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‘The Magnetist’: Line cook by day, cassette tape archaeologist by night
09:11 am

Pop Culture


There are those of us who love music for the emotional, the cerebral, and the intellectual passions that exist without any tangibility, and there are those of us who also fall in love with the pure physical medium. Vinyl collectors are the obvious example, but as International Cassette Store Day approaches, it may prove rewarding to shed a little light on the eccentric musical medium enthusiasts that opt for the other analog.

Cassette collector Micke describes himself as a “kock,” (don’t giggle, you nerds, it’s Swedish for “cook.”) The documentary below translates “kock” as “chef,” which, according to my (very) rudimentary Swedish, would actually be “köksmästare,” (I said quit giggling!) I make the distinction not out of pedantry, but because while “chef” insinuates head of the kitchen, cook insinuates a working stiff—though Swedish DMers are welcome to correct me if I’m wrong (That distinction, as minor as it may feel to some, matters to those of us who’ve made minimum wage in kitchens). If Micke is as I think he is, a line cook grunt as opposed to the head of a kitchen, he’s making low wages (yes, even in the socialized utopia of Sweden), but pursues his cassette hobby as an artistically fulfilling extra-curricular activity, as opposed to the errant pursuits of a middle-class hobbyist.

The mini-documentary below is a compelling look at Micke’s analog life.  In addition to his own expeditions for lesser-known cassettes, Micke lovingly crafts playlists for sparsely attended parties, releases his own magnetically modified cassettes (also available for digital download, of course), and blogs his findings for the wider cassette community. There’s a desperate moment after the documentarians “help” him pack up his gear for a party and unknowingly demagnetize a number of his cassettes. The audience is reminded of how fragile such physical mediums used to be, and I’m somewhat relieved people like Micke are out there curating the artifacts that folks like me are so flippantly careless about.

Forgive us Micke! We know not what we do!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
From Opera and the Avant-Garde to Pop: The Musical World of Mikael Karlsson

There are those who are late developers. Paul Gauguin was in his mid-thirties before he quit his job as a stock-broker and gave up his middle class life to paint pictures; Augustus John was twenty-eight when one summer, he dived into the sea, hit his head and emerged from the waters a genius; Mikael Karlsson was twenty-one when he decided to quit his job at the liquor store and become a composer.

Mikael Karlsson: ‘It was very late, it wasn’t until twenty-one when I dropped out of Law School. I’d always been playing piano and drawing, but I didn’t have much to say.

‘Three years into Law School, I realized I really hated it. I wasn’t performing well. So, I dropped out of Law School and found a piano teacher. I didn’t tell my parents that I had dropped out. For a year, I worked in a liquor store to pay for piano lessons, and then I started to bang things out on the piano and record them.

‘Two years later, I realized finally that here was a medium with which I had something to say with. Before then, I had pretty much succumbed to the idea that I wasn’t going to do anything artistic. It wasn’t in the cards for me, even though I had an urge. But I didn’t feel the confidence to do it until I was twenty-one and I was grown-up.’

Mikael Karlsson was born in Sweden in 1975. When he started playing the piano in the mid-1990s, it was more than apparent he had an incredible affinity with music. But without any academic grounding in music, Mikael was unable to enter any of Sweden’s music schools. He, therefore, decided to move to New York

Mikael Karlsson: ‘I’ve lived in New York since January 8th, 2000. I moved here to study. In Sweden admission to music school is centralized and as I was very much outside of that system, I would have not been admitted because I had no background in music.

‘On the other hand here in New York, you kind of pay-your-way into it. So I went to the cheapest possible stage school that would allow me to enter. I went to Queen’s College. What I loved about it was that it was easy to get in, and you could get a lot out of it. I spent 5 years doing that, getting my Masters here.’

Karlsson earned a masters degree in composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors in June of 2005.

Mikael Karlsson: ‘When I graduated, I realized that the musicians I kept collaborating with lived here. So, I needed to stay.’

