Music of Vibrasphere has provided numerous people from all walks of life with the emotional support in times they needed it the most. It can be said that listening to the beautiful and mesmerising beats of Vibrasphere truly soothes the wounded souls.
A Interview with the 2 guy´s from Vibrasphere
The Swedish duo consists of Rickard Berglöf and Robert Elster. Today they are regarded as one of the most sought-after and respected trance acts on the planet. Unfortunately, after 12 incredible years Vibrasphere decided to finish their project.
Agnes Klos had a chance to talk to Rickard after the Vibrasphere’s last ever gig in London on 12th February 2011. If you are curious to know why Vibrasphere project is coming to an end and what is next on their horizon, have a read of this exclusive interview published only on Mushroom online.
Well we are from a town in Sweden called Uppsala situated just North of the Capital Stockholm. Both of us got into Electronic music through so called tracker programs that became popular on Amiga computers around the end of the 80’s.
Let’s journey back in time. Tell us how your paths cross and how the amazing project called Vibrasphere came to life 12 years ago?
First time I met Robert was back in 1993. I had just released my first record with Fredrik Axelsson under the artist name Subcouds. We released this record on our own label and took care of both distribution and marketing ourselves.
In 1998 my partner in Subcouds Fredrik decided to go to Italy to study for a year. We were still going to keep Subcouds running, but I felt it was time to experiment with something new so I started to work on a track called Roadtrain that was a bit more progressive and heavy compared to what we had been doing as Subcouds. Around that time Robert had started to come down to check out the Cloud 99 studio to get the chance to fiddle around with some real synths. I remember he would bring these quite intense melodies he had written down on a piece of paper copied directly from his tracker program. And he wanted me to help him insert them into a real sequencer. One thing led to another and finally one day we just decided ‘lets try to write a track together’. And about a week later we finished ‘Crystal‘ the very first Vibrasphere track.
Later that summer we completed ‘The Open Sphere’ which in my opinion is the most important track we ever did. It was the foundation for the Vibrasphere sound. At this time progressive psy trance was not big yet and inserting house stabs in a psytrance track had never really been done before. Later that summer I also finished Roadtrain and we had three brand new tracks ready for the market.
In the previous years Fredrik and I had released most of our Subcouds tracks on UK label Phantasm Records. I sent over Crystal and The Open Sphere and they wanted to sign them right away. Time to release was short and we needed to come up with a name for the project. I remember we went on for weeks without coming up with something decent. Then one day I was in the shower in my old student flat and started to make some noise and the word vibration came into my head. The word sphere was already in there from the previous weeks of name searching and suddenly they just locked into each other. It may sound strange, but I knew from the very first second after it popped into my head that it was the perfect name for the music we were making.
Do you remember the day when you fell in love with progressive beats and who was your inspiration when you were starting out a decade ago?
At the time when we started Vibrasphere we listened a lot to so called dub techno coming out of Berlin from labels like Basic Channel and Chain Reaction. They were releasing some amazing minimal and dubby stuff at the time and I think this helped us a lot in finding the direction that created the Vibrasphere sound. We have never really listened a lot to other progressive acts so I guess we took our inspiration from elsewhere and created our own style of Progressive.
As with every name for a music act, there is usually a symbolic meaning attached to it. Can you tell us how you chose yours and what connotations you wanted to imply with it?
Perhaps the explanation I gave in the second question about how we came up with the name answers this to some extent. In my opinion Vibrasphere is a fictive realm of frequencies that make up all the sounds in the universe.
The recent news of the Vibrasphere project closing down has crashed the hearts of thousands of devoted fans all over the world. Could you tell us what are the reasons behind this sad decision?
There are quite a few things that mounted up to this decision that we like to keep to ourselves, but mainly we felt it was time to move on to something different and try our wings individually after working together for so many years. We both also became fathers in the past few years and intensive touring is not that easiest thing to combine with family life.
Yes I would say so. Especially if you listen to our last few albums they are quite diverse and mixing ingredients from many styles and genres. We have generally listened very little to other fellow producers in the scene so we have always looked at different styles and music for inspiration.
In the end we have always tried to make music that we really liked ourselves. Fortunately for us there has always been plenty of people out there with a similar taste.
