SLINGS, ARROWS, AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Words and Interview By Laura Studarus
Every December, Gävle, Sweden shares its city center with an oversized Yule goat (who is usually burned down by arsonists after a few scant weeks). Tall and foreboding, it’s a link between Sweden’s present and past—a time when perhaps it was thought of as more than simply quaint to believe in the idea of magical creatures inhabiting the forests or dancing under the northern lights.
The town also has another connect to its mythical past. Not quite as famous as the goat (for now anyway), Elin Lindfors and David Lehnberg make music together as The Deer Tracks. Evoking both the elements of nature (a vibe that Sigur Rós fans will appreciate), and some thoroughly modern recording techniques (read: synthesizer a’ plenty), the pair craft patchwork pop soundscapes that seemingly exist in a realm just outside space and time.
We joined The Deer Tracks for a Skype conversation about their new album, The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3—the third installment of a planned trilogy. Fresh from a snowy outdoor performance as part of their city-curated slate of advent events, the duo told us about the inspiration for their trilogy, recording on the road, and the mystical connection that they share.
With this new album, how did you come to the decision that it should be a trilogy? How are they connected in a way that you can’t just call them separate albums?
Elin: We started to discuss this a couple of years ago. We started this project, and we were talking about certain events and the way that they affect you. We called it The Archer. It’s like an archer, shooting arrows against you. If you let it affect you, you get hit by an arrow and it just grows inside of you. You have to make it a part of yourself, and find a place in your inner puzzle for that arrow.
David: So building things…. Instead of just doing one record and doing another record, and another tour, we wanted to do something that could grow over a span of time, that could evolve along with our music and ourselves. It could grow and take off in whatever direction. We didn’t even know what would come out of it. I think we grew as a band and as persons and as musicians and everything from the start, rather than if we would just record another album. We wanted to make a bigger thing of it. To just explore ourselves.
Elin: Yeah. Just to be exposed to so many impressions. Just trying to be creative so much all the time. To see what happens… Will there be an end to creativity? Can we go on forever? That was the point.
I think that the arrow metaphor is really beautiful. Do you personally believe that we are strictly a product of our experiences, like getting hit by an arrow? Or do you believe that there’s nature embedded in us to act a certain way?
Elin: I think you get hit by an arrow if you let it. You don’t have to be conscience or subconscious about it. But if it affects you, it’s because you let it effect you, in a good way or in a bad way. You have all the power inside you.
You mentioned the idea of seeing how far your creativity could go. When you were working on these albums, was there an arc you had in mind? Or was it simply a process of discovery?
David: I think it was probably both. We tried everything, and we tried to push it as far as we could. Sometimes too far [laughs]. Just to see what would happen; What would happen with us, what would happen with the music. We do music like a big block quilt. One piece here, and we do that, and then we put another over there, and make them fit in some odd way. It usually turns out pretty good, but it’s a crazy pattern. But we just go with it, and pull our hairs and whatever. Somehow we make it work. We’re just very curious to see what our minds and bodies can produce. We don’t think too much. We don’t talk when we do music. We just create and create and create.
Elin: We never have any idea what we’re going to do. Each day we just go to the studio and everything is just blank. It’s a new sheet, and it’s “Okay, let’s start. Do you have anything?” “Okay, I can pound on the table. We can start with that and go from there.”
Are there days when you go to the studio and just stare at each other?
Elin: We don’t have any pressures. I’m sure some days we just stare at each other. But we don’t pay that much attention. We just let it happen. If David’s just sitting there, staring at the wall, okay, just let him do that. I’ll do something else.
David: Yeah, we never try to force anything. It’s always been easy for us to create music. We’ve never had any problems. We’re just doing stuff.
That sounds so healthy.
Elin: [laughs] Yeah. We like to feel good about ourselves and just have an inner peace. This way, it works for us. We just enjoy it so much. You get so much energy from it.
