Monday, 20 June 2011


Unleashes his power on Ottawa
photo: Lisa Nordwall

Sometimes you have the rare opportunity to meet an individual that inspires you... that pulls you in to their world whether you want to or not... that has such conviction about what they are doing that there is simply no doubt in your mind that this person is on this earth to do exactly what they are doing... and nothing is going to stop you from making sure you spend as much time with them as possible! Well Mats Gustafsson is that person! I asked Mats Gustafsson some questions I'd been wanting to ask him for a while and as I read the answers I just got more and more excited about everything he had to say. I hope you feel the same.  Mats Gustafsson is playing with The Thing, his long time european band and he will also be playing with Gordon Grdina's quartet. Two settings, two chances to see this monster improviser!

1. I read your music writings on your website and liked what you said about music as a function and its meaning. I also love the force of your sound, the power of your improvising, and how you and The Thing seems to have no fear. Do you take any specific approach with The Thing? Do you take a different approach playing with Gordon Grdina?
it's always  100% ... no way back... its the only possible approach... if u start to think to much... u are f****d.
and if u dont feel challanged by yr comrades... u better stay home...
seriously -- there us no return. no way back. Thats teh kind of approach u gotta have all the time, no matter who you play with.

2. You have had a lot of experience not just as an artist but as a curator of festivals in Europe, you have also traveled between continents extensively, do you see a big difference in the European and North American music scenes? How is it for you to play festivals in Canada?
I think its basically all the same... its all about music, music going "upstreams" ( as my master teacher, my mentor,  per henrik wallin used to say!)... its alternative music.... sometimes underground... sometimes "overground".... but always about music that goes alternative routes,   non commercial music. and I think the balance of the audience is usually the same.
But I have feeling that the audience in the former eastern countries in europe has a very interesting mix of young and old and also much better with women attending the concerts and listening to this music. its not the most fun to play in clubs in germany where the audience is almost 100% men in beard, ha ha!!!
canada and the USA has usually a cool mix of people showing up fro the music... very enjoyable to play for!

3. Is there anything you would like the listener to experience at your performance?
just be yourself, and try to be open for what is about to happen... try some new perspectives!
I can  recommend that... its good to open up for new things you havent tried before.
but it is really up to the listener and NOT the musician to decide what you experience and / or feel.... its all up for grabs!

4. Are there any artists you are inspired by these days (present or old)? Any favorite Canadian musicians?
canadian musicians ? are u joking ?
ha ha... seriously --- I m very inspired by canadian hockey! being a swede Im of course following the NHL very closely. Of course following toronto very close in the 80´s and 90´s.... with Salming and Sundin being my heroes.... now its all about the Twins in BC....

and of course Michael Snow and Paul Dutton!
Michael Snow fuckin RULES!!!!! on all levels!!!!!!!!!

and in general Im inspired by anything that kicks my butt.... lately, its been a lot about: Refused, Getatchew Mekuria, PJ Harvey, Warne Marsh, Sun Ra ( the early years), Archie Shepp ( the early years) and Joe McPhee.... the one and only!!!
but really.. its not all about music...Christoffer Wool, Christian Marclay and Albert Oehlen has been kickin some serious butt lately!

5. Is there a moment or experience (a performance, recording, lesson …) that sticks out for you in your musical life?
many of course... but in the previous past, especially a freakin MAGIC performance with The Thing & Neneh Cherry in Stockholm this spring, where the electricity went. away just when we were about to enter the stage... and we had to play totally unamplified. 
That was INSANE! INSANE.....
Neneh IS something else.... phhheuuuww......

otherwise.... The next upcoming concert is always the most exciting one! I know it sounds like a cliche´.... but it is really true!
But I m just so extremely priviliged to play with so many amazing players... just had an amazing encounter with Ken Vandermark and Christoph Kurzmann in Millwaukke at the Okka Fest!
and now these concerts with The Thing and Gord coming up in Canada...very very thrilling future!

6. Anything you are looking forward to coming here?
yeah -- to find out if Adam Larsson will be choosen in the 1st round in the draft.... he is ROCKIN!!!!

Here is a little taste of Mats:
Mats Gustafsson is performing with
The Thing on Friday June 24th at 7pm in the Studio Series at the National Arts Center and,
Gord Grdina Trio + Mats Gustaffson Thursday June 30th at 7pm at the National Arts Center's 4th Stage.
For tickets and info visit

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