The connective thread between electronic and classical music has always been strong, with both genres coming to life as complex compositions by artists with an understanding of myriad instruments, tones and moods — and of how these elements work together to create music both unique and transportive.
So it goes with Swedish producer boerd. The artist has been making electronic music since he was a teenager, first making Chiptune sounds on gaming consoles while also studying at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music. Now contributing his talents to the Royal Swedish Opera, the Swedish Radio Symphony and the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the artist born Bård Ericson has also toured Scandinavia as part of opera icon Andrea Bocelli’s orchestra. On Tuesday (Dec. 3), Ericson releases his electronic album, Misplaced, his debut LP on London’s venerable Anjunadeep. Hear an exclusive stream of the album below.
Following in the sound patterns of artists like Four Tet and Burial, the ten tracks on Misplaced are spare, sprawling and delicate. Created over the last two years, Ericson produced the LP in both Stockholm and the rural woods four hours north of the city, where his family owns a sprawling summer home built as a school during the 1920s. Most of the songs are built from his own recordings of piano, guitars, cello, voices, percussion and ambient sounds taken from actual instruments and real life settings, rather than synthesizers and drum machines.
“It’s a bit weird I guess, that I have two completely different musical careers going on at the same time, but I’ve been doing both since I was around 14 years old and I can’t really see myself quitting one of them to only focus on the other,” Ericson tells Billboard Dance. “I love playing in orchestras because it’s a place where I have nothing to do with the artistic vision — the music was, most of the time, composed hundreds of years ago, and the musicians are merely machines that the conductor can use to complete his interpretation of the piece.”
Here, in his own words, boerd offers interpretations of his own work on Misplaced.
“It Fades Away”
I wrote this song at a time when I was pretty confused about some personal stuff, and the music seems to reflect that. I feel pretty confused all the time to be honest, as I think most people do. “It Fades Away” features me on vocals and some guitars, and the intro is actually an acoustic piano that is processed beyond recognition. I also recorded a bunch of weird sounds that I sampled and used as percussion.
You can probably tell I’m a huge fan of Burial here. This tune features some short vocal samples that are repeated a lot, like a mantra. The whole song is pretty repetitive, which I like, but I also focused a lot on the smaller details and a lot variations in those — there’s a lot going on in the production if you listen carefully. Some sounds and chords appear only once or twice throughout the song. I recorded most of the sounds myself for this one — the acoustic piano, the strings (me on double bass), a bunch of percussive sounds and bass guitar.
I bought my first effect pedal for my guitar last year, which I used for the sound in the very beginning of this song. It also features me playing cello, which is a new instrument for me but something I want to use more! I think cello is a lot more useful in electronic/pop-music than double bass (which is my main instrument). This song has a very dreamy vibe, to me. Like when you just woke up from a nice dream and can’t really remember what the dream was about, you’re just left with a confused but nice feeling.
I bought a funny pedal for my guitar, which I used to create the weird pad sounds in the beginning of this song. After creating the beat, and recording the guitar melodies, I felt like this song needed vocals. I asked my friend Stella [Brödet of Stella Explorer] to record something, and while waiting for her to respond I started playing around with some vocals we had recorded earlier for another song. Those are the vocals I ended up with for this one, and that’s why the lyrics don’t make much sense — since I cut up the vocal track and re-arranged everything many times. Anyway, I’m happy how it turned out, and I think it adds to the mysterious feeling of the song.
I recorded “39 Celsius” in a small studio I was renting last fall, in Stockholm old town. There was an old piano there that sounded really nice, that I recorded some improvisations on. I sampled some of that in “39 Celsius.”
“Before We Drown”
Last summer, I recorded guitar, bass and drums for this song in my family’s summer house up in the woods of northern Sweden. I thought the track sounded more like it was played by a real band than my music usually does, which is a direction I’m exploring more and more — less electronic sounds and more “real” instruments. After the instrumental was finished, I tried some different vocals on it – some samples I had on my computer, and I also recorded a couple of versions with my own voice.
I wasn’t totally satisfied with any of the vocals I’d tried so I sent the instrumental to my friend Stella (Brödet, Stella Explorer). She was really into the track and recorded a demo vocal pretty much right away, and I instantly loved it. It sounded totally different from the stuff I had recorded myself. The demo recording she made is actually the one used in the final version of the track, we never changed it!
This is another track I recorded up in the woods of northern Sweden. At the time, there were huge forest fires up there, I could see the smoke from my studio, and the smell of burnt trees was present all the time. It was the hottest summer Sweden has had for a hundred years or so. It all felt a bit apocalyptic, which I tried to capture in this track.
I haven’t made that many uptempo songs in the last few years, but this is one of them! This one came together towards the very end of the process of this release. There’s a lot of different percussion and drum sounds in this one, many of them were recorded in my kitchen, featuring me hitting various objects I found there… The song has a pretty positive vibe, which I guess is a bit unusual for me!
I think this song feels like you’re looking at a cute little shimmering gemstone, hence the title. This tune came together very fast, and contains only a few elements. I was in the studio and came up with the arpeggio melody, while playing around with the pads on my Ableton Push 2. I then added the hi-hat loop and the piano, which is also recorded in my studio. The only thing I recorded much later was the cello, that enters towards the end of the song. There happened to be a cello standing in a corner in the studio at the time, I normally don’t play cello but it’s pretty similar to playing double bass.
For a long time, I tried turning this song into a more traditional pop song by adding heavier drums, bass and even vocals, but I gave up on that idea. In the end I left it like this — a simple little ambient gem.
“Mud” is probably the oldest song on the album, I started working on it a few years ago. The piano chords in the intro are inspired from a choir segment in Puccini’s opera “La Boheme,” that I was playing at the time. The song also features my friend Lina Högstrom on backing vocals!