Oscar Daniels

"We know that the world is going under, but we don't care"

Are musicians narcissists that don't really care about anything else but themselves? In these times of Brexit, Trump and climate change, Oscar Danielson raises the question but doesn't necessarily agree with himself.

Listen to his music and read a new interview with the acclaimed Swedish folksinger. 

It's Stockholm. It's January, and it's cold outside.

It’s a time to stay inside and not really do anything. Oscar Danielsen sits in his living room pondering an important decision: Should he go to the kitchen and make himself a sandwich, or just have a cup of coffee? It's been snowing all night and it's white outside.

Let's fly to Thailand and eat noodles
In other words, there's time for a talk about his music and the state of the world.

Why do musicians and authors, such as himself, seldom take a stand – especially in the era of Brexit, Trump, conflicts with foreign adversaries and climate change?

"I don't think we artists and writers are interested. And perhaps not necessarily because we are narcissists," Oscar Danielson states, continuing:

"We are just like everyone else. We know that the world is going under, but we don't care. We are not prepared to abstain from anything. Fast kicks are the only things that count. We fly to Thailand and eat noodles. We know what to do, but we don't. The only thing we care about is ourselves."

Maybe you shouldn't take every word for granted, but true, there's not much sign of political or social commitment on the music scene of 2019.

It's mostly about you and me. The close things that matter to people – such as women, men and ourselves. And Oscar Danielson is no different:

"Three keywords: Love, music and books. I enjoy coming out and playing for my audience. And I like to sit at home and write. Being able to combine these two things is perfect."

Text matters
How would you describe your music and songwriting?

"I used to say that my music is slow and quiet. But now I don't know anymore. Sometimes it goes away. I usually start with a text idea. The text is the most important to me. Usually, I sit in my car and think, stay on some mack and write down what I've come up with. And then, when I get home, I sit down with the guitar and find out whether it can turn into something."

An example is Besvärjelse ("The Spell", ed.) about a child growing up:

"When I got my third child, I was inspired and wrote Besvärjelse. The idea was to follow a child that is growing up. A song that you can sing at a baptism. Something that everyone present can recognise: Being a child, a parent and a grandparent."

As a part of a long, distinctive, and evocative Swedish folk tradition, Oscar Danielson is well-known in the Nordic countries for his acoustic, bittersweet, understated, heartfelt, and at times humorous approach to music, sung in his native language. He has been characterized as Sweden's best lyricist, and especially after his 2011 album "Stockholm I mitt hjärta" ("Stockholm in my Heart", ed.), his audience grew rapidly.

And the lyrics are certainly still at the center of his universe. He is a musician as well as a writer with three novels in his luggage. And his inspiration is not far from his own musical and fictional creations:
- To me, Joni Mitchell is number 1. My favorites of hers are "Case of You", "Circle Game" and "The Last Time I saw Richard". It is lyrics and music perfectly united. It's just listening and learning.

To me, a good song must have a text hook. And then there should be a magic element in the music, which you can't explain what is.

The stereo
If you're listening to this kind of good music, what better way to experience it than either live or on great-sounding hi-fi and loudspeakers. As Oscar states:

"In my youth, I bought an expensive stereo with loudspeakers that stood on special stands. Nowadays, I'm not as careful. But I do have some good stuff. The music is the most important, but I'm actually a little craved for an upgrade of my stereo. We'll see," he ponders.

- Rune H. Jensen, rhj@dali.dk


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