Since graduating, Mikael has produced an incredible array of work: writing and releasing albums; contributing tracks to the films of Bruce LaBruce; composing music for the Cedars Lake Dance Company; collaborating with designer and film-maker Anna Österlund; scoring and producing for Black Sun productions; writing music for video games; working with Lydia Lunch;  and composing an opera.

Karlsson wears his success lightly. He delights more in other’s good fortune, rather than his own achievements. He makes his life seem like a series of happy accidents, rather than the product of his incredible talent and dedicated hard work, which make him so productive, so successful and such a brilliant composer.

If this weren’t enough, Mikael has the looks of pop star and a wicked sense of humor, which sparkled throughout our interview.

Paul Gallagher: How did you first start composing?

Mikael Karlsson: ‘My friend Niklas showed me how to sequence things on a computer, and I had been writing these little musical sketches, and now I was finally able to hear them.

‘I remember spending an evening programming pieces I had written but never heard performed on his computer, and when I played it back, it was one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had. I was just sitting in my apartment on the floor listening to it over-and-over-and-over again.

‘Finally hearing that there was something there mattered to me. It was a very different feeling. I finally felt content pouring out of me, and it made me curious. It made me wonder what the hell I was saying?

‘I was just exploring where music can go, and in a non-experimental way at first, because I wanted to figure out what the language was. I didn’t know any music theory, but it was now possible for me to replicate something that I heard. So, like any artist at the start, I learnt through copying. Eventually I accumulated a palette of what music I seemed to prefer, and my own language started growing out of that.’

Paul Gallagher: What was your early music like?

Mikael Karlsson: ‘My early pieces were very romantic, and there’s something of that even now, and there’s also that Scandinavian darkness that doesn’t seem to want to leave.

‘None of my pieces are about me. It’s not like I’m expressing something that’s just about me, I’m watching where the music want to go, and that’s what keeps it fresh, that’s how I keep wanting to do more.

‘I’m interested in seeing where elements of Classical music can fit into Pop music, and where Experimental music can fit into more conventional classical music. Such combinations became more interesting as I went along and I became able to do things.

‘Because I was very insecure about what I had made, I hardly allowed anyone to listen to it. But when I did, they seemed to be affected by it, and that was a fantastic kick for someone who had spent twenty-years refusing to go there.’
Mikael Karlsson has made a special sampler of his music for Dangerous Minds readers, which you can download here or click on the image below.
Find out more about Mikael Karlsson here.
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Danach’: A film by Anna Österlund featuring music by Mikael Karlsson and Black Sun Productions

More from Mikael Karlsson, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Danach’: A film by Anna Österlund featuring music by Mikael Karlsson and Black Sun Productions

Talented film-maker and designer Anna Österlund’s latest short Danach is a collaboration with composer Mikael Karlsson and queer post-industrial collective Black Sun Productions. Österlund previously worked with Karlsson on the haunting, beautiful and disturbing film Breathing, and this time she has used his composition, which is the last track “Danach” on the final album release by Black Sun Productions, Phantasmata Domestica.

Black Sun Productions is a collective centered around “artivists” Massimo and Pierce, who for the past decade have performed as sound and visual artists and political activists under the name Anarcocks. Black Sun Productions have worked with Coil (Plastic Spider Thing), Lydia Lunch and H. R. Geiger. Massimo and Pierce met on the set of an underground porn film, and their work includes explicit elements of ritualized sex magick, chaos magick and elements of fetishism and sado-masochism. Phantasmata Domestica is the last ever release from this talented and uncompromising duo.

Now based in New York, Swedish composer Mikael Karlsson, who wrote the track “Danach” for Phantasmata Domestica, holds a masters degree in composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music and graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors in June of 2005. He is a multi-award-winning composer, recognized as one of the most exciting and original working today. Karlsson has worked with Lydia Lunch, Mariam Wallentin, Kleerup, Lykke Li, Benoit-Swan Pouffe, Alexander Ekman, amongst many others.

Anna Österlund told Dangerous Minds about her latest film collaboration and the music which inspired it.