David: When we started the band, we just started because we were curious to see what we two could come up with together. We had other bands at that time. We didn’t mean to do anything with this band. We didn’t even have a name. We recorded one song and played it for some people. They went crazy! “You have to release this! This is so good!” Wait, you think so?” We never have any pressure. We just do whatever we feel like. If people like it, cool. We’re just doing it for ourselves.
Is there less of a push to monetize your music in Sweden than in other places?
David: We didn’t have a manger up until two years ago! That’s pretty much it. You can’t think in those terms. At least we didn’t.
Elin: We got a lot of help with rehearsal spaces and studios. Sweden is actually a pretty good country when it comes to creating creative businesses.
David: The government helps getting kids to play music.
I feel like that’s a term that’s been lost from the American lexicon—“Creative Business.”
Elin: [Laughs] Yeah.
Being that you’ve now done part three of your Archer trilogy, do you feel like you’ve brought this steam of ideas to a conclusion? Or are you prepared to use a George Lucas definition of a trilogy?
Elin: And sell it to Disney.
How do you look in Princess Leia buns?
David: I don’t know. The way we create music, there’s never any conclusion to anything. As soon as we start to rehearse a song that we’ve already recorded and are supposed to play live, we change it up. It’s always an evolving puzzle. We don’t have a structure around things. We’re like hippies. So, maybe a trilogy. We already did a prologue. So maybe an epilogue. We’ll see.
Is there anything that forces you to put the breaks on the creative process?
David: Yeah. When the record has to be finished. There’s a date, and we do things up until that date. Then it’s like, “Okay, it’s going to be this way.”
Elin: Times up! Okay, it’s the record. We wouldn’t stop. We’d still be working on our first record if we didn’t have any deadlines.
After being sequestered for part two of the series, did being out with people influence the tone of part three?
David: I don’t think about music in those kinds of ways. I think that you’ve already got all the music inside of you. It’s just getting it out. I don’t think you get inspired. Everything is already there. Everything in the universe is already in place—it’s just up to you to bring it out.
I had a writing professor once tell me that the problem with dissecting a frog is that the frog has to die. I think it applies here. Why look to deep into how you work if it means loosing the mystery?
David: Yeah, that’s what we do. Then we sit back and think, “Did we do this? When did we do that? Why did we do that? I don’t know but we did it. So it’s gotta mean something.”
Elin: We have our own desks at the studio. David has his desk and I have mine. We don’t speak that much, but our brains are synchronized. We think about the same things, because we’ve been working so much together. It’s pretty exciting.
David: I can think about something, and I don’t know why I’m thinking about this. I say to Elin, “I don’t know why I’m thinking about this.” And she says, “That’s because I’m looking for this word.” Because she’s writing something.
Elin: It’s pretty scary sometimes!
David: “How do you know what I’m thinking?” “I don’t know, I’ve just got the word in my head. I don’t know why. Does it mean anything to you?” “Yeah, I’m looking for that word.”
Maybe to write your next album you should just use telepathy to describe it to each other.
David: Yeah, that would be awesome.
How much of your music and visuals revolve around the idea of building a mythology verses drawing from your day-to-day life?
David: I don’t know how to explain.
Elin: If you were looking at him right now, you could tell that he’s thinking a lot. [laughs]
David: I think everything that you do in life is meant to be that way. Sometimes you get lost in your path and the universe helps you to course correct. That’s why you do stupid things, and you do good things, but somehow in the end you’re going to find your way. If you want to find your way. I don’t know at times what we’re doing, but when we look at it afterwards, it’s easy to see that everything revolves around. This is getting crazy.
Since you believe in fate, do you also believe in a spiritual aspect to the world?
David: I do. Absolutely. 100%. I think what you see is only what your mind and what your soul is limited to see right now. I think you can expand it in whichever direction you want. It’s totally up to you. I believe there’s multiple dimensions. What is music? I see music as love. When you hear a good song it makes you feel good. If you find someone that you love, it’s the same feeling. What is music? It’s just a way of communicating love. It’s just different vibrations.
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