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Artist of the Week: Anders Peev

June 28, 2009 by · 58 comments

Vanya Nikolaeva’s interview with the musician Anders Peev

Who is Anders Peev and what should we know about him?

I’m a composer and musician with my musical roots in both traditional Swedish folk music and Metal. My parents came to Sweden from Bulgaria and Finland as fugitives during the Second World War. I grew up in a suburb of Stockholm where I spent my childhood playing music with the local bands in an air raid shelter in the basement of a school. I grew up during the Cold War, and the shelter was to be used in the case of a nuclear assault, but the teachers let us use it as a rehearsal room, so we put a drum set and some old amplifiers in it.

Why keyed fiddle? What makes this instrument special to you?

Originally I was a guitar player. I started to make music on the guitar when I was 6. I didn’t run into folk music and nyckelharpa until I was over 20. When I discovered folk music, I realized that all the great musicians in Swedish folk music played the fiddle. I thought that playing the fiddle must be very difficult to learn and would take a lot of practice. So I bought a nyckelharpa instead, thinking that it would be a compromise between a guitar and a fiddle and that it would be easier to learn – but it wasn’t!

After years of studying I finally found one of my assumptions to be correct: to me the nyckelharpa is very similar to playing the fiddle and guitar at the same time. I can play all the things that my fiddle colleagues do and I can use my knowledge of guitar when it comes to chords and accompaniment.

What memories do you keep from your first stage performance?

I think I was 8 years old when I had my first stage performance. I was playing one of my own songs in a school performance for the parents. I still get that strange kind of rush from playing in public every once in a while– time stops and I get a mixed feeling of flying in the air and being naked on the floor at the same time.

What is your day like?

I wake up early in the morning, or at least try to! Then I spend most of the time in my studio recording and composing for different projects. Sometimes it’s for one of my bands or my solo repertoire, sometimes it’s for a theatre play or a film project. I’ve also been writing a lot for choirs over the last few years. If I don’t have a gig I usually spend the evening composing or recording anyway until my cats come and tell me that they’ve heard enough! Two days a week, I also spend a few hours training my Icelandic horse that I got last summer.

One of your projects is Anda. How long has that been going on, and how did you and Matthias Ristholm (vocals and sax) meet and what are your future plans?

Matthias and I met in a music school in Malung, Northern Sweden, back in 1998. We were at a small sort of boarding school dedicated for people who are into traditional Swedish music. We began making music together then and formed Anda in 2001. We’ve just finished Anda’s first CD and had our release party in Stockholm a few weeks ago. We’re going on tour in Sweden in the summer.

Please provide some more information about your other extraneous project – Godrun.

Godrun is a dream slowly coming true. The idea is to compose really good genuine rock and metal songs for a band with no guitars. Instead we use distorted fiddles, nyckelharpas and lutes. The aim is to create an organic fusion between rock music and Swedish folk, minus the folkloristic texts and attributes. To play the music that Swedish rock music would have been like today if the American musical influences would have been incorporated into the Swedish fiddle music as it was introduced to Europe after the Second World War. The lyrics are in English and have little to do with traditional Swedish songs and a lot to do with climate change and the post-colonial world.

What do you consider most important in life?

To be honest with myself in order to be able to be honest with the people around the world.

And to stop the climate change!

What do you compare music with?

It’s a craft all the way from the first note to the last. In post 19-century romantic Europe, people still believe that it comes from a Muse or that certain people are more gifted than others. Maybe so, but I also think that making a beautiful and functional table also takes a Muse and a gifted craftsman, as does making a really good looking annual accounting book for a company.

Your dream is…?

To be alive when the day comes when the last war on earth has ended.

What do/would you always find time for, no matter the circumstances?

I always find time for my girlfriend and my animals, and for the opportunity to be in nature. Even though I enjoy living in a city I seek to go out in the forest to catch my breath as often as I can.

In your opinion, the best song ever written is ….

This is a tough one! There so many of them! I change my favorite song of all time every week so. Right now it’s “Fly on the Wall” by T.A.T.U.

You compare the sunrise to…

Nothing, it’s incomparable!

How commercial should music be and how involved with the spiritual needs of the people?

I think music and arts cannot be without either heart nor economics. I think all music must be commercial in the sense that it is necessary to get paid for working as a musician. I also believe it is impossible to make money on music that has no heart. No matter what people say about certain popular music being commercial in a negative sense of “selling out”, there is always a brilliant composer and an artist behind it that truly believes in his/her work. As the years go by, those artists that were accused of being commercial will become appreciated as celebrities.

There are many examples of that, the Beatles, Abba, Led Zeppelin, Elvis. They where all considered to be commercial and heartless in their artistry by media and the established cultural sphere. Now we think differently.

My favorite quote is from Sir George Martin, the famous producer of the Beatles: “Whether you have good taste or not depends on how many people that will agree with you”.

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