Peter Lindahl by a steam engine

                                           "A Passionate Trip"

                         Interview with Peter Lindahl, simply a formidable artist.

                                                       By Sergio Vilar

Part 1

Well Peter, could you give us an express summary of your career for people who don´t know you?

I started writing and recording music towards the end of the sixties. In the late seventies I performed all over my home country Sweden with the band Coiron. We played music from the Inka and Mapuche regions of South America combining together traditional South American and classical instruments. During the seventies and eighties I performed with several outfits but mainly to myself playing guitar and singing folk lore, pop music and my own songs. In 1980 I grounded together with a couple of friends the orientally influenced band Aladdin´s Lantern which later became In The Labyrinth.
I am more keen on recording music in the studio than on performing on stage even if this has been a pleasant experience now and then in my life.   

Which are your more direct musical influences?   

Oriental music, especially from Turkey and India, the psychedelic sixties, film scores, folk lore from all over the world, early classical and medieval music. Some artists/composers having had an impact on In The Labyrinth are Ennio Moricone, Nejat Alp, Ibrahim Tatlises, Ravi Shankar, Om Kalsoum, Goran Bregovic, George Harrison, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Brian Wilson, Lars Hollmer, Jordi Savall, St Colombe, Pretorious, Bach and many more.

 Which is your essence as a musician?

Mysterious, dreamlike atmospheres combined with well defined melodies. To work by intuition and not get caught in any specific category. I like having no boundaries tied to my creativity, no saying “this is right, this is wrong".

Even more I was surprised of the music of In The Labyrinth that so particular mixture of progressive rock, Hindu music, is Scandinavian folk... How did you have the idea of undertaking this musical project?
In the seventies everyone was experimenting with all sorts of music. Besides Aladdin's Lantern I was also involved in several other side projeHelena Selander in the studiocts. Since I had been writing and recording my own music ever since the late sixties, it came very natural to me when I was assigned to produce an album to be sold in esotheric stores around Sweden. This was in 1992 and that was when we took on our present name. Around 1995 everything changed and I was suddenly the only one left in the band apart from my sporadic collaborations with Stefan Ottman and Helena Selander. Two years later I started to cooperate with Håkan Almkvist who is not only the leader of several bands but also playes sitar and the Indian tabla. Both Håkan and I have seperately travelled around in India. But the biggest influence has so far come from my journeys to Turkey.

Peter, in your opinion, to what is that fascination of the Scandinavian musicians owed by the oriental music, especially of India?  

In Sweden there is a large movement engaged in World Music with an emphasis on oriental. There is an inclination towards folk music, virtually none for progressive, especially not of the symphonic kind. So our way of doing it is not typically Swedish, the way I see it. We don't try to copy the east, we just pick up some bits and pieces here and there. That's why there is still room for our own western heritage, even rock! A musician like Ale Möller, who is famous in our country for interpreting music from other cultures, does it in the standard Scandinavian way keeping quite strictly to traditions and usually putting in a Nordic feel.

What is the reason for your choosing the name of In The Labyrinth? What did you want to mean?  

I didn't invent that name. It was Mikael Gejel's idea, a band member who disappeared from the group in 1995. Or atleast he came up with "Labyrinth". And because there was (or is) a heavy rock band in Italy going by the same name, I put the prefixes In the infront of the title to be on the safe side. In a way, I think the name suits our music because a "Labyrinth" is a place for getting lost, atleast for awhile until you find the right track and finally get back home. That's what it's about, opening up to an adventour and then returning home.

Peter with saz  
Which is your point of view of the musical scene of your country  and in the world, in what concerns to progressive rock. I imagine that it should be interesting with so many years of career.   

In my country everything is strictly Americanised, meaning people listen mostly to a lot of styles that once originated from the US. On the other hand, we have several of the world's leading progressive bands, The Flower Kings, Anekdoten and Samla Mammas Manna to name a few. Just like my own band/project, they have to reach out into the world to find a broader audience since Sweden holds no market for what concerns prog. The word "progressive" actually defines something quite different in Sweden than in the rest of the world. Here it has always been regarded as a poitical musical movement with a tendancy to the left! Small country...so you get little variation! But on the other hand, there are many talanted musicians here!  

Is there something that you miss in particular of the old times?

If one means the sixties and the seventies, it would be the openmindedness, the often unreserved way of experimenting with a wide array of styles. Not only did musicians of that age combine together interesting sounds and mindblowing ways of mixing gengres together but a lot of the experimentation also occurred on the basis of song writing. For instance, it was ok to place pentatonic scales into jazz oriented rock (Bo Hansson for instance), Hindu scales into pop music (Beatles, Yardbirds, etc), Folk into rock (the Greenwich Village scene, Mike Oldfield, etc). Today everything is neatly fenced up in well preserved categories. I miss the essence of that period when everything was like a children's game, when everything was possible, when the critics didn´t bite your head off the minute an artist went a little bit off the track, when exciting blends were developed one after the other.

To what do you define as progressive?  

Well Sergio, to me progressive means moving forward.

Do you think that today in day, inside the whole progressive scene, does that philosophy exist of innovating that it characterized the birth of this style?   
If someone claimes to be a progressive artist, it's a little bit odd if he or she just copies a thing that happened for over thirty years ago. What I mean is that a lot of neu prog bands tend to sound exactly like their own idols from way back in the early seventies! I could have been copying my icons from the sixties straight off too but I honestly don't think I'd get anywhere near the real thing anyway! However, there are many hugely talanted progressive bands around with a much broader scope than this, I mean truely innovative musicians. All credits to them!

Continue to part 2!

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