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Grift’s Erik Gärdefors Offers a Glimpse into Folk’s New Horizon

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Every third full moon or so, the music fan is lucky enough to stumble upon a musician whose work enters a fantastic realm more felt than seen. Even more exciting is when you believe that this place could, indeed, exist somewhere independently from of imagination. When it comes to the integration of traditional instrumentation and hard rock, shear magic lives in the gift of Grift, a Swedish folk project comprised of Erik Gärdefors. What resides in the box is a decisive step out of it — a tasteful, yet also highly experimental take on the common understanding of folk metal, to the point where casting such a tag feels insulting. By crossing the borders of the formulaic schema of an often-cornified metal subgenre, Grift achieves universal appeals to nature and human emotion, which can cause any hill or coastline to become all-consuming. Recently, Invisible Oranges reached out to Gärdefors, who graciously guided us through his past chapters and onto the next page.

When and how did this project begin? Also, specifically, why did being a solo artist feel like a good fit?

When I decided to form a new band, my ambition was to really try to express myself in a more personal and direct way than I ever had done through my previous projects. My friend, J. Hallbäck, joined me on drums for the first EP and for the split MLP with Saiva, but after that we decided that I should go on with Grift as a solo artist. Since then Grift has become a channel for me where I can share thoughts, feelings and ideas with strangers. It is very scary but beautiful at the same time. I am not an extroverted person, and, of course I don’t think that I have more to express and share than anyone else, but I have a very strong feeling of duty and responsibility to make this as honest as possible. I really don’t know why I focus so much on this expression. All these paradoxes and doubts within me just force me to write new songs and to illustrate them in different ways.

Can you describe the instrumentation of Grift? I know that I like what I’m hearing, but I can’t always put my finger on what instrument is producing the sound.

In addition to common instruments, like guitar, drums, piano and bass, I have uncorrupted harmonium, accordion, melodica, lap steel, the old Swedish instrument psalmodikon, and different kind of percussion. I hope that this can make the songs more varied and dynamic.

I feel like Grift is often described as black metal, but at, times, it reads more like rock, almost bordering on folk jazz. Not that labels particularly matter, but what makes you feel compelled to take a bit more delicate approach to blackened music?

The important thing for me is just to write as honest of songs as possible. What people like to categorize my music as doesn’t matter to me. Of course, I understand that it’s easier to describe things in given terms and genres, but it can also be very wrong and misleading. Actually, a genre, like, for example, black metal, is very limiting for me when I write songs. After all these years the genre is so [full of] insipid words from besserwissar‘s great mouths. I refuse to limit myself to such a conservative and narrow-minded view on songwriting/philosophy/lifestyle as many of these stereotypes of black metal folks do.

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I follow your Instagram and your visuals are so breathtaking. Are those images taken around your home? What emotions are you overcome with when your brain says “freeze frame” and you snap a photo?

Thank you! Yes, most of the pictures are impressions from my daily environment. For me it feels meaningful to document things around me. It gives me inspiration, and it is also strictly bounded to my sense of duty for my home region.

Who is the older gentleman who occasionally makes an appearance?

It’s my dad, Dag. We spend a lot of time together. He also contributes accordion in Grift and is the “main character” in my music videos.

What is life like around the Swedish coast? Could you imagine producing music anywhere else?

I’m pretty sure that wherever I would live, I would write songs. I have such a need to express myself through music. I often play with the idea of how it would sound if I grew up in Amazonas or in Paris. It would probably sound a bit different, but the same feelings would have to be expressed in some way.

Finally, what is in store for Grift?

This year has been busy. I recorded my first acoustic EP Vilsna Andars Boning, released by Nordvis in April. These two songs made it possible for me to perform more intimate solo concerts on very special occasions here and there. I’ve also played a lot of shows with full line ups at new venues and in new countries for Grift. All of this has been very rewarding, but also tiresome. Now I need to take a break from playing live for a few months and focus on writing new songs.

Autumn is a very inspiring time for me. Nature is asleep and there is something special about the light and the air. I have also contributed with playing psalmodikon and doing some vocals on a song for a solo artist called Offermose – very atmospheric stuff! And I can now reveal that my other active band, Undantagsfolk, will release a seven-inch EP in January through Nordvis.

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