Friday night, September 17th, the Swedish rock band Dungen ROCKED The Loft and I was one of the fortunate concert goers! After the show, I sat down with Dungen’s guitarist Reine Fiske to discuss Dungen’s psychedelic sound, US audiences and how great music can transcend a language barrier.
Alexandra Koumoundouros: What did you think of the show?
Reine Fiske: Ah, every show, every gig is different. I mean, last night when we played and certain things sort of happened. You know, it’s always like that. Every show is different, but we played the same set as yesterday. But ah, but it’s always, in the first song you sort of feel how the rest of the show could be like. In a way, maybe. You sort of kick off into a…
AK: Into a space?
RF: Yeah, into a space or a sense or something. But I could feel that I wasn’t at my best.
AK: Oh I disagree both as a fan and a participant in the audience. Actually, this is my third time seeing you guys live and this was one of the best shows. The first time I saw you guys was at SXSW and I really feel that was when you stopped being underground. I feel that was when people started to know about Dungen. When do you feel Dungen began to reach a level of fame or recognition in the US?
RF: I mean, I think already, I can’t really say already then but it sounds like I’m ah, taking it as ah, I don’t know. I mean, just the fact that we are playing at these festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella the same year, I mean. That was like five years ago or something. That is just sick. It’s crazy. And the songs are in Swedish and it’s ah, it’s amazing. But it’s always, it’s always felt very open, the people are open. The people in Sweden think of us, maybe as, I mean we are going on tour to the US and they sort of think you are playing these like 1,000 people venues sort of but no, it’s more like, it’s like clubs, normal clubs. Some places are a bit bigger and some are smaller, same as everywhere. But this country is so big. But I like coming here because the people are so open and they are actually listening and have been listening for six or seven years.
AK: So please forgive my pronunciation but Ta Det Lungt, is that correct?
AK: I feel that was one of the best albums that came out in 2004. Even though your music is in Swedish, as a player, do you feel that your music translates to the US audiences?
RF: I don’t know. I think the record is actually, special. I was actually the one who sort of came up with the idea of making the record more like a collage sort of thing. Gustav had so many songs, there was such different moods and everything, so why not stick everything together and like a big album, sort of a double LP. I mean a bit pretentious in a way but, when we started sticking things together it just fell into place. We had no idea, ah, it was actually meant, as some sort of last record, sort of. Because Gustav was tired of the music business in Sweden and he wasn’t feeling well at the time. But the record came out and some people in the US, especially of course, ah, picked the album up like Pitchfork Media, for instance. They put it on their first site, ah when their internet site was just opening up. So they were a very big part in making the record known to underground listening people, all over the world but I mean in the US mainly and it was amazing.
AK: Typically you are labeled as a psychedelic band but I feel that your sound runs across the spectrum. I mean, there is folk, indie rock, progressive sounds. Do you feel your sound is psychedelic?
RF: I should think that the spectrum is very wide and I think it’s a bit boring when people just, I mean the normal dude that’s into spaced out music sort of comes to the show. But I mean, the audience is actually very mixed.
RF: And, there’s also women coming and, and also, some black people coming to the shows, which is nice. Because, I don’t like the fact that it’s just, ah sort of middle class youngsters, you know, white people coming and waiting for long guitar solos, which I am sick and tired of. But um, I mean the spectrum is very wide but I mean, labeling it sort of, psychedelic is maybe right but it’s also I don’t know um..
AK: It’s off in a way.
RF: Yeah because it sort of lumps into maybe the wrong sound.
AK: Yeah, like we’ve figured you out and we are going to put you in this category over here.
RF: Yeah, exactly.
AK: Because when you go to the show you can hear so many different kinds of sounds.
RF: And we want it to be like that. I mean it’s always depending on what Gustav is doing for the moment, the songs he comes up with and the way he wants them to be performed or how they’re supposed to sound. I think on this tour we actually, it feels pretty good but it’s also a lot of work to do because there are so many songs that we could play because I mean, there’s like 5 records of songs.
RF: Some songs we can’t play because they are too hard to play because it’s more like a studio, over dubbing thing. It’s very hard to create that thing in a live show. But um, during this trip I think we will come to some sort of conclusion of what the perfect concert is. We are still rehearsing, sort of…
This concludes Part 1 of my interview with Reine; Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday September 21st.