Face 2 face

Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 2: “My family home is only books”

  • Päron, Justyna and Christoffer Lundquist

K: No, no. We only ask questions… So. You’re born in 1970 in Lund…
C: Yeah.
K: So you grew up in a city?
C: Oh yeah!
K: And from other sources I heard you were forced into music…

C: Well, forced is a very strong word. My parents thought it was a good idea to play music. They didn’t do that when they were kids and they missed that thing. So they put me and my sister in a violin school. It was a close friend of the family who was the teacher. And we both hated it very seriously and never practiced and always had it bad. I was four years old. Violin is the hardest instrument in the world, it is impossible to play a sound on it. Horrible! Unless you are the best player in the world.
K: You didn’t like it because it was something old-fashioned?
C: Maybe it was a personality thing because I was always a bit like I wanted to find it out for myself. If someone tells me what to do, I don’t want to know.
J: That’s how geniuses do it!
C: It’s how stupid persons do it. There is a lot of gain to learn from other peoples’ experience. But I never liked that. And I am still a little bit like that. I want to try it my way. So maybe that’s why.  The violin started when I was four, I think, and I hated that but at the same time my mother had a little tape machine and I think at my fourth birthday I got a little tape recorder as well because I listened so much to music and then I discovered that when I put on a cassette on one machine connecting that to the other one, press on  “Record”, I could add sounds, so I played with that and I went “oh“ and tried something else.
K: First steps of multi-track recording!
C: Sort of, yes! My kids recently found a tape when I was four years old and am playing drums on a lamp or something along Beatles songs forever.  Woooo, crazy! So I did a lot of music stuff at the same time as the violin thing didn’t go so well. Later, a friend of my mom left a guitar, a cheap guitar and I found it and started to check that out and I called the school I went to, the janitor, so I could go there and play the piano in the weekends, he would open the school and I found a library, so I did it like on my own, discovered things. So I didn’t have instruments at home, didn’t have a guitar, didn’t have pianos and stuff. And I lived in my own world then.
K: It was the time when you found that music is your thing?
C: Oh yeah, the only thing I ever remember was that music was like everything.
K: So you were sitting at home all the time, didn’t go out, just playing music…
C: Yeah, a little bit like that. I was not extremely social like that. I had friends but I liked spending time on my own. Mostly listening and doing music stuff. So I was a bit like a dreamer or something. Out of my own forgetting time, not being able to behave properly.
J: A little similar to me, I had similar experiences.
K: Normally, history goes like this: People go to school, find friends with instruments, start a school band. You too?
C: Not exactly. I was extremely shy about it. I didn’t want anyone to hear me playing. For instance when the family went to the family house, I locked myself in the steaming hot car to be able to play without anyone hearing me. I was always hiding. In the teen years at school, they had cabarets and stuff and I was in the band playing because I was the only one who could play but I couldn’t be on stage because I couldn’t handle that. So they had to put a curtain in front of me and all the others were on stage instead when I was 15. And after that, when I was starting high school, I started playing with my friends.
K: How were music lessons for you at school? Did you have the feeling that you could still learn something there?
C: No, not learn! Nooo, ha ha! Music lessons had nothing to do with music as such. They had a closet with instruments that you could never touch. It was locked, forbidden.
K: The high school band, was it already something that ended up as Brainpool?
C: No, it was more like ’70s progressive rock music. Instrumental songs, ten minutes long, that I wrote and forced my friends to play: “Oh that has to be like this“. My important instrumentals!
K: Just like Clarence, he started the same way!
C: Yeah, exactly the same!
K: What does it mean you forced your friends? First you say you’re shy and now that…
C: Forced… When I started playing with others, I found my friends because they were great musicians, especially the drummer was fantastic. I discovered that you could make music with other people which is of course what you should do from the start. But then I think I became a bit dominant, not forcing. I was writing music, I was hearing it all the time. So I wanted to do stuff. When you’re young, you’re not great at being sensitive or considerate or passionate, you go like “I am the king“, and I think I was a bit like that.
K: Maybe the others had less energy than you?
C: Yes, this too. And like in any relationship you help each other in the bad and the good. When one gets dominant, the others get more passive. Not that they were really passive but I think I was slightly bossy, ha ha!
J: Well, you were strong, had more knowledge than the others.
C: Shyness was more about playing in front of people, I think, that was very difficult, it took a long time for me to get into that properly.
K: When you go to high school, sooner or later parents will ask you what you want to do for a living.
C: Ha ha, yes!
K: So?
C: My parents were academics, they were university people, so they are in this world, they read books all day long. My family home is only books. It’s a huge library actually. So they didn’t necessarily understand my interest in music because in their world it was that what you do when you’re from a university city: you go to the university automatically. And I did that too. Not that I wanted to. I took some English lessons for a year and I had philosophy for a year and half. And then Brainpool started.
