We thought it'd be a good idea to post the article we did with Jens for the Superlative Conspiracy No.5 as an official welcome - and for you to learn more about his music, how to make an album and who this guy is!
Chords is one of Sweden’s best recognized and respected musicians - with albums, tours and hits created by and for himself as well as with and for others he’s a musical force to be reckoned with. Having spent the past years in New York but now finally back in Sweden with a new album about to drop, we wanted to catch up with Chords, real name Jens, to learn more about what it’s like to make an album. And yes, we definitely learned something.
WeSC: What’s it like making an album?
CHORDS: Well, it of course depends on the circumstances under which you make that album, if you’re broke or if you got money or if you’re hun- gry, who you’re working with and so forth. But in general I would say it’s a pretty gut wrenching experience - it can go from very positive and creative thoughts to despair almost, especially if you’re writing lyrics, you have to go into yourself and have to expose yourself and you have to make sure things come out the way you want them to come out so it can be pretty intense. Finishing up an album is a lot harder than starting one off.
The process of writing, recording and actually finding the format/ tone of an album is probably a lot different from what people believe it to be. It starts off with experimenting - doing what you feel you love, what you do. I feel I always have to do music I like because of course, it makes it a lot easier. The beginning of the process is often finding the vibe so you might write a song or two and hook them up a little bit, then you do a third song and feel like “that’s the vibe”. Somewhere along the line you kind of catch the vibe and feel like that’s it, this is where I want to go. And then you kind of just work towards that end and try to refine it along the way. But of course, you can never quite plan how something is going to sound cause it can sound like one thing in your head and then come out totally different. You can definitely feel that halfway into the album, or when you got your pillar... I usually work towards having a strong backbone so to speak - to have five to six songs that I feel like “whoa, this is a major part of the album, now I can start filling in blanks”. So it’s experimental up to a point. At least that’s how I work.
WeSC: Your new album, out in November, has been created in various cities and studios - starting in NYC where you’ve been based for the past few years - has the city influenced you, made things different?
C: I would say absolutely because moving to New York sort of snatched me out of my element and put me in another one. Of course I made friends and I had my girlfriend there and all that stuff but still I was taken out of my element to a familiar world but somehow I was still a stranger in it. I had been to New York several times before but I’d never really lived there so I think it of course affected my sound. First of all it made me work by myself on everything: I produced it and I wrote some of the tracks on piano, I made the beats then I started writing it and then I recorded it and all that stuff, so the album definitely became more of a soliloquy than a cooperative piece. It wasn’t like I was back and forth in ideas with my musician friends here Sweden with my other producer friends or with other rappers or singers or whatever. I was mostly sitting by myself making most of the songs and also, NY was quite a hard place, it’s a lot harder than Sweden.
It’s harder to survive, to get by and it has a lot more temptations flashing in your face. So of course it’s gonna affect your mood, your life, your lifestyle and also your music that you’re making - it definitely did for me. It became a little more of a Swedish dude in the big city kind of album than I planned it to be, because I had a great time and a great life over there. But it could be frustrating you know, everything revolves around money and success and all of these things that aren’t quite as important in Sweden, but that really are in the forefront of the American adventure or the NY lifestyle. It definitely affected my music and it definitely affected my production ‘cause i actually had the time to sit and work with music because I wasn’t touring and I wasn’t at home. I worked more on these songs than I worked on the songs on any previous albums. I let them marinate much longer before I laid them down.
WeSC: What can we expect from the new album?
C: If you’ve listened to my previous albums I think you can expect a continu- ation of the sound and the themes - it’s about the same, whereas the last album, “Things We Do For Things” , was maybe a little more political and critical of the consumption society that we live in - this album is a little more personal and it’s more about finding yourself or finding out what you really mean, where you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to do and it’s more about.. I moved away from my comfort zone, I was in New York and tried to hustle, hustle just to get by and just trying to live and of course it kind of changed my perspective on things so I’d say as far as lyrical content it’s a bit more personal, a bit more introvert, a little more looking at myself and a less at what other people are doing.
And musically I’ve produced the whole album and played most of the instru- ments myself so of course the sounds is a little bit different than it was before but I still feel that it’s basically a continuation of what I did last time but the sound is kind of evolved and I’m trying to do some new stuff, so I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone. I did it on my last album and I try to do it here now because I think that getting out of your comfort zone is really the only thing that can make you move forward, make you do new shit. If you constantly stay where you’re comfortable it gets boring. You have to test yourself and push yourself a little bit - you gotta put yourself out there, put yourself on a limb and see what happens. *