The music industry is an oversaturated market filled with musicians hand-picked by record labels to rule the airwaves and be the voices of pop music.
That’s why, unfortunately, too many brilliant musicians fly under the radar and the general populous are unaware of their immense talents. One of those musicians is a Swedish recording artist by the name of Magnus Tingsek. We’re certainly massive fans of his, as we ranked him No. 1 on our inaugural list of 10 Musicians You NEED To Know, and we’re very honored to have the man himself on board for an interview.
So, without further ado, we present to you our latest Captain’s Quarters interview with the supremely talented Tingsek.
Thank you so much for joining us, we’re very grateful that you’ve taken the time out of your busy schedule to come onboard for this interview!
The production of your music is so extensively layered and crafted with tons of soul and gospel-sounding elements. How did your sound evolve from your debut album in 2005 to what you’re working on now?
Well, in the beginning I used one cheap mic on everything recording with less than zero computer power. I had computer meltdowns everyday and had to learn how to not smash all my instruments to pieces because of it… I still work in the same way but now I know when to not put more layers on there or when a song needs something else to pop. I work really fast when I have an idea.
It can go from nothing to a big production in one night and I still play most instruments myself. After a while I take that idea, refine it, involve more musicians and often start from the beginning. But to answer your question; 11 years of doing that around the clock has made me better at all the different steps in the process. I have more gear and know how to use it and also I found my voice a lot since then, leaning more and more towards soul and gospel.
Take us through your approach to songwriting and what happens when you first hatch an idea in your head.
I constantly get ideas for chord progressions and melodies, and when I do I find the nearest piano or guitar and just get it down quickly in my phone. I think I have 3000 ideas in that thing. Then when I’m in my studio (mostly alone) I listen to some of the ideas and pick one that I feel for at the moment and start recording instantly.
I never write a full song and then go in the studio. Recording my ideas properly (starting with drums often) is how I write. That process can start over 5 times for the same idea. So many of my songs I have half done in many different approaches, tempos, key and so on.
I think it’s safe to say that a great deal of artists, musicians, and people in general, tend to get restless as you do. What advice would you give others to shake the disease, so to speak?
I honestly don’t know. There are many short-term solutions as we all know but to find a way that won’t destroy you in the end is hard and very individual. I guess it’s about finding peace and happiness in life outside of creativity. For me (and many others) it was finding love and ultimately to have our daughter. That grounded me for real and my restless soul was somewhat cured. But as a songwriter or any kind of creative monster a restless soul is something we all have to deal with more or less for the rest of time. It’s just the way it is.
What was the first song that truly struck a chord with you in a way that no other song had, and what about it made you feel this way?
There were many but “Here, there and everywhere” with The Beatles and “Mr. Blue Sky” with ELO are two I really remember. Listen and you’ll know why… The arrangement and endless beauty of “Here, there and everywhere.” The beat, sound and chord changes of “Mr. blue sky”..
My father used to listen to music very soulfully. He’d lean his head back and really, really listen. He told me and my siblings to do the same. To take it all in. And then he made all sorts of weird faces whilst listening, almost always ending with tears. It was hard not to be touched by that. Those two songs he made more faces and produced more tears to than others.. Ha ha.
Who have been your greatest influences in music and life in general?
I’d have to say, The Beatles and all their solo albums, a third of the ELO catalogue (they’re one of the bands) Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Depeche Mode. Life in general; Well the fact that I was raised to follow my heart. That I’m from a place on earth where it would be a waste of the luxury that we bestow on a daily bases to not at least try to do what you feel inside. Not a lot of people have that luxury.
Many kids dreaming to be musicians are hell-bent on striking it big with a major label. What was your experience like with Universal as opposed to running your own label, and what challenges did you face after getting free from the big boys?
I was not a good fit with “the big guys” The only thing a major label could do for me was applying their network and their money and they didn’t. The problem is mostly.. That’ll cost you. Often too much percentage of future earnings (often forever) on something that you made. But also them trying to make something else out of you. For some artists a major label is the only way. They need someone to creatively control them and push them into the right holes. But for me that was never the case. I wanna do my thing and if it takes years and years for me to reach my goal, so be it. I’ve always found a way to manage.
In the future I can definitely see my self on a big label again but it’d have to be on my terms and them licensing my finished product ( it was like that before too, they just didn’t really believe in my thing enough to put their resources into it) The challenges that comes with releasing your own stuff is having enough time to make any music… You need someone that believes in you.
I do, I have a great manager who believes in me and my future so I can focus on the important stuff.. Also, you need money.. I kind of get by just barely and have a way of reaching the lower economical bar somehow, every year. It takes time but it grows a little everyday and it always has.
