Gustav Jansson and Jonatan Löfstedt set up Sturm Café now twenty years ago. The Swedish duo is devoted to old-school EBM. They this year released their third full length album “Fernes Land” on their own label SCR. All songs are again sung in German. The new work sounds like the band’s most accomplished work revealing traditional EBM refined with Electro-Pop treatments. Gustav and Jonatan accepted to answer a few questions about this new opus.
(Picture credits by HR-Picture.de / Interview courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You both started composing music together as teenagers. What did you hold on from this early sound and spirit and how did you see yourself evolving as musicians and band?
Jonatan: We just loved Electronic music and good synth melodies so we wanted to do something similar ourselves. Over the time we have improved the sound adding more synthesizers while I increased control over the vocals.
Gustav: We started out with very limited amount of equipment, which forced us to have a very efficient and simply sound, that’s probably why started to do EBM in first place. We have tried to keep that kind of spirit even when we added more synthesizers into the mix.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the writing and production process of the new album “Fernes Land”? And what does the title reflect versus the lyrical themes, which seem to mix a kind of engagement and sense of humor?
Gustav: This was the first time we worked in compressed studio sessions. I made most of the drumbeats, effects and production of the songs and Jonatan created most of the melodies and basslines, so we must meet to make music together. Since we at the time didn’t live in the same city Jonatan came down to me in Southern Sweden during a week in June 2019. We just had such a creative blast and made 7 songs in 7 days. We repeated this process again in June 2020 and wrote more songs. Then I worked all Autumn long to mix and polish the album to its finished state.
Jonatan: Since Gustav had set up the studio with all new sounds and samples it was very easy for me to just dive in and create melodies and basslines. It was like an unlimited flow of creative energy during those two weeks. Concerning the text writing we dug into it with a word or an idea for the song at hand; sometimes we wanted to make something humoristic and for other songs some deeper hidden meaning. But in conclusion, it´s up to the listener to determine what they think we mean. Regarding the title track (and album title), the name just came naturally when I first heard the heroic and distant synthpad during the intro of the song.
Q: What did you experienced as the main difficulties and challenges in the writing of “Fernes Land”? And when do you know a song/album is finished?
Jonatan: The lyrics was a big challenge as we wanted it to be as good as possible grammar-wise, but still with a nice musical flow to it. It just took much longer than the music creation and was sometimes extremely tiresome. Fortunately, we got help from a Bavarian friend, Tim Böhm, with errors and suggestions.
Gustav: For me it was to get the final product in order. We wanted to take the production to the next level and improve the mixing and sounds. It took many late nights/early mornings to get it the way we wanted it to be.
Q: Sturm Café is now active for more or less twenty years, but you don’t release new albums at regular basis. It all feels a bit like you don’t have stress and just want to have fun, but was it really all about? And does an album still make sense today considering more and more people are using streaming platforms preferring own playlists instead of albums?
Jonatan: We both have good day time jobs and run our own label, so there is really no point for us to stress out making any new music. Gustav also lived an 8-hour car drive away from our hometown Gävle for the last 8 years so we couldn’t create new music that often; making music together was the only option for us with our vintage equipment like our 80’s Atari computers.
Gustav: I think albums make sense for a lot of people, but not all. We know for a fact that a lot of our fans are a bit older, and we still sell a lot of physical CD’s/vinyl’s, at least for the amount we press. But it seems for some people it’s all about the hit songs and they’ve stopped caring about albums (at least in the mainstream). I like the art and effort that artists put into an album release where all songs don’t have to be hits and you work with the dynamics of the tracklist for the overall experience.
Q: I noticed you last year released a selection of ‘rarities’ featuring a few tracks by Jonatan’s side-project John Steiner Explosion. Tell us a bit more about the Sturm Café rarities and what brings John Steiner Explosion you couldn’t deal with in Sturm Café?
Jonatan: John Steiner Explosion was me sitting in my boy room during high school improvising some kind of dance music that didn’t really fit into Sturm Café. It was just for fun and I still think the songs hold up today. Maybe one day I will continue doing something similar.
Gustav: We released a “Rarities”-album back in 2011 with unreleased songs; we had a lot of those from the early years of the band. Then Corona came and Bandcamp started to do Bandcamp Fridays where they waived their profits to the bands. We thought it would be nice to release additional unreleased songs for a couple of those Fridays to keep up the interest for the band while we were finishing up the new album.
Q: The pandemic is still going on, but it all looks like artistic life is progressively coming back again. How do you look back at the past months and what are the further plans for Sturm Café about live shows ao?
Jonatan: There’s a live show planned at a private event in Germany at the end of August. I really look forward to this as it will be the first live concert since our Russian tour in February 2020; it will be fun to perform some of the new songs. Next planned shows are WGT Warm Up and Amphi next year so let’s hope for some more shows in Autumn. We are back into business!
Gustav: It feels like the last 6-8 months have been some of the busiest ones in quite a long time, releasing 2 singles, our new album and shipping out orders to all over the world. I also just moved back to my hometown Gävle after 8 years in the Southern Swedish city of Lund. Since I’m back, just a few minutes apart from Jonatan, you can probably expect new music somewhat more frequently from Sturm Café in the future.