We don’t get the chance to talk with artists who have been making music for twenty years. In fact, Bolywool may be the first. If you aren’t familiar with their work, you should really be prepared to tuck into it. Just to name a few connective threads, you’ll hear everything from Explosions in the Sky to Soulsavers to No Age to even some Chapterhouse if you need comparisons.

But really, comparisons run hallow when you take in the duo’s work. Calle Thoor and Oskar Karlström shift themselves in ways that create seamless strands in their discography, taking chances while staying pure to their form where other artists might struggle.

Now in the middle of a trilogy, Bolywool took some time to talk with us a bit about their history, but a good bit about From Void to Matter Vol. 2 as well. When we call the release a transcendent experience, we don’t say that lightly. Read more about the process behind it, and prepare to spend a lot of time with the band when you’re finished.

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“We’ve never been afraid to try out new things, yet we are not afraid to retain what makes us us…”

Starting all the way at the beginning – what kind of music were you into? What influenced you all to follow this artistic path?

We were only 14 years old when we started the band, and Brit Pop was at its peak at the time. So it was tons of British music, Oasis, The Verve, Primal Scream… the lot. Basically – anything on Creation Records.

And how did you all connect to form the band in the first place?

Well, since we’re cousins the connection was there from the start. Being in a band seemed to be the coolest thing in the world, and I suppose we wanted to get in on that action.

Sweden has such a rich culture and vibrancy in its music history. How did growing up in an art-positive landscape like that guide you in your creations?

That alleged art-positive landscape is always in a state of flux from my perspective. I can’t really say whether it has affected us or not. Personally, I’ve always been more inspired by British culture and more recently by Icelandic and Faroese culture.

You’ve been doing this for 20 years now. How do you stay fresh and energized about what you’re creating?

We’ve never been afraid to try out new things, yet we are not afraid to retain what makes us us, if that makes any sense at all. We try not to impose limits on ourselves. If we want to do a catchy tune at one point, that does not negate that the next one might be 20 minutes of static and backwards loops.

The songs that you all write are incredible – immense, lush, vibrant, deep, etc. It’s not the easiest style of music to write, so what’s your approach?

Oh, tough one. It all comes down to the individual song and our current mood. But usually we start out with a single note or two, add harmonies, program a beat that we’ll never be able to execute in real life, simplify that, start doubting ourselves, revise and then start all over again.

So where did the idea for the trilogy come from? What is the common thread/story that connects From Void to Matter

We were so exhausted creatively after finishing Hymnals & Bombs. We needed something to get the creative juices flowing again, and we had tried to make a trilogy in the past but never succeeded, so this seemed like as a good time as any to give another shoot. The arc for From Void to Matter is that there is none – something out of nothing. But I reckon the title can be interpreted in different ways.

Vol. 1 was mostly improvised, whereas this one was not. Do you all have a preference for what style you’d like to use for Vol. 3? What has changed for Vol. 2?

Vol. 3 will be a bit of both worlds. A tad bit more pop-y, but with some artsy flare to it. More condensed if anything.

The first track, “The Dial (Revisted),” starts with what feels like a deep house feeling before absolutely skyrocketing towards the sun. How did you go about creating the track? Is it a reworked older track by chance?

It is indeed a reworked version of an older track. We released the first version in 2010, and I think we recorded it in my cramped dorm room in Stockholm in 2009.  But we’ve always felt that we had to do the song justice – record it properly and arrange it better. We went all in with this one – more guitars, more synths, more vocals, more samples. 9.5 minutes of pure bliss. The lyrics are inspired by the transcendental poetry, hence the title.

On “Mirror Sky,” how were you able to create a world where the vocals act as an additional instrument with the harmonic falsettos? How important is being able to add the layer of vocals like that when all of the other elements are so lush already?

Those harmonic falsettos were the only vocals featured on the first demo version of the song. Initially, the vocals were going to be sung like that, but the lyrics didn’t really match – but the harmonies were too good to scrap, so we kept them as hooks and sonic pizzazz.

Having virtually an infinite number of channels (not really) to add vocal overdubs can be helpful at times. And in the (in)famous words of Yngwie Malmsteen – “more is more,” in some contexts at least.  And Mobley certainly added a gospel vibe to the entire song with his overdubs. That man is a genius.

“Blues for Stornoway” is broken into four parts. Does each part represent something different, or are they all still existing in the same narrative.

Good question. They do exist within the same narrative, but representing different aspects of the main theme. I’ve always imagined this being a walk around in any small town or rural area, contemplating one’s existence or whatnot. It would be interesting to hear how others interpret the different parts.

Looking ahead to Vol. 3, do you know how you’d like to end the trilogy?

With a big bang. I reckon Vol.3 makes the whole project come full circle in terms that it contains parts of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, plus introducing something new to the palette. There’s a song on Vol. 3 called “You are not alone in the Universe, I am here” which started out as a lullaby for my daughter but ended up being this huge anthem.

Finally – what lies ahead? Touring, more writing, videos, singles, etc.?

Releasing Vol. 3 before the end of the year, then some more writing. Perhaps a gig if anyone is up for it and hopefully a Christmas single. And start planning a party for the big 2-0.


Photo credits:
Story photos: Pär Lundgren
Cover art: Johan G. Winther