Today we go Behind the piano to meed the Swedish composer and piano player Ruben Fjellner, which I have written about before here.
So, let’s go!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I am from Sweden! I grew up in a town called Linköping, but now I live in Umeå since four years back.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing the piano for about five years. I also play the guitar, which was the first instrument I ever learned. But I really love experimenting with all kinds of instruments – synths are a BIG favourite as well. Maybe I’ll use some of these instruments on my piano tracks in the future.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
My father is a guitar player, so music has always been a big part of my life. I think I was around seven years old when I got my own little Stratocaster to play around with. Sometime later I got a midi-controller that came with a copy of Ableton Lite which really piqued my interest in music production. Since then in I’ve met a lot of musically talented people who I am proud to call my friends – who have taught me so much along the way.
How long have you been making piano music?
I’ve been making piano music for about four to five years. Even though I had been actively producing music for a while, I had a lot of built-up stress from my day to day work as a film photographer. One day I found myself sitting down by the piano, and felt such a relief. For me, it’s one of the best portals to presence. Seriously, the best thing I know.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
This took such a long time for me. I’ve always been very doubtful about my musical talent as I am usually more on the technical side of things. It’s only really these last couple of years that I’ve allowed myself to experiment and let go of these fears. Working together with other talented composers has helped tremendously as well. So it has been more of a process instead of a specific moment for me.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Olafur Arnalds is my number one. He’s the reason I first started playing the piano at all. Other big inspirations are Nils Frahm and Aphex Twin, to name a few.
Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s?
There’s this one track me and a friend composed together back in 2017 that I love so much. It’s very simple and minimalistic with beautiful harmonies. Maybe I will make a recording of this someday. But mostly I actually just like to improvise.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
There are no rules.
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
This differs a lot. It’s mostly myself, but I have a network of a few good friends who helps me out with feedback and recording. I have one of my pianos at a place called JAQ Studios here in town, a collective composed of several great artists working in different mediums. The other piano I have at home, but oftentimes I find myself doing most of the work inside Ableton.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I find them to be incredibly useful and beautiful in their own way. I quite like the complete control you have of both the sound and performance with these instruments. As a complete MIDI-nerd they’re so useful. Sometimes I program entire tracks using sampled instruments (all of my solo releases so far has been) – but I’ve recently just now begun to make acoustic recordings which I am really stoked to release.
Where do all your songs come from?
The present moment.
Thank you very much for this Ruben!