Influential, beloved Swedes Dungen make their wonderful way to Perth in December. Amber Fresh chatted with Gustav Ejstes, main Dungen man, and put her psych music theory to him: "is psych any music you can put flute over and it sounds right…?" Ejstes provides his first youtube memories and generously dedicates Dungen's music to all our Australian friends "Tell your friends: it's all their music."
AF hello! is that gustav?
GE hey yeah it is
AF this is amber, from perth
AF i think you know a few of my friends, melody prochet and nick allbrook
GE oh right! yeah yeah! they are part of the extended family, (both laugh) - the international family
AF well, can i just go straight into it?
GE yes, yes go ahead, dig in to the 'interview'
AF do you have any particularly happy memories from last time you were here in australia?
GE (laughs) particular… good memories…! the thing is, the memory is kinda that i have a BAD memory. no bad memories like that bad stuff happened, but i just don't remember.
i remember one amazing thing, because this was like in the summer of 2006, yes… we were doing support tour for wolfmother and we were sitting backstage at a huge venue somewhere, i dunno [where], cos when i think of that journey it was like big venues, a lot of heat, and a lot of flying. no bus riding at all, just plane, epic venues, and warm air, and no water. there was signs every where to keep in mind to shut water off, save the water, blah blah blah.
so we were sitting backstage and i was watching youtube for the first time!
AF mmmm! how exciting
GE yeah and i was like 'oh like, EVERYTHING is out there?' i was starting to search for like rare [+muffled word+] videos
AF rare breast videos?!
GE like, rap…
AF oh rap, i thought you said breast
GE haha! because i think like youtube, it was probably old already, 2006, it had been around a long time but that was the first time i watched it so, that was kind of cool
AF sometimes people are surprised that our friends here who play rock music and psych music are really into rap, but have you always been as well?
GE that was my first own music that i went out to buy myself, as an 11 year old kid with my hard earned money. i bought public enemy records so that's something religious for me forever. but i guess it's my generation also, like i'm born 79 and i grew up with the 80s and 90s music and that was so much based on loops and breaks and samples before it was too illegal to sample.
so that also made me find out about so much other music, and the openness in most of the music back then was amazing - you could learn so much like "what song is this?" "yeah, the original comes from whatever" and so…
so, we're totally… i'm totally a record nerd, a music nerd, so i try to find new stuff. so that maybe could be, i dunno about the others, but that's my story.
AF do you ever limit yourself to what you can find in record stores rather than looking up information about groups on the internet, or do you go straight there [record stores] when you have a mystery?
GE yeah i mean i think, if i make music myself i also learn through the ears. i remember when i met reiner, the guitarist in dungen, he is like a pretty heavy collector, he's ten years older than me. when i met him the first time he had all the records and i was like "oh i want to copy it all!". i had a music recorder i wanted to take copies of all his rare stuff, and he was like "yeah but you know it's good you haven't heard everything because the more you hear it's gonna be harder to create your own thing."
and i was like… yeah, maybe. [laughs} but he really has a point because for me i'm not satisfied with just consuming, i want to make my own music, and as long as i have that strong will of feeling "create my own stuff", i, not on purpose but during periods, it's very like - shut down - to let stuff in. but i always go into record stores, i love record stores more than buying stuff online.
i mean people get crazy on discounts and ebay and shit but i'm like, if i go into a fine record store and am talking to people and giving recommends and shit, that's more that's it's like i said when i'm trying to make my own music i try to… in these periods i really shut down the window and see what's, see myself - this is so bad english, sorry! [pretty bloody great english! ed]
AF do you mean metaphorically you shut the window, do you mean just not listening to other music, or do you limit other things?
GE yeah, yeah, exactly exactly.
yeah. i mean that's how i grew up because we because we didn't have any internet and we were like longing for stuff, and we were waiting, we were dreaming about "i wonder how that music would sound" and "that record i would never get a copy of it and i would probably never hear it but i wonder how it sounds, maybe it sounds like this," and then i would try to make my own music. do something good with it. i don't know, that's just my way.
AF i was born in 1980 so i understand what you mean.
GE yeah there was not that many impressions, today's very fast. there is a very lot of stuff going on at the same time.
AF in terms of what comes into you apart from music that affects what goes out of you musically, what do you think is kind of the biggest thing, that is affecting you.
GE ahh. i guess everything from environment to relationships, the classic - i mean i'm just a regular guy.
living a regular life. and it's quite boring [laughs]… i try escape and try to create something beautiful. i don't really know anything that really influences me of making stuff my own. i mean, i have this strong feeling of like not [being] satisfied with listening and consuming music and art so i want to do it myself. i have that feeling since i was a kid. i don't really know what it comes from.
AF but it is special for people. people have emotional, spiritual, all kinds of reactions to your music.
GE oh that's amazing. [both laugh]. it's ah… i don't know what to say that is. it's honouring and flattering to be that. [laughs]
AF when nick was in sweden he talked about it as a bit of a wonderland at the moment, like everybody is taken care of, there's total equality between the sexes, he was so excited that your recycling is set out well. do you feel as optimistic about your country as maybe visitors do?
GE what do you mean?
AF like, when friends have gone to sweden they talk about it as a complete wonderland. you know?
GE ah ok ok. yeah, i mean i'm totally. i'm blessed. living here, born here, it's a beautiful country and we have a great system that works. i mean compared to other places it's actually really working, but when you're living it, living here we have personally our issues, and things here that are not that good. i don't know that it's a wonderland but compared to places where it's definitely not a wonderland it's nice. but also, speaking of things that effects you and your creative, we have two months every year that's supposed to be summer. the rest of the year could be like, nine months of darkness, and it's a very high suicide rate. like today it's not that wonderlandish, now that the fall has really taken its grip around us. it's dark and cold and chilly and stuff.
AF well it will be good that you can escape it in a few months and come here.
GE yeah, it's perfect.
AF this time we'll make sure you have enough water.
GE haha yeah totally.
AF i think that's probably enough of your time to take for an interview.
GE yeah, i'm here if you want to ask something more, i would love…
AF well, i'm just going to ask you one more thing. well, i've had this theory, i asked different friends, for a while i was trying to work out what actually psych music is, and my theory is it's just any music you can play a flute on top of and it fits… even if there's no flute….
GE sorry, i didn't really get it. i didn't hear every word. one more time [laughs] sorry!
AF for a while i was trying to understand what psych music actually is, and the theory that i arrived at is that it's any music that you can play a flute over, and it seems like the right thing to do. do you think that's true.
GE ahh, that is probably true, if it's… i mean, that expression and that musical genre is… we, dungen music, has been labelled "psych" music.. when i go into a record store i go to the stacks - there's a label like psych, prog, indie music, and i go through the records and i find out the similarities between the different records but i can't really tell what exactly it is.
but at the same time i mean, this year we did touring a lot, and we met bands playing music and they're saying that they are influenced by us and they're influenced by tame impala and it's like, i don't know. i mean, they're saying they're playing some kind of psych, like, alright… so it's just the combination of these bands, long answer. i don't really know, but the thing about the flute is it's such a beautiful… um… yeah, i agree, it's one of the truths actually. yes totally. [laughs]
AF but yeah, maybe flute belongs everywhere.
AF well, i'll leave you to your day now. i'm going to go swimming.
GE ahhh you going to go SWIMMING, because it's warm and nice :(!
AF but you can do that when you're here!
GE and i'm going to go see my accountant and i'm going to go, with the umbrella, to my studio, put on all lights and lamps that i have in there, and just let the light shine, because it's going to be dark around four or five in the afternoon. it's gonna be darkness.
i'm feeling amazing, exciting to come there. and i'm so glad australia wants to have us there.
AF well, yeah all of the people around me have been talking about your music for a long time. people are very happy you're coming.
GE i'm so honoured, it's amazing. tell your friends: it's all their music, it's all yours.
AF alright, have a good day, i might see you when you're here.
GE yeah maybe, thank you very much
AF seeya gustav, bye.