant sind Tornys Antworten ausgefallen – auch wenn er ein wenig bei unseren Fragen geschwitzt hat, wie er zugibt.

What is the sound of the past decade? How could the last ten years be described, musically?
Wow, a hard question directly. It’s an interesting one as well. I think the scene over the past ten years has changed from maybe being perfect to trying to achive the perfect „non-perfection“. I know it sounds a little weird but I get the feeling that LO-FI is the new HI-FI in a way. The minimal sound mixed via porta recorders etc. is more hip than ever. Also, one has to mention the return of all those postpunk acts over the last years. The thing with that kind of music is that there are TOO MANY of them. There is a handful really good ones and the rest just sounds a little bit like tired clones of them. But I guess this is always the result of certain trends in the „scene“. There was a time when 80% wanted to sound like Hocico or Suicide Commando as well and 90% wanted to sound like Depeche Mode. I guess that’s just the way it is. Personally I have never been interested in what works or what does not work. For me, music is a matter of if it gives me anything. It might be a drill machine or machine gun or a string quartet. Music has to fulfill a purpose, and what it is … is really up to the listener. There is no real right or wrong. But well, if I had to say something, it’s the „LO-FI“ phenomena.

What are your thoughts about the Swedish synth scene regarding the last decade? Any major developments?
Hrmmm.. the Swedish synth „scene“ has always been pretty high quality and I still think it is. We don’t necessarily have a ton of bands, but I think a lot of them hold world class for sure. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that we spend six months a year in rain and darkness, or if we have something special in our drinking water. But there is something that makes Swedish electro/synth stand out. The only development I have seen is that there are a lot more small labels poping up, more in a DIY style. Which is really cool. I like the idea. I mean, I do 95% DIY style in Progress as well. It´s a good way to learn new and creative stuff, which of course is never wrong.

What is the most underrated and dramatically overseen band of the last decade, in your opinion?
I really loved an Icelandic act called Legend. Especially their debut album „Fearless“ is totally fantastic, and I think a lot more people should listen to this album. Unfortunately, I was not equally impressed by the follow-up. But the debut is an absolute masterpiece. Also, there is a German artist called Chris Imler that I just love. It’s a strange mix of punk/minimal and electro. Listen to the simply brilliant track „Country Club“. It maybe has one of the best lyric lines ever written as well: „Reset to default, fuck you all“… hahaha … straight forward punk attitude. I love it!

As a label boss – how did your work develop/change during the last decade?
I think like all labels, we have learned to be more creative and always find new ways of reaching people with the artists‘ music. For both good and bad, I would say. I mean, for sure Spotify, Bandcamp and similar has meant it’s way easier to reach people. But the amount of music released has also made it a lot harder to get people’s attention on those platforms, as there is no real quality filter. So I think all labels have had to adapt to this new landscape. It’s easy to shout … but how do you get people to listen? But this is the way the music industry should be … in constant change, never to stand still. I think I also need to be a lot more present nowadays. Going on tour with the bands and presenting their music. There is no such thing as a free lunch sitting in the office, doing nothing. THAT part I think is really good as I have always enjoyed meeting people.

As a musician and part of Cryo – how do you see the last decade?
It has been a decade with a lot of memories I’m sure both me and Martin will have with us for a lifetime and beyond. Our Russian tours, all the festivals, and of course meeting with a lot of fantastic people. That is the best thing about playing live, hanging with the audience afterwards, talking, enjoying a drink or two. There is so much love in this scene, it’s amazing. 2020 has been weird of course and we both miss performing a lot. But this Covid shit has an end and then we will be ready to perform again. I really REALLY REEEEAAAALLLLLYYYYY miss people. That has been the hardest thing during this Covid times.

What influenced your personal taste in music during the last decade?
I have always been very open minded to music. I listen to a lot of different music. For me personally I see no genres. There is simply two kinds of music: good or bad. And music is so subjective, so there really is no right or wrong. Good music should give you something. People who see my record collection would be surprised. You will find anything from classical to death metal to synthpop to pure dark noise. There is no more fantastic feeling than exploring music. And when I do find something new im always SUPER excited and buy everything I come across. And I do buy A LOT of records. I am a TOTAL nerd. But being a nerd is beautiful.

This last decade ended/the next begins with a deeply disturbing time – the Covid-19 pandemic. How do you handle this time without concerts, festivals and the much needed contact with bands and fans?
Well, we need to handle it, it’s just as simple as that. I can’t adress enough how much I do miss hanging out with people. But health and life need to come first. We were doing a streamed concert really early on with Cryo and I’m really happy me and Martin did that. Nowadays I am so bored with all these streaming concerts. I love that people do it and the initiative. But I just find it depressing and boring and actually it makes me miss concerts even more. I try from time to time to do small Facebook online/live-chats with people. And I guess this is what we will have to do for now. Sweden has been spared from total lockdown, so we have been able to do things, but with restrictions of course. We all need to find our ways to be creative and make sure that we all hang in there so we can ride this thing out together.

Progress-Productions-100You celebrated 100 releases  with Progress Productions, what were the most important ones for you during the last decade?
Ohhh the impossible question no.1. Which of your children do you like most. Hahahaha. Well to be honest I really love them all, otherwise I would never have given birth to any of them. I really love them all in different ways.

What is in the pipeline for you at the moment? What do you wish for?
Right now I´m working on the autumn/winter releases. Agent Side Grinder, Second Decay and some more stuff. There is always something cooking in the Progress factory. That’s what I love about running the label, that it’s never really still. There is always something happening. My innermost wish is that we all ride out this pandemic together safely and that we can meet each other soon again. Wash you hands, keep distance and stay safe.

Love you all.

Torny Gottberg              Progress Production                Cryo