Not an easy question to answer. I believe there is no formula for creating this. Honestly we never really planned our songs and sound very much. We just sat down in the studio and let things happen. A lot of times it felt like the music itself was taking us on a journey. We started out with something and then there were always a lot of twists and turns until we reached the finished track. I actually think this is the main reason why we managed to create our own unique sound and style.
Like other famous duos such as Cosmic Gate and The Chemical Brothers, the two of you have stuck together over twelve years. What is it about your dynamic that worked so well?
We are very different as people and looking back I think this is what made it work out so well. Robert has an extraordinary music ear and his biggest passion in life is to build and work with synthesisers and sound. It was and is almost an obsession for him to go into the smallest details and get them exactly the way he wants it. I am, on the other hand, a person that does not like to get stuck too long on details and I like to get things done. So you could say to some extent that Robert was in charge of the smaller details while I had my focus more on the bigger picture.
In the late 2006, the single ‘Floating Free’ was picked up by superstars Markus Schulz and Armin van Buuren for your radio shows, resulting in the string of licences including Gatecrasher Live on Ministry of Sound and Armada Trance Vol.1. Support from trance legends such as Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenold has helped with making a successful transition to a much wider audience. Did you feel at the time that it was a crucial time in your career that indicated a change of direction for Vibrasphere? Did you feel pressure to satisfy a whole new generation of your fans?
We felt it for sure, but honestly it did not affect our music much. If we wanted we could probably have turned our sound towards a more commercial direction at this point in order to get the chance to get a bigger fan base and more gigs, but we were always making music that we digged ourselves and just because one of our tracks became a more mainstream hit than usual, it did not change who we were because of that.
This changed over the years, but most of the times Robert were the one that took the lead when it came to the initial elements of a track. I was usually putting a lot of my focus on arranging and building the tracks as well as on the conceptual content for both tracks and albums. I think this division to some extent also sprung out of the fact that I was the one doing most of our gigs and hence Robert had more time to experiment in the studio compared to me.
What is your most favourite tool to use in the studio?
This also changed over the years, but the thing that has followed us all this years is the heavy use of tape-induced echoes. To create this we have used everything from old analogue tape echoes to modern plug-ins. Together with the stabs this was probably the most characteristic ingredient in most Vibrasphere tracks.
How do you relax? What do you enjoy most besides making music and DJing?
Personally I just love the outdoors. Kayaking, camping and mountain trekking is a great way to relax and get disconnected from today’s information society.
The Vibrasphere project has taken you to the four corners of our world. Looking back, what is your most memorable gig: either in a club or at a festival and why?
It is really hard to pick just one, but if I have to I would say the gig I did at the Eclipse festival outside of Montreal in the summer of 2008. They had one of the best sounds I have ever heard on an outdoor party and the location was just so amazing nearby a whirling river where you could take a swim. And there is always something special with the crowd there as well.
Personally what I love most about our albums is that we manage to keep them conceptual. It is in my opinion quite rare in dance music that an album has a strong red line passing through from the first track to the last. Also the fact that we always blended in some downbeat on every album helped turn our albums into journeys and not just songs in a row. We have also been lucky to get to work with some great designers on all our albums that let us take an active part in the process of making the artwork and covers. As for tracks it is too hard to pick any specific ones. Personally I like the most our two albums: Archipelago and Exploring the Tributaries.
During 12 years of your music project you must have witnessed some strange things out and about while living your dream. Which memories will stay with you forever?
I played a festival once high up in the Swiss mountains in July, where you had to take a ski lift with all your gear to get up to the location. During my live set it started to snow quite heavily, but this did not stop the people that were dancing, as a matter of fact it only seemed to encourage them even more. At this point I really realised in depth how powerful music can be. I would also like to take the chance to reveal a secret that no one that I know of have been able to reveal for the past five years. Everyone that owns a copy of our album Archipelago should take a closer look at the nautical map in the booklet. In there you will find the title of the ‘Exploring the Tributaries’ album that came out more than a year later. Our fans have been really good at picking up details in our album artwork previously, but this one slipped through the cracks!
If you had one day to live how would you like to spend it?
With my family somewhere in the outdoors.
To sum up, how would you like Vibrasphere to be remembered in 10 years time?
As a band that never compromised and kept it real all the way until the end and did albums and music that stood the test of time.
“Thank you very much for your time for the interview and being so kind to get some time out of your busy schedule to answer the questions for our readers.”
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