Fans of northern sounds and nordic mythology, cock your ear for another label discovery. Nordanvind is the vinyl imprint of Swedish artist Fjäder. We profile the artist, the label, and then talk to Fjäder herself. Let’s first let her put us in an evocatively occult mood:
In the eye of the storm
Mithya spears Logos
Shattering with a smile
I see all my faces
I have seen the end of all things
I slept a dreamless slumber…
I have seen the end of all things
I have seen the world reborn and crumble
I have seen the end of all things
Take me home before the storm
Even though she’s been DJing since 2006, Fjäder’s name started to echo in the international techno scene — and beyond — after her split record Luna Tactus with Stephanie Sykes, released on Fullpanda Records. This year, Fjäder also took on the 4DSOUND spatial audio system with her colleague Korridor, whose track was later released on Fjäder’s emerging record label, Nordanvind.
Recently, while continuing to create a network of like-minded people, Fjäder started her own party series in Stockholm, called Eden. And even among many interesting producers and labels coming from northern latitudes, Nordanvind seems like a unique platform worth watching. The first release already featured some compelling names — Markus Henriksson of Minilogue (as Nobody Home), Korridor, and Skymn are on the compilation debut Sagas, alongside Fjäder herself.
Fjäder is Ida Matsdotter, who describes herself as “a woman mutating into a bird.” Her motto: “when we grow wings, we learn how to fly.” In her music, DJ sets, and Facebook posts, she uses poetic language and spiritual ideas and imagery. Fjäder means feather — in this case, the feather that shamans use to dispel bad vibrations and illusions.
Fjäder uses various elements ranging from techno and ambient to dub and experimental to “awaken the listeners and make them live their life fully.” As she describes her sound:
“If I wanted Fjäder to sound in a way it would be like this. Like black ravens and white swans flying out in the unknown dimensions calling all of you to an important tribe meeting where we will dissolve darkness.”
In her music production, she has used variously the Vember Audio Surge synth plug-n, Strymon blueSky Reverberator, Sonicprojects OP-X PRO synth plug-in, Audio Realism’s Bass Line 2 (303 emulation plug-in), and the Korg MS-20 mini alongside the Yamaha CS1x and Roland AIRA TR-8, as well as field recordings and sampled musical instruments. In her live shows, she says, she uses primarily synths and frequently sings.
In 2014, Fjäder started Nordanvind — “the wind blowing from the north. A fresh and cold wind. It will wake you up,” she says. The debut compilation launched with captivating artwork by Birdie, aka Stephanie Abdallah (with graphic design by Johanna Krikonenko). You get a bonus illusion when you spin the vinyl – the eyes (seen below) appear to close, sleepily.
And the eye candy is accompanied by a poem written by Fjäder (Swedish only!):
Den som vandrat
Att det som väckts i evigheten
Klingar ut över världarna
Och blir till viskande sagor
I vindens sång…
Musically, the compilation circles around contemporary techno, with organic, eerie elements, and dimensional layers. But unlike many similar musical projects, who rely on a dark, mean, and heavy atmosphere, the whole record sounds rather welcoming and mysterious. Skymn’s Memory is built on a pulsing and cold beat with a minimalistic synth. Nobody Home’s Speglar (‘Mirrors’) has a solid techno beat like thick roots, which are branched in softening, airy melodical bits. Fjäder’s En Liten Saga (‘A Small Story’) carries light throughout the whole time period, and Korridor’s Somnolence churns up the sediments of noise.
The second release is in progress, and as well as the first one, it will be released on vinyl and after that maybe also digitally. Apart from releases, Fjäder has also started a podcast series under Nordanvind called Stories, with sets by Finn of Tomland, Jenny Persson, Sim Bohlism, and more.
CDM/Zuzana: What was the impulse to start your own imprint? Both you and other artists on Nordanvind release on well-known labels like Cocoon, Fullpanda or Minus, so what was the reason to starting something new on your own?
Fjäder: I felt that I wanted to create my vision of how the music industry can look like. Magical, creative, loving, mystical and just beautiful. I wanted to tell my story and to include all the people I believe in and vibrate with.
How do you choose artists for your label? Will Nordanvind stay being purely Swedish? And how has Nobody Home alias Marcus Henriksson joined the label?
