Six years after their first appearance in Vitoria’s
Jazz Festival, E.S.T. (Esbjörn Svensson Trio) reconquered
the stage of Teatro Principal. Just after the concert finished
Arturo Mora and Sergio Cabanillas talked to the band’s
rhythm section: bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström.
The tour, Vitoria, technology and other bands were discussed
among lots of laughs.
Magnus Öström, Arturo Mora
and Dan Berglund
ARTURO MORA: How is the current tour going?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: It’s great, it’s fantastic.
A lot of people showing up.
ARTURO MORA: How do you feel about playing in Vitoria again?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: It’s fantastic. I remember
the first time especially, when we played before Pat [Metheny]...
SERGIO CABANILLAS: Actually, you played here the first time,
in this theater, the second time you played in the big auditorium
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Oh, yes. Anyway it’s fantastic
to come back.
ARTURO MORA: You have a lot of percussion elements in your
drum kit. What makes you choose a certain element to join
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: I don’t know, I like different
sounds, and if I like something I just put it in there. Maybe
sometimes something sounds in your head that you want to have
in a certain song, then you try to find it. That’s the
way it is.
ARTURO MORA: Dan, why do you play sitting down? Is it to
use the effect pedals?
DAN BERGLUND: Just to be in the same level as Magnus and
Esbjörn, and because pedals are easier to use that way.
ARTURO MORA: How did you start incorporating these effects
into your sound?
DAN BERGLUND: I don’t know, I’ve been playing
bass since I was young, I used some effects at the electric
bass. I tried some distorsion, fuzz pedal, and it works with
other effects as delay, and I started using this Pod. At first
I had a red one, like Esbjörn.
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: So the only thing you changed was
the bass [laughs].
DAN BERGLUND: It took some while until I dared to use that
on a jazz... on the double bass, you know, [sarcastically]
“on a jazz band”.
ARTURO MORA: I’ve seen you play with a Hartke 4-speaker
amp, with an EBS combo and with a Gallien-Krüeger combo.
Do you have a favourite amplifier?
DAN BERGLUND: I like Eden, great sound.
ARTURO MORA: You both are players with a very distinctive,
easy-to-recognize sound. Did this sound evolve personally
or was it because of the evolution of E.S.T. as a band?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: I don’t know. In a way I think,
I have to speak for myself, but maybe it’s the same
for both, that it came from the beginning, because we did
always sound like we do now, but I think we got braver and
braver to express ourselves in music. When you start playing
you try to play like someone else that you like, you try to
fit in, until you just say: “I’m just playing,
this is who I am”. Then you’re doing the personal
thing that you already had.
Of course it develops in certain situations like E.S.T.,
this band that really can develop it. It’s not easy
to use distorsion if you play ballads with a vocalist.
SERGIO CABANILLAS: Does Ake Linton have something to do with
that evolution in the sound, in finding your own resources?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: I don’t know, no, I don’t
think so, in a way...
SERGIO CABANILLAS: It’s a tricky question. [laughs]
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: No, no, it’s a good question
[laughs]. In a way he has, I think he is the best sound engineer
in the world, especially live, I’ve never heard that
sound. In every concert his sound is magic, I don’t
know how he does it, so in a way he has, because he can get
a high level, so we can put out more energy and more sounds,
so he has allowed us to do it. He’s extremely important
for the group and for each of us to hear each other in the
way we do, so we can express ourselves in that environment.
ARTURO MORA: Dan, you recorded for the band Koop...
DAN BERGLUND: [doubts] Yeah, I just played some bass [laughs].
ARTURO MORA: Do you have plans for playing more in that style
DAN BERGLUND: I did one tune on their latest album, but I
don’t do that kind of music myself.
ARTURO MORA: What part do you play in E.S.T.'s compositional
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: It starts with Esbjörn, he
writes the tune and then we together start to develop it.
Sometimes we do nothing, because the tune is great, sometimes
we propose some points: “we should shorten the bridge”,
“maybe we should do that”, of course the grooves,
maybe he [Dan Berglund] picks up the bass line, you know,
we start to arrange it.
ARTURO MORA: In terms of form, riffs, ...
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: ...and groove, yeah.
ARTURO MORA: ...more than in melody and harmony.
DAN BERGLUND: Yeah.
ARTURO MORA: I’ve noticed that your position on the
stage never changes: Esbjörn on the left, Dan in the
middle and Magnus on the right.
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: It looks good on the picture [laughs].
The main thing we look for is being very tight together, this
is very important.
ARTURO MORA: Being able to see each other...
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Yeah, but we don’t look at
each other, maybe sometimes. But it’s a feeling, an
energy, we are one.
DAN BERGLUND: You can hear the instruments much better, of
SERGIO CABANILLAS: Is it sort of a club feeling?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Yes, it’s like being in a
living room while we are on a stage.
ARTURO MORA: E.S.T. is now one of the top bands in the European
jazz scene, and it’s starting to be a reference for
upcoming bands. Does this imply a higher responsibility for
DAN BERGLUND: No.
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: I think it’s just amazing
that it is like that, because I’m still in the position
that I’m 13 or 14 and I’m still looking at the
old guys, Jack DeJohnette, whoever, so many great guys. So
of course it’s extremely flattering that people look
at this band like that, because I can’t see myself in
that position, I’m still in the beginning just inside
ARTURO MORA: Dan, do you agree with that?
DAN BERGLUND: Yes, of course, I’m still fourteen years
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Yeah, but it’s really amazing
that people looks at us this way.
SERGIO CABANILLAS: Even in the USA, many people read the
Down Beat cover (1).
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: That was fantastic, but we’ll
ARTURO MORA: What kind of music do you usually listen to?
Mainly jazz or any other things?
DAN BERGLUND: I almost never listen to jazz [laughs]. I listen
to hard rock music, old stuff like Black Sabbath and Deep
Purple, and newer like Nine Inch Nails. I listen a lot to
different music, I listened the new album from Björk,
and I liked it.
SERGIO CABANILLAS: Do you like progressive rock, bands like
DAN BERGLUND: No, not really. My brother’s son is kind
of into that.
ARTURO MORA: Magnus, do you listen to rock too?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Yes, I think I listen to every kind
of music actually. I’m really happy I’m still
open to all these different styles. I listen a lot to a guy
called Smog from the US, and Wilco. In the jazz field I listen
to Bill Frisell.
ARTURO MORA: After the tour ends, which are the next plans
for E.S.T.? Is there a new recording?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: Well, it might be official, we don’t
really know, but we’ll tell you, you can say that you
heard it somewhere [laughs]: we’re gonna release a live
ARTURO MORA: New tunes?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: No, from this tour.
ARTURO MORA: Will you record a specific date or the material
will be chosen from various concerts?
MAGNUS ÖSTRÖM: No, it’s already recorded,
it’s just one day, one concert, no editing.
(1) E.S.T were featured in Down Beat’s cover on May
2006. It was the first time an European jazz band appeared
on Down Beat’s cover ever.
Text © 2007
Photographs © 2007 Sergio