It's been 43 years since the release of their debut self-titled album, but Swedish classic progsters Kaipa are still going strong with the release this week of their latest album, Children Of The Sounds.
Founding member Hans Lundin talks to the DPRP's Patrick McAfee about his inspirations for the new album, plans for a new solo box set and whether he will ever record again with former Kaipa guitarist Roine Stolt.
Interview by Patrick McAfee.
[DPRP] Hans, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I truly appreciate it. I've had the opportunity to listen to Children Of The Sounds and it is a truly outstanding album. One of the key aspects of Kaipa's music that always strikes me, is just how vibrant it sounds in composition, production and performance. Can you tell us a little about how a Kaipa album is formed, from the original song writing and demos to the finished product?
[Hans] I always try to find one of those great and unforgettable melodies hiding somewhere in my subconscious as a starting point. I often use that as a vocal melody and as the main theme of a composition. Instead of composing a lot of totally different parts and then mixing them into a long song, I do several variations of the main theme. Sometimes I change the time signature, sometimes I write a new instrumental melody, using the same chords, with some fragments of the main theme included, and sometimes I just change the bass notes in the chords to produce another feeling. I think this gives you a familiar feeling when you listen to the music, even if you don't necessarily realise it's coming from the same source.
I work with writing and arranging side by side, and then record it into a demo where I'm playing and singing everything. That's my normal way of working, so I can get an overview of the songs. I have worked with the other members for so many years now that I can feel their presence and feel the changes in the music they're going to perform, to create the final result. The new album was recorded during a long period from August 2015 to February 2017. It's always complicated to find time for the other, always-busy musicians to record their parts, but I was not in a hurry to get the new album out, so that was actually not a problem.
In my review of the new album, I mention that in my estimation, Patrik Lundström and Aleena Gibson have become a integral part of the Kaipa sound. How did you first discover them, and upon re-introducing the band in 2002, was the plan to stay with two singers permanantly?
When I started to record Notes From The Past, I had no idea who should perform the vocals. I discussed this with Roine Stolt, and he came up with some suggestions. One of them was Patrik Lundström from the band Ritual. I contacted him and the rest is history. I also had one song A Road In My Mind where I wanted female vocals. I asked Patrik if he knew someone that could sing this song, and one day he came to my studio with Aleena Gibson. As soon as she started to sing the song, I knew that this was just great and I think that in that special, mesmerised moment I decided that we should continue to work together. Our three voices fit perfectly together and are an important part of the total Kaipa sound.
There is such a positive vibe to Kaipa's recordings, both lyrically and musically. The new album is extremely visual in terms of its lyrics, and it aints some beautiful musical pictures. What was the inspiration for the album and is there a conceptual thread that runs through it?
It's not a concept album, just five separate songs. During the summer, I take long bicycle rides on small winding roads in the peaceful, open landscape around my home-town Uppsala. I often stop and rest near some old church. Sometimes it's like I hear music, like anthems from the past, seep out through the walls of the church, but it's only a new melody born in my consciousness and the seed of a new song. The lyrics to the song Like A Serpentine describe this feeling. The beauty of nature is an important inspiration to me in my song writing.
What really made me push the start button this time, was a magic spirit that filled my whole body after visiting a concert with Kaipa drummer Morgan Ågren and his band Mats & Morgan Band in November 2014. I woke up the morning after the concert and still felt that enormous groove filling every part of my consciousness. I realised that I had to canalise all this energy somewhere, so I decided to start to write some new music.
Who were your musical mentors, the artists who inspired and helped to shape your musical identity early on?
I listened to a lot of music before I started to play in my first band in 1964. Going from simple three-minute pop-songs, to more complex music in the 70s. But I've always appreciated great, memorable melodies. It doesn't matter what genre it is. In the early 70s I discovered that it's possible to take inspiration from classical music, when I heard the band Ekseption, and also that it's possible to play a heavier version of Swedish folk music, when I heard Swedish organ player Merit Hemmingson.
Do you stay connected to the ever-evolving prog scene? Are there newer progressive rock bands or artists in other musical genre's that especially impress you?
Sorry, but I have to say no. Probably I don't have time or interest in listening to all new music. For me everything I haven't heard is new, no matter what year it was recorded.
Kaipa hasn't skipped a beat since Roine Stolt's departure in 2005, and the band sounds as fresh and entertaining as they ever have. That said, you did create some wonderful music together. Do you foresee any opportunity in the future for you and Roine to record together again, in Kaipa or another project?
We are old friends, and Roine is a great musician, but we have no plans to work together again, but you never know what the future will bring.
In my opinion, Children Of The Sounds is one of the best Kaipa albums. That accomplishment is especially wonderful and impressive considering that it is the band's 13th album, and the 8th since reforming. In a musical environment where many of your peers have either stopped recording or are relying on their back catalogues, what inspires you to keep recording and releasing new music?
I use to say every time a new Kaipa album is recorded, that this is the last album. But for some reason I find new inspiration and start writing new songs shortly after the release of a new album. Maybe the inspiration is coming from all the positive feedback and great reviews. So when Sattyg was released in November 2014, it happened again. I worked for six months writing the new songs.
I am now going to finish the work of remixing my three solo albums, recorded during the years 1984 - 1989 with mostly instrumental music stylistically close to the music I wrote for Kaipa. In 2018 these three albums (Tales, Visions Of Circles Of Sounds and Houses) and two more, with previously unreleased material, will be released in a 5-CD box-set entitled: Hans Lundin: The Solo Years 1984 - 1989. It's a real joy to revisit all these songs and all the memories from when I wrote and recorded them. There will be lots of analogue synths and of course my trademark distorted solo synths that I started to develop in the late 70s. Also, this will include some Kaipa demos and several guest musicians like Roine Stolt, Max Ähman and Ulf Wallander.