It´s hard to come across a band with such diverse and professional musicianship as the Swedish Gypsy-Folk-Rock band “Crash Nomada”. Fast, upbeat, slow, moody and with the roots of punk the band has reached their first album which is purely being sung in their native Swedish language. We sent over some questions to the band to see what influenced the band this time around. Singer and guitarist Ragnar Bey answered the questions for us.
Courtesy: Crash Nomada
First of all we were a bit late this time around compiling an interview for your latest release. The album has been out now for a while. Which reactions have you got this time around so far?
Ragnar: The album has received good reviews and people have been very positive which is great. Although we had hoped at least some people would become a bit more provoked by it.
You did a limited EP-vinyl called “Broar” a couple of years back. 4 songs completely sung in your native Swedish language for the first time. Did the EP encourage you to further embrace Swedish for the latest album too?
Ragnar: Yes definitely. It feels easier to reach, or at least have some control over, higher poetic levels in your native language. And it is also possible to sing about other subjects and environments. On the other hand, since the latest album is in Swedish we haven’t reached out as much to the rest of the world as we have with the earlier releases in English. Which we kind of miss too, so we are planning to do more stuff in English or other languages in the future again.
If possible could you give us a brief run down of the influences for the songs on the new album which also is selftitled as “Crash Nomada”?
- “Tusen Sånger”
A song influenced by hip-hop, rai, noise rock etc. Lyrically it relates to the Tower of Babel, and holds the pantheistic belief that we can cooperate despite differences and despite what nationalistic people in power say.
- “Någon Form Av Svar”
Lyrically a classic song about searching for answers in life. Musically it is almost a techno song, but recorded completely live with instruments.
- “Cuatro Caminos”
A song about busking and life on the streets in Europe. Musically it has some sort of rough reggae, Manu Chao vibe.
Classic punk rock with folk music instruments. A song that is critical towards the last 10 000 years of civilization and – both with humour and a serious undertone - urges us to connect to our “stone age soul” as the final weapon against oppressive civilization/society.
- “Ljuset Som Du Sökte
This song is about the mystic, anarchist, painter and esoteric author Ivan Aguéli from Sala, Västmanland.
- “Under En Mörk Europeisk Himmel”
A song that deals with the situation in Europe/refugee crisis on the Mediterranean during the last years, but does so through the classic Greek myth about Eurydice and Orpheus. Musically it has breakbeat drums and is inspired by noisy Drum and Bass music. But played and recorded live with instruments and acoustic drums. Lots of atmospheric Brian Eno style instrumentation.
- ”Ingenting Är Sant”
A song about Emmy Hennings, Hugo Ball, Nietzsche and the Assasins. A song that deals with the thin line between complete subversion of aesthetics and society on the one hand and complete devotion on the other.
- Det Här Är Ditt Liv”
Classic D-beat hardcore punk with accordion and violin. Lyrics deal with the boredom of identity politics and ideology. 1 minute and 20 seconds long.
A song about the lake Mälaren, but also a song about the world, about our common history and about freedom.
This is a cover and Swedish translation of the song Cotton Crown by Sonic Youth. It is a beautiful and mystic song that I’ve always admired, it was great to finally get the opportunity to translate and cover it.
Photo/Courtesy: Knabble / Crash Nomada.
You probably heard many times that your band has being baptised as a band with ”World Folk Music” influences. Many bands tend to be very narrow minded and follow a strict routine, yet with “Crash Nomada” it seems you are always embracing new musical ideas. If you compare with when you first started and now, what has influenced you as musicians during the years?
Ragnar: Musically we are constantly evolving. In the beginning we really wanted to mix folk music with punk, and were quite focused within that musical and rhythmical framework. Lately we have been more open to whatever comes up and what Jari Haapalainen, the producer we’ve been working with, has wanted to progress with. So the latest album has many influences, ranging from techno beats to noisy post punk and beyond. But always with the folk music and punk intensity in the bottom.
The band also seems to be inspired by many different writers, teachings and books. Apart from music and writers, what brings you new ideas and influences?
