P&C interview: Peter Sandberg / by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Björk Óskarsdóttir

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The name Peter Sandberg is hardly very foreign to the fans of Spotify’s playlist Peaceful Piano, and numerous such playlist intended for relaxation or reading. Sandberg’s track Remove the Complexities has, perhaps, become his most well-known, relaxing the hell out of the tensest of humans. Other musical accomplishments include composing for clientele such as Netflix, Volvo and Tesla. His new album, Motion, released on March 1st via Phases Records, marks a slight shift of instrumentation and a new exploratory direction.

How did you first get into composing? Are you self-taught or did you study music?

I started out with a dream of being a classical concert pianist. I studied classical piano in high school and at a music college in Sweden. But I grew tired of never being good enough so when I graduated I set off to do something else. I bumped quite randomly into an acquaintance of mine and he told me about this new gig he had, composing for music libraries and that he thought I could do it if I wanted to. So, I did and worked with that for about 6 years. That’s when I really got into the whole composer role. I loved it and I created so much music and got a chance to develop as a producer and composer. So, the short answer is; I studied piano but I don’t have any formal education in composition. That has been a more ’trial and error’ sort of setup.

Your previously released music has a very clear, sheer brightness to it. It could be described as sensitive, maybe introverted but hardly melancholic, thus differing from much of the current piano-based music. Is this on purpose or is this the mood that comes naturally to your compositions?

I would say it comes very naturally to me that style I have had. But the thing is that my old catalog is made for TV and then released as albums, therefore being and sounding the way it does. I have a much wider emotional capability though, and I’m very keen on exploring this, starting with this new album.

One might say that you have made a career out of calmness. What is your relationship with “calm”?

This is kind of funny actually. When laying out the concept for the album I wanted to process experiences from my childhood, which most certainly wouldn’t go under the adjective ’calm’, rather the opposite - ADHD. I was all over the place as a kid.

This was quite a big revelation for me. The reason why I was able to turn things around with my ADHD situation was the fact that I started playing the piano. It channeled all that excess energy into the music and it made me so much calmer. I have never thought about this before and it really shows how much impact music really have.

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What is the story behind the new direction of this album? Can you tell us a bit about the creative process?

(See previous answer)

When I started working on the album I was just aiming to make a beautiful album in the traditional ’Peter Sandberg’ realm. But I wanted it to be a bit different from the old catalog. So, I just started working on ideas and developed them, threw others away and just kept on creating something that I could be proud of. I think I probably went through 40 compositions before settling on the final 10.

I’m a piano player and that has always been my strength, so it was a no brainer that I would do something that was very piano-focused. I usually start composing at the piano and then I elaborate from that initial sketch.

I also knew very early on that I wanted to have a string quartet included on the project and was fortunate to get a group of very talented musicians together at the legendary old Abbey Road / EMI studios in Stockholm, nowadays named ’Baggpipe Studios’. I had a very specific sound in mind when composing the tracks, so we worked pretty thoroughly with how to capture it correctly.

I guess this album has been a search about finding myself, finding my feelings and my direction as an artist. All of these tracks are very personal to me and are snapshots of my life, in one or the other way. It reflects my journey as an individual in a way, across the time making the album but also my journey through music to date.

Any live performances planned this year?

Yes, for the nearest future I will be doing a headline show in Istanbul on ’Piano Day’, March 29th. Another gig in London in May (date TBA). And will hopefully get a tour going this fall/spring 2020. We announce everything on my website and on socials.