Elektroniskt i P2 - Swedish Radio

November 2020

Interview given to Mats Almegård for the Elektroniskt i P2 —

National Swedish Radio


Thank you for doing this interview – it is a pleasure to have you on

the show. I really like your work – and am very fond of your latest

album ΕΛΥΤΡΑ released by the Cologne based record label Auf Abwegen.


From my google translate search ΕΛΥΤΡΑ seems to mean the

hardened/protective forewings of an insect – and since the label’s

text mentions the sound of crickets – I suppose that insects play a

big part in this album – in what ways?


Good evening Mats. Thanks for inviting me to your radio programme.


That’s quite right. Elytra are the protective forewings of certain insects notably beetles and certain bugs. You can see them as protective covers of their hindwings, their second pair of wings which they fly. In order to provide some more context, I have always been as many others I guess, fascinated and enchanted by the resonant and evocative sounds of crickets at night somewhere in the countryside or even in a quiet area somewhere in a big city. These cricket sounds are produced by raising and scraping against each of their protective fore-wings the elytra while their burrow act as a resonator. I have been recording for many years in different places primarily small natural sounds that I have used in most of my electronic music, as well as in this album.

I would say that the actuality of elytra itself plays an important role in this album. The notion that something is folded, protected, within something else. To put it another way, how similar shapes made by different material unfold in different ways. In several parts of this album there is such a compositional attitude of a sound that is folded within another one, similar shapes with different textures modulating each other. I find very interesting the connection between something that protects (the elytra) something that shelters (the burrow) and the actual cricket sounds that can make someone become more attentive and receptive to the world around him not in a naturalistic picturesque way but as an opening up to the metaphysical aspect of nature.

In other words, a careful attentiveness, a rapport to the sound world around us.


I think I can spot a lot of field-recordings/found sounds on this album

– where did you record and what was it you were searching for in

these sounds? In addition, what other sound material or instruments

have you used for this album?


There are indeed numerous sounds from field-recordings. I have a huge collection of sounds that I have recorded throughout the years. In this album, I have worked predominantly with several recorded sounds that I did in the island of Astypalea in the Greek Archipelago as well as more recent recordings in a couple of woods and marshlands in Belarus. Recording environmental sounds has an aspect of discovery, of encountering, of learning to listen to nuances,

to feel a place.

For this album, I have incorporated also percussion instruments like gongs, marimba, a musical saw, as well as playing inside the piano and on the keyboard, and a couple of synthesizers.


Did you record the sounds of insects? If so, what is it that

fascinates you with their sounds?


Yes, I did some recordings of insect sounds that they can be heard both as isolated individual events and others like clusters. In most cases though in the album the sounds have been modulated, transformed and interwoven with other sounds. I’m interested in such sounds for their almost imperceptible quality, that they are not so easily discernible. Such and similar environmental sounds carry also a sense of place, an acoustic memory, a trace of the weather, the light or the absence of it, a specific atmosphere. To start listening and paying attention to small sounds like that — independently if they have been recorded outdoors or created in the studio —  you need to be quiet inside yourself.  In that sense is something similar to William Blake’s phrase “to see a world in a grain of sand”.

You have been into this micro level of sound before – haven’t you?

What do you find exciting with this gesture of “zooming in” on a



That’s true. In my music I’m interested very much into sound nuances and giving precision to their differences. Magnifying, “zooming in” is like trying to make — in a sense —  the inaudible — audible. In this scale sound shows more clearly its transitory and uncertain, fluctuating, complex and fragile nature. Starting with the interiority of the sound requires a careful attention therefore someone becomes more perceptive as composer and as a listener. From there a direction emerges that shapes a comprehensive form.


The sound of the album is very diverse – from the sparse, very calm,

to the more outbursting and loud. How did you work with balance

between the two on this album?


My music tends to have this ebb and flow movement in its dynamic range so ELYTRA is no exception to this. There is an infinite number of gradations of intensity perceptible to the human ear which help us to perceive and feel distance that means acoustic space, as well the magnitude of sounds. The overall balance between those sparse, calmer parts and the more dense and louder ones can be understood as a global emergent quality in the act of composing.  It is like focusing near and far. Being close to, immersed in or at a distance.


You are also working a lot with instrumentalists – and you make both improvised and

composed music with them. How is it when you work on your own, do you

improvise a lot in the studio – or do you more or less have a plan

for what it is you want to do?


I think that the initial decision and creative impulse defines everything. After all, where there is commitment there is always a plan. What you want to do it is already vaguely in the horizon so to speak. Although, creating something that has the quality of not being forced, something that breaths, means you have to be able to feel and to hear where the life of the music wants to go. Working in the studio composing I feel that the composer/performer roles are blurred as there is an intimate — even tactile — relation with the sounds. The music might have marks and traces of deep engagement after the continuous feedback loops that operate in the act of composing. In that sense, there might be felt a spontaneous, natural, unforced element but this comes out by allowing the sounds to inform your compositional decisions. Working in this way I’ve become aware of composition as unity out of diversity but also as internal diversity out of unity.