This week we caught up Swedish ambient duo Carbon Based Lifeforms. The duo formed in 1996 in Gothenburg as a side project to the band Notch. The group which consists of Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad are one of the most well-known group of the ambient, psybient or downtempo music scene and collaborate frequently with other composers and musicians in the field such as Solar Fields.
It was great to have another CBL album last year after a long wait –have you got anything else planned in terms of new music?
Thanks! Yes we will start on a new album this Spring. Daniel is also working on a new album for his solo project Sync24.
It’s great that your music has now been released on vinyl – was this something you always wanted to do but weren’t able to in the past?
We always thought it would be cool to print on vinyl, but never did much about it. We had a dialogue with our former label Ultimae about it, but it never got made.
All of your artwork, your music and even the title of your group has a “sci-fi” theme to it – is that intentional? Was it a running theme that you decided upon when you first formed CBL?
Of course it’s intentional, we are very inspired by Sci-fi, space, nature and technology and we try to incorporate those themes into our music.
Tell me about how CBL first got started?
As an offshoot to our first group Notch, where we wrote various kinds of dance music. At one point we got our hands on an ambient album: Solar Quest - Orgship and got really inspired and wanted to try it out.
Tell me about your production process – who does what in the duo?
We tend to start out ideas for songs in our separate studios, and when we find something the other one likes we start hammering it out to a complete song. Johannes likes to get lost in a lot of details on sounds and Daniel is usually the one to get things rolling again. Except when it comes to drums and percussions, then the roles are pretty much reversed.
And how does your creative process work – do you have an idea in mind when you start a song or do you just begin and see where it goes?
We just begin and see what happens, usually by testing out sounds on a particular synth that we are interested in at the moment.
What does your studio setup look like?
We each have our separate studios and we try to make them similar, so we have the same basic stuff, but Johannes is a real synth freak so he has a lot of stuff that Daniel has not. We use Cubase and some plugins like Soundtoys, Omnisphere etc. and we both have a few TB-303 and clones, TR-909 SIDsstations. Nord Modulars etc.
Do you have any unusual pieces of equipment?
SID-station is pretty unusual we guess, based on the old Commodore 64 sound chip
Have you changed the way you produce music over the years?
For sure, we are more experienced which is both good and bad, the bad thing is that we don’t experiment as much, that’s something we have to remind ourselves to do. On the other hand we know how to make good tracks and make them sound good too.
Will you be playing many live shows this year?
Not many, we tend to do about 5-10 gigs per year. We will play some of the big Trance festivals in Europe this year. We just played a mini tour in Russia which was truly great and in April we will play in Budapest. The rest is too early to tell.
In the past you’ve collaborated with artists like Solar Fields, would you consider a project like that again?
For sure, however we are all quite busy with our own stuff, but we have planned to do another T.S.R. album in the future.
Would you collaborate with other artists as well?
We have talked with several artists about it but on both sides it’s hard to find the time to actually do it. We’ll see.