Momentum Through Emotion
CoC chats with Sanctum
by: Adrian Bromley
It takes a lot of talent to be able to capture a specific emotion in song writing, but to be able to capture a multiple array of emotions, make them sonically appealing, and still manage to keep it interesting goes beyond talent. Few bands have this ability; they opt instead to stick to formula. But Swedish instrumental/ambient outfit Sanctum is not like the rest of the bands out there. Their emotionally charged debut LP _Lupus in Fabula_ (on Swedish ambient/extreme music label Cold Meat Industry) brings a sweet change to ambient music, emphasizing long states of emotional recklessness, intricate ideas and passionate overtones. Presently, Sanctum -- comprised of ambient gurus Jan Carleklev, Lena Robert, Hakan Paulsson and Marika Ljungberg -- are in the process of working on a follow-up to _Lupus in Fabula_, but Jan Carleklev took time out to talk to Chronicles of Chaos by e-mail about the band, their music and future ideas for the band. Read on.

CoC: In terms of where Sanctum is headed musically or creatively, do you think you will ever reach your final destination with Sanctum? Or are the ideas constantly evolving the band and its music?

Jan Carleklev: I hope we never reach our final destination. If we feel that we don't have anything more to give the band, we'd have to look somewhere else to refresh our minds -- and that should be the end of Sanctum. At this moment I can't see a situation like that happening, as we have so much to give to the band. The fact that we all have other projects going on keeps us from being bored, and keeps our minds clear to focus on what we will achieve with Sanctum.

CoC: Do you find your music peaceful? If not, how does your music affect you?

JC: I have never used the word "peaceful" when I have described our music -- to me, it has too many penetrating feelings to be peaceful. But someone else might use that word to describe Sanctum. The impact our music has on me varies, and I have noticed the impact varies on the listener as well. A tune that I feel is beautiful and happy, a listener can experience in a sad and harsh way. Creating music is something that I must do to survive. That may sound pompous, but it is true. It is a way for me to express myself, and when I'm sitting in my studio and creating a tune it is like I am in a totally different world. I do this to satisfy myself, but knowing that people appreciate our music is great. It makes striving to reach new grounds worth it.

CoC: How has being on Cold Meat Industry helped the band? What other bands on the label do you enjoy?

JC: Cold Meat Industry has made our music available for other people, and I'm really glad that we have the ability to work with CMI. So far we have had free hands to do what we want to do, and that freedom is something that we must have to be able to carry on with Sanctum. But, in a way, I think that being a CMI band can prevent us from reaching other audiences, too. Concerning other bands on the label, I really like BDN, Deutsch Nepal, Mental Destruction and Arcana, to mention some. But there are many on the label that I don't like at all.

CoC: What influenced you to play this type of music? Do you like other forms of music, or mostly atmospheric/ambient music?

JC: I/we have no intention of creating a certain "type" of music. Sanctum just uses the components that are necessary to reach the feeling we are looking for. We do not try to sound industrial or ambient or any other genre/style. And of course we like other forms of music! The band members' tastes vary -- everything from country/western music to death metal. Speaking for myself, I listen to a lot of classical and modern orchestral music. But it varies. One moment I could be listening to Portishead, and the next moment, Meshuggah. I find myself listening to other ambient projects the least of all.

CoC: Do you think most bands lack emotion or powerful expression in their music nowadays? What I mean is, bands seem very formulated now, no emotion. Do you agree?

JC: If you refer to the mainstream genres, I agree fully. I don't think that what those bands create is music -- it's pure entertainment. But all the underground music scenes have something else. There, everyone wants to achieve something... there are few copycats in the underground.

CoC: In the bio, you mention visuals, dancers, etc. Are those a part of the Sanctum live show now? How does Sanctum differ live from on record?

JC: It is hard for me to describe how Sanctum is live, but so far we have gotten a very good response from the audience. We try to bring our expression further with some visual elements, like video projections and dancers. We want to strengthen the feelings by bringing the music and the visual elements as close to each other as possible, and that is very hard to achieve on a record. We try hard to get the visual on the album cover to mirror our music inside. Musically, we try to use as many traditional and non-traditional live instruments as possible to generate a genuine live feel to the music we are playing. Marika plays the cello, and I'm playing some hand drums and also creating sounds with specially-designed electric instruments. Lena sings, and Hakan sings and handles samples.

CoC: Do you feel very adept at creating music? Is it an easy process amongst the rest of the band, or does it take time to develop ideas?

JC: It is hard to generalize the process of creating a tune. Sometimes I run into a wall trying to come up with ideas, and everything at that point goes right to the trash can, but fortunately that doesn't happen too often. For me, the obstacle is creating varied sounds that'll fit with one another. I'll sit down for days -- even weeks -- with a couple of sounds, trying to make them fit. It is not hard to get ideas, the problem is carrying them out and being able to reach the feeling that I want with that specific song.

Contact: Jan Carleklev, Norra Bogesundsgatan 3A, 1 554 73 Jonkoping, Sweden mailto:sanctum@coldmeat.se mailto:jan.carleklev@mbox200.swipnet.se WWW: http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-73354

(article submitted 13/4/1998)


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