Karl Daniel Lidén Interview

I was blown by the last Switchblade effort and I think it’s already obvious, but I thought in the first place that I had to speak with the man behind the board, Karl Daniel Lidén.
Karl was more than cool to answer my questions and I thank him for that. I also admit that I did not make my homework well before the interview, so that’s the reason you ‘ll read Karl mentioning playing in bands and me not questioning him about that. Shit happens, all the time.

Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself!

A: Karl Daniel Lidén; coffee enthusiast, producer, recording – and mix engineer as well as drummer in Vaka and Dahli. Before that I played in Dozer, Greenleaf  & Demon Cleaner.

Q: Why did you study music engineering? What was it that inspired you to do so?

A: The main inspiration for me wanting to get into engineering was the fact that I was never quite happy with how our (Dozer’s, Greenleaf’s, Demon Cleaner’s) albums came out sounding. At the same time I can’t really blame the engineers. When you say “I want the kick drum to sound like a cardboard box” everyone has their own interpretation of how a cardboard box sounds like. Describing sound is hard and interpreting that description is even harder. But yeah, I was basically just tired of working my ass of writing songs only to hear them come out sounding less than what I thought they could be. If you write a song that has balls up the wazoo the production has to match that.

Q: Which projects have you been working on until now?

A: Worth mentioning is, of course, the new Switchblade album “S/T 2009”, Dozer – “Beyond Colossal” and “Kappa Delta Phi” by my own band Vaka.

Q: Your name became familiar with Switchblade amongst others. Why did you select this particular band? Did it depend on the people who are in the band?

A: Well, they actually selected me more than I selected them. I’m not really at the point where I decide with whom I want to work with just yet. Tim (drums, Switchblade) approached me a few years ago having heard Vaka and liking the production qualities. Having said that, they’re all really great guys and I really look forward to working with them again. The “S/T 2009” recordings went very smoothly.

Q: What specific techniques did you use in the newest album of Switchblade? Placing of mics, equipment etc.

A: Nothing groundbreaking really, just careful placing and thought about where you put what. As far as mics & mic pre’s go, Gröndahl has a really nice selection. Lots of vintage gear with some character to it. Regarding technique I can say that I wanted the drums to be as much in the center as possible leaving room for the guitars out on the L/R flank, so I used X/Y and Blumlein stereo for the overhead and room mics, which is a narrow stereo technique. In theory, a huge wide stereo image sounds cool but when you want impact, going as narrow is possible is the way to go. Just my 2 cents.

Q: What do you prefer most, analogue or digital recordings? Please name advantages/disadvantages in your opinion.

A: Without writing a whole essay on the subject, I’ll make it easy for myself and just say “analog”. Even though the Switchblade album was recorded in Pro Tools it went through a wide array of equipment before getting there, giving it the (“analog”, if you will) coloration. We were also under a tight schedule when putting down the basic tracks so going straight into Pro Tools was just more time efficient, as well as cheaper as analog tape costs quite a bit.

Q: Switchblade’s III has a great drum sound! How did you work on that? Did you do something different than in your previous recordings?

A: Well thank you. Biggest difference from previous recordings was that I switched to narrow stereo techniques exclusively for the overheads and room mics. I also had a mono “front of kit” mic which I had higher in the mix than I’d usually have up to that point. Other than that I pretty much used the same mics I normally use. There was a lot of ribbon mics as well (Coles 4038, Royer R121, RCA DX77) and I really love how those sound.

Q: Which are the reasons to record a band? Are you into production (giving some kind of approach and ideas) or are you into recording engineering more and that’s it?

A: It depends on the band. Both what they want and if I feel I can contribute something production-wise. But given an option I much rather produce than just be a recording engineer.

Q: What kind of music do you prefer? Are you into a band? Do you play any musical instruments?

A: I listen to lots of different genres but favorite artists include Neurosis, Blonde Redhead, Converge, Joy Division, Earth, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, High On Fire, Philip Glass, Devo, Clint Mansell, Einstürzende Neubauten, Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, PJ Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke & Fever Ray just to name a few. By “into a band” I assume you’re meaning if I’m IN a band? Yes, as I mentioned earlier I have my own band Vaka which is basically just me. I write the material, play drums (played drums for about 15 years now I think), piano, mellotrons and other various keys and then bring in other people to collaborate on bass, guitars & vocals. I’m also in a band called Dahli, which is me, Tommi & Johan from Dozer and a fourth guy which I won’t reveal the name of until were 100% sure he’s the guy. He’s done great stuff in the past and we’re confident in him, but we wanna hear how he fits our particular vision of Dahli before revealing him to the world. I also lend my drumming skills to a duo here in Stockholm called A Swarm Of The Sun. I played drums on their debut full length “Zenith” which will be coming out this summer.

