I have a long history with Gibrish covering many articles for the Swedish band over the years, so I was very happy to cross paths with them again! Gibrish has been going strong since 2008 and currently promoting their latest album from 2019 titled ‘Secondhand Songs’. Gibrish is Swedish Folk with a major twist including a wide array of musical elements. Just say no to genres and mainstream categories and say hello to the wildly creative bunch from Sweden. And brace yourself for Gibrification…once you’ve been Gibrified you’ll never go back!
J Rae: Going strong since 2008, it’s exciting to hear Gibrish has a new album that was just released in autumn 2019. The record is titled ‘Secondhand Songs’ and I know the entire Skope Universe would love to know more about this recording project. So, what is ‘Secondhand Songs’ all about and how did this album originate?
Gibrish: ‘Secondhand Songs’ (2019) is our fourth album since 2012. Just a year earlier in 2018, we released an album with songs written by others, a cover album with songs from Glllian Welch and Bob Dylan among others. But during that work we came up with so many great ideas, so we started right away on the recordings of the next album that ended up as ‘Secondhand Songs’. Despite the title, it´s 100% Gibrish songs! And I think our own material is a Gibrish kind of treasure box. So, more of that is to come! The album also sounded incredibly good, thanks to Nevo Studios team in Sundsvall, Sweden.
J Rae: How does ‘Secondhand Songs’ compare to previous releases and what are some distinct differences?
Gibrish: On ‘Secondhand Songs’ we wanted to explore our bluesy, jazzy influences and more rootsy sides of the band. But of course, as always, the songwriting, the melodies and the lyrics are as important as ever. We also wanted to improvise a little with a couple of short instrumentals, avant-garde stuff. On the album, for the first time, there is a spoken word track with just voice, pump organ, slide guitar and hand drum. It´s called “Haren på månen (Hare on the moon)” and is a traditional folk tale from Asia. I picked up the story when I was traveling in India. It´s an old tale about how a shadow of a rabbit came on the moon surface. It is a track that Swedish national radio gave some attention. Also, the opening track, “Leds av en blind”, had some radio airplay as well.
J Rae: Hailing from Sweden, how does Gibrish stand out from the rest?
Gibrish: I think much of the music in Sweden today is too mainstream. Not so many taking any risks musically and lyrically. That’s also one of the reasons why we started Gibrish 12 years ago; we wanted to do something that stood out. And during that period we noticed the mainstreaming just getting bigger. So it’s a problem for the music industry when the music, as an art, is not developing as it should.
In Europe the political climate now is close to what it was in Germany before the Nazis took over. We are feeling the same vibrations now and for us in Gibrish it’s important to respond to that in our music. We wish more artist/bands in Sweden would do the same.
J Rae: I’ve had the pleasure to work with you guys many times over the years and on many occasions have said prepare to get “Gibrified”. I have a sense of what it means to be “Gibrified” but curious to hear from the source itself what it personally means to you?
Gibrish: Gibrified, for us, means to try to find something odd and different with a big portion of energy and humor. This could be atonal harmonies or variations in tempo. On our latest album we worked more with tempo variations and we developed that into several songs in our live shows as well. It´s fun and corny and the audiences love it!
J Rae: The music of Gibrish can’t be categorized because you hit on many different musical styles such as: Swedish Folk, jazz, pop, blues, rock and theater music. With this wide range of elements, I’m dying to hear some of your all-time favorite influences and where does all of the inspiration come from to write, play and perform?
Gibrish: As a songwriter, I love Tom Waits’ writing but also his arrangements and stories. Right now I´m listening to a lot of Randy Newman; love his humor. Then Joni Mitchell, Dylan of course, old Chicago and Mississippi blues. But in Gibrish we also have some fusion-jazz maniacs and groovy soul guys. So it´s all in the melting pot together with our Swedish genes.
J Rae: Gibrish has toured in their homeland along with: United States, England and Finland. What are some of your best experiences from each location and why?
Gibrish: In the US we did a two week tour in NYC, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I remember very nice shows at The Saint in Asbury Park and at this cool bar called The Way Station in Brooklyn. In England the festival in Lancaster was very nice. Especially a crazy, sweaty show at a small place called Wagon and Horses.
J Rae: It makes sense that your music is being heard and played in different parts of the world because the Gibrish sound crosses musical borders and breaks down the conventional walls. How do audiences compare and contrast at live events?
Gibrish: In the US and England audiences are not so shy as in Scandinavia. Many came to us after the shows just to chat, share a beer and so on. In Sweden it’s a little more stiff. Sometimes you notice that people aren’t used to something as odd as Gibrish. But of course there are nerds here who like Gibrish very much but the audience is a little confused sometimes. We like US audiences a lot so we must come back to you some day!
J Rae: Can you think of any crazy ‘n’ wild crowd reactions at any of your previous shows and how did Gibrish respond to this?
Gibrish: I remember the show in Lancaster when it was so hot that the floor was soaked with sweat after the show. And the audience was really wild. But actually most of our performances are for a listening, sitting down audience, like clubs/restaurants or small theaters.
J Rae: What is the band doing when not getting “Gibrified” in the studio or on the road?
Gibrish: All of us have professional work besides Gibrish. Two of us are journalists, two are teachers at a culture/music school and one is a photographer.
J Rae: How has the overall response been thus far for ‘Secondhand Songs’ and any further plans to help promote the album?
Gibrish: ‘Secondhand Songs’ has received very good responses from several magazines and newspapers in Sweden. Actually, the best we’ve had since we started! It´s getting harder and harder for everybody to come out because many media companies do not cover album releases or live gig reviews anymore. So, we are very pleased! Right now we’re working on a video of the last song on the album, ‘Vilse bland stjärnorna (Lost among the stars)’. So during spring 2020, we will promote that beautiful song!
J Rae: I have to ask if ‘Secondhand Songs’ has any relation to “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac? This is one of my favorite songs by Fleetwood Mac on the iconic album ‘Rumours’, so sorry but just had to ask! :)
Gibrish: Sorry to say J Rae, Gibrish are not big fans of Fleetwood Mac. But, we know of course they were /are a giant band and that they sound great! It’s a little bit too slick and too much pop for Gibrish.
J Rae: What are some of your personal favorites on ‘Secondhand Songs’ and why?
Gibrish: We like the first four songs with their lyrical theme, concerns about the growing neu fascism and neu Nazis in Sweden/Europe and in the United States. And the last one, as mentioned above, “Vilse bland stjärnorna (Lost among the stars)” that is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and well-written songs from Gibrish!
J Rae: I always end on a positive note now, so then how can Gibrish help spread love & cheer to everyone out there?
Gibrish: Keep up the good work for human rights and against xenophobia all around the world!
Don’t forget to be kind and take a piece of Gibrish everyday!
By Jimmy Rae (https://twitter.com/2JRae)