Lagoona is a defining edge to the independent trance scene. These two Swedish composers have taken the world of trance music by storm with their smooth infectious electronic sounds, bodacious melodies, and breathtaking vocal lines. From their humble beginning they rose to the top of the mp3.com charts with seeming ease and have since evolved into a world of live gigs, interesting licensing deals and strong CD sales. I have been a fan of Lagoona for years now and an interview is the least that can be done to give justice to their music. So sit back and relax and read what Lagoona has to say.
GOM: Give us a brief primer about yourselves.
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: Lagoona is a band formed by Andreas Viklund (age 23) and Björn Karlsson (age 27). We both live in Porjus, a small town 50 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden.
GOM: When and where was Lagoona formed? How did the two of you meet?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: We met one day during the summer of 1996, when we ended up at the same summer season work. Within minutes we knew that we shared the same interest for music, and a few days later we met up at a friend’s place. The friend had a computer, Björn had the software knowledge and Andreas was very interested in music production using computers. After two long nights with FastTracker, we had made our first song; “Feelings”, and a week later we met again and wrote “Dreams”, the song that would become our first online hit (and our first song to reach 100,000 downloads).
GOM: How long have the two of you been writing music? What are your musical inspirations?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: “Feelings” was finished in late August 1996. That is close to seven years now. The inspiration comes from all the feedback we get, and from real-life experiences. Every time someone tells us that they like our music, we get a kick of inspiration. Knowing that there are actually people out there who truly appreciate our music makes it worth all the work. Knowing that that there are actually thousands of fans all over the world is an amazing bonus… But of course, we are also inspired by our own emotions. Happiness, sadness, love, and excitement – it’s all there.
GOM: Keeping a band name short and sweet has always been a challenge for many artists. Can you tell us the story behind the bodacious name ‘Lagoona’?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: When we started, we formed “The Solid Energy Crew”. But at the time we realized that music was what we really wanted to do, so we wanted to give ourselves a fresh re-start. We moved on to MIDI and synthesizers, and we built our first real studio and so we decided to leave the long and difficult name behind. The name “Laguna” was found in a tax-free perfume magazine, and we fell in love with it. However, there was already a band named “Laguna” on the scene. Inspired by Antiloop, we changed the spelling, and “Lagoona” was formed. The date for the official name change was October 1st 1998.
GOM: How would you describe your music? Who is your ideal audience?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: It is hard to describe our music, since we are taking wild leaps between the genres all the time. But “emotional and powerful melodic electronic dance music” could perhaps work… The ideal audience consists of a small group of mixed happy, open-minded electronic music lovers. Age doesn’t matter; it is all about the spirit. Anyone who is ready to accept our music style and the feelings and emotions that it may bring, is an ideal listener. Any listener, who loves to dance, be wild and sing along, would be a part of this ideal audience…
GOM: Out of all your songs, which is your favorite?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: Out of all the 150+ songs we have made during the years, it is honestly impossible to name one single favorite. But one song that is really special to us is “The promised land”, since it is the most popular of our songs at our live performances. The vocals are easy to remember, and it feels lovely to hear the dancing crowd sing along to the song!
GOM: Give us a simple walkthrough of the song design process. How much time do you devote to producing? What kind of equipment do you use? Who performs your vocal lines?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: It is impossible to tell how much time it takes to make a Lagoona song. It all depends on the song, and the amount of inspiration we get. Some songs have been made in less than four hours; others have needed more than four weeks of work… It usually starts with an improvised synth lead. It is often not intended to become a song, but sometimes those improvisation melodies that we make, can sound really interesting and contain as much inspiration as other ideas. Then we add drums, bass, and fills until we have approximately a one minute long song. After that, we try to break it apart to get some structure. We make the intro, the buildups, and the ending, and then we use the first minute of music to fill in between the other parts of the song. The last thing we do is usually the middle part of the song, and that is often the hardest thing to do. The middle break needs to add something new to the song, but it shouldn’t be too different from the other parts. This is all made with our studio synths (both hardware and software). Once all parts are completed, it moves on to mixing and mastering. All independent tracks are enhanced to sound good with the others. This is where our soundcards are very useful. We use two Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP systems, which is very powerful for mastering and finalizing. With the song mastered, it may be time to add vocals. We have worked with several singers, including Lizanne of the band Lizzard (www.mp3.com/lizzard) and recently also Åsa Holmberg. A few months ago, we built a vocal recording room in our studio, and today we are able to record high-quality vocal track. Very useful…
GOM: Have you ever licensed any of your songs commercially? Do you have any interesting success stories?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: Yes, we have done several successful projects, both commercial and non-commercial. Right now, three video companies are working with licensed Lagoona songs for their current project. We have also had our music featured in several games, ads and presentations. So far, we have five DVD/VHS soundtrack features, and we are always open for new projects.
