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I got an e-mail and just put myself out there!

Evelina har en keps på sig, glasögon och en blå skjorta. Hon tittar in i kameran och lutar hakan i handen.

Interview with Evelina Larsson, musician

Evelina Charlie Larsson from Gothenburg, Sweden, is one of the members of ShareMusic’s ensemble Elefantöra. We are proud to announce that Evelina now is employed as a musician at ShareMusic throughout 2020. In addition to the projects involving Elefantöra, she participates in more activities and helps us present our work with music technology. Evelina – if anyone! – has a lot of experience from the subject matter. Earlier this autumn, we got a moment to interview Evelina somewhere between three Swedish cities.

Hi Evelina! How does it feel to be employed as a musician at ShareMusic throughout 2020?

– It’s totally crazy! I can’t really grasp it. It feels amazing

 As soon as I stepped into this ”ShareMusic bubble”, I knew I wanted to be here! There are good people here, it’s a nice crew, you do good stuff, it’s professional. So, it feels magic. I’m really happy!

Evelina spelar musik på en surfplatta, ler stort.

The beginning

When we ask how Evelina happened to be one of the musicians in Elefantöra, she tells us that she was working at an office but felt she wanted to do something else. The music has been a part of her life since she was a child, she’s been on stage as an actress, but now she wanted to devote herself more whole-heartedly to music. But Evelina didn’t quite know where to turn and she held herself back

– I thought that, ”No, I don’t have the proper knowledge about this and I cannot…” I mean, I play the piano, I have a musical ear, but I haven’t had any education. I’m self-taught. There’s been some people who have helped me on the road, but I’m not formally trained, Evelina tells us. Then I got this e-mail. I don’t remember from where, Disabled Youth perhaps. Anyway, it read that ShareMusic was searching for musicians to their iPad ensemble. Then I thought that, ”Hey, this is something I can apply for!”

Evelina had been using music apps and music technology a little bit before applying, but not that much. She also had some friends who’d been to ShareMusic courses some years ago and they had found it rewarding. Evelina herself had watched some videos with ShareMusic’s earlier work.

– When you see or hear something, you do get that feeling when there’s some good stuff going on. So I said to myself, ”I’ll give it a shot anyway.” Then, I forgot that I had applied! One day Janne [producer at ShareMusic] calls me and says that they want to meet me, and I just thought that, ”Oh heck, what is this?”, Evelina recalls with a laugh.

– So that’s how it all began. I got an e-mail and I just put myself out there.

Kulturfesten – The Culture Festival

In September, Elefantöra participated in Kulturfesten together with the contemporary ensemble Gageego, also from Gothenburg. Kulturfesten was a digital culture and arts festival that was arranged by Region Jönköping County in Sweden. The two ensembles performed Beethoven’s Cello sonata op 5, no 2. The cellist and the pianist performed the first and second movement, and Elefantöra and the percussionist performed the third movement. We asked Evelina to tell us about the work process that led up to the quite original concert that was filmed in an old factory in Gnosjö, a small industrial community in Sweden, known for its “Gnosjö spirit.” The pianist was filmed in the Mission Church in Gnosjö – and the cellist was in Italy!

– Yeah, corona has changed everything, Evelina begins. But we’ve had Skype meetings with Elefantöra and Gageego during spring. We built a sound library together where we uploaded sounds inspired by the Beethoven sonata.

She continues to recount how they listened to Beethoven’s music, discussed it and talked about what thoughts they got from it. They were allowed to work very free from a basis of questions like What do you hear? What do you think when you hear the sonata? How would you like to express this piece? The musicians then created sounds inspired by their own thoughts and feelings and uploaded them to the sound library. After that, they got to enter the library and play around with each other’s sounds – to change and adapt them. Finally, they met up in Gnosjö where they went through the material and shared their thoughts.

– Just to enter that venue in Gnosjö was really awesome, Evelina says and makes expressive gestures with her hands. It was a factory [Göhlins] that made tape for the air and car industry. That something like that even existed! Just to step in there was so cool, and then to hear the sound! When I play at home, I have this little soundbar that I connect to, a speaker and a bass. Here, there was a whole lot! It was a totally different atmosphere and the sounds I had created at home suddenly was erased. So I just decided that, ”No, I’ll resample new sounds that we create here instead”, sounds that we made then and there. I had to think completely new. In a way, of course it was tough to do everything all over again, but it came out fine. It was cool.