K: So you always stayed with music more or less…
C: Oh yeah, I didn’t do the other stuff. I just went there. I started so I got through.
K: Just to keep your parents happy or did you have the idea to turn music into something professional later?
C: No, I don’t think it wasn’t to make them happy because they never pressured me but I didn’t have a clue what I could do at all. I never thought for a second that I would be able to play music and do that in a serious professional way ever. That was unthinkable of, to say the least. So I was just doing… you do what people around you do, that’s what everyone does. Okay, university. That was the world, that’s the only thing you can do, so I was sure I would have stayed there and become a teacher or something. But I never liked it, I never liked school at all actually.
J: That is quite typical for curious people, they don’t like school because school is just a straight world, where they tell you what to do. You cannot really be creative in your own way.
C: Yeah, exactly.
K: So you were sitting there in the university in Lund, had Brainpool started already… how did you find the people for that?
C: It was a friend from high school, David Birde, the guitar player and singer in Brainpool. Their original bass player went to do the military service and they needed a replacement for the year he was supposed to be away. David asked me because he knew I was able to play several different instruments: “Okay, just help us out and do this for a year and then he will be back.” It was not exactly my style of music back then, the music they did. So no one thought it was going to be a permanent thing. But then we really clicked. We found each other creatively, I think, and then the band changed a lot and when the guy had finished his military service, he was not welcome back anymore. That was the unfortunate story. But he was not devastated, it wasn’t his thing, it wasn’t his dream to be a musician. And Brainpool had gotten going by then, we found something, so that’s how we got started. And that’s just one example of the incredible luck it takes to do anything. It is ridiculous when you think about it. The little, little margins, the small things that it needs to be able to be lucky, to do what you want in life. It’s incredibly, incredibly thin, that little line. And because I see that so clearly with myself, that so many things have happened to me that were just unlikely, stupid unlikely almost. It’s obvious that there are so many people in the world that can do lots and lots and lots of things but they never ever get the chance to do it. And if you keep that in your mind, you also keep the sense that you should be thankful instead of thinking “Oh, I’m so great, I deserve all this and they don’t.”
K: That’s what we sometimes talk about and we say “Look at this guy on the street. Who knows what he did in his childhood and what chance he maybe missed. He was maybe one time in the wrong place at the right time.”
J: Well, it’s also like in my case, it’s about money. You cannot always do what you want if you have no chance to try some things.
C: Yes, for most people in the world, that’s the main thing that stops them. Because they have to fight for their survival.
J: Exactly, they have to think about how to buy bread for the next day instead of enjoying what they would like to do.
C: And that goes for people in the West of course, but for the rest of the world it is just ridiculous, you don’t have any chance, you only have to survive.
J: It’s a pity!
C: Yeah. It’s very, very unfair and maybe you cannot make it totally fair but it’s a very important idea to try, I think. Because everyone deserves that everyone wants the same thing. Everyone wants to be happy and not be unhappy. And they have the right to this, I think.
J: Maybe you can make people happy by your music…
C: I hope so! Sure, I always felt that the music that I loved was like a personal gift from the makers of the music and it’s incredible. You can listen to it all your life and you become happy all the time. It never runs dry, it never gets bad, old. It’s just “wow”!
K: Yes, even on old tracks you always find new things.
C: Of course, and you perceive them differently when you grow older, depending on the mood of the day, the weather, whatever. Music is incredible, it’s magic!
J: Music is like a remote for me. My mood can be steered by the music I listen to.
C: Yes, it is. I view it like this: The music is in the music makers’ consciousness, obviously. Only in their consciousness. And it’s a direct communication between peoples’ consciousnesses. The most direct, I think. It’s more direct and immediate than books or films or anything. Pure emotions are going from one consciousness to the other. And that is very difficult to understand how that works.
J: You have to feel it. For me, music has always been all my life. I know what you talk about. I live with music, it’s steering all my emotions. When you love music, then you’re a happy person.
C: Yes, you get a lot of help through music. And as you say, you can use it to try to direct your emotions. So if you’re in a bad mood, the music can kick you out of it. Of course, the music won’t make you happy in a more profound sense but it can certainly say “No, wrong direction, go in the good direction“. And a lot of time, that’s all you need to get out of a bad mood or a bad thought or a negative inspiration.

Tomorrow on TDR: Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 3: “The clothes they gave me were designed for women”


  • AGM’s percussion room
This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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December 14th, 2012

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