On Pär Boström’s view on literature and religious art, shadow-self, sound, new Kammarheit and more.
Pär Boström is a person of many talents, from music composing to printmaking and illustration – how did you discover yourself and what might have influenced that during your childhood?
There was and still is, a constant curiosity and an overall feeling of being out of place, exiled. I had an early encounter with the idea of another world within my skull. A low, wind-like hum that I wanted to explore.
There was always that wordless other side that was somehow connected to a certain familiar melancholy. I was reminded of it in some of the illustrations in the children’s books I read as a kid, or when waking up in the middle of the night and everything felt out of place.
I always liked to draw and when I got my first tape recorder I got interested in sound and what happened to music when I recorded the same song to a different tape and then another and another at half-speed. My family have always been very encouraging of my creativity and being raised in a creative and supportive environment certainly helped.
What did you study? And what music were you into in your early years of existence?
I studied art in high school, but I mostly remember it as a depressing time with lots of expeditions to abandoned factories at night or visiting forests and nearby fields. I hated school from the beginning. I had no interest in learning anything.
I wanted to make music. I have kept cassette recordings of my first attempts at electronic music from the age of 11 or 12 and onward. Strange improvisations. I listened to a whole bunch of music before I found out about industrial music and ambient and EBM as a teenager.
Tell us about your interest in literature, and how that appetite contributed in shaping you.
I remember my parents reading for me and my sister. I still remember the excitement I felt whenever we visited the library. I loved watching the illustrations and before I could read, I liked to look at the pictures and create a much more detailed story than could fit on those pages.
My fascination with beautiful illustrations never left me and when I learned how to read, I was overwhelmed with the Narnia books and Tolkien and the Moomins. Everything that encouraged me to escape reality.
My sister is older than me and I remember her giving me the collected works by the Swedish poet and mystic Gunnar Ekelöf early on. There I would find another clue to my feeling of being exiled or disconnected from something and the melancholy of being up alone at night, which resonated with me as I was experiencing difficult insomnia at the time.
Sadly, I do not read nearly as much as I want to these days, but the sense of wonder and excitement is not lost.
Hypnagoga Press & Label
Hypnagoga Press & Label was founded in the year 2016, by you and your sister – how did Hypnagoga come to life, and what was the concept behind establishing it?
It was something we had talked about for a long time, not only a place where we could publish our music and texts, but also where we could nurture and strengthen our mutual creativity and mythology.
Having grown up together, we know and respect each other’s imagination very well and there are many similarities, which is why we like to record music and write together. Another reason was also to explore and deepen our visionary practices, within a shared and focused framework.
This has become more clear over time. We both have a strong interest in esoterism and mysticism. It felt like the natural thing to do, to establish a space where we could cultivate those inner explorations together, as well as translate and share them in the form of publications.
What does Hypnagoga Press & Label aim to fulfill?
To grow into a space able to hold most of our creative projects, where we can control the entire process from production to publication.
Where we can work on a deeper level with each publication. Turn toward the in-between and the thresholds, the liminal and the imaginal.
Hypnagoga Press is only the surface layer of a larger house.
Four years now since the launching of Hypnagoga Press & Label, what in you has changed since the publishing house came to life, and is it now everything you have dreamt of or did it take other unexpected turns than planned years ago?
I think my creativity, in general, has improved and continued to. There is an ongoing thread in everything I create and reoccurring themes and places that appear in various forms.
The same thing can mask itself as a novel or a postcard or a song or return later as an entire album. And everything is fully lived and experienced, which is something particularly important to me when I create. I want to feel each album and fully experience it as it becomes its own thing.
I was not prepared for the support and interest we would receive. It is an honest, transparent exploration where we do not yet have the answers. We are exploring the inner worlds as we go, and people are invited to follow us on this path.
In your words, Hypnagoga Press & Label attempts to catalogue the land of the innermost – can you elaborate on that?
To journey through the doorway of the imagination, into the inner lands. The mapping of a mutual liminal symbolism and vocabulary. An overarching narrative, of a vast landscape we keep returning to.
What we come back with is transmuted into our publications. Our ability to make this journey is evolving too. To set clearer intentions, to follow the visionary paths leading there, and to follow them all the way.
We still feel that we have only just begun. When we begin to publish books and other text formats, the whole foundation will be in place.
What is sound to Pär Boström?
Something remarkable and taken out of context. A tool more than anything else. A way to send a message from a peculiar place and a way to drift further than with any other art form.
Sometimes it is familiar yet indefinable, sometimes it is soothing, sometimes it takes me to awe-inspiring darkness that makes me feel insignificant in the most positive way. And when it is turned into a certain kind of music it can become a world of its own.
You are part of many music projects, walk us through them and how different in concept and sound are they from each other?
Kammarheit is the real beginning and where I have been the most. It was the world I found in my head and it has kept growing ever since. The world of Cities Last Broadcast is almost as old, but it took a long time before the project released anything.
It was first an idea to create an archive of sounds heard in a city at night but it, too, has grown. It is part of the Cryo Chamber family now and has become my way to explore my fascination with sound design and some form of paranormal electronics.
Teahouse Radio was something I started working on many years ago and it accompanied me during a long and difficult psychiatric process. Only one album has been released and it is partly centred around the loss of my cat and loss and grief in general. Warm, melancholic, and nostalgic ambient. There will be more albums but that first one took a lot of effort to make so I have been a bit hesitant on going back even if I have hours of recordings to go through.
Aindulmedir is a similar project, but it touches more on dungeon synth or winter synth perhaps. Music for bibliophiles and hermits, where I play with old keyboards and cheap equipment I have gathered over the years. It started as a soundtrack to a novel I have been working on but the music keeps getting into unfamiliar territories.
