An Interview with Ambient Jazz Guitarist Christer Fredriksen

“Christer Fredriksen is an ambient jazz guitarist and composer with a distinctive sound and a unique ability to tell stories through his music. Christer was born 1972 in Kristiansand, Norway and fell in love with the woods and the electric guitar at the age of 13. He studied music at the Agder University, finishing his Masters Degree with a Performing Masters in Rhythmical Music and began his musical career working as a session guitar player.”  (Full bio can be read on his website).

Christer Fredriksen recently released a beautifully crafted album entitled, Mauve.  His sonic landscape (best listened to with headphones and when you have enough time to experience the entire album in one sitting) is amazing; other-worldly!  Such a relaxing escape from the rigors of the day.  The album captivated me so much I had to reach out to Christer to learn more about his music.  Please enjoy the interview, and definitely check out his music and social links posted at the end of this post!

Zerp: What made you want to become a musician?


Christer: Wow, hard question! Ever since I was little I enjoyed playing and creating music, and at some point, around the age of 19 I decided to enroll for a conservatory, kind of randomly. I worked as a freelancer for many years, and at some point the gigs (shows) dried up and I decided to do my own project instead of waiting for others to hire me. It’s the creative process and exploring that triggers me, still to this day.


Z: What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?


 C: I think good music regardless of genre gives life another and higher dimension. With recorded music you can take a three-minute mental journey, listening to a story or enjoying someone elses ideas or perspectives. Music is a unique art form in that way.


Z: Can you tell us about your musical influences? Which musicians/artists do you listen to (now and in the past) that have inspired you in your own musical journey?


C: The Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal has been a major influence, because of his sound and unique tone, I still listen to him from time to time, but lately I’ve been more into minimalism like Steve Reich and Phillp Glass. Recordings on the label ECM from the end of 1970s to late 1990s are very inspiring, especially the ones engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug. I’ve listened a lot to Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Biosphere, I’m very fascinated by their total lack of genre/instrument-limitations when it comes being creative and composing music. The harpsichord works of Bach are forever inspiring when it comes to harmony and developing melodies.


Z: Which instrument is your favorite to play and why?

C: The electric guitar! I started playing piano at age of 7 but I was never really serious about it, I liked the sound, but played only notated music and that felt very limiting. At the age of 13 I discovered the electric guitar and never looked back. I didn’t have a teacher so I spent time discovering the instrument, listening to records and trying to imitate. There was something about the sound of the instrument that I loved, and also the possibilites of changing or elaborating the sound with effects. Compared to the piano the guitar has more limitations, but at the same time has a lot of the same harmonic possibilites of the piano. They are way more limited, you have to be considering what notes to play and what sound to create. It’s like a distilling process in a way. If you add effects to the electric guitar you have endless possibilities of creating sound.


Z: Did you attend a college or University for studying music? If so, which instrument did you primarily focus on?


C: Yes, I went to a conservatory and have a performing master, electric guitar.


Z: What inspired you to compose/produce this current album?

C: I think a lot comes back to my influences, I tried to be more minimalistic with this album. Compared to my previous albums which are more based on melodies with improvisation, I decided to have tracks that are written, but still have a loose feeling of improvisation to them. Some of the tracks have field-recordings in them, mostly recorded in the woods around were I live. I love being in nature, and I wanted to bring that quality into the music.


Z: Can you share the list of personnel (musicians that perform on this album?


C: It’s a solo album, my dog can be heard in the field recordings, though.

Z: If you were to select one of the songs from this album as most meaningful to you, which one would you choose? Why?

C: I think my favourite is Salvesdalen, I used a field recording from a hike

up a small valley along a creek. For some reason the crescendo of the creek matched the track perfectly!


Z: What are some interesting facts about this current album that you would like to share with our readers and listeners?


C: I’ve recorded the field recordings myself, one of them has a cracking sound of ice. I spent about an hour with contact microphones on a frozen lake, and on a perfect day recorded the ice singing! The track named Horseman has recordings of water through the wall below sea of an old ship from WW2, at some point a guy came down asking what the hell I was doing – haha. His footsteps can be heard in the recording. If you listen through the album and loop from the end of the last track to the first one it ties back nicely. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. There are no synths on the album, only guitar. All the guitar tracks are recorded in one take and edited afterwards, no overdubs. The general idea is that the sound presented on this album can be recreated live. 


Z: Do you have any current new musical projects in progress? Any upcoming events you are performing in or new songs being recorded?


C: I don’t have any gigs (shows) planned at the moment, but I’m working on new songs and preparing my setup for gigs.


Z: Thank you so much for sharing this background information with me and my readers and congratulations on composing and producing such a fantastic record!

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