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INTERVIEW: Gus Ring

Hi Gus, welcome back to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi Rafa, and thanks a lot for having me back. I’ve been going through great times and dark times. Being me it’s always kind of a mood-swing-roller-coaster-ride I guess.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “You Deserve So Much More”?

“You Deserve So Much More” was a song I wrote a long time ago, actually for my very first album “Boredomtapes”, but the song developed since then while playing a lot of live shows and turned from a lo-fi acoustic singer-songwriter song into a bigger meditative dreamy landscape.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I wrote the song while going through a period of deep exhaustion. I was then still working a full time job and doing music during all my spare time, which really took the strength out of me. I have a tendency of self-destructive thoughts and in this moment all I needed was to let myself know I’m not useless. So my subconscious thoughts came out as a song, and I think someway it helped me heal in this moment.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes, actually, the video is already out! It was a great process working with director Esteban Amon from Ecuador. I got to know him through writing an instrumental piece for one of his beautiful videos featuring a Berlin dancer. He has an amazing eye and emotional connection to shooting that I find very rare. He is able to capture my ideas and the more cinematic vision I have. I am not really fond of the classic music video format with the band just playing, or having the video solely for the commercial purpose. I want the video to tell a story, keep a sense of mystery and most importantly, contribute and amplify the emotion of the song.

How was the recording and writing process?

To be honest, it was hell. I took the decision to record the song after playing it live for some years, feeling like I wanted to make a version of the song that made justice for how my sound now had developed. For this song, my idea was to for the first time try working with a producer, as I ‘ve earlier always recorded, mixed and produced everything myself. So I booked time in the studio and the same week as the recording was about to happen he cancelled on me. In this moment it was really tough to accept, as I am myself big fan of this particular producer and I was looking forward to it so much. But I took it as a sign that I am meant to be my own producer. So I started recording and mixing the song by myself, while getting really sick with fever on the way, which lead to another period of exhaustion. Somehow even though it was extremely tough it makes me feel like it was something that was meant to happen. Like that the song needed this, and in the end, that’s what gives it its honesty.

What role does Germany play in your music?

So, one and a half years ago I quit my job and decided to move to Germany. I had been touring there before and I knew I had a bigger chance surviving playing music there than in Sweden. You are also closer to the rest of central Europe and have an easier time touring, which is basically the biggest income being a musician these days. At this point I was feeling way to stuck in my current life, I couldn’t take it anymore and this move was what needed to happen.

How does the isolation you get to experience back when you moved into Germany get to influence your music?

As I haven’t learnt German language quite good yet, I spend a lot of time in my room just working. I think I have a kind of love-hate relationship with isolation. Naturally being a very introverted person I love to be isolated, and able to work with my music in peace. Also somehow it can be calming not understanding what everyone else around you are saying if you have a walk through the city. At the same time you also feel excluded of course, I don’t really feel like a part of society there yet, but I guess it will come with time and better language skills.

Did this isolation play a major role on your decision of seeking for a much darker direction this time around?

I think isolation has always been a part of my music, as I have always created it by myself and I can only write in complete solitude. What contributes to the darker sound that’s slowly taking over more and more is a couple of reasons. Firstly, I would say, leaving my sludge-metal band Siberian behind definitely leaves me with a need of letting the very sad, aggressive and dark part I channeled through this music find a new home in my own music. Secondly, I guess the everyday fight and struggle of making a living as a musician and a sense of not having a place in today’s society brings out feelings I can only express this way.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?

I am very lucky to have some close friends, and amazing musicians, in the same situation as me. I work a lot together with Italian dreampop duo She Owl, which music you have to listen to if you haven’t yet; they are definitely one of the most original bands and best songwriters out there right now. About working together arranging music, me and She Owl have a project called Owl-Eye-Ring, where we for the past two years have toured together, inviting a third artist to collaborate performing all together on stage as a band. We arrange all three artists original songs together, and in this process it’s of course different than writing solo. Here I have to take the approach of doing what’s best for the song, sometimes it’s playing a lot, sometimes it’s being silent and sometimes just bringing a slight atmosphere to the song. This also makes the live shows very exciting for both the audience and us. Every night we go through different feelings, which affect our playing and how we influence each other’s performance. It’s never the same show twice.

Running a label now – does this new gig influences or help you understand your music in any way?

Yes, now being part of our label Broken Toys together with She Owl and Killing Cartisano is freedom. We now have the possibility to release new music and have it be 100% ours. Also, collaborating with other musicians I think is key to being able to help each other keep motivation up and to be able to handle the workload. I must also say that since these 1,5 years working full time with music I have gathered a more clear view of how the music business works. Though I must admit it never works the completely the same, there is a lot of different ways to do things, lot’s of luck, and different paths to take depending on where your goals are.

Does the new single mean we can expect new material – how’s that coming along?

Yes. I have this dark beauty of a record that I will start recording January next year. It will be something different, bigger, darker, dreamier and weirder than before.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Can’t spoil that quite yet, but I can say that the title and concept of the record have been decided since long ago and I already have a release date in mind.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, I have just started the booking process with my German Booking Agency Jackalope, as well as Polish Borowka Music, and I hope to be able to hit the road for the very first time not playing solo, but as a trio, starting the touring this summer.

What else is happening next in Gus Ring’s world?

Next up, according to tradition, I’m finishing up the year of touring by playing the 22nd of December in my hometown Linköping in Sweden. Other than that, my life is pretty much consumed by music.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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