Magnus Birgersson (producing under the Solar Fields moniker for almost two decades now) has become a veteran and heavy-hitter in the underground electronic scene. Many of his releases are firmly situated in between Europe’s busy brand of glitchtronica and expansive ambient soundscapes a la Stellardrone.
His prolific catalogue has even earned him a spot as the lead composer on Electronic Arts’ Mirror’s Edge and it’s sequel Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. I can still vividly remember seeing the TV spots for the original game featuring Lisa Miskovsky's outstanding track Still Alive.
With such a storied body of work, I had to speak with him about his career, inspirations, and future.
Prox: You’ve been the lead composer on both of the Mirror’s Edge games. How does the aesthetics of the in game world contribute to the overall vibe that you tried to create for the soundtracks?
Solar Fields: The aesthetics in the game world are a key source of my inspiration for the creation of the music. I spent a lot of time with the design team throughout the entire project so that I could get a good look and feel of how the environment should sound. For example, one part of the game where we enter down the storm drains into a huge underground complex (which is quite dark and minimalistic) the music that I wrote for this passage reflects this atmosphere and environment.
Prox: How did working within certain parameters for the games improve your overall abilities as a composer?
SF: I would not say that working within these parameters improved my creative ability as a composer, however, what I have learned through this process is to develop a more efficient method of working. Due to heavy time pressure this process taught me to speed up my creative workflow. For example, if I have something in my mind, I have learned how to put it down quickly instead of sitting for days tweaking it. So I have learned to more deeply trust my initial ideas in order to move on to the next piece of work.
Prox: Did they force you to add new techniques into your arsenal?
SF: They didn’t force me to do anything because I had total creative freedom within certain frames. For example, in a combat situation I provided music that reflected combat. I was free to do my own thing. These were my only parameters.
Prox: I’ve seen you speak in other interviews about how you like to avoid taking in too much inspiration from other projects. How do you stay motivated with this philosophy? How do you keep things fresh?
SF: I like to compose and hear things that I haven’t heard before myself. This is also a reason why I compose music because I like to explore and discover new territories.
Prox: One thing that I love to learn more about are the external and extracurricular factors that impact an artist’s sound. What are some things that we may not know about you that impact your soundscapes?
SF: My emotions from my dreamscapes play a huge part in my creative process. I dream deeply and vividly almost every night and I remember my dreams clearly in the morning. Usually I am still in touch with the emotions I felt in my dreams. I draw huge inspiration from this. Daily life is also an inspiration to me, simply being a human being alive on this planet is enough inspiration for me.
Prox: With so much experience under your belt now, what are some things that you marvel at in terms of your own evolution? Are you ever amazed at how far you’ve come or do you feel like your current success is very deliberate?
SF: I’m truly amazed that every morning after I wake up and have my morning coffee, I can sit down and compose something new. It’s the endless and fresh creative energy flowing through me which never ceases to amaze me. I’m not amazed by my success, but I do know for a fact that to compose music is what I am made for, since the very first time I started to compose in the late 70s. I live my life very much in the moment and don’t look back very often.
Prox: What can we expect from your next album? Are there any new elements or genres you wish to explore with it?
SF: This is the first album that I will have created outside of Sweden which I am currently working on. It will be different from my earlier albums as usual. I’m exploring a lot of different musical genres to create this journey.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists?
SF: Some favorite artists/bands: NEU!, Peace Love And Pitbulls, Frank Zappa, Terry Riley, Meshuggah, FSOL, Tool.
Prox: Favorite Hobbies?
SF: Hiking in Nature. Exploring unseen territories. Photography.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
SF: My one and only piece of advice is stay true to yourself and your beliefs when it comes to creating music, and not to try to copy or replicate other artists if you really wish to succeed. Your creativity is so unique to yourself and everyone should value and trust and listen to only that. Never doubt yourself.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and releases?
SF: I am currently working on 3 albums, one of them is due out in a couple of months, which I created in my studio in South Africa.
The 2nd one is my album which I am collaborating on with Krister Linder doing the vocals. We will soon release a live concert video recorded from a gig at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The 3rd is another Solar Fields album which I have been working on in parallel to the other 2 albums, which I will keep as a surprise :)
You can learn more about Magnus and follow him, here.
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