Second part of Andrew Holborne´s interview

with In The Labyrinth's Peter Lindahl

Part 2: 
                                                                          Walking on clouds/The blue mosque                                               
AH: Peter, can you tell me about your time in Australia.

PL: I lived in Australia, as you know, in the early to mid sixties, making this really something special for me. It’s as if a part of me has returned; not physically, but through musical vibes. I feel at home being on your show!                

To be more specific, my places of habitat in those early years were around Western Australia, in Perth and small towns like Mandurah, Katanning and Kwinana. I remember the winters in WA when the teachers burned Mallee roots in the fireplace to give us and themselves some warmth. We used kerosene heaters in our house in Mandurah. At night I wore pyjamas and had my hot water bottle. In Sweden everyone has central heating and windows are fitted with two sheets of glass. It was in the middle of the Beatles era, the Beach Boys were riding the surf and the whole scene was just so incredible! It was a really inspiring time for me [and Peter still finds himself inspired by Pet Sounds- AH].

But, before we got down to OZ, traveling on that ancient cargo ship from Sweden, I was faced with the culture and music of the Middle East while passing through the Suez Canal in Egypt. To me this was a bit of a mind-blowing experience.

I guess that ever since, I have been affected by the Orient and it’s been inevitable that my wife and I keep returning to countries like Turkey, India, Thailand and Malaysia. It was especially in Turkey that I picked up a lot of the vibes essential for ITL. The Garden Of Mysteries, our first album, owes very much to that country. Later on, India also played a vital role. This can be heard on our second release, Walking On Clouds and partly on our third, Dryad.

AH: When did you first start playing musical instruments?

PL: First time was in third grade primary school back in 1962. This was in Perth, Australia. Every pupil was given a musette, a sort of plastic recorder sounding a bit like a cuckoo. Then at the age of 15, on returning to Sweden, I received a Spanish guitar from my granny. But before this, somewhere along the journey baThe artist (black & white)ck to Scandinavia (in Aden, I think), my parents bought a simple tape recorder manufactured by Aiwa and it was this that set me off on exploring all sorts of instruments later on, as well as developing my engineering skills.

AH: Did you have formal tuition in any particular instrument?

PL: No, I never had any. I’m self-taught in the sense that I recorded my music, listened to the result and criticized what I’d done. That’s how I developed. Also along the line, I performed in a lot of different outfits, which I guess enhanced, my musicianship, too.

AH: How did you develop expertise in the use of so many instruments?

PL: Well, I don’t consider myself an expert on anything really. But the achievements I made on a rather wide range of instruments is once again simply a consequence of fiddling around with the tape recorder and a need to investigate the possibilities of sound. I liked to mimic or give the impression of a whole band, which is something I still do. And I love to arrange songs. This is why I had to pick up on so many instruments, to broaden the scope. Since I did nearly everything myself I had no other alternative. Or else it would just be my guitar and my voice, endlessly.

At times, I have to come up with a specific instrument to fit in with a certain style, meaning I have to get an almost instant result from very little practice, since there isn’t much time for that with all these deadlines constantly knocking on my door. Yes, they do seem to pop right out of the sky!

Like with the Indian shenai for instance, an oboe like instrument, which I used on one track of our second album, Walking On Clouds; this was a very brief affair. I had never played it before and I actually haven’t played it since, unfortunately! The thing is to keep oneself within certain limits. To play like Bismila Khan, the king of shenai, is out of the question! What´s cooking?And if I play on my viola da gamba, I do it within my range, what I can cope with. As long as I get the feel and there is magic in the instrumentation of a piece, then I’m pleased. Well, nearly! As you know, I do bring in other musicians every now and then into my stuff, not least to mention, Håkan Almkvist.

AH: Do you need to practice to develop and maintain your skills or do you just play for fun regularly?

PL: It should always be for fun! But regularly? … No, I can’t manage that! My time is pretty tight with all the maintenance work that has to be done in my studio and everything surrounding it.

I’d say it’s like when you’ve learned to ride a bike, you know how to do it. It’s in your system. It’s a matter of taking on the challenge and not be scared. If I can’t handle, let’s say, my Turkish saz for instance on a difficult passage, I can always swap it for my twelve string acoustic guitar and make that work, too. Or do it on both layered on simultaneously.

I should maybe separately say a word on my samplers and synthesizers, this being a world to its own. During the eighties and nineties I spent a lot of time developing my skills on these instruments. I created my own libraries, too, like sampling the sound of a Persian santoor or the Turkish darbouka to name a few.

And the mellotron, which is absolutely unique, has been up front in my productions ever since the mid seventies (with an exception during the ”synthetic” eighties). The mellotron deserves a lot of practice, as it is not an easy instrument to play on, at least not in my opinion.

The MagicianAH: Finally, what do you wish for musically, Peter? What musical projects are you working on now?

PL: I’m working on three projects: one being another album by In The Labyrinth, as yet not titled; the second also by ITL, in which Stefan Ottman displays his song writing capabilities. This is Samas Antaral. The third is a solo album covering some of my more rock-oriented stuff.

Participants in the ITL project (besides me) will be: Helena Selander, Håkan Almkvist, Fereidoun Nadimi, Miriam Oldenburgh and several others. Also, there are some newcomers such as Styrbjörn Bergelt on ancient Nordic instruments (kantele and bowed harp), Marcos Chappalli (violin) and Alejandro Vega (saxophone).

Stylewise, there is a pretty broad mix of genres combined together; hopefully, seamlessly just like the other albums. One thing, I’m trying to improve though is to allow for more contrasts in orchestration and in volume (amplitude). The thing is, I want to vary the density of the sound more so that sometimes you only hear one or two instruments playing and then there is an entire orchestra. Truth is, one needs a lot of confidence to make this happen! The big sound is no problem for me but portraying myself "all naked” - that can be!

About the solo album: It's pretty much psychedelic. In fact, there are a lot of influences from the Beatles, also from Brian Wilson (and the Beach boys) and naturally there should be a similarity to ITL somewhere. The title of this will be The Mystic One. Some of the lyrics are a bit dark, but others romantic. ITL members Håkan Almkvist and Helena Selander participate among other musicians. Håkan did several parts quite recently on his sitar. Besides this, there is material for at least two more pop/rock-oriented albums.                                       Stairs

Several of the songs on The Mystic One derive from compositions that I made way back in time. My indulgence in pop and rock dates back to earlier than I can remember - maybe the late sixties. In some ways, ITL has been more of a side project to me; not meaning I take it any less seriously, but I’ve always seen myself mainly as doing pop music. That's what I was brought up with.                      

I also have some smaller plans including the completion of some relaxing music that I’ve made. Eve Rest is the name of one of those projects and another one is called Cloudburst.

Perhaps all this will stay within the vaults, so to speak, nothing ever coming out. Only time can tell! The urge to be heard and seen isn’t really all that important to me any more. Creativity is what keeps me going, the need to express things and to experiment. And since I prefer not to label my music by any special category, I believe I’m making it a lot harder for myself (and ITL). This I am aware of. But that’s the way it is. My destiny in a way, I guess, is doing things the hard way!

AH: Thanks very much Peter for being so generous in your responses. All the best with your upcoming ITL and solo releases. Perhaps we’ll meet in the flesh one day, or maybe our spirits will merely mingle in the ether of many years of emails and in the warm heart of your musical compositions.

On to next article!

Return to Interviews!