It’s hard to be seen in the jungle of everyone out there today so for that reason a big label can help cut down some trees and make a road for you to travel but for musicians that really wants to evolve in their own way and pace I would always recommend doing it yourself. Evolve in your own time and get your own experience. Patience, love for your art and big dreams that you refresh in your head on a daily bases… That’s the shit..
In an interview with FaceCulture you made a football analogy using Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his journey from Sweden to Holland and so on. Is it safe to say that he’s your favorite player (he’s one of ours) and what were the most important things you learned when you first branched out to Holland and France?
He is definitely my fav player. He’s from Malmö, where I lived the last 12 years and grew up close to. I also followed him since he was 17 playing for Malmö so it’s a special thing. Also; He’s a unique player, like none ever before him…
Hm, I’m not sure I’ve branched out for real in any other market than scandinavia. I have a tip of a tip of a toe in many markets now. I just have to try and decide where the water is warm enough to jump in.. My new album will help me decide.
How did producing albums for Isak Strand vs. Toe and Allen Stone help you grow as a musician?
I learned a lot. Just watching others at their best, upclose is amazing. It made me my best self too, wich in it self is a bar-raiser for selfevoloution.. Is that a word? It’s crazy. Like in the beginning of a session, you’re scared to death of how YOU are gonna tell THEM what to do. But then when you find the courage to do so and realise that they listen… Ah, It felt so good and it fueled me with so much confidence. Then when you reach the point where you tell each other what you think work best, that’s when the magic really comes out. A successful collaboration with others is the root to all good…
Also to watch them sing how they do and play how they do.. I picked up many useful tools for myself.
Who are your favorite contemporary artists and whom would you like to collaborate with the most, dead or alive?
Right now; Emily King and Vulfpeck (Theo Katzmann). The former, a dear friend who I def will collaborate with. The latter a band I just encountered and instantly just looooved. I’ve made e-mail friends with Theo in Vulfpeck and I hope to someday collab with him and his crew.
There are so many great artists, composers and songwriters out there. I wanna make friends with all of them.
What can you tell us about the upcoming album without giving too much away, and what has it was like collaborating with Emily King and Bernhoft?
Ha, a collab with Emily actually didn’t happen for this album. It will in the future, though. The collab with Bernhoft (another favourite that I have the utmost pleasure of now knowing) was amazing. He tweeted something about me and I responded. 2 weeks later he lived on me and my girlfriends couch for two nights. We wrote, recorded and produced “My Turn to Fall” together in 1 1/2 days and had an amazing connection. I wanna work a lot more with him.
To sum up my new album is hard. It’s the outcome of 5 years of songwriting, studio sleepovers major life changes, death of family members and friends, birth of new family members, paranoia, love, frustration but above all It’s an album filled with all my love for music and weakness for nostalgia and great childhood memories.
The melodies, harmonies and chord changes all wear that same colour in my head as all those beautiful memories. Even if the lyrics are often dark on this album. That’s why I call the album “Amygdala,” which is the part of the brain that process nostalgia, memories and so on. Also a good name for the musical world I live in. It sounds like an actual place.
It’s definitely growing and has been for a while. When I started, it was a little frowned upon in Sweden. Shoe-gazing Indierock was the only way to make it to the cool crowds.. Now as many new amazing soul artists come out the whole perspective is starting to change. I’m proud to be a part of that scene and to be an inspiration to many of the amazing artists and songwriters around.
What’s one thing you would change about the music industry, and how would you go about doing so?
I would not put millions of dollars into half-talented, good-looking artists that are easily managed instead of putting time and funding into real, developed art. The people unfortunately don’t decide what to listen to anymore. Labels do. People (obviously not everyone) are lazy and will dig in to what’s out there. It’s a black hole it seems like.
I will CONQUER THIS HOLE AND JOIN OTHER GREAT ARTISTS IN A RIOT AGAINST THE HIERARCHY OF FOOLS THAT TELLS US WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO…. haha, sorry…
We know you did a bit of modeling and bartending before your eponymous first album. What are some of your current hobbies outside of the music world and what other things would you like to accomplish?
I haven’t had the time to find or develop any other hobbies or intrests yet. Modelling and restaurant work was to pay bills only. I think I would love to have the patience to paint and draw. (I suck at it) but also to build stuff. To make a chair or a table, from nothing. That would be cool.
Sometimes I dream of working at a warehouse. There’s something about it that I really like. Every time I’ve been in one, I’ve had this feeling of calmness and peace.. I don’t know why.
On a different note, who is your favorite superhero?
And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Do your thing first and foremost. Have patience and big belief in yourself and last but not least, learn how to socially function in groups of many different people.. Be genuine and nice and pay attention and take interest in other people’s lives and interests. Be a nice person and show lots of love.
Brilliant stuff as always from Magnus, and we’re ever so grateful for his time. His latest album Amygdala, will be available for purchase on October 14. But until then you can hold yourself over with three singles from the album including one released today entitled “Miss Brand New.”