Beckahesten is a Swedish trio set up by Peo Bengtsson, Per Åhlund (previously involved with SOPHIA and also still active with Skare, Diskrepant and live member of Karjalan Sissit) and vocalist Viktoria Rolandsdotter. The band name is inspired by a creature from the Nordic folklore. It is a insidious predator that tricks women and children into riding on its back and then pulls them down into the water. Its back grows longer and longer the more people sitting on it. It has its equivalent in Scottish folklore, the water kelpie. Beckahesten already released two albums; “Vattenhålens Dräpare” (2020) and “Tydor” (2021), plus the single “Midvinter” (2021). Their works have been released by Cyclic Law. The sound of Beckahesten is a bit atypical although revealing familiar influences like Ritual- and Dark-Ambient music with great female vocals on top. I consider this band as one of the most promising new-comers. This interactive interview will give you a better idea about this formation.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: How and where did you guys meet and what makes the chemistry and/or complementarity between all of you?
Per: Me and Peo had been moving in circles around each other at concerts and festivals for years and had many common acquaintances. It was Johannes Ahlberg, our friend that mastered the first two albums and “Midvinter” who said ‘…there’s this guy you should meet’. He thought we had a lot of things in common. Johannes said that me and Peo should meet a few times and then Peo sent me the first version of Beckahesten which I really liked. But Peo didn’t agree that the material was ready for release. He felt a bit stuck and didn’t think his vision came through properly. So he asked if I could listen to some tracks and come with some advice. He then sent me over twenty, yes twenty, long tracks. I said that he could just take six of the tracks for one album, five for another album and ditch the rest of the tracks. But Peo wasn’t really pleased with that idea either. So he asked me if I could come to the studio and work on the material, so I did. That was the point we realized we work very well together and “Vattenhålens Dräpare” and “Tydor” took form quite quickly. Wanting to try lyrical elements and vocals in the music Peo brought Viktoria into the picture who gave another dimension to the material with her voice and her lyrics and then and there we created what now is the form of Beckahesten.
Peo: Yes, and Viktoria and I met when we were recording one of my dead end projects some years ago. After that we started to talk a lot about folklore and occult stories from southern Sweden where we both come from. I felt like Viktoria could contribute a lot to Beckahesten so I brought her to the studio.
Q: You introduce Beckahesten as the offspring between different music genres: Industrial, Ambient and Folk. I guess it reveals something about your potential sources of inspiration, but do you have explicit references when composing your music? And how do you transpose all the aforementioned influences into your own music?
Peo: No we don’t have any specific inspiration in mind when we work, thankfully not. I do listen to a lot of different music. I also got a fascination for obscure musical stuff that would never fit in to the sonic world of Beckahesten. The references for the music of Beckahesten I would say comes more from different stories and places. I do find the most inspiration in the forests and landscapes.
Per: All three of us like many different genres and I would say that all music that we listen to inspire us in some way. But at the same time, like Peo said, we have a rather clear vision where to go with the material and what feelings and imagery it should awaken for the listener. So we stay in the realm of that vision even when bringing in new elements or ideas from different genres. We can make a Punk or a Folk song, a Ballad or a Fugue, but it will still sound like Beckahesten in the end.
Q: I however noticed a strong and explicit Ritual touch recovering the production, which is accentuated by the vocals. Do you recognize this Ritual –and even somewhat Mystic touch on top of the production, and tell us a bit more about production of the vocals, which are essential to your work?
Per: The music is very ritualistic for sure.
Peo: Absolutely. When I create the music I have to be in a certain mood and all by my own. Usually it all starts from an image, or inner vision. I work a lot to transfer the image or vision into sounds. After a while the sounds become a scenery and I play parts of it in loops to get myself into an evocative state. If I reach that state I know it’s going to be something worth to work with. The sounds, music and ideas start weaving a composition, like if the sounds come alive. So, yes. I would definitely call it a ritual when I’m creating the fundamental elements of the songs.
Viktoria: We always seem to understand each other when it comes to the ritual part of the process- and on my behalf, the ritual expression is both conscious and unconscious -depending on what the song is about. When working on the vocals sometimes we talk about ideas and thoughts beforehand, but often we don’t.
When I’m listening to new songs, I immediately get inspired. It’s like music and sounds made to feelings, stories and pictures in my mind that was already there. I often just improvise the melody as a start, from what I can only call a spiritual place inside of my own creative darkness. Then I extend it with lyrics. It’s very therapeutic and helps me to be authentic and genuine when approaching the different subjects we are working with.
Q: It all looks like there’s a close encounter between your music and nature; your work being recorded at different places. Tell us a bit more about this fusion between nature elements and music? How did the compositions happen?
Peo: Yes, as I mentioned. The inspiration comes from the nature and old stories of our folklore. It’s those feelings you get when your mind is without stress and it is only you and nature. I guess Per has more to say about field recordings.
Per: In Beckahesten the connection with nature for me is obvious. Even material made by Peo all based on Electronic sounds has that feel to it. It’s hard to explain, it’s just there. So it was an obvious thing to do, to add organic sounds and elements and sounds from nature in general.
I’ve always been recording sounds that I find interesting. Field recordings was my main sound source for many years, making several albums based only on such material. I had plenty of field recordings and sound collages with the right feel to them gathered for an unknown project when Peo asked me to work with him. I combined his soundscapes with my recordings and it just worked perfectly.
Q: Talking about the composition, can you tell us a bit more about the different stages you’d to go through to achieve your work? What’s the input of each of you and the different guest musicians?
Peo: Most often it all starts with me creating a soundscape, harmonics and a sketch-up for a song. I prefer to do this on my own. Inspiration tends to hit me in the middle of the night. Then we meet in the studio and Per starts to re-arrange the material, and do a rough mix. Followed by recording all kinds of acoustic sounds, throat singing or adding field recordings. In the meantime Viktoria starts to write the lyrics and we record the vocals. After that some more re-arranging and then Per does the final mix. By that time I’ve already started working on two new songs.
Per: I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with people that I’ve felt are the right persons to contribute with material for Beckahesten. I made recordings when out with those friends in nature, in caves, at gatherings and at peoples houses. Sometimes I know what I’m after and ask for that typical thing, but most of the times I don’t. I usually record the material when I feel that there’s the right atmosphere not knowing where or when to use it. If the material has the right feel it always will find a place.
Q: Two albums and one single have been released in a rather short lapse of time. Where does this creativity comes from and what are you actually working on? What about live performances and how do you see Beckahesten evolving?
Per: Peo writes so much music that there’s always material and ideas to work on and develop. When together we usually work really fast and with several songs simultaneously. Where that creativity comes from is hard to say. It’s the combination of us three I guess. We just open up the flood gates.
There’s one EP and another full album that is now in the process of being mastered and we’re working on album four and EP two. We’re also working on a single that will be featured on a compilation released by Cloister Records.
Peo: Yes it’s crazy and without revealing to much; there is more to come for sure. I feel that we have a really special relation to each other and respect for our individual work. When we meet in Beckahesten everything just fits together in a really creative way.
Live performances will come. When the restrictions of the pandemic finally will loosen up and the venues are opening up again. I really look forward for performing live with Beckahesten.
Per: As long as we keep working with Beckahesten it will evolve for sure. In what way is really hard to know. We just sit stern on the back of the horse and will see to what places it will bring us.
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