Click Interview with Instans: ‘Trying To Be Perfect Tends To End Up As Self-Censorship’

After the previous album “Derailed” released in 2017, it seemed that there were no further…

After the previous album “Derailed” released in 2017, it seemed that there were no further plans for Instans. Luckily the Swedish project driven by Fredrik Djurfeldt has been reactivated and this year released a new album entitled “Trans Sector Hyperdrive”. The work released on Advoxya Records reveals a new opus filled with Minimal-Electro, which has been defined as ‘Neo-EBM’. The sound is miles away from EBM standards, which makes the album original, but also very efficient. I should say a great work, which also proves it’s still possible to remain creative in the rather conservative EBM scene. I talked about the album with Fredrik.  

(Picture credits by Bengt Rahm / Interview courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)

Q: “Trans Sector Hyperdrive” has been released a few months ago now so how do you look back at the album with hindsight? What are the main points of satisfaction?

Fredrik: I am quite happy with it, almost proud. I have always liked making thematic albums, and this time I decided the space race with all of it´s broken promises urgently needed to be dealt with. When I grew up, back in the 80´s, we were lead to believe that by the year 2000 everyone could travel to the moon and stuff like that. They lied to us, and now we are told how by 2030 anyone who really wants to will be able go on vacation on Mars. Same old story, and it is still a lie. This album is my reaction to it, and I think it came out the way I intended it.

Q: What have been the triggers to start composing this album? And how did the writing- and production process happened?

Fredrik:Fact is, Instans was meant to be dead by now. When we played at Front Fabrik Festival in Poland three years ago, we had planned for that to be the end. Then Dima, the brains and muscle behind Advoxya Records, somehow managed to kick me back into gear. We made up plans for nine shows in Russia and five in the United States, and I wrote half the album before lockdowns and travel bans came into effect. I completely lost motivation, and abandoned the project until Dima again kicked me into gear.

So there was a phase one, and a phase two. First, I enthusiastically wrote a bunch of tracks, then lockdowns, and then I wrote the rest of the album. The positive side effect of not playing live at all during phase two, is that I wrote slower tracks that I probably would not have otherwise.

Q: Are you a perfectionist? What are your personal criteria to say a song/album is finished?

Fredrik:I won’t not say perfectionist, no. Trying to be perfect tends to end up as self-censorship, and censorship is never a good thing. I tend to work the other way around, actually. First, I spend two or three hours working on the track. Then, some time later, I will go back and spend another hour working on it and it is usually done. In my experience, more work tends to ruin the track. There are of course exceptions from that rule, but it is the general idea.

I would also like to quote Steve Albini from his famous latter to Nirvana: ‘If an album takes more than a week to make, someone is fucking up.’

Q: Instans is a solo-project although for “Trans Sector Hyperdrive” you asked a few guests to join in. Tell us a bit more about these collaborative tracks and the input of Peter Mastbooms aka ‘Borg’ and Jonas Fredriksson?  

Fredrik: Both are good friends and we have been working together in other ways over the years. I am a full time member of ALVAR, and so I have been working actively with Jonas since 2014.

Borg and I have been playing the same venues many times over the years, him with The Juggernauts and The Klinik, and me with Boar Alarm, Alvar, Severe Illusion and No Sleep By The Machine. In the case of Borg, I found it particularly interesting to have a JUGGERNAUT perspective for one of the tracks, considering the overall theme of my album.

Q: The sound of INSTANS remains characterized by a minimal EBM approach, which isn’t comparable to any other EBM formation. I dare to say a band with an own sound-DNA! What makes this atypical EBM-sound and what’s your perception of contemporary EBM?

Fredrik: My first attempt at song writing was probably when I was four or five years old, that is when I could reach up from the floor to my fathers piano. I am not sure how much that influences me to this day. Then, when I was six or so years old, I started experimenting with left over electronic equipment my father brought home from work. He is a scientist, so the equipment was not meant for music production at all. Still, I was able to make lots of exciting noise with it. That is probably the earliest roots of my music. That is probably also the first time I experienced what 220 Volts through the human body feels like.

Then, when I got my first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, I wrote music with that, or at least I tried. It must have been a nightmare for anyone around at the time, because the sound chip in that machine is really stupid and I had to write the software in Basic. The C64 came after that, and I became a huge fan of Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway and all the others. Again I had to write all the software I needed, but the SID chip is far better, and working with machine language is far, far more exciting. That era was certainly influential on the future sound of Instans.

To be really honest, I don´t listen to much contemporary EBM. I am more fond of older music from when the sound was not so annoyingly perfect, clean and outright boring as is usually the case today. There are still a few bands around, who understands what music is all about, but we seem to be going extinct. Let´s hope the younger generation wakes up to how boring things have become, and start making music more painful again.

Q: What brings the future for Instans and your other projects? Might we expect a new Severe Illusion-album?

Fredrik: The world has changed in some dramatic ways in recent years. It was an ugly place before, for sure. But now, we are seeing repression on a level that will soon make fascism look like a walk in the park. Touring has become near impossible, and that makes it even harder for any independent musicians out there. As long as we accept lockdowns, vaccin passes, and all the other repression that came along with the Scam-demic, things will get progressively worse until live music is a thing of the past for all of us. If we have learned anything from history, it should be that you can not give that kind power to politicians and expect them to ever give it back without a fight. That is the grim question which determines the chances of future releases, and of course not just for me.

That being said, I am very happy with the new Instans album, and I would love to move forward with it now as it is again an active project. I have started the work on a new album by Analfabetism, that I am really excited about. I have made some field recordings at what remains of a weapons factory built in 1620. There, weapons were made for the Swedish army who spent over 100 years, plundering, pillaging and murdering in Western Russia. That will be the sound of the next Analfabetism album.

There are plans for a split-release between my project Boar Alarm, and Ulf Lundblad´s Two Dimensional Skull. Most of the music is ready for that one. We have also been talking about making a new Severe Illusion album, and there is a new label involved in that project. With a little luck, we should start working on it in January.



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