Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

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Bjorn Lynne interview (By SacRat/Hugi)

Bjorn Lynne has been widely known in the scene under the name Dr.Awesome/Crusaders. Many of his tunes like Space Deliria or 12th Warrior have become Amiga classics. For many years he worked in Team-17 as a composer/sound engineer and recorded numerous albums in different genres: from ambient and fantasy/folk-rock to trance.

Now Bjorn lives in Stavern, Norway with his wife and daughter, working as a freelancer. He has been very kind to answer our questions in a few minutes of his spare time.

You're known as a game music composer. Why games and not movies or something else?

I guess it's because it was the Amiga 500 computer that first made me able to share my music with other people. I mean, I had been composing some simple music before the Amiga came, but when that computer came along I started to spread my music around the world and became known a bit for making music for the computer. After that, it was natural for me to make music for games, because that required the techniques that I had learned while composing on the Amiga.

Today it's 15 years later and I write music also for other things. :-)

Could you name any decent game you would recommend just because of its soundtrack?

There are many, many games with good soundtracks, but not one that would particularly stand out for me at this moment. Lately I've been playing "Gothic II" and I think it has a nice soundtrack, created in DirectMusic, which is a system for developing "interactive" music that changes according to game conditions.

Why do you think DirectMusic hasn't replaced pre-rendered soundtracks in WAV/MP3/OGG formats yet?

DirectMusic is interesting and you can do some interesting things with it, but at the same time other music recording software has also progressed. So even though you can do some fairly advanced things in DirectMusic and use DSP effects such as distortion, delay, reverb, etc. it's still not as much of a cutting-edge sound processing technology as other sequencing software with plug-ins are. This means that musicians are still able to create a more complex and polished sound with other music software, and then deliver that music as WAV/MP3 etc.

Other reasons are that DirectMusic has a very steep learning curve and is confusing and difficult to start with for new users who have never used it before. It takes a few days to get into, even if you are very experienced with other music software.

And finally of course, DirectMusic was only available on the PC and X-Box, which for this generation of consoles meant that you still also had to create an alternative WAV/MP3/OGG delivered soundtrack for the other platforms - PS2 and GameCube.

Now Microsoft has stopped supporting or developing DirectMusic and the system is on its way out.

Do you miss old good Amiga times when you wrote music as 4 channel MODs?

I miss the times and the friendships, but I can't say that I particularly miss writing music with only 4 channels. :-)

In one of your interviews you have mentioned that you have a large CD collection. Do you still buy CDs? If so, what are the five last discs you've bought?

I now buy CDs as downloadable files; I don't buy the physical discs any more. The latest 5 CDs I bought were: - "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree - "3121" by Prince - "The Way Up" by Pat Metheny - "Space In Your Face" by Galactic Cowboys - "OSI" by "OSI" (Office of Strategic Influence)

You have released some of your tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 format. A year ago you had also released a whole surround-sound music album (DVD version of Soothe). What do these "extra dimensions" give to you as an artist?

It's fun and interesting to create music for 5 or more speakers, rather than for just 2. It gives the producer a chance to experiment with new ways of presenting the music. Sometimes the result can be that it's easier for the listener to hear each sound and its role in the music.

Should we expect more surround-sound albums from you in the future?

Maybe. I haven't decided yet. :-)

You have released numerous albums in various genres: from medieval-fantasy music to progressive rock, trance and even ambient. Are there other music genres you wish to experiment with?

Yes, I want to try everything, as I'm always keen to explore other musical directions, to see if I can surprise myself with some new ideas or unexpected results. I have also written solo piano music, children's music, even some hip-hop and jazz. But my "musical heartland" I guess is the kind of melodic electronic music as heard on my albums "The Void," "Colony," and my new coming CD "Beneath Another Sky."

Do you play concerts or remain a "studio" artist?

I remain a "studio" artist for the time being. I have done some concerts in the past, but in my experience the electronic music artist with a computer and some keyboards on stage is not a good format for a concert.

What's your personal view on music sharing via internet? Is it theft/piracy or just a progressive taxation, (referring to [1]) saving less popular artists from oblivion?

I don't really want to get into a very long answer here, but I can see both sides of the argument. Of course illegal copying is bad when artists are unable to sell their music because people just grab it for free instead. Even I have noticed the effect of that, and I'm only a CD-artist on a very small scale. I could speak about this a long time and I have many opinions, but I don't wish to give an 8-page answer to his question here. :-)

As far as I know you have just finished your last album, "Beneath Another Sky". Could you say a few words about it?

The new album is finished musically and is now just waiting for the graphic artist to finish the artwork for the cover. It's a CD of melodic electronic music, kind of like a more rocked version Jean-Michel Jarre, I guess. It's not exactly like that either, but it's hard to compare it with other artists. It uses elements of electronica, rock, trance, and ambient, but it's really none of those styles either. It's what some people would call typical Bjorn Lynne sound. I have worked on the new album for about 3 1/2 years, in between other projects.

Do you already have ideas for your next album?

I have many ideas spinning inside my head, but none of them are as firm as a planned album yet. :-) Maybe it will be an ambient album, or one with old-school electronic sound. We'll see.

If not composing music, what would you liked to work on?

If not composing music, I think I would like to be some kind of nature/forest worker, maybe a park ranger who spends most of the time outdoors among nature, rivers and forests. :-)

On the other hand, I'd also really like to work at NASA and be involved with exploration, planet mapping and space travel :-)

Thanks for your interview, Bjorn. Good luck!