‘The album name is Phantasmata Domestica which means something like house ghost and Black Sun Productions call it “an epic and emotional tale about sorrow and loss.” The last track “Danach” is about the next day, the ceremonies are long since gone - the pity with them. Waking up, being forced to move on with your life. What hereafter? What now?

‘I got to interpret these words and the music freely and came up with this video during last week. We filmed for just a few hours, in the same forest and only a few hundred meters away from where I made Breathing.

‘I made the heavy wool coat that she’s wearing and added my grandmother’s old mourning veil to the costume. The house I built on top of an old record player, so I could rotate it and the wind comes from my blowdryer. I had a lot of fun making the film, it’s quite tricky to go through with ideas when you don’t have a budget or a crew to help out, but sometimes that gives birth to new ideas.’

Danach stars newcomer Maja Mintchev, who Anna spotted for the role in a department store in Malmö, and the film was released just last month in Europe.

Danach is a film by Anna Österlund in collaboration with Black Sun Productions and Mikael Karlsson.

Phantasmata Domestica by Black Sun Productions, featuring Mikael Karlsson, Massimo & Pierce, Lydia Lunch, Othon, Cory Smythe, Fung Chern Hwei, Sirius Quartet and Michael Bates is available here.

More on Anna Österlund at Ravishing Mad and Mikael Karlsson.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Clara’: A film about joy, love and struggle by Anna Österlund

‘Breathing’: A haunting and eerie short film by Mikael Karlsson, Anna Österlund and Truls Bråhammar


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Adamson’: The original Homer Simpson from 1949?

Meet Adamson - a dead ringer for Homer Simpson, as published in Icelandic paper Fálkinn in July 1949.

Adamson was created by Swedish cartoonist Oscar Jacobsson, whose work was published successfully around the world. In America Adamson was known as Silent Sam, and had a considerable following. Was Adamson a possible influence on the look of Matt Groening’s Homer Simpson?
More pictures of Homer, d’oh, Adamson, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Clara’: A film about joy, love and struggle by Anna Österlund

After the success of Breathing, her haunting collaboration with composer Michael Karlsson, film-maker Anna Österlund has returned with her latest short, Clara - a beautiful and impressionistic film examining the conflicting pressures of motherhood.

‘I made the film after hearing designer and musician Jenny Grettve‘s music and seeing her collection which drew inspiration from the 19th century composer Clara Schumann.

‘Clara was a mother of 7 children, and yet, she was considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era.

‘In the eyes of society, being a performer and the main breadwinner for her family, Clara was in direct conflict with the expected role as a wife and mother. Some of the hardships she must have gone through in combining the two, I also see in my friend Jenny’s life. She’s had 3 kids within 3 years, while at the same time she started her own fashion brand.

‘I see the joy, the love and the struggle, the wish to drop everything, yet embracing it, and the fantastic creativity that comes out of being under such a pressure.

‘So I asked her to just act herself in her own collection and I put her in contrasting situations involving her, her kids, music and creativity, and let the camera roll.

‘I worked with symbols from classic paintings such as the apple symbolising temptaition, and other symbols showing struggle, hard work, restlesness and love. I’m leaving it up to the viewers to make their own interpretations, but everything is there for a reason.’

Prior to film-making, Anna set-up her own highly successful design company Ravishing Mad in 2007, which she described as a contrast of things she loves: ‘being outrageous and yet stunning, clean but not strict, dirty and oh so powerful.’

Anna was born and raised just outside Stockholm. She had a rather lonely childhood, and was often bullied by other kids. To escape Anna spent much of her time alone in her room drawing and sewing, while listening to music. It was the kind of existence that focussed her talents and ambitions.

Once Ravishing Mad was a success, Anna wanted to find new outlets for her cretaivity. ‘I bought a camera and got back into filming, photographing and writing, collaborating with musicians and dancers along with my work in fashion. Now I’m enjoying myself like I never thought possible and my biggest joy is the mix of doing everything.

