Behind the piano: Oskar Kappland

Behind the piano: Oskar Kappland

Do you remember the guy with the “weekly piano challange”? That was Swedish piano player and composer Oskar Kappland. Let’s get to know him!

What’s your real name? 
My real name is Oskar Ehrnberg.

How did you come up with your artist name?
I started releasing music under my real name in 2018. At the beginning of 2019, I changed my name to Oskar Kappland, because Ehrnberg is (a) impossible to spell if you don’t speak Swedish or German and (b) kinda confusing for anyone to pronounce. I love the name Kappland because it preserves my Nordic roots (and works significantly better internationally). Kappland is actually an old Swedish land area measurement, which is super random, but it sounds good so why not?

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I’m originally from a small town just south of Gothenburg, Sweden. I’ve been living abroad in Asia and North America on and off for the past five years. I’m spending the summer in Gothenburg, but I have no idea where I’m going this fall (help me please, hahaha). Sweden is a wonderful place to be from late spring to mid fall, but beyond that the darkness and cold just kills my soul. I’m a nature boy at heart, so any place where I get to enjoy that has a shot. We’ll see where the winds of fate bring me next!

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
The piano is definitely my instrument. Everything I write and compose originates on the piano (if not in my head where a lot of songs also pop up). I played the recorder when I was young and played guitar briefly, but nothing’s ever sparked a passion like the piano did. I had an electric keyboard in my room from when I was four years old but started playing seriously in third grade. I took two years of classical lessons before quitting. After all, playing the piano wasn’t considered cool for a boy my age. So I gave in to the social pressure. I didn’t pick it up again until eighth grade as I started transferring the pop songs I had been composing in my head for years to the piano. My musical goals have always been influenced by this divergent influence from classical and modern pop music.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I have, for as long as I can remember, literally always been composing my own music, be it in my head or later on the piano. I’ve always known that I’d be an artist one day, so can you imagine the devastation and heartbreak I experienced as I realized I couldn’t sing? My dreams were put on hold for a whole decade. But here I am, at 22 years old, determined to become an artist with or without a voice. My first song with vocals, Small World, featuring an amazing singer and friend from Malaysia, is in fact coming out very soon. I couldn’t be more excited!

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Alexandra Streliski has my heart right now. Inscape is just pure perfection. Also, increased female representation in this genre is incredibly important and I’m all for it. I also listen a lot to Peter Sandberg, Nils Frahm, and Johannes Bornlöf. In terms of names to watch for the future, I’m very excited to see what Andréa Aubertin, Mitch Toks, and Johannes Hirschmann do next. As for my favorite modern piece of all time, Qi by Phildel is an all-time fave. When it comes to the old greats, my favorites to play are Beethoven and Mozart and my favorites to listen to are Chopin and Debussy.

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
It’s funny, but I often warm up by playing In May by Franz Behr (a children’s study) in every key from C to B. No judgement, please.

What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
I don’t think any rules need to be broken. Just do you! I also think it takes time. In the beginning, nearly all my compositions followed the I-V-vi-IV chord progression. In time, everyone learns to find their own voice and experiment with going off-key and off-beat. Not that there’s anything wrong with standard chord progressions – they often produce the biggest hits. But in terms of constructing one’s own language, it is entirely individual and does not come without tons of work and exploration.

How do you record your music?
I record all my music on my own in my living room on my partner’s mother’s old piano. It’s not ideal, but it conveys my personal story in a fair way I think. After all, this is where I’m at right now. 

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I have nothing against sampled instruments. I use both audio recordings and MIDI for my pop songs. However, for my classical pieces, I usually stick to just piano. In my opinion, anything that elevates the listener’s experience is fair game.

Anything else you want to share? 
I’m currently challenging myself to release one new piece a week. Go follow me on Spotify for a new piece every Wednesday until the end of 2019! I won’t let you down, promise. 🙂

And as always, the question my five year old son once asked me:
Where does all your songs come from?

Say hi to your son from me! 🙂 Most of my songs come from a very happy place. I’m generally a very cheerful person, which honestly makes it difficult to write melancholy songs. If you hear sad songs by me, they usually come from my experience with my father. We never had a great relationship and he caused me a lot of suffering as a child. His suicide in 2016 is one of the most monumental and tumultuous things I’ve experienced. It changed everything and has given me time to process my childhood, although I didn’t necessarily want to. The whole thing has taught me the importance of talking about and reflecting on traumatic experiences, and creating music has certainly played a huge part in that for me.

Thank you Oskar for your participation!

For more information about Oskar, plase check out any of these following links:
Instagram / Spotify