I go with the flow and if people suddenly pop up on Nordanvind, it is because they connected deeply with me in some way or another. Right now, there’s a lot of Swedish talents, because I have many great people in my surroundings. But I consider the world my playground, not just Sweden.
Somehow, I feel like me and Marcus are working with the same vibe. I feel we’re connected because of that. I wrote to him about how I felt about his music and he told me I understood it right and then he gave me Speglar. He’s like a brother but I never meet him in person. I hope to do so!
You’re into nature and mythology, which you also reflect on Nordanvind’s sound and visual aesthetics. I’ve noticed that more artists from Sweden have a huge connection to spiritual and magical forces and even to their own mythological heritage. Do you like old stories and myths of your homeland? Do you have a favorite story, god, or an idea coming from Swedish mythology?
I grew up being like this. My mind was always sinking deeply into fairy tales. I read about ancient mysticism already when I was a kid. I grew up close to nature and with poetry and songs telling me about my heritage.
Then I traveled the world pretending to be something else until a little girl told me: ”you look very Swedish.” And I went silent… And asked her, ”well, is that any good?” And she answered, ”yes, if you like where you come from.” I guess it was that moment when I started to reflect on who I really was.
Now that I’m older, I am so happy about this vibe in my blood, filled with Nordic folklore, folk music, poetry, and more. I am simply exploding in everything that I am. I feel so many things and vibes, and since I live close to the forest here in Sweden, I guess that the wind tells me stories about this place. It’s like my cells are opening up and things just flow. I read mythology from all over the world and it all connected somehow. I have so many things to tell you and it’s best if I sing it to you.
I have many favorite stories, but I’ll tell you a quote I loved as a kid. It is from Astrid Lindgren, one of my biggest inspirations. ”Spela min lind, sjung min näktergal.” (“Play my Winding! Sing my Nightingale!”)
I would also like to tell you about the Northern goddess Freyja. She taught Odin the magical ritual of Seidr. She was also the one who had the first choice among the dead on the battlefields. Her hall was called Sessrúmnir and was located in Fólkvangr. I often think of her to gain power. I wrote to the people who created Vikings and asked them if they forgot about Sessrúmnir. I never got an answer.
You also write poems and the first release on Nordanvind includes one of them. Who are your favorite poets/ poems? How is the power of word important in your art?
I started to write poetry as soon as I could grab a pen. It just comes very natural to me. Karin Boye, Edgar Allan Poe and Harry Martinsson are definitely some of my favorites. I used to read Karin’s work when I was a little girl. I still have hundreds of poems that I wrote years ago, so combining it with music is perfect. Then you get both words AND sounds to describe a feeling, enabling more people to get what you are about to tell them.
This poem Ode is well known to many but I felt I’ve built the foundation of my music path on those words. It’s how I feel about it.
Arthur O’Shaughnessy – Ode
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
And what about sound? What do you prefer in music you create, release or adore?
I cannot write a song without also writing a story about it. I sometimes try not to, but I end up having one story to each song I made. Music is the doorway to my soul and (maybe) to everybody’s souls. Music can’t lie. It’s always what it is. I am a storyteller and I like to comfort you with my stories. To tell you that I have been there… Everything is actually beautiful if you create something. Even grief. I like anything that people play from their hearts, courageously telling me about what they are going through in life. On a scale I am just a kid still trying to get what life’s about, and on the way I tell people about my experience.
Nordanvind will soon put out another release. Can you tell us more about it?
I can say this… that some birds came to me and they told me that they have traveled all the from paradise to sing for us.
Do you sometimes have flying dreams? 🙂
I am slowly mutating into a bird, so soon I don’t just have to dream about flying. ;)) But yes. My mind flies with birds and I’ve dreamed about flying a couple of times.
Corrections: An earlier version of this story had a number of errors:
The article implied the label is a digital label; to date, it has only released on vinyl.
The artwork designer was incorrectly identified; the correct designer is Stephanie Abdallah aka Birdie.
We have added additional details to the gear used. Also, the instrument is not the Serge hardware modular, but the unrelated Surge software plug-in from Vember Audio.
CDM apologizes for these oversights.