Ragnar: Yeah like you say, primarily, for me, in order to create music it is crucial to listen to a lot of other music and to read loads of books on different subjects.And to have a bunch of creative friends in the band of course. Apart from that I think it is very important these days to pay attention to things, to make an effort to really observe what goes on around you, and to screen away irrelevant stuff. You have to work on your own illumination. All these smartphones, for example, can be dangerous traps. Previously freedom and creativity has been restricted by means of censorship of information, these days we are bombarded with useless information. This endeavour, of working on awareness and focus, is in many ways a sort of spiritual undertaking that requires hard work and discipline, meditation and training. And it is often easier said than done. It is also ancient wisdom; there is a saying by the 13th century mystic Rumi: “the art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.”
You´ve toured the globe many times. What touring memories and anecdotes do you have so far?
Ragnar: This question is always tricky to answer, there are many anecdotes. The funniest and craziest ones are often not fit to mention in an interview… and the ones that are fit to mention are often not crazy enough, haha…
“Crash Nomada” have tackled the Swedish melancholy, mentality and the clash between the small town and the urbanization. What do you prefer these days, the calmness of the small town or the big city?
Ragnar: Both I’d say. I grew up in the forest outside an industrial small town in rural Sweden, and I loved it. But I have spent many inspiring years living in big cities in different countries too. I think I will always like both and not stay in one place for too long.
You have taken a clear stance in the migration and immigration debate which has partly divided and separated Sweden and Europe for many years now. The new song “Under En Mörk Europeisk Himmel” is a good example of this. How do you look at those recent years with almost biblical proportions, like a yet unseen modern Exodus?
Ragnar: Yes, the above-mentioned song, as well as Mälaren and Tusen sånger deal with these issues in different ways, and they all do it within religious or mythological and historical narratives. I think it is interesting to write some songs with that awareness. It creates depth and a tangible connection to our ancestors, who were also simple Homo sapiens struggling in this world. And deep inside we all carry the answers. I think a song with this type of narrative can reach further than a song just saying “Fuck the narrow minded right wing nationalists”… sort of.
We´ve heard that the band also has been playing as street musicians. What differs from playing music on the streets comparing to have a proper arranged concert with a paying audience?
Ragnar: There is a certain magic in the air when everything is acoustic. You get closer to the dynamic nature of sound and body when singing and playing. We still do spontaneous street gigs and acoustic small gigs. But the chaos and high volume of a proper gig on a good stage with a participating audience is also pure magic, but in another more boosted way.
Courtesy: Crash Nomada
We are believers of Jesus Christ, yet we have also always listened to a lot of punk, grunge, heavy metal, post rock. Have you considered to ever take on the Bible, perhaps as an concept album in the future?
Ragnar: There is a quote from someone… could be a Dylan-quote, but I’m not sure, I can’t find it now, but the bottom line was something like: “Atheism is terrible for music…” And there is a certain amount of truth in that. Music has always been a bridge between the divine and the earthly everyday life. We can’t ignore its metaphysical and spiritual transformative power, practically or historically. A lot of secular commodified music is ripped from its roots and context and therefore fails to connect and transform us. And listening to yet another band with a fixed routine left wing atheist approach can be a bit dull… for me it just gets predictable and a bit like putting a grid on top of the world and then being content you have all the answers. On the other hand, a lot of explicit religious music can be just as boring. When someone has all the answers, you just lack the chaos, ambivalence and magic that is essential to good music. And in a way, this ambivalence or tension between the sacred and profane was formative for the early Rock’n’Roll ethos, which has one foot in Afro American Christianity and the other foot in hedonism.There is another saying by someone, can’t remember who: “There are two steps on the spiritual journey; begin and continue”. The spiritual path contains both elements of faith and doubt,we will never reach some kind of goal and have all the answers. In my opinion this struggle needs to shine through the music.But anyway, to answer your question, I think I will continue to write with religious texts and scriptures as historic and cultural reference points, it is difficult not to. However, personally, when it comes to Abrahamic monotheism, I spend more time studying the esoteric teachings and practice of it´s different underground and mystical spiritual movements, more than the early scriptures.
Time to wrap things up for this time. What does 2019 and 2020 hold for “Crash Nomada” and do you have any last words for your listeners out around the globe?
Ragnar: We will be doing some gigs and start to work on some new songs probably. Thanks for a good interview with many interesting questions.
Thank you very much for taking your time answering the questions for us!
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