Right, this is going to be short as we basically wrote the bulk of the Tobias Hellkvist bio below! But here it goes:
Tobias sent us his first album towards the end of 2009. We ended up releasing 'Evolutions' early 2010 and it was instantly met with critical acclaim, with many reviewers and fans noting its beautiful, subtle mixture of ambient, soundscape qualities, tied in with beautiful folk-like instrumentation in the background. We were well chuffed that people loved the record so much.
A year later this was followed up with a short EP 'Kaskelot' which he recorded at the sigur rós studio. We released it on our very small local paper imprint, Tokyo Droning. The popularity of the EP in Japan caused our poor paper stockists to run out of the paper they were trying to make in time for us. This was quite the achievement as the label was focused on doing very small run works to be sold only at art galleries, and special art sections of record stores. If you go to Tower Records in Shibuya, they still have some samples of the label's output in a glass casing due to the nature of the package, and you'll be able to see Tobias' release (its the green one) there. 'Kaskelot' will be reissued on Home Normal in 2014 with remixes and all that jazz.
In the summer of 2012, Tobias released his latest album on Home Normal. 'Everything Is Connected' was a very different record indeed from anything he had released before, with his strong drone elements, and even a 4/4 beat. The album essentially worked as a one track arrangement in six parts, using guitar textures to create an incredible symphonic-esque album. It was marked out as one of the albums of the year on respected blogs such as Futuresequence, Headphone Commute, SWQW, and was given the awesome remote_ seal of approval with 'album of the year'. The release culminated in a headline performance at the Vortex in London, in March 2013, where Tobias blew our ears off with beautiful guitar dirge, and almost the speakers as well, as a very worried venue owner looked on!
We're looking very much forward to more from Tobias in the future, including his album on Small Fragments. He is also in the band 'Pixie Carnation', who, incidentally, are pretty damn awesome.
This is 'Statics' from 'Everything Is Connected':
To keep up-to-date with Tobias work, please go to his site here:
Here's a little more about Tobias Hellkvist:
Multi-instrumentalist Tobias Hellkvist (b.1984) was born and raised in the south of Sweden, just outside Malmö. He’s a songwriter/soundartist/producer and has been making music since his early teens. Some of his works is just him with a guitar and some of it is computerbased soundscapes in the ambient/drone genre.
In early 2007, he finished his first official album called Transports, which mostly contained electroacoustic/ambient material. This album was self-released and produced by Tobias himself. He also got some attention for making an acoustic cover version of the song “Step Aside”, originally written and performed by the danish electronic/postrock band Efterklang.
In the summer of 2008 he released his second album, Sides. It’s an album where Tobias continues to explore different sounds and textures. At the same time he shows a completely new approach to his songwriting, involving lots of different instruments such as piano, accordion, harmonica, flute, vibraphone, glockenspiel, vocals and drums. This results in a more diverse album than his previous.
About a month later, a split EP with Scottish act Metronomes (aka Al Paxton of Stapleton) was released, containing three songs by each artist. One of Hellkvist’s contributions was an acoustic cover version of the song “Ships of the North Atlantic”, originally by Stapleton. Vintervarm (from Sides) was also featured, as well as Always Problems, a previously unreleased track made exclusively for this split.
The first collaborative project Tobias participated in was with another Swedish drone artist, the Gothenburg-based Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words (aka Thomas Ekelund). They were introduced by Avi Roig from Seattle, the man behind the non-profit web publication It’s A Trap!. This introduction resulted in a 25 minute piece entitled White/Grey/Black. This was later released on Roig’s own IAT.MP3 label as a free download.
In early 2008, Tobias hooked up with longtime friend Ola Pålsson, after talking about working together for a long time. After about a year of composing songs in Tobias apartment in Malmö, they started to search for musicians to play with, which turned out to be the hardest part. But after a couple of months they had assembled a group of people, and the band Pixie Carnation was born. They went on to record their debut EP Fresh Poems in February 2009, and it was self-released three months later.
Simultaneously, Tobias had been working on his third full-length album, entitled Evolutions. This album was actually taking its form pretty fast after the release of Sides, but since most of his focus was spent on Pixie Carnation during this time, the album kind of fell into the shadows.
After being heavily delayed, Tobias put his last touches on Evolutions on November 15th 2009. Anna Johansson (who also made the artwork for Sides), had been listening to rough cuts of the album pretty much since the start of the creation process, and created beautiful artwork for the new record.
The wrap up of Evolutions was made just before Tobias would do his very first live performance, in the Trinitakis church in Copenhagen on November 17th. Also playing was the Danish sound artist Peter Jörgensen, who had helped Tobias a lot in the process of taking his music out to perform in front of a live audience.
Evolutions was Tobias’ first widely distributed CD release. Whilst much of Tobias work had previously revolved around acoustic guitar elements, Evolutions took us into denser minimalist textures. That isn’t to say the acoustic elements were absent though, as the subtle use of guitar, zither, accordian and glockenspiel processing throughout the whole album showed. It’s simply that the acoustic elements in Evolutions were more subtly woven into the fabric of the beautiful dirge-like textures.
The Silent Ballet called Tobias ‘one of Sweden’s best kept secrets’. With two limited self-releases to his name, it wasn't hard to see why. However, Evolutions was met with critical acclaim, given various album of the week titles in places like Boomkat, Smallfish, and was even a top seller at Darla in the USA. IT was also a constant seller, so people were picking the album up slowly but surely. By the end of the year it had appeared on various 'best of' lists. Not bad for a 'best kept secret'.
Since then Tobias released his ‘Kaskelot’ EP on Tokyo Droning, whose success and popularity in Japan caused the paper stockists for the label to run out of supplies on two occasions! (There will be a pressed re-issue of ‘Kaskelot’ early in 2014 for those who missed out).
His latest album ‘Everything Is Connected’ has been a long time in the making. Flowing as both seven distinct yet connected tracks, the album needs to be heard as a whole to understand its nature properly. It is in many ways quite a departure from what we are used to with his previous work, with its reverberated guitar tones, and slowly evolving structures, even to the deep 4/4 beat on the incredible ‘Christmas Rat’. Yet the organic nature and earthiness is still very much there in the work, perhaps more prevalent on ‘Everything Is Connected’ than in his previous works actually.
This is not an album to rush. This is an album to savour and absorb for its perspective, enveloping nature and soul. In an age when people, labels, and record shops alike want to rush, shuffle through their music libraries and have no time to sit down and actually take something in, Tobias has created something which is almost a throwback to when people would actually take the time to listen, get lost in the music and depart. So stop talking for a second, stop worrying about what you need to do next and after that, listen and let yourself be consumed by this remarkable record.
Everything Is Connected was released in September 2012 to again, critical acclaim. Many blogs and sites regarded it as the one of the finest releases of the year, in any genre. It was marked out as a continuation in the evolution of Tobias' sound, and was also noted as the album of the year in the highly regarded remote_ reviews. This culminated in Tobias' headline performance at the Home Normal Vortex show in March 2013 with The Black Elk Quartet, Olan Mill, and Moon Ate The Dark.
You can share, stream and buy 'Evolutions' here:
You can stream, share and buy 'Everything Is Connected' here:
You can stream, share and buy 'Kaskelot' from Tokyo Droning here: