Black River Delta — Blues Evolution and a Monkey Bus Driver

May 24, 2017 · 6 min read

Three childhood friends from Bollnäs, Sweden, playing the blues how they see fit and getting away with it? Yeah, definitely yeah. Inspired by both the genre’s greats and contemporaries this bunch has since 2014 toured extensively and released their debut album in 2016.

I remember seeing this band playing live last October in Bergen, Norway, and I must admit, that even though I could hear the blues, I can’t say I have heard anything like it. Raw, hypnotic, original and expressive and yet still familiar. Isn’t that a recipe for success? With the band working out of Malmö, Sweden, I was able to get a hold of them online and asked them a couple of questions:

How is it like to play, as you point out on your web page, music inspired by rock stars long gone in the year 2017?

“The great thing about music is that it keeps evolving, it never truly goes away. Blues music for example has its roots in traditional African music. So modern blues has evolved through hundreds of years via a lot of different inputs. It is true many of our biggest idols are dead since many years, but their music still exist, any many others have carried on their legacy. We only hope to be one of those bands who can keep good music alive, and to keep evolving it into modern sounds”.

How do three people from the northern parts of Sweden end up playing and feeling the music with roots so far away, both in time and geographically?

“We actually all listen to a great variety of genres, and have always had a great interest in playing and listening to different kinds of music. But maybe there’s always a certain genre that catches you, which feels more ”you” than any other. The blues/rock was something we all enjoyed and could connect in. The band started when we were hanging out together, just having a good time and jamming. It came so naturally we just kept on doing it. There is no need to be born in a back alley in Chicago to be able to enjoy blues music. Whatever music hits you is the one to go with”.

What do you write about? Topics?

“We never plan what to write about, so the topics come to us in different ways. We don’t really have an agenda other than playing music and telling stories, so the lyrics tend to be about everyday life. There are no hidden messages or political agendas, there are only real life stories, either self experienced or things we have heard of”.

Is it hard bringing anything new to the blues genre? What would you say is different about your approach to bluesrock?

“Blues has such a bad reputation, being something only old men play, and everything sounding the same. So just by being a relatively young band playing blues is bringing a lot to the genre. But we try not to think too much about what we should and should not do. Just by being the three of us, making music we like is making it our own”.

Is it a conscious decision not to include a bass player in the band, and how does that affect the way you write and perform music?

“We were looking for a bass player for quite some time, but never found any. After that we tried changing one of the guitars to a baritone guitar instead, but that didn’t work out that well. So when we play live now we just go with regular guitars, but with both going through a guitar amp and a bass amp. So we have more bass amps than other bands live. But in the studio we of course have the option to add a real bass. But this hasn’t affected the writing very much, we just have to be smarter when arranging the songs”.

How is your relationship to the music industry?

“The music industry keeps changing so much that once we get our heads around how it works, it has already changed again. But it is a tricky business. We choose to only work with people who honestly can say they like our music and are passionate about it. That way we at least know they have our best interest at heart. Basically we don’t think about it too much. We try to do our thing, and if someone wants to help out we are glad for all the help we can get”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages about the digital revolution?

“The advantages obviously are that it is so easy to spread music all over the world. For us it is noticeable in that we released our debut album on CD and LP in Europe, but we have most listeners in the US, simply by them being able to stream the album over there. The down side though must be that there is too much crap everywhere. Before, when you had to have a record deal to get your music out there, you had no chance if it was total crap. But now, it is just to upload it. Some time ago we heard of a Spotify list that contained only music that had never been played. Why even put it on there?”

Do you have any goals career wise? World domination? :)

“If we can keep playing music for a long time, and enjoy it just as much as we do now, there is nothing else we could wish for. And then world domination. And a monkey tour bus driver”.

You’ve been touring a lot. Any differences between countries?

“The thing is, no matter where we are, it seems all people can come together and enjoy a good concert. Thankfully music is a universal language. What we can say is that it is horrible driving on the Norwegian countryside in the middle of the night. Those narrow, winding roads are mental”.

How is your writing process?

“Often times it starts with a few guitar parts, then we just jam until we have something that works. Then the lyrics is added on after most of the music is done”.

Is there a new record coming out in the near future?

“We have actually finished our second album already. Now we just have to take our time making the right decisions about how to release it. But we are not stressing it. We stressed a lot to get our first album out, but this time it can take its time. So if you are a big cheese in the business and want to work with the greatest record of all time, feel free to get in touch!”

How will the new material sound compared to the last release?

“Our debut album we recorded ourselves with about four microphones. This one is mainly recorded in a real studio. So first of all, the new material will sound better. Regarding the music it might be more mature. Also we had more instruments to play with in the studio. So some songs may sound a bit different from the songs on the first album, but it still sounds a lot like us. If you liked the first album you will definitely like this one!”

Join Black River Delta on Crowdsurf here and become part of their inner circle:

Black River Delta are:

Erik Jacobs Pontus Ohlsson Erik Nilsson


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