Anna describes Clara as a mix of music video, fashion video and short film.  ‘Call it whatever you like, but it’s not very typical of the first two. What I’m interested in is awakening emotions and adding an expression that is different to what you see every day.

‘There is an indie feel to most of my work and I have a weakness for the unpolished. I grew up during the 80’s and 90’s and remember how I as a child and teen I recorded films on top of each other until they were completely worn out. I’m so in love with the faults and beauty in old VHS copies and it’s probably a way for me to romanticise the moments when I saw some of my favorite films for the first time. I think my past is quite visible in my work and I try to be honest and to create my own magic world that I can invite fantastic people into.’

Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Breathing’: A haunting and eerie short film by Michael Karlsson, Anna Österlund and Truls Bråhammar


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Breathing’: A haunting and eerie short film by Mikael Karlsson, Anna Österlund and Truls Bråhammar

Breathing is a beautiful and affecting short by Anna Österlund (Ravishing Mad) and Truls Bråhammar. The film is based on an original composition by multi-talented composer Mikael Karlsson, taken from his series of “Talk Pieces” called Traps.

The film shows two little girls seemingly at play in the forest, but as we linger with them we start noticing that they’re measuring time and behaving in irrational, robotic or animal ways. They’re on a very strict and hectic schedule somehow, and [our] watching them worries them.

An effective society sometimes forces people into apathetic behaviour in order to cope with everyday life and the sense of being trapped in a treadmill can be frightening. What do we do in situations when inexplicable routines traps us like animals, do we manically continue forward or do we protest?

”A creature in captivity is often driven to pointless, repetitive behaviour.”

Starring Ada Bråhammar and Olivia Holmgren, with Karlsson’s music is performed by the Sirius Quartet.

With thanks to Joanna Pickering

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Guest editorial by ‘L’: one woman’s story of transphobic abuse in Russia and Sweden

This is a guest editorial by “L”. It was brought to Dangerous Minds by Elizabeth Veldon, who writes this short introduction:

“There has been a lot of news coverage recently of homophobia in both Russia and Sweden, including the forced sterilization of gender variant people in Sweden. This piece is written by a friend of mine, a woman with a transsexual history, who has experience of life in both countries.

She is currently fighting extradition to Russia where she faces open discrimination and probably death. Myself and 36 other underground artists contributed to a release for her. If you want to hear the music I urge you to read her own words first.

This is her story, her voice.”

My name is L., and I am a woman with a transsexual past (male-to-female, MTF). I have had gender dysphoria since my early childhood, so I always had a lot of problems with socialization.

I have never seen my father because he left my family before my birth. I grew up with my mother and grandmother, who were extremely transphobic and authoritative and did not pay attention to my mental difficulties. I had to hide my real self from everyone from when I was 11 years old. It wasn’t until I was 21, in 2007, that I decided to stop hiding, and took my first attempt to bring my appearance in accordance with my self-perception.

This gave me other troubles, and I’ll only give one example: in October 2007, I was stopped on the street by a police officer, who took my IDs and took me to a police station. So-called “state authority representatives” made me strip nude and began to beat me and to urinate on me, laughing and shouting “fags must die!” When they put my head into the toilet bowl and cried out, “Drink Russian water you queer,” I lost consciousness. Eventually I woke up in an unfamiliar yard, my clothes torn and dirtied with urine and faeces. After this, I attempted to commit suicide. Thanks to my friends with the same problems, they helped me to find strength to withstand. But, I was hiding my real identity again for almost a year, and this was a real torture. I couldn’t stand it.

I learned that Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) in the Russian Federation would require a conformance letter from the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Psychiatry, and in order to obtain one, a psychiatric examination was necessary. My friend in the transgender community told me about terrible violations of human rights in such clinics (unsanitary conditions, mobbing, rape, tortures, etc). Nevertheless, I could not live ‘as-is’ anymore, so I began Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) at my own risk. When my mother and grandmother discovered what I was doing, they threw out my female dress and hormones, but I continued with HRT secretly.