Q: So, you said that you were playing drums for Demon Cleaner then Greenleaf and then went off to Dozer! You are definitely one of the guys around responsible for this specific scene as I can understand. Demon Cleaner was one of the few stoner rock bands from Sweden playing so good like you were coming from the desert and not from a country up in north! How that came?

A: To be honest, I have no idea. We all just worshipped the mighty riff and mighty groove. Good riffs and good grooves are good riffs and good grooves no matter where you come from.

Q: You were playing then in Greenleaf which in my point of view was a movement to Dozer. Why so many changes? What was that that made you play something else all the time? Are you a person that gets bored easy?

A: Hehe, I suppose you’re right. Either that or my subconscious is doing its best to keep me from reaching any type of “success”. Starting new bands always means you lose some of what you’ve built with previous bands. New name means less people know about you means less people coming to shows means less attractive for a label to sign you and so forth. I just want to do so much different music that I just find it easier to form new bands. I could of course just do everything under one name, but I think a band should have some direction and not be completely all over the place. Of course you shouldn’t restrain yourself, but I just think that an album with, for example, a 20-minute doom epic, a 3 minute Beach Boys pop song and a funk song a la Funkadelic is far from cohesive.

Q: What do you have to say about those times? What was the situation in Sweden back then? Was there any audience for this music? I strongly remember Lowrider and Dozer from this time, with excellent potentials.

A: I know some people think, since Sweden had so many bands in this genre, that there was a thriving scene with bands playing all the time, but that wasn’t really the case. Wasn’t bad but it wasn’t anything really extra happening either.

Q: Who owned Molten Universe? It seemed to have played a huge role in the heavy rock scene in Sweden. Any info?

A: Molten Universe is/was formed and run by the bass player/vocalist in Demon Cleaner, Martin Stangefelt. He started the label to release the first split 7″ we did with Dozer and then it just grew. I think he ended up doing around 20+ releases or so. And I don’t think the label is officially defunct either, if something good shows up I suspect he’ll release it.

Q: What is the most important aspect for you when you enter the studio to record?

A: I’m not quite sure I know what you mean, but having a focused band is pretty important.

Q: Which is the band you’d most like to record?

A: Oh wow, there are sooo many. But High On Fire are right up there. They’re one of the bands I just know I could make sound great. There’s also a band here in Sweden which I just love and we’ve discussed me doing their next album. I don’t wanna jinx it by saying anything before it’s 100% confirmed though. They’re one of the absolute best bands around right now, that much I can say.

Q: You are a new extraordinary engineer. Do you think that recording Switchblade is something that may open doors later on to other things regarding your job?

A: Hehe, well thank you. Absolutely. Everyone who’s heard the album says it’s the best work I’ve done so far, so hopefully more artists will want to hire me.

Q: What is the condition in Sweden regarding your job? Do you have opportunities to follow your dream? If yes, what are those?

A: If you don’t have a wide network of connections with bands/artists I’d say you’re pretty much screwed. It’s kind of a catch 22. If you don’t have anything you’ve produced, recorded, whatever to show – you don’t get any work. Getting a band to invest time, money & effort into you requires trust and if you don’t have any previous work to show, getting them to hire you is extremely difficult.

Q: Future plans.

A: I’m currently in the studio producing/recording (and I’ll be mixing as well) the sophmore album by Digression Assassins. The modus operandi will be similar as the Switchblade recording. We’ll record drums at Studio Gröndahl and then move on to Version Studio to record bass, guitars & vocals. I have a few other pretty exciting things in the works but like I said, nothing is 100% confirmed so far, so I don’t wanna jinx it by saying too much. What I can say though, is that this fall I’ll enter the studio with my own band Dahli to record our debut album. It almost feels weird calling it a debut album since we’ve played together for so many years and released so much stuff together. Even though it’ll be a bit tougher promotion-wise with a new name, it’s still pretty nice to have sort of a clean slate (though people comparing it to previous Dozer albums is pretty much inevitable). The music is also a bit harder and a tad more aggressive than Dozer. It’ll be an album that’ll make you wanna grow a beard (if you don’t already have one) and go out into the woods and start chopping down trees wearing nothing but fur from a tiger you’ve slain using just your fists.

Q: So what should we expect from Dahli?

A: The extremely few who have heard the material think it’s very similar to Dozer, and I can’t really disagree. Take the harder more progressive and epic side of later Dozer and throw in double bass drum and you’re not too far off. There’ll be Mellotron/organ/synths as well so it’s a mixture of circa 80% Dozer and 20% Vaka.
I know it sounds like I’m almost trivializing the band, which I’m definetely not, but at the same time I’m pretty tired of bands claiming to have reinvented music every time they release something and then not living up to their own hype. The Dahli album is going to be bad-ass, no doubt, we won’t release it otherwise.


~ by Θ. on 2010/07/20.

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