Today we present an interview with A.S. Swanski, a Dutch musician, who now lives in Sweden. He has recently launched a music project inspired by Swedish crime fiction!
How did you come up with the idea to do an entire album inspired by Swedish crime fiction?!
Two years ago I was working on a new music piece and there was something movielike about it and it would have been suitable for a horror movie. I had just read Echoes from the Dead (original title: Skumtimmen) by Swedish author Johan Theorin and came up with the idea to write a short text for the music inspired by it, since both the novel and the music was ghostlike. I uploaded the demo version on the web and it was well received, which gave me the idea to create more music inspired by Swedish crime novels.
The best Swedish crime novels are not only suspenseful but also tell something about society. There are feelings of indignation and anger in many novels. They are entertaining but you also feel uncomfortable while you are reading them. Somehow that is how I have always imagined my music too. I like music that creates strong pictures and tell something about the world. I do not create pop hits. Like many authors I do not only want to entertain but I also want to challenge you the listener. It is bad when people are indifferent about a piece of music or a novel.
You can say that my music and Swedish crime fiction go well together. I have also always been fascinated by crime. My first job was as a journalist working for a Dutch organization that worked with rehabilitation of criminals. I have visited prisons, interviewed criminals, attorneys, police… So for me it really was not that strange to blend crime fiction with music.
It must be fairly safe to assume that you have read a lot of Swedish crime novels (?) Do you have any favorites?
My father bought some Sjöwall & Wahlöö novels in the 1970s and those were the first Swedish novels I read as a teenager. I still lived in Holland then and there were not that many other Swedish authors whose novels had been translated. That changed around the year 2000 when the Dutch publisher De Geus published novels by Henning Mankell and Liza Marklund. I discovered Kurt Wallander who was an updated version of Martin Beck and I recognized a lot in Liza Marklund’s novels since I am a journalist too. After Mankell and Marklund I started reading many other Swedish crime novels and even more so when I moved to Sweden, since I learned Swedish and could read novels that were not available in Dutch.
I was out of sorts when I read The Beast by Roslund & Hellström, and not only because my daughter was in preschool then. They write about criminals in a way I recognize. I wrote a song inspired by their second novel, Box 21, which was also impressive even though the ending was not surprising. A fairly new novel that I really like is Atrocity by Thomas Erikson; it may be one of the best crime novels I have ever read. The story is confrontational and does not feel like a novel at all. But sometimes I enjoy novels that simply tell a good story without any reflections about our society, e.g. the novels by Johan Theorin. The album will also include a song inspired by a novel written by Håkan Nesser who is a style conscious writer. Leif GW Persson, another style conscious writer, is not included but I have a song about the Palme murder because it has a bit of a symbolic meaning for the Swedish crime fiction genre according to the critics. A song about an unbelievable true crime in the perfect society that many did not think could happen in between songs about fictional crimes in the perfect society that could have happened.
I read that you have written a crime novel, can you please tell us a little about it?
The novel is called Moscow Hearts and it was published nine years ago in the Netherlands. I wrote it using a penname, Marc Pennartz. The story is about Internet crime and human trafficking. It received good reviews, but since then I have been busy doing other things. I have not had time to write another yet, but maybe I will someday. I wrote crime fiction as a child and I still really like writing. To me it is not that different from music. Just the form is different.
Do you ever perform live?
I played in several groups in the 1990s and I would love to play again but I do not have a band. I cannot do everything by myself because I use several different instruments and sounds. That is why I use the Internet as much as possible and anyone can listen to my music for free. I have to admit though that it would be an exciting experience to play the crime fiction music live.
Please visit A.S. Swanski’s webpage to listen to his crime fiction music.