Fire! is one of the best contemporary bands in the world of improvised music and jazz. Known for their expressive concerts and a fresh approach to music matter.
With great pleasure we to invite you to read a short interview which gave us Johan Berthling, bass player in the band.
Fire! will play in Lviv on September 12, 2015.
Igor Waniurski: I’ve read an interesting story about your genesis. Apparently you were hired to play in one of Stockholm restaurant by ome promoter. You played so intensively that the sound resulted in breaking up the glasses on the tables. There is something of the truth in the story?
Johan Berthling: We were asked by our good friend and local promoter Conny Lindström to play a concert at the bar Riche. He thought this constellation would be a good idea and the concert was really fun! The bar personnel were holding on to champagne glasses, afraid they were breaking…At another concert in Stockholm Mats broke a wine glass held by a front-row visitor, so this is a mix of two stories…
You were so happy from that shows that you decided to go with the flow and create a regular concert band?
Yes! It felt very organic and we shared some common ideas although our backgrounds are a little different. We went in to the studio very soon after this concert and recorded our first album and then started slowly playing more and more concerts and now the group is very active and we have many projects planned.
Have you play with each other before?
Before that first concert I had played many times with Mats but just a couple of times with Andreas but I don´t think Mats and Andreas had played with each other then.
Could you tell us more about origins of your side project Fire Orchestra? This spring have done the premiere of new material titled “Ritual”.
The project came about during a late night sitting aftershow. Why don´t we put together a big version of Fire! with Stockholm based musicians? A one-off was planned at the great experimental venue Fylkingen in Stockholm, we asked 27 musicians and recorded the event to a full house. It came out so great that we decided to do more and the next year we did a small Nordic tour, playing the first piece “Exit!” winter-time in Sweden with 4 buses! Fantastic!
The next year we did a longer Scandinavian tour and also started doing some European festivals, the project started to grow. The second piece “Enter” was a studio recording done in Gothenburg and we did concerts all around Europe with this piece. The group has always has a rotating cast of members and for the new piece “Ritual” the group is slightly smaller: 19 musicians and they come from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and France. Playing with the group is a fantastic feeling, the massive sound is something that many can´t escape being carried along by. The group also acts as a network for Nordic musicians and I think many of the players have benefitted from being in the group.
I wonder if you remember your concert in Poland during the OFF Festival 2013? What memories have you associated with it?
Yes! Fantastic audience and a great festival! We had a blast and hope to come there, either with trio or Orchestra.
In what condition today is present scene of jazz and improvised music in Sweden? Can you compare it to the rest of the Europe?
The scene in Sweden for alternative music, for me that term is more appropriate as the scenes for electronic music, alternative rock, improv and creative jazz constant intermingle, is good. Lot´s of interesting musicians but there´s too few places to play and that´s been a problem for quite a while now. The interest for this kind of music is bigger in mainland Europe and I feel that especially Eastern Europe is boiling! More and more Swedish musicians play in Europe these days which is a good thing!
During Art Meetings Festival in Lviv, you will be playing as a headliner. What was so interesting to you to take part in the festival?
This will be the first-time for Fire! in Ukraine and we´re looking forward a lot. It feels important to come and play during these times! I´ve only played in Kiev once at a festival organized by Andrey Kiritchenko with my other band Tape and had a great time.