SAE Glasgow student Linus Johnsson has released an EP titled Home that captures the isolation and loneliness that many people have felt during the national lockdown. We caught up with him to find out more about this latest release.
What’s the inspiration behind the Home EP?
It's a 4-track EP inspired by me moving from Sweden to Scotland, leaving friends and family and then being stuck in isolation due to the COVID situation. So the first track 'Home' has some recordings sent from friends and family back in Sweden just doing ordinary things, my niece playing with her toys, a friend out walking with a stroller, some Swedish rain etc. It's about yearning for home, the anxiousness of being isolated.
How did you use sound to capture the isolation and loneliness that many people have experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic?
So for the track ‘Isolation’ I used a lot of field recordings that I had gathered while walking around a desolate Glasgow during the first lockdown we had and manipulated them. I wanted to create something that was constantly building up, only to kind of collapse or disintegrate on itself.
The EP takes negative emotions and channels them productively. Do you have any advice for people struggling to find ways to be creative during lockdown?
That sort of became the theme of the EP during production because I was struggling creatively myself. That has always been an issue for me, having extremely long creative ruts or blocks. And I realised early on that I was not in a good creative place so I set myself a goal of simply just pulling through and finishing an EP before the deadline, as this was my project for the Creative Production elective module. Usually, when I’m not feeling creative I just scrap and bin idea after idea. Having a deadline and a somewhat clear goal certainly helped me push through, even though I wasn’t very satisfied with the EP at first it has since grown on me and I am happy I worked through that rut.
Walk us through the process for producing this EP. What were the different stages and your involvement in each?
Initially I had planned to record live musicians for most of the EP, with it featuring some string arrangements, but due to COVID-19 that didn’t work out. The plan was also for all the piano tracks to be recorded using the campus piano but as the campus had limited open hours, time eventually got the better of me and I had to produce the whole thing “inside the box” which is my normal route. The plan was to fully step away from my usual way of producing music by using more real recordings, real instruments as opposed to my go-to virtual instruments.
Were there any challenges or difficulties along the way, and how did you overcome these?
The biggest challenge was my creativity at the time. The theme for the EP became what it is in the process and it wasn’t planned. I was struggling a lot with isolation at the time and it really affected my creativity, it still is. I was in a bad place, like most people are in this pandemic, and I really missed my friends and family back in Sweden. I’m happy I managed to channel some of that energy into the music.
How does the EP build on skills that you’ve developed over the course of your studies at SAE?
We experienced a lot with miking techniques and processing for piano to get that really intimate and warm kind of sound that I was after. So even though I did not get to record the piano on campus, I could apply those same techniques “in-the-box” to get a similar sound to what we had achieved with the real thing.
Do you have a favourite track from the release, and why do you like this song so much?
That would probably be the title track ‘Home’ as I get to hear my niece playing and laughing, my mom and dad chatting and my friends going about their days doing ordinary things. The process of creating that track really helped with my homesickness.
Were there any musical or visual references that you drew on with this production?
I made a mood board filled with cold, moody and wintery pictures from Scotland as that was my initial inspiration for this, but that changed throughout the process and I guess I instead drew inspiration from memories of home and family.
We previously spoke to you in 2019 about your desire to write music for films. Is that still something you are working towards — how have you continued to further your career over the last few months?
It is, yes. Not just films necessarily but media in general, be it video games, TV, adverts etc. I’ve been looking more into the video game audio industry lately and I’m really interested in that right now, probably because I’ve been stuck inside playing video games a lot more lately!
What else have you been working on lately — either as part of your studies at SAE or in your own time?
I decided to take the Advanced Creative Production elective module this trimester and for that I am currently working on implementing sound and music in a videogame level as well as doing sound design. It’s been really fun and exciting, although sometimes frustrating, learning two entirely new and different programs with Unreal Engine and FMOD.
Where can people find you and stay up to date with your work?
The best place would probably be my website www.linusjohnsson.com as that links to all other places where I’m available!