Then there are the projects I have with other people. Altarmang is more of a dark and ritualistic and improvisational project with my friend Kenneth Hansson whereas Hymnambulae and Bonini Bulga are two projects I have with my sister Åsa.
Both are ceremonial and ambient based but Bonini Bulga focuses more on analogue synthesizers and tape loops and pedals where Hymnambulae is more of an electro-acoustic thing. Both Hymnambulae and Bonini Bulga are closely tied to the overall themes of Hypnagoga Press.
What does Pär Boström’s home studio feature? And how does your music writing process take place?
There are a few synthesizers and modular systems, old cheap keyboards and a couple of pedals and pre-amps that I keep using. And tape recorders and some acoustic instruments like accordion, zither, harmonium, and guitar.
My recordings are usually so edited and pitched and looped so what gear I use becomes irrelevant. I enjoy finding things at thrift stores and to use them for a while before I send them back.
The process and equipment are different for each project usually. I try to separate them as much as possible although they tend to blend both in theme and sound at times.
Born in 1982, what music might have influenced Pär Boström‘s musical direction?
Discovering the Cold Meat Industry label was undoubtedly an influence, and so was bands like Coil, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy and Haus Arafna or composers like Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass and even various flute or piano-based music.
From my parents, I learned that music listening in itself is a profound experience and something that should be treasured. I have very fond memories of seeing my parents sunken into their worlds within large headphones or hearing unbearable but now nostalgic music at loud volume.
Kammarheit is a dark ambient music project by you, what is behind it?
A whole world of labyrinths and subterranean halls and abandoned cities. The music is and has always been very visual for me and tied to those early ideas of a world found within my mind.
I would press my hands over my ears and listen to that low humming and envision a large world that belonged to that sound even as a child. I would dream about it and I would later write about it.
Since the start of Kammarheit in 2000, I have kept a very irregular but ongoing studio journal of notes from my many travels and dreams connected to the music. It is an ongoing pursuit of a certain atmosphere that I either need to express or experience.
The music of Kammarheit is vast, desolate and cold – how does that sound reflect your being?
For me, it is also familiar and soothing. A place that is always the same while also ever-growing. It is where I go to rest a tumultuous mind.
All my projects are there for various reasons. It becomes unhealthy and unbalanced if I would only focus on Kammarheit.
Every Kammarheit album reveals a side of Pär Boström’s consciousness at that time; looking back at your discography up till today, how do you see this shining through every release?
When I look back, I see someone desperately trying to turn something quite into music and something wordless into words. The need has not changed, only the tools and the vocabulary.
I am still trying to tell the same tale from the same place, although it has expanded since my first visit. Some songs are painful to listen to because they remind me of where I was at the time rather than where I tried to go.
The word Thronal is powerful and majestic, what is behind the album’s name and sound?
The initial idea with the new album was to continue where The Nest ended. I went back to my studio notes and read about the wheels of the stars and the many mysteries of sleep and the iron bloodstream within the body.
Untangling the notes of a complete mad man, or a devoted visionary…who knows? Notes about a throne and a clothed structure within a black space I had visited during sleep and daydreams.
I started writing again, both music and in my journal. There is a lot of doubt on this album. About trespassing in a world that does not belong to me, yet I willingly go there to document it and with each visit, I feel transformed. Doubt and hopefully peace, acknowledging that it has been going on for as long as I can remember.
When it comes to sound, I only knew what kind of atmosphere I was looking for, and what kind of places I wanted to see.
What should Kammarheit‘s devoted listeners expect in the new Thronal album?
Hopefully, they will recognize old places and find solace in new ones. It is melodic in style, yet minimal, dark with a bit of light. All of that. It is like we never left the chamber, yet here we are again, and everything is different and still the same.
Quoting introductory text that exists on your website about you here: Pär Boström’s art is greatly inspired by dreams, real and imaginary creatures, religious art and abandoned landscapes – What religious art fascinates you the most, and what impact does religious art have on you?
I was very fascinated with the bible when I grew up. Images of angels appearing in the wilderness, the light versus darkness in Doré’s illustrations and various form of iconography.
Something beyond the mundane and how people portray this in various ways. How people deal with the other side as well as the fantastical inner worlds.
Reality was always secondary for me.
We all have shadow-selves that are part of our being, how does Pär Boström’s shadow-self reflect on his artwork and music?
There is always very much doubt and the idea that I need to know everything myself before I invite someone to travel with me. And the truth is that I do not know where we are heading or how to do this properly.
The voices are loud, the music is loud, the images are clear, but I do not know what everything means. All I know is that I cannot hold it back and I need to explore and express as much as possible.
As I already mentioned, reality was always secondary. I try to embrace it all. The lunacy, the disorders, the restlessness, the visions, and the higher call.
Some days are for hiding in a blanket fort, other days are for tearing down the sky and stepping through the wardrobe into other worlds. The nights are for coffee.
If Pär Boström would choose a book that has contributed to becoming the person he is now, what book would that be and why?
Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson. I felt so much similarity and appreciation the first time I read this book. Moomintroll wakes up in the middle of the winter and cannot wake his family from their hibernation.
He has no other option than to face the new, unknown wintery world. Tove was also a very skilled illustrator that has been an important influence for my drawings.
If you would be chilling at home, perhaps reading a book, and have music on the side to listen to, what would you listen to?
It would probably be something peaceful by Arvo Pärt or ongoing music I am working on. If I am reading, I am often listening to the wonderful world of Youtube ambience videos with sounds from libraries with rain outside, or the fantastic low drones from distant planets. Most often it is the coffee machine.
If you would name a few ambient acts that are Pär Boström’s s top-of-the-shelf selection, who would they be?
I am sure Atrium Carceri, Skeldos and raison d’être would be found there, along with anything from Aural Hypnox.