Following the release of his stunning new conceptual album The Greater Good, which features a gathering of superb musicians, we caught an interview with artist and songwriter Rasmus Fynbo, to find out more about the project, his role as a creative, and his hopes for the future. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Rasmus – great to speak with you again, thanks for the interview. The new album is superb; a personal favourite from 2020 so far. Though some of the songs are from various times in your life, this underlying, more sombre and reflective approach clearly unites them all.
As it happens, this is turning out to be precisely the right year in which to unleash a project of this nature. What was your intention with this collection, and what do you hope that people take away from it?
Ha ha, ah, that’s a really tough question. In all honesty I didn’t have a grand plan for these songs. In my opinion creativity works best without a plan.
I want people to have a great musical experience when listening and maybe reflect a bit on the situation at large. I prefer that you can listen to my music both superficially and more deeply and get satisfying experiences both ways.
The song-writing and musicality of the album is stunning. How did you find the right musicians for the job, and did you compose all sections or let the others throw in their own creative reactions?
I find most of the musicians I work with via Fiverr, so in essence I work with people from all over the world. I spend a lot of time picking out the musicians I want to work with and – there’s a lot of trial and error to the process, but as a general rule, the better I know what I want the easier it is to reach the goal.
I tend to use the same people over and over and the more we work together the more I lose the reins. For The Mayfly I simply sent my Clarinet player, Dima Faustov, two pictures and told him that his part had to sound like those. That leaves a lot of room for interpretation and you have to know people well for that to work.
There’s a strong live performance energy to the album. Last time we spoke, you stated that live performance wasn’t on the cards anymore. Have your thoughts changed at all – can we expect some live clips or shows (online at least) in the coming months?
No. It’s not that I don’t want to, but my experience with live gigs is that it takes a huge effort to get off the ground and I don’t have the kind of following that could pave the way for the concerts I would like to play. That said, I would really love to play The Freedom To live – it has a great live energy to it, I think.
Which song would you say means the most to you, if you had to play just one for a new listener, and why?
Well, I have two songs in mind for that question. The song that means the most to me is definitely Children of the Sand. It took a lot of effort to get the song right and to me it is a BIG song. If I just had to play one song I would go with The Freedom to because it sort of sums up what I do – there’s a bit of genre mixing, there’s a bit of theatrics, the song has a great hook and the lyrics are quite political without being annoying (at least that’s what I hope).
Though the entire playlist operates as something of a greatest hits, with many favourites throughout, the final song was one of the most memorable for me. It brought about thoughts of the stress and effort we put into becoming something or creating something of greater worth than ever before, and the potential pointlessness of that, or the impending disappointment. What does the song mean for you?
For me the song is about the pointlessness of modern work life. 100 years ago the predictions were that we, in our time, would work only 15 hours a week due to the effectiveness of machines and inventions. Instead we made up a lot of fluffy jobs and processes that don’t really do much. We stress over powerpoint presentations instead of spending time with our loved ones.
Is music your full-time profession?
No, it is a hobby. I make my living in the IT industry (so I encouter my fair share of pointlessness). I am happy that I don’t have to rely on my music. This way I can create whatever music I want – I don’t have to satisfy certain commercial needs. I don’t make music for an audience, but with all the effort and money I put into it, it would be great with a much larger audience.
Whenever I hear an independent project that’s as professional and artistically unique as this, I always want to make sure it gets a fair chance of reaching the audience it deserves. How do you feel about this kind of thing, the whole push towards building a bigger audience, and what steps do you generally think are the most effective in the pursuit of becoming a career artist?
I would prefer if my audience appeared out of thin air. I struggle a lot with promotion. It’s the music creation part that I am good at, and I kind of struggle with accepting that I also have to work equally hard with promoting my music.
With the album I have made a huge effort in promoting it. I am definitely doing things in the wrong order and at the wrong time, but it is bearing fruit. Within the last month I’ve had more than ten times the plays I had in 2019 (I had very little plays in 2019).
Do you use social media often?
Yes, I use my Facebook account fairly often, but probably not as effectively as I could. I’d love to have more dialog with my listeners.
I’ve also put together a YouTube channel which surprisingly brought some new listeners. I don’t have Twitter and Instagram.
When you’ve crafted something so comprehensive and multi-layered, like this album, how does it feel to hand it over to the world, and are you already thinking about or working on the next project?
Usually when I release an album I am at the point where I can’t listen to it anymore. This time though, I still really enjoy listening to the album. I am not totally fed up with it yet. As I have decided to work hard on promoting the album, it will linger in my consciousness for a bit longer.
But, as it is, I have been working on two albums at the same time, so I am already 50% done with the next album. I left the more upbeat songs for the next album and took the more folkish songs for this one. Sort of.
Does writing music of this nature help you to deal with your own anxieties regarding the state of a world?
Ha ha, I understand why you might think that, given the nature of my lyrics. I am a pretty silly person so it is kind of weird that my lyrics are so dark. My songs serves as a fuse I think. The world is so unkind and absurd that I have to write about it. It’s crazy how we remain sane living in this world of absurdities.
What other artists’ music do you turn to when you want to escape from the weight of the world?
Belle and Sebastian, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are great storytellers and I used to listen to them a lot. These days I listen to a lot of different artists that I pick and those from Spotify, but I rarely know who they are. It is weird as I used to know the names of all songs from my favourite artists.
What is it about making music that draws such passion from you?
I think it is a great way to let off steam, put it in a box, wrap it in shiny paper and let it go. Instead of getting overwhelmed by reality I channel it to become something different. Besides I am a “project person”. I really thrive by creating and finishing stuff – whether it is making music or building furniture.
Is there a bigger picture or a particular goal you have in mind as an independent artist?
Yes, I would love to have a much bigger audience, but still be fairly unknown. I would hate to be famous, but I feel my music deserves a bigger audience.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be, and why?
I wish that music was all about the songs and not about the artist. Music should be judged alone on its inherent quality (or lack of) and not as a part of a greater story. Personally I can listen to an artist for years without having any interest in knowing more about them.
What do you feel is the best thing we can do or change as a collective society in order to begin to heal some of the wounds we’ve inflicted on our world and ourselves?
The Corona crisis (yes, I just had to mention it, sorry) has so far taught us, that when leaders makes tough but honest decisions, people will rally behind them. If we can do that with this virus, then why not with the Climate crisis? Apparently we work best when given orders. It is a little sad, but at least we follow the orders.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Well, I just want to thank you for the great review and for letting me get the opportunity to connect with your readers. And stay safe and stay home.
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