INTERVIEW: Ed Carlsen

Hi Ed, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi Rafa and thank you! Life’s very good at the moment. My new album Morning Hour was just released and I’m designing the live sets for my upcoming UK live shows, exciting!

Can you talk to us more about your song “Words”?

 I wrote the entire track in Krakow, but the whole recording/production process took place in Cagliari (Italy). The title came from some comforting words that I got from a dear person during a very tough time. That’s why the track is slightly bittersweet, it has a driving beat, but it’s still a bit dark in its melodies. Whilst the other tracks have changed during the process, Words is the only one that has remained the same as I structured it in Krakow. It flowed quite smoothly and almost by impulse, following the positivity leap that those words gave me.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

It was such a good experience! The crew consisted of 3 people, led by the talented Marco Camba. It was early April and we met at sunrise; I was to wear a white t-shirt and the outdoors scenes felt a bit chilly! But besides that, we transformed a flat into two separate performing spaces, one with natural light and one with artificial light. The video itself aims at showing the very early morning routine, with the pace of the activities growing faster with time. Even so, Marco’s editing skills managed to keep the pace of the video quite smooth and calm, even when the music gets a bit more rhythmic.

Watch here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jqlCgKKKuE

The single comes off your new album Morning Hour – what’s the story behind the title?

The idea to call it Morning Hour came from the need to start something fresh, more positive and brighter. Could I not name the opening track First Light then?

I wanted this transition from melancholy to positivity to be obvious from a change of look; in fact, while all my photos to date pictured me wearing a black tee, this time I’ve changed to white, hoping that the transition comes across through music as well as through visuals.

Morning Hour is a reflective work upon life experiences, either good or bad, put together as a collection of pieces that flow from beginning to end like a journey. The album can be broken into two parts: the first (Words inclusive) is quite electronic, a statement of this change of skin. The second part is more traditionally ‘modern classical’. ‘Home’ works as the transition between the two parts, as it has two souls: a dark, modern classical first half and a more optimistic and upbeat conclusion.

How was the recording and writing process?

This happened across 3 countries: Italy, Poland and Denmark.  Most of the pre-production happened in Krakow, as well as the strings recording session with the Dobry Ton quartet. But almost the whole recording and post-production was carried out at my temporary home studio in my Italian hometown Cagliari.

Music-wise, the album is less piano-focused, but more upbeat and electronic-driven than the previous works. Electric guitar, which has been my main instrument for 20+ years, is back as a prominent element.Besides strings, there are no other performers here. I have played piano, guitar, synth, electric bass and programmed the rest myself.

Would you call this a departure from your previous musical work?

In a way, yes. But not excessively much. Tracks like Entangled and Home (or at least, its first half) are a tribute to my modern-classical debut works. I’d rather say it’s more of a new way of thinking this type of music.

What role does Sardinia play in your music?

It doesn’t play a specific role, really. Regardless of where I am (or where I am from), music comes to me when I feel calm and at ease with myself. However, one of the many ideas behind Morning Hour was to put the concept of ‘distance’ into music. Distance here is meant as the strife for finding Home (the one with a capital H) both geographically and emotionally (I had been living abroad for 7 years when I started writing Morning Hour).
Sometimes this type of music is associated with dark and somber settings or moods, with the bad weather and the Nordic countries. I think that things don’t need to be one way or another and I believe that elegance can be found in many things, including a Mediterranean setting and bright colors. 

How have the Neoclassical world and TYCHO influenced your writing?

They both have influenced it quite a lot. Tycho, mostly.

The big challenge was to make such two different languages fit together, both at the writing stage and (especially) during mixing. Traditional Modern-classical is often more minimalistic in the instruments involved, but if you blend it with ‘Ambientronica’, you need to start re-thinking the distribution within the stereo field. And, considering the importance of retaining a certain warmth and imperfection on the piano, this can be really challenging. I’ve lost some good nights of sleep in the middle of the process, but I’m grateful as it was incredibly fun!

How did you go on translating the sense of anxiety and redemption on this record?

I let bad feelings do their job and give me that extra something that I need, weeks after, to write music. Then I turn them into something positive, which is indeed music. This is a fairly easy process for me, once the dark times are gone. Redemption here is music itself. It is only through bad experience that one can have redemption.

For ages, I’ve been biting my fingernails proportionally to my anxiety/stress level, and I often end up having bleeding fingers. As much as it’s something that society might laugh about, I reflected upon the fact that the bleeding of my hands is a direct consequence of the bleeding of my heart. The more it suffers, the more my hands reflect so. And this is the concept behind my track Hands, Heart, one of the most personal works of mine to date.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the music?

Inspiration comes from different things, it could be a song, a book, a film, a mood, anything really. But as I said above, the one and only condition for my inspirational sources to achieve a positive effect on me is to feel calm in the first place.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes, I am going to play 2 shows in the UK in November and more news will follow in the next months. I love playing live and I’m always very happy to connect with the audience.

What else is happening next in Ed Carlsen’s world?

Nothing too crazy, to be fair. I like living a very simple life with a fairly regular pace. I’ve moved back to my hometown last year to get a bit of sun and D-vitamine, but now I’m ready again to move somewhere else. I’m a wanderer and for now this keeps me going!

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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