Taken By Trees
Published Sep 25, 2012Following her departure from the Concretes in 2006, Victoria Bergsman recorded Open Field, her album under the Taken By Trees moniker, with Bjorn Yttling, of Peter Bjorn & John (whose "Young Folks" she sang on). For her follow-up, she travelled to Pakistan, where her life was actually put in danger. The result, 2009's East of Eden, however, found her homegrown Swedish pop influenced by the Sufi Qawwali music that surrounded her. Looking to find new inspiration for her third album, Bergsman headed to the warm locale of Hawaii and brought in Henning Fürst (of the Tough Alliance) to produce. Other Worlds again finds Bergsman exposing her tender melodies to an outside influence ― this time dub. Other Worlds proves Bergsman has a good thing going with these inspirational voyages, leaving the listener besotted and desperate to know just where she'll head next.
Where are you based these days? What keeps you there?
Los Angeles. There is where my heart is.
What led you to Hawaii? How much of it was personal (i.e., vacation) as opposed to business?
I wanted to explore what the natives of Hawaii call "paradise on Earth." It is too tempting a place not to visit if you have the chance. I set my mind on it over a year before I finally made it out there. I was enchanted by its beautiful nature and tropical climate, and it worked so well as a setting for the music I was creating. The trip there was highly personal, but I don't really separate my '"work"' from the rest of my life. It's all me and it's a constant process.
What was the plan having Amanda accompany you?
I wanted someone to document my time in Hawaii and a friend recommended Amanda. It was lovely having her around; we became very close friends.
How did you come to work with the Tough Alliance's Henning Fürst? What was he up to when you approached him?
Eric [Berglund] from the Tough Alliance is an old boyfriend of mine, so that's how I know him, and also through mutual friends. I had a feeling he would be the perfect person for the job. I wanted someone who has a sense for pure pop music, but with a more creative way of working with beats, who could also add on top of that some dreamy atmosphere. Also, he is a wonderful and sweet person. When I approached him, he was very busy being a father and waiting to become a father of a second child.
What kind of album did you have in mind before you went to Hawaii?
A dreamy, warm album with distinctive pop melodies and heavy beats.
Where did the dub and tropical influences come from? When did they come into the picture: before or after you arrived in Hawaii?
The dub influence came out of nowhere while I was cruising around in my car. I started singing this tiny little reggae melody and felt kind of giggly 'cause it was so much fun to sing reggae. I had never sung reggae before; it kind of blew my mind. I had to pull over and record it into my phone and it ended up on the album. The tropical side of it all is that dreamy, warm feeling I was aiming for.
What were some of the instruments that were used on the album?
There is a lot of pedal steel, which was the first instrument I knew I wanted to use a lot, but in a Hawaiian way. So that has been a very important instrument.
You travelled to Pakistan to make East of Eden. How do you compare that experience to the one behind Other Worlds?
This experience was less frightening and more relaxed.
What other places do you have lined up in your memory bank to possibly record in the future?
Sorry, but that is something I can't reveal just yet...
What was the decision behind leaving Rough Trade and signing to Secretly Canadian?
I was on a one-to-one album deal with Rough Trade and we just felt it was time for me to move on. Also, I felt very strong support from Secretly Canadian. They were very excited about my demos.