Moved by the world around him when he was able to finally indulge in the outdoors, Hög sjö went on to create a world of soundscapes on his 2023 self-titled debut. We talked about that, as well as the decision to focus on his own thing and more in this back-and-forth exchange. Keep on reading on for that, and make sure to check out ‘Hög sjö’ when it drops on January 27th.
Kendra: You’ve got a stacked resume working with the likes of everyone from Robyn to Taylor Swift. When did you realize that it was time to take a moment and start to focus on your own recordings?
Hög sjö: For some time; stuff had been building up inside. Even though I really enjoy working together with people – I do think music making basically is supposed to be a collective experience – I still felt I needed to see what would happen if I just made something for myself. I didn’t even know what would come out of it. I just went to the studio every day and did stuff without any expectations.
Kendra: Do you have to tell yourself to carve out time for yourself?
Hög sjö: Absolutely. That’s why it took me some time to actually do it. It’s always been “bad timing” for a break. Always projects coming up that I felt too excited about, that I just couldn’t say no to. I had to bite the hand that fed me and shut the world out for a while.
Kendra: In late November you dropped the EP ‘Gnosienne no. 6’ which is like a little teaser of what’s to come on your January 2023 release, ‘Hög sjö.’ When you were working on the album did you always know you wanted to drop some of the songs a little earlier like you did?
Hög sjö: I didn’t really have a plan. I was in this nice creative flow and I didn’t want it to stop. I finally had to put my foot down and say, okay, this is it. No more songs now. When I listen back to the material, it was hard to pick out just one song. It felt like they belonged to each other.
That’s the reason we wanted to release a few of them at the same time. Like in small EPs.
Kendra: How did you go about picking and choosing which would be the best fit for an EP?
Hög sjö: Hm, I think I just tried to make small palettes of the different moods to show what this thing is all about. Subconsciously I might have put them out in chronological order as they were created. Not sure…
Kendra: I was listening to the EP’s title track and it reminded me of the HBO series, ‘Westworld.’ It had this charming, sort of, antiquity to it, but also felt set in a time years from now. While it took me to the future, I’d love to know where you were when this song came to life?
Hög sjö: For me, creating something is a very beautiful sort of escape from reality. I want to escape both from the time I’m in and in the space, I’m in. In the lack of possibility to pull inspiration from art and music from the future, the next best thing is to draw from the past. It’s not ideal, but as long as it’s just not from now, it’s ok. The room is the same. I’m constantly reaching for things far away. Annoyingly you only get so far around the earth until you start getting closer again.
Kendra: On the self-titled album, you worked with several other artists. Have you always been someone who welcomes collaboration?
Hög sjö: Again, I really think music is and always was a way of connecting and building relationships. It’s kind of a depressing thing to just try to get high on your own ideas and riff off yourself. A bit perverted even.
Sometimes you just have to make shit without any compromises. But collaborating doesn’t always have to mean compromises. After I figured out what I was doing, kind of, I started to invite friends to help me realize my vision. In the beginning, it was maybe a prestige thing, “I have to play all instruments by myself.” Then I was just, fuck it. I know way better horn players than myself.
Kendra: It’s been noted that the LP is full of instrumental soundscapes. With that, what colors, shapes, and overall imagery do you feel these soundscapes would have if they were real places?
Hög sjö: It’s 100% nature. I was spending a lot of time inside and everything felt very claustrophobic, a direct effect of the pandemic I would say. The only thing I could think of was open fields, oceans, and mountains. Everything that city life was not. Hög sjö became this safe haven.
Kendra: Also, being that it’s a new year, have you set any sort of music resolutions for yourself?
Hög sjö: Just to promise myself to keep on searching for this thing whatever it is…
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Hög sjö’ out on January 27th, what lies ahead for you?
Hög sjö: Already halfway into the making of the next Hög sjö album. But I’m also back doing a lot of writing and producing for other artists at the moment. I’m in the middle of a record with The Hives and a new record with Bleachers, so I might have to split up myself in half, but it’s all good. I’m easily bored.