The songs are strong, the playing impeccable, but what strikes many listeners when they first hear Dungen is the sound. It always comes up when fans discuss the band. Leader Gustav Estjes creates records that seem both vintage and current — meticulously labored over, yet still sonically homespun sounding. Over the past 10 years, Sweden's ambassadors of AcidPopRockProgFolk have consistently delivered one brilliant album after another. In 2010, they released a new full- length album (Skit I Allt), extensively toured the world and recorded a single with Jack White III and Vance Powell ("Oga Nasa Mum") for a Third Man Records release.
Between your first two albums, there was a record called Dungen. That was some sort of a compilation?
That record consists of parts from the 500-copy album, stuff from Stadsvandringar and other music from the 1999-2001 period. It's a re-edited [re-combined] re-release of various things.
The end result is a wonderfully psychedelic suite. It also seems to reference Bo Hansson, Fläsket Brinner and the early '70s Scandinavian psych/folk movement.
Bo Hansson, who passed away last year much too young, is one of Sweden's most underrated composers. I have a background in hip-hop, but when I started to do the type of music I do now (when I was 17), Hansson and his tone language was a major influence on me. There was a whole scene in Stockholm based around Hansson's work that included bands like Fläsket Brinner and Kebnekaise. Records by those bands, and the first Jimi Hendrix record [Are You Experienced], which I've loved since I was a kid, gave me an idea of what records should sound like in terms of drums, production and everything else. My parents are both fans of Swedish folk music, and my dad is a professional fiddler and folk musician. I got more into it when I was around 21 and in music school.
Do you play violin on the Dungen tracks that have it?
Yes, that's me.
Tell me about your background in hip-hop!
That was the first music I listened to. When I was 11, and had a little bit of my own money, I was allowed to pick my own music. I loved Public Enemy. It was my rebellious anti-folk music period! It helped me develop an idea of what's swinging and what's considered a groove. Plus Johan [Holmegard, drums] is totally into jazz now. But he was into hip-hop as a kid too, along with Sepultura and Suicidal Tendencies. It's all come together, especially in the last three or four years, and created a type of Dungen way of playing. We don't need to talk so much anymore. We just know the direction it's going in.
Do you use any virtual instruments for, say, classic keyboard sounds?
No, I like real instruments.
I know Reine's [Fiske, Dungen's guitarist] sound is very dependent on that early-'60s Klemt Echolette tape delay!
That's his diamond, his jewel! It goes before his [Marshall JTM45] amp and really affects his sound.