The words 'steel guitar' and 'Scandinavian' don't often get used in the same sentence, but when it comes to Maggie Bjorklund, it will never be any other way. Starting her professional music life out as a session guitarist in Hollywood, Bjorklund quickly found herself signed to Sony in Denmark with her country music band The Darleens. Howver, after finally mastering the instrument that taunted her for years, Bjorklund reinvented herself as a steel guitarist, releasing her first solo album in 2011. Since then she's been swimming in the melancholic pool of south western folk music with the likes of Rachel Flotard, Jon Auer, Mark Lanegan, Joey Burns and Jack White.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started out writing music at a young age. I wrote some pieces for classical guitar when I was 12, written out on sheet music and everything. I still have them. When I was young, I was playing a lot of classical music and naturally some of my first attempts were classical pieces. But I was also listening to everything The Beatles ever put out. I loved them passionately, and I never tire of listening to them. I can always find something new in their music. When I had entered the world of rock and blues, I started writing for my first band The Darleens. I wrote most of the music for that band.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
When writing for my first solo album, I was very focused and very open to anything that came forward. I loved that process.
What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
I am currently working on my next album. It is a thrilling and challenging experience writing music. It's like cutting your way through a jungle, bits and pieces laying everywhere, and you never know if you are on the path to anywhere...
What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
I have no set ways to write. I will find a chord on an instrument that speaks to me, or hear a beat on the radio, or just simple fooling around on a guitar will suddenly take me somewhere that feels like it has something
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
They are the same to me. I can't write without having improvised through the barren landscape.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?
A composition is only a composition if it has sound and space. Only sound and you have noise, only space, and you have nothing. Its got to be in there, all of them.
Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
I personally love music that takes a while to digest and understand. And I also love if a piece is seemingly simple but underneath it is not and when it has something to occupy my ear and my brain. That said, you can also become so mysterious that you loose your audience.
In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences – and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?
I think we all rest on a sound of the culture we are brought up in. I am sure you can feel a certain Scandinavian mood in my songs and playing, and I love that. Everything we do in life is shaped by experience and decisions made on experience. My musicality is based on a Scandinavian and European sound and instead of fighting that, I try to embrace it.