Kristoffer Gildenlöw (born July 27, 1978) is a Swedish musician and songwriter. He is best known for his work as bass guitarist in the band Pain of Salvation, a band started by his older brother Daniel Gildenlöw. Kristoffer is currently living in The Netherlands with his wife Liselotte Hegt.
I would like to thank Kristoffer for this interview and I hope the answers presented can serve the curiosity of the fans.
Tell us how you learned to play bass and why that instrument in particular. Who are your major influences?
Actually started with piano but grew tired of playing “Für Elise” so I quit after 6 years. After that I actually wanted to become a drummer but there was no place left at the local music school. I still appreciate drums (rhythm) as one of the most creative section of a band. So I went over to bass guitar and started taking lessons. The school didn’t really have a bass teacher but at least I got the basics.From there I took every kind of influence I could find and the time that followed was pretty deep into progressive hard rock such as DT and Queensrÿche but also into jazz and fusion with bass players such as Jaco, Victor Wooten and John Patitucci. I saw many, many instruction videos and went to as many clinics I could (Sweden is (was) pretty bad in that though).
Three events had big impacts on me in that period. To personally meet and speak to Francis Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power) and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Michael Ruff) had a great influence on me as to how down to earth thy were, so helpful and positive. Joining PoS in 1995 gave me a huge push in the back as I got to play with the ‘big boys’ and I had to prove my self over and over again. Plus, a not so good live show of DT at their Awake tour. That made me see them more as “humans” than “gods”. Nothing bad about DT but suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel and I could see some sort of path and direction. That made me realize that we’re all just humans that need to practice and work hard if we want to get somewhere and… even then, we can have a bad day.
Why have you chosen Mayones to be your Bass Guitar brand for life? What does it have that other basses don’t?
Ran into them at the European Bass Day 6 years ago. Firstly I stopped because of their beauty (I just love beautiful instruments). After trying them out I was in love. They’re just as good as it gets and there’s no reason to reach higher unless you want something different. Also the people at Mayones are just wonderful and you really feel like one of the family. I haven’t been on a contract with them for over four years now… not needed.
I’ll continue playing their instruments and endorsing them and telling everyone I meet to at least pick up one of their instruments and try. Most likely, they won’t be disappointed.
How can you describe playing with Pain of Salvation? How was the whole experience? Will we see Kristoffer Gildenlow featured in a future POS record?
PoS has been very good for me and there’s nothing I regret actually. You live and you learn.The good things you try to redo and the bad things you try to avoid. PoS got more and more focused on Daniel and for me this didn’t work. Even though Daniel had always made most of the music, there was really a growing crack between him and the rest of us. Finally, they all left.I try to work differently now and don’t put my self or others into these situations. I want to make things clear from the start how bands or projects will be organized. Then there won’t be any surprises or disappointments. But in general I had a great time with PoS with lots of opportunities to play and see the world and meet great and interesting people.
Concerning the last question, Kristoffer added:
“Well, hard to reply to actually. Never say never, I’d say. You never know what the future has to offer. At this point, I don’t think any of us has a need to reunite in that way.”
Tell us about your experience with other bands like DIAL, Epysode, The Shadow Theory and others … Any new project soon?
Each project is different and I try to only do things that I really like. DIAL was my first opportunity to have an output for my own music. To see if what I could was good enough to be put on an album. ‘Synchronized’ was the first step and I (we) learned a lot. Again, many good things and many bad things that we won’t redo.
Epysode is a pure “hired gun” thing where Samuel Arkan already had everything ready. Although I got free hands to write my own bass lines and put my own finger print on there.
The Shadow Theory was almost the same thing.I didn’t have anything to do with the writing of the music and tried my best to write interesting bass lines and make it sound like me wherever I could.
RUST is the first album where everything is 100% me. I have so much music inside my head that I can’t possibly record it all within the 24/7 time frame we have here on earth. I have enough for two follow-ups on RUST right now but first I will take on a slightly more aggressive and progressive part of my music and see where that will get me. RUST goes completely under my own name but the other things I have going will have project/band names to make it clear that they don’t have anything to do with each other. There is much more music to come from this mind, so don’t think that the “RUST-music” will be my only future.
When did you start the work on “RUST”? What is the purpose of that album? What message does it carry?
I actually started working on the more progressive project and had five complete songs on demo.But for every song I made that fitted that project, I came up with two songs that were much calmer, darker and melancholic. About two years ago I decided that they didn’t really fit together and couldn’t be compromised or pushed into the same genre so I split things up in different projects and ideas. The music that became RUST came stronger to me and I felt that I had to follow that path before I could find inner peace and continue with the harder music.Like something that just had to come out. After that I’ve been trying to arrange the songs in the best possible way. It’s minimalistic music, especially if you’re used to progressive music so I stripped off every song then build it up again, only adding what was needed for each song. This is why you’ll find no less than 16 guest musicians on there, each one just coming in for a few seconds to do their thing and then get out again.There are only a few songs on there with bass actually. If it wasn’t needed… then I didn’t put it in there, and that’s how I worked with every song and every instrument, trying to find new colors to paint with.
Lyric wise, this album goes deep into life. It’s not a concept album at all, in that manners, but there’s definitely a red thread in there dealing with life, being young, growing up, growing old and finding peace with being what we are.
You also commented on Facebook that when it comes to drum it has 4/4 all over it , did you intend it to be simple music after a long history of progressive complex music?
I love (almost) all kind of music and have never been a real metal head. Although I can really much appreciate some head banging. As I said, this was something that came out of me and I wanted it pure and unmixed with the more “advanced” music styles. Some of my favorite songs are as simple as they come and I’ve always loved songs that go straight for my heart and soul. I don’t get that with 3000 notes per minute songs although someone else does. I will get back to harder music and more complex music but has to go under a different name, I like to keep things a bit more pure and raw.
