In the last few years there have been a number of psychedelic guitar bands who have secured a good payday without particularly having to compromise their sound. Flaming Lips, Animal Collective and MGMT are all spaced out sonic adventurers and yet have managed to break into the mainstream and secure radio play and massive sales. Stockholm’s Dungen are perhaps less likely to breakthrough. All of their lyrics are in Swedish for one thing and ultimately their sound is more complex, jazzy and (dare I say it) proggy than those aforementioned. However, they have undoubtedly gained momentum over five albums – they were recently picked up on the critically acclaimed Amorphous Androgynous Exploding Bubble compilations and they continue to received very positive press whenever they release new material. They are also well respected by their peers, their next single is being released on Jack White’s Third Man records. I recently caught Dungen live in a rare visit to London and can attest to a great live band who really push the boundaries sonically and artistically to leave their audience begging for more. They combine jazz, folk, psychedelia and cinematic sounds with more conventional songwriting to create a heady brew that stimulates the head as well as the feet. I caught up with founder, primary songwriter and bandleader Gustav Ejstes to find out more about this fascinating band.
What were the first records that hit home for you – that set you on your own musical journey?
Are you experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience), Revolver (The Beatles) and Fear of A Black Planet- Public Enemy
And how did you come to form the band?
I started pretty much all by myself in 1998, making music on a 4-track, playing all instruments by myself, met musicians along the way and some of them i still play with. Like Reine Fiske that i met in 1999.
Who do you regard as your key influences at the current time?
I always return to Aphex Twin's early ambient stuff, the best music ever made.
I’m guessing you like a lot of the German ‘kraut’ explosion?
Not really, haven´t heard much more then the classics by Can
What is your philosophy for the band? You obviously aren’t too concerned about storming the charts?!
Dungen is my songs performed together with my favourite musicians and friends and we are able to get the music spread because of all the wonderful people who like to listen to it. Its amazing and could end tomorrow so we try to have a good time with it.
How do you write material?
Often begins with piano or guitar, then make the arrangements, sometimes on recordings but often just in my head, hook up with the band and presents the song.
You listen to hip hop – do you think this impacts on how you approach composition at all?
I don´t know, I have so many different influences so it´s hard for me to say what comes from where.
You came to wider attention in the UK via the Amorphous Androgynous compilations – do you see yourselves as a modern psychedelic band?
I don´t call Dungen anything specific. That's for those who listen, to make up names for it, but it´s been called that amongst psych, rock, pop, folk, prog and jazz.
Do you feel the need to sing in English at all to reach a wider audience?
No, It´s (singing in Swedish) been working so far, it´s weird in many senses, but even some listeners that doesn´t understand Swedish think it´s better than if it would have been sung in English
What do you strive for in your music?
Make better songs, keep it honest artistically,
What next for Dungen?
Hopefully do some more touring this spring.
The single Oga Nasa Mun is releaased on January 22nd 2011 on Third Man recordings.