GOM: Rumor has it your new CD ‘Cloud nine’ is in the making. What can you tell us about that?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: Our fourth album, “Cloud nine”, was originally scheduled for release in March, but it has been delayed. The reason is that we have been too busy with studio work, and the online part (which includes releasing music on the web and on MP3.com DAM CD albums) has taken the damage for this. We will compensate everyone for this after the summer season, with the release of a better “Cloud nine” with more songs, and possibly also a fifth album with the best of our music, including the best remixes. We will not let our listeners down, that’s a promise.
GOM: Do you ever plan to release vinyl or pursue a record deal?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: We have not yet sent out our planned “2003 demo pack”, but we will do it as soon as we are happy with the material on it. Of course, a vinyl release would be really nice to do. We have had decent record contracts as publishing and management deals, but we are currently unsigned. We don’t want to rush into anything that could lock us up and kill our musical freedom, but if we would find a label that would believe in our music in the same way that we do, then anything could happen.
GOM: What is your opinion on the new changes to mp3.com? Do you plan to stay on mp3.com indefinitely?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: It all depends on how serious you are with your music. There are always costs, if you are really into the music-making. Equipment, software and promotion [are] not free, and neither is music hosting. But with all the limitations (including the three-songs-limit) for the free mp3.com account, the artists who can’t afford to pay for the service will not get much use of the site. That’s sad; it is hard to get a good start today. When we joined mp3.com in June 2000, we went from nothing to #1 in less than one month, without paying a dollar for it. It was possible back then, but today it simply never happens. Especially since artists like Madonna, 50 cent, Linkin Park, Enya and the Offspring are pushing out the non-commercial artists from the charts. Still, for any artist who can afford the yearly fee, mp3.com can be a great way to spread the music to listeners all around the world. We can thank mp3.com for a big part of our listener base, and with the number of visitors we have on our mp3.com page every day, we believe that it is well worth the costs for us. We will stay, as long as we can afford it and as long as it feels OK for us.
GOM: Where do you see ‘Lagoona’ five years from now?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: In five years, we have had at least one magic year with commercial releases and lots of gigs and tours, the life that so many artists dream of. In five years, we have had the career that we have worked so many years for, and we will move on to new challenges. Instead of only focusing on Lagoona, we are working as professional music producers who have been able to do some major productions during the last years. There are at least four gold albums on the studio wall, and the schedule will be full of production work for the future!
GOM: Now for the philosophical question; if you were offered a considerable amount of money to quit making music would you do it?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: I don’t think that anyone would honestly want to give up their biggest interest for money. For us, it would be like taking away the air that we breathe. A life with no music making wouldn’t be a happy life for us.
GOM: Do you have any final words of advice for fans or new independent artists?
Andreas Viklund and Björn Karlsson: Don’t rush! Take the time you need, and make sure that you feel good with what you do. Let your inspiration guide you, and don’t look too much on the pop stars and commercial wonders. Do what you want to do and put your soul into the music, no matter if you create your own music or just listen to others. Your ears are not everything; try to listen with your heart. Be prepared that it is not always easy, but keep your faith and your love for music, and it will all turn out in a good way. Spread the happiness, dance with passion, and stay away from the drugs. With a true love for music, you will feel the trance anyway. And keep on listening to Lagoona! =)
Lagoona is always looking to stay on the cutting edge. Be sure to check them out at www.mp3.com/lagoona.