Who are the contributing artists? How did they contribute?
First of all, I started by looking at each song and what was needed for each song. Then I looked around to see who could play this for me in the best possible way. I had worked with Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation / Maiden United) on his album ‘For All We Know’ and asked him to help out with some guitar parts. He also helped me out technically by lending me stuff and giving me pointers on the mix so I’m very grateful for his input and help. Fredrik Hermansson (Pain of Salvation) was a given choice as to who would play the piano parts.Even though some of the piano parts are very simple, they still needed that perfect touch and dynamics and I knew that Fredrik had that. Jeroen Molenaar is a Dutch session drummer and part of the family and I knew that I had to look elsewhere for a drummer than my usual hard rock-drummer arsenal. Jeroen did a great job and was very good to work with. I had worked with Ernaauf der Haar earlier on tour and in the studio (she also sings on the demos for the progressive project that will come). She had the perfect voice for these parts and is very professional and easy to work with. Then I had to fill in the rest.
Knew Ben Mathot (Ayreon) from the tour I did with Neal Morse in 2011 and he was happy to come and play some violin for me. Even improvised a beautiful melody line on the track OverWinter, that I’m very happy with. I missed something there and he just pinpointed it. Maartje Broekman, a friend of mine, did some cello parts on two songs.She hadn’t played the cello in many years and I’m glad I managed to convince her to come over and play for me. She was really shy about it and the more she said no, the more I knew that I had to get her out of that shell and play. I met Ola Heden (Flower Kings) from the Neal Morse tour as well and got him to record some piano and organ on the track “RUST”. First I thought of doing it my self, just needed something to fill up in the background but something told me that I should ask him, and I’m very happy I did. He didn’t record what I asked him to, he went on and recorded something very personal and beautiful on that song. Melodies that I hadn’t thought of before that.
I also asked him for the bonus track, just because of that reason and once again, I was mesmerized. The bonus track has actually turned out to be one of my favorites. Luka Aubri, I met when recording ‘Wolflove’ with the pagan folk rock band Omnia. Luka is one of few who play sliderido… a didgeridoo that you can slide in the way of a trombone so that you can actually change the tone. I had used keyboards on the track “OverWinter” to get the lows but wanted something more organic as the song is about a tree. The slideridoo was the perfect choice. Luka also has a massive, low voice that was great for the lower lines of the track “Längtan” (longing), which is a homage to my own Scandinavian roots.
On the tour with Neal Morse, I also had the pleasure of working with Paul Bielatowicz (Carl Palmer Band). He was supposed to play the solo on the track RUST but we finally ran out of time and he had to get on with his next project. In his place, too close to find at first, I asked Paul Coenradie which I had been working with for over a year as we play with Bert Heerink (Vandenberg). Paul did a great job on this solo which really needed a certain sound and feeling. The track RUST is my dedication to Pink Floyd and Dire Straits and you need to top that off with a long, epic solo like this. I’m very satisfied with Paul’s efforts on this track.
Wudstik (Ayreon) had also worked with me on the demos for my progressive project and is one of the best singers I know of. Asking him for the song “Längtan” was like fishing with dynamite, just overkill. But I just wanted him on this project somewhere and he did a wonderful job.Just listen to his perfect voice control and super highs at the end.
For the track “Follow Me Down”, I needed a women’s choir. Turned out to be a bit more tricky than I thought but after calling Jessica Koomen, with whom I had also worked with on the Neal Morse tour in 2011, she helped me out by getting two more ladies (Bettina Vlot and Nadine van den Brink) and sing each vocal harmony three times, making it sound like a 30 people choir. The went from second Alto up to first Soprano and did a wonderful job.
The hardest thing was to find kids that could sing, actually. They had to be pretty young, yet being able to sing well and have a good English pronunciation. The Dutch accent wasn’t something I was looking for. Through FaceBook I managed to find Otto de Koning who was born and raised in the UK and he sang all the parts that symbolizes the child-version of the grown up character. Eline Mansvelt, Luc Mansvelt and Isabel Langers were vocal students of a friend of a friend of mine and they came well prepared. Eline Mansvelt, who does the teen-girl vocals on the track “Follow Me Down” has a great voice and I’m sure we’ll see and hear more from her in the future.
How will the album be distributed? Have you established contact with a particular label? Will you be performing the album material live?
I’m starting off by releasing the album on the 500 copy, limited edition LP. I’m staying true to my self on this one, no compromises. Even if I don’t sell any albums at all, I will still have a product in my hands that I can be proud of. Producing something to get maximum profit just to get my invested money back is nothing for me. This is an expensive album to buy and you will get your money worth. Only the best quality vinyl and paper to go. Full coloure, 8 page book to go (9 times bigger than the booklet you’ll get with a CD), a very exclusive artwork and a minted sleeve to put it all in. I don’t think many albums have been this stuffed before. The pre-sale runs throughout March where you’ll be given the bonus track and the whole album on CD-quality together with some extra goodies. And this LP will only be available on my home page www.kristoffergildenlow.com
Once the album’s out in the end of April, I might start looking around for a record label to take it from there and hopefully invest in the follow up that I would like to start record this year already. I am looking at a release party by the end of April early May to see if we can kick off this release with a little festivity. After that I guess I have to see how well the album goes and what kind of opportunities there will be. I have no idea what kind of people will get off at this kind of music or where I might be able to perform it. I know that I’d have to do something in order to perform it live though, unless I want to bring all the people with me.
Is there someone you would like to thank, something you would like to mention? Any message for the fans in the world and the Middle East in particular?