Evelina then tells us how Gusten Aldenklint, sound designer in Elefantöra, coordinated the music. Together, they decided on different parts of the music piece that they were going to play and Gusten guided them how to set it up. Evelina also describes how their common interpretation of Beethoven’s sonata arose from their individual thoughts.

– It was real teamwork and still so much of your own opinions and thoughts. It was awesome.

Was it fun to get to play together again too?

– Yes, it was fun. We’ve been working a lot with composers, but now there was a focus on us – how we play and how we wanted to set up the work. But of course, Beethoven was with us, Evelina adds with a laugh. Anyway, we got to focus on what we wanted to do and how we wanted it to sound. It was very rewarding.

Why do you think people should see your performance? What is unique about your piece?

– It IS really unique! We mix a percussionist, a cellist, and a pianist together with all the iPads. I myself thought at the beginning that ”Oh dear, this might be a bit too far from each other, how the heck are we going to tie it together?” Yeah, I was reluctant, but it is a really cool combination that actually merge together and comes out beautifully in the end.

Evelina also emphasizes that it’s truly special to watch Elefantöra and Gageego perform together, no matter if it’s live or filmed. She tells us that you can see how they communicate with each other and how the image of what and how they play grows and becomes clear during a performance.

– I think that we play in a unique way and it’s fun to develop too. That’s why I think it’s important that people see it, especially for people who might have difficulties with holding an instrument or need music making to look differently. That they get to see that you can fix it. The accessibility that does exist is something that I had no idea about and if people see us, that knowledge will be spread and develop even more! So, that’s why I think people should see us. And because we’re good of course. We have fun and I think it shows.

Challenges, lessons learned and new ways of thinking

What’s been most fun, or most developing and challenging of the work that you’ve done with ShareMusic so far?

– Woah! That’s a whole lot in various layers, if one may say so. One part is how I got into this so fast. When I started in Elefantöra, the others had already been working with it for about a year so and I felt that ”Oh dear, here I am, all new and oh my god, how do you do this?”

After playing the piano for so many years, Evelina was used to everything that it means. She explains that when Elefantöra plays, they have a clock in front of them, a timeline. They also play after graphic notation that they follow and interpret. Evelina hadn’t been working with either a clock or graphic notation before. It was a very different way for her to play music.

– So, it’s been really challenging! It’s also been exciting to visit new places that I didn’t know existed before, to meet new people and just be in this bubble with other people who also like music. People who know what they’re talking about, people who are in the game. It’s great.

Evelina i keps och glasögon ler och pratar med någon utanför bild. Joel syns lite suddigt i förgrunden, fokuserad vid en surfplatta.

Have you learned a lot from meeting them?

– Oh yes! Absolutely, I’ve learned incredibly much, Evelina says with emphasise. Both musically and that I have learned to think in a different way. When I play, I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I can think that ”This tone does not work, it’s not good.” But now I have learned that it doesn’t matter, it’s not that strict. It will be good anyway. I’m going to get there anyhow, says Evelina and continues:

– Something that’s also fun, is that when you’ve finished something, you get even more ideas to your own work – you become more daring! Just have a look at, I think it was a piece by Karen Power, where you did some stuff with a grand piano and kinda scraped this card against the strings and I thought that “Oh my god, no, you can’t do that!” It was like my instrument, my general instrument, but things like that open up! After that experience, my thoughts were “Well, this tone that I’m doing weird, it becomes beautiful in its own way.” You change your way of thinking and start to see things differently.

As we’re just about to finish the interview, Evelina wants to add something.

– You know, things happen when you travel together. Like this one time when we were at the train station in Lund and not one lift was working.

At the train station in Lund, you have to use the stairs, an escalator or lift to get to an overpass that reaches over the tracks. That’s the only way to get to most of the platforms. Both Evelina and one of her colleagues in Elefantöra, Hannes, use a wheelchair.

– It was only a few minutes left before the train departure and we didn’t know what the heck to do! It ended with the others simply carrying us up. We just fixed it. I think that’s so amazing, that it’s so solution oriented at ShareMusic. “Oh well, we’ll just lift you up then!” and “If something occurs, we’ll just deal with it.” It’s so simple. There are no question marks or weirdness. I like that. It means a lot.

Watch the performance by Elefantöra and Gageego here!

All photos by Stephan Bozic.

I got an e-mail and just put myself out there!