The Miscellaneous Goings On Of Tom - Stockholm Syndrome
Reflecting On The Week
Well, what a week for my musical ventures it has been! My review of Svatan's Blazing Winds Of Transcendence being shared by the band bringing so many new Brazilian readers with it and then Vanaheimr's Pagan being featured on DJ Crusher's Scrap Metal Show via Metal Messiah Radio was quite a surreal feeling (click here to see the video on my Facebook). Just in time for my new single release on the 21st! It just reminded me that the hard work I'm putting in now will pay off later, it's also quite mad knowing you created a song in your bedroom that has now had airplay on an international radio, goes to show that the DIY musician/songwriter/producer is going to be a big thing in the future music industry with all the access we have to reasonably priced recording equipment and software. In all this reflection I've also been deeply missing the wonderful city of Stockholm. I spent two weeks there last October and I just fell in love with the place. It reminded me so much of Germany as well, I've always felt more European than English and I believe that was defined by my 5 years living in Germany. Stockholm was awesome, I met so many wonderful and creative people that had some awesome projects going on wether is was art, writing or music. I should probably give a massive shout out to Josh for putting me up for two weeks (and getting me monumentally fucked on Swedish lager). Long story short, I desperately want to get back out there and explore more of Sweden as well as all the other Nordic countries, just need to save a bit more money first!
What I'm Listening To At This Very Moment
Been a while since I listened to these French legends but as the wonderful British Summer (i.e. grey clouds and rain) seems to be settling, this is usually some rainy day chill out music for me. I remember seeing Alcest live with Opeth way back in 2014, and I was blown away when they played this and Autre Temps. There is something chaotically beautiful about the French language and black metal, considering French is supposedly the language of love and black metal is this raw and uncompromising fury.
What I've Been Jamming To This Week
A lot of Swedish and Finnish black metal really, need a few reference songs for a certain EP that will not be discussed here. I remember looking for playlists of various different countries black metal and The Sounds Of Spotify delivered. There's tons of them divided into either country or sub-genre, you can go from Sweden to Brazil in one click and I've found so many great bands from around the world with these things, predominately in Europe but there's ones from Colombia, Chile, etc. and who knew Quebec would have it's own playlist separate to Canada! Genre wise you can go from raw black metal right through to unblack metal (or white metal, its not racist it just means they sing about that Jesus fella instead of our favourite demon of the underworld or pagan stuff). I think by listening to the Swedish playlist (and the Swedish version of Sabaton's Carolus Rex on repeat in the gym) has definitely triggered my Stockholm Syndrome.
Some of the best money I've spent, not to mention that it was my first time flying abroad completely alone, I can be a nervous flyer at times and I blame National Geographic's Air Crash Investigation series for royally screwing me up with planes when I was younger. Getting there was easy, I flew in to Västerås and got on the airport coach service, Flygbussarna, and has a rather scenic coach journey into Stockholm. My favourite part of that was listening to Wardruna as the landscape rolled out in front of me, felt so cool to listen to photo-norse being sung at me in Scandinavia.
One thing I will say though, people who say Sweden is expensive, it is but there is still a load of stuff you can see and enjoy for free. Sweden has several amazing museums that are free entry and you get to see more than you would over here for that. I was staying with Josh in his flat ins Aspudden, and I didn't encounter any English people until I went to Djurgården, which is the fucking Mayfair of Stockholm! It is rather stunning round there though;
For those that you that know me I am a massive history nerd, so you bet I went to all the historical places I could find, and like I've said before a lot of them were free, except the Vasa ship museum, which cost me like £13 or something like that. The Swedish Army Museum, Medieval Museum and National History Museum were all free, I learnt a lot about Sweden that wasn't just Vikings. The Kalmar Union, multiple wars and battles with Russia, Finland and Poland, even the Swedish role in World War Two. If you haven't guest already though my favourite exhibition was the Vikingr exhibition at the National History Museum. I came face to face with someone I did not expect and that was Birka girl, I'd read so much about her and her life I actually felt quite emotional as she was only 6 when she passed and no now knows what caused her untimely death.
I can ramble on about the history for ages. One thing I loved about Stockholm is the amount of green space there was. Whole wooded sections in the middle of a city, because it was autumn the leaves were just changing colour too so the trees were this awesome bright orange, red and yellow colour. We spent ages walking around these places just chilling and chasing, just taking it all in. I think Vaxholm was one of my favourite places though, it sits on the archipelago about an hour or so away from Stockholm and you can get a ferry back to Gamla Stan (the old town). We were there from mid-afternoon and stayed long enough to see the sun set over the water, the sky was painted a blazing pinkish red and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. I also had a beer stein of 7.3% IPA and the stein was bigger than my head.
I also went to my first football match in years to see AIK and I was instantly adopted into the AIK family! From there I saw my first live Ice Hockey match to see AIK beat Pantern IK 3-2 and bought my first ice hockey jersey, for a fraction of the price it would cost to get a Calgary Flames jersey.
There are two things I'm gutted I didn't see but will give me a great excuse to come back. Thats the Aifur Viking restaurant that serves up traditional viking food with a healthy helping of mead to accompany it. The other is a food market that I cannot remember the name of to save my life, I just remember seeing it in a video and thought it looked awesome and some of the food looked phenomenal. I also wish we'd adopt Fika in this country, it's a Swedish cultural tradition where you have a break and a coffee (Swedes are the worlds second biggest coffee consumers after the USA), everyone stops work to have a break for about half an hour or so and sometimes multiple times a day. I think that would just be awesome over here, because its probably one of the reasons why the Swedish are happier than us!
I created so many great memories out there, and I've missed it so much since I've been back, which is what 8 months now. It was an awesome opportunity to spend some time out there and indulge in my borderline obsession with the Nordic countries.
Guitar/Gear/Production Stuff I Like
This week I've been using possibly my favourite plug-in that I own, Klevgrand's DAW Tape Cassette.
Klevgrand is a Swedish creative studio and software company in Stockholm run by film makers, musicians, software developers, producers and sound designers. This plug-in has helped me achieve that raw tape sound that can be heard in the early 90s black metal. I was looking for something like this for ages and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg like a UAD plug-in would and arguable does a better job due to the parameters you have control over. It's really versatile and can give anything that special tape warmth and fuzz. I also use their DAW LP which is a vinyl simulator and I think there is an offer on them both at the moment but you can check out more on their website; https://klevgrand.se
What A Week
Overall, it's been quite a phenomenal, surreal and strange week in the Fjordhammer camp. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading about my Swedish adventure, I might tell you about my Japanese journey at a later date. It's been awesome to have all your guys support on this journey, but I feel the real best is yet to come!