In September 2009, I met Anton, the man who totally understands me. Our relationship grew rapidly, but when my mother and grandmother found out they turned my life into hell. So, I left them for him, and we started living together.

Unfortunately, the problems connected with my transgender identity followed me through all my life in Russia. My boss – who was the head of the IT department of the local Federal Tax Inspection Office – told me (quote), “You have the choice – resign or face big problems. Fags are not welcome here.” I was forced to resign.

You can read the rest of L’s story after the jump…

The forced sterilzation of transgender persons and those with a transgendered past has now been abandoned by the Swedish authorities, but Russia still actively discriminates agains its LGBT community, as this video demonstrates:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Johnny Thunders: ‘Banned’ TV performance, Stockholm, 1982
03:35 pm

Pop Culture

Johnny Thunders

There’s an edge here you never see on TV anymore. Actually you couldn’t see this on television when it was first recorded - Johnny Thunders ‘banned’ performance from Swedish TV in 1982.  Even looking death-warmed-up,Thunders had that edge, an urgency that makes you sit up and take notice.

Bonus interview with Johnny Thunders plus performance, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Furniture Nazi: Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad in new revelations
01:01 pm

Current Events

Ingvar Kamprad

Dangerous Minds pal Chris Campion writes: “I’ve been joking for years that Ikea is part of some kind of fascistic experiment in social conditioning. And it’s probably true!”

According to a new book about Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, his youthful dalliance with rightwing Nazi groups is more extensive than he’s admitted in the past. Sweden’s intelligence agency actually set up a special file on him. From The Guardian:

Swedish author and journalist Elisabeth Asbrink says Kamprad joined the Swedish Nazi party in 1943 when 17, prompting the security police to start a file on him the same year.

Asbrink also claims in her book, And in Wienerwald the Trees Remain, that the founder of the Swedish furniture chain was in contact with Nazi sympathisers until at least 1950 – two years longer than he had previously acknowledged.

She writes that Kamprad’s letters were secretly opened by Swedish security police and their contents, including information about his effort to recruit members, were noted on his file, in which the police wrote “Nazi”.

“They were steamed open, copied and closed again,” Asbrink states.

The intelligence agency is also said to have noted that Kamprad “had some sort of functionary position” in a youth Nazi organisation that sent him newsletters.

Per Heggenes, a spokesman for Kamprad, told the Associated Press that the Ikea founder had never been aware of the file’s existence until now.


In 1999, Kamprad admitted his past involvement with Nazism in a book about his life and asked for forgiveness for his “stupidity.”

He also admitted to Swedish media that he had attended meetings of Nazi groups between 1945 and 1948.

Kamprad has attributed his early sympathies to Nazism to his upbringing, saying he was greatly influenced by his grandmother, a native of the current Czech Republic region of Bohemia, who introduced him to Nazi propaganda magazines at an early age.

In a statement, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants demanded that an inquiry be opened into Kamprad’s past.

“Holocaust survivors are shocked at the reports of the depths of Kamprad’s Nazi involvement, which he previously had dismissed as mere ‘teenage confusion’,” it said.

“It is time for Kamprad to come clean. Swedish intelligence files describe his recruitment of others to the fascist movement and his involvement with it well after World War II. This can hardly be characterised as youthful confusion.”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The world’s biggest drum machine eats Stockholm

One of the aural drivers of the 20th century—and the bane of many traditionalist stick-men—the drum machine has a rather undersung legacy.

The first drum machine was invented in the early ‘30s by Leon Theremin on commission from Henry Cowell.

The biggest one was recently built and toured around Stockholm by Propellerheads, the Swedish bad boys behind Reason music software. Kids stomped on it, and its interface was projected onto a big-ass building downtown. Bring that thing over here!

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
The Spotnicks : ‘60s Space Rockers From The Planet Sweden

‘60s Swedish instrumental group The Spotnicks had the coolest fashion sense of any band to come out of Scandinavia. And man did they love reverb.

Here’s two cool clips of the band. Any bets that Devo got some fashion tips from these cats?

more space age grooviness after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment