Spotlight: Anders Nilsson

Swedish-born Anders Nilsson keeps popping up on Guitar Moderne. He was part of the Derek Bailey tribute as well as the DMG party. He is also part of the Scandinavian theme that seems to be running through recent posts, joining Norwegians Terje Rypdal and Stian Westerhus in the Nordic tradition of “all genres are grist for the mill” guitar playing. His solo release, Night Guitar, ranges through quiet, lyrical meditations (“Meet Me in the Back Alley”), noise inflected atmospheres (“Breakfast Boogie Nightmare Ballad”), and Zappa meets metal fuzz fests (“Nocturne). The bio on his website delineates an interesting progression, with some wise words about the musical arts. Here he discusses some influences and processes.


What kind of music were you playing when you first became proficient on the instrument?

I got started with some classical pieces, AC/DC, Deep Purple, American blues, Frank Zappa, Yngwie Malmsteen. In my teens I got into jazz – John Scofield, Django Reinhart, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett.

What led you to create experimental (non-mainstream) music?

With influences like some of the artists above, plus an insatiable hunger for music, it’s a natural trajectory. To me, feeling engaged playing garage rock, and later taking part in eye-opening free form jams on a regular basis, shared similar vibes. I found I was attracted to exploring, playing with an edge and expressiveness.

Whose music inspires you?

Generally speaking “originals” —articulate individuals who honestly sound like themselves. For example: Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Olivier Messiaen, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Sharrock, Don Cherry, Ravi Shankar, Terje Rypdal, Kerry King (Slayer), Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Master Musicians of Jajouka.

How did you get better at your current style?

By learning to care for the sounds I put into being, playing with other risk-takers who I respect, studying styles outside of my current style, mindful practicing, composing, trusting my instincts, longevity.

What are you trying convey with your music?

My desire is to create atmosphere and tension that trigger the individual listener’s mind to create its own storyline. To create something which I believe includes: consistently caring about the sounds I’m making, aiming beyond what I know, leaving the perfunctory behind, welcoming new discoveries.

Which guitars, amps, effects, plug-ins and software do you use to create your music, and why?

My main axe is a Les Paul Goldtop, which I use to resonate, growl, as well as pierce through a whole herd of players at will. I own about 10 pedals. On my overdubbed solo album Night Guitar, I use a plethora of pedals and a variety of tube amps. For example on “Ax to Grind”, I played through a THD head in to an Ampeg cabinet using various types of distortion separately and jointly; HBE Ultimate Fuzz Octave, Electro-Harmonix Double Muff, ZVEX Box of Metal, Fender Blender, and an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phase shifter, plus a Dunlop Dimebag Cry Baby from Hell wah-wah pedal in order to create a beehive-like sound.

Which do you enjoy more: recording or playing live and why?

Although I thoroughly enjoy running with the possibilities of the studio when making Night Guitar and other albums, performing live is as direct and rewarding as it gets!

How have you built up an audience for your music?

At live shows, through friends and acquaintances, some through reviews or coverage in the media. Some bought an album or heard a recording online or on the radio.

With whom would you like to collaborate and why?

I’d like to explore some unusual instrument combinations, for example right now I’m working on a piece called “Pick-up” for electric guitar, Theremin, and chimes—an ethereal line-up stolen from a restaurant scene in Charles Willeford’s novel by the same name. The piece will be premiered September 15th at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn. I’d also like to collaborate more with filmmakers because I find that I like creating music that has an “extra musical” suspense soundtrack character.

What is your latest project? When will it be available and where can people in different parts of the world get it?

Kalabalik with Raoul Bjorkenheim on guitars, and Gerald Cleaver drums is out on DMG/ARC 2012 available through Downtown Music Gallery. Upcoming albums include a trio with Joe Fonda, bass, and my brother Peter Nilsson, drums, on Konnex Records later this year. Hot & Cold is an electric guitar duo album with Aaron Dugan. We wrote the music together. The album consists of two suites and an homage piece to Albert Ayler. It is due out on Jungulous Records later this year,  and keep an eye out for the album Hogwild Manifesto



The music video “Fleets cove” by Arrien Zinghini set to my piece “Breakfast Boogie/Nightmare Ballad” off the Night Guitar album:

“Powers” played by Anders Nilsson’s AORTA



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *