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Lights & Motion

Lights & Motion interview 

Lights & Motion
Submitted by Henrik Holmgren on 2017-01-26
Since he burst into the post-rock scene, Lights & Motion has been my favorite post-rock artist, hands down. After three incredible albums we finally got the opportunity to sit down with the man behind the music, Mr. Christoffer Franzén. Here are his answers to our questions about music, influences and insomnia. Form me to you: enjoy! 
Hi Christoffer, welcome to melodic.net How are you? I must say that I have been a fan from the start and it is great to finally have you here, talking to us. 
 
Hi! I´m great, thank you for having me. 
 
Lights & Motion stared as a way for you to deal with insomnia. I must ask, are you sleeping better now?
 
Yes it did, and that´s still something that I struggle with, but not on the level that I did a couple of years ago. Now I even write music during the day, and not only in the middle of the night. =) I just don’t like having to go to bed, all I want to do is have it over with so I can get back up. 
 
What is the story behind the name Lights & Motion?
 
It actually comes from a quote from Bono, the singer in U2. I really loved their music when I was younger and I was watching a liveshow they did in Boston - As they walked out on stage and the guitarist started playing the intro to a song Bono was sort of spinning around and taking in the crowd, and he said ”Light and motion” in the middle of sentence. That stuck with me, and several years later when I started this project I remembered that line and thought that it would fit really well with the sort of imagery that I wanted to present in my music. 
 
In the beginning, you were anonymous. What made you change your mind and show the world your face? Do people recognize you in the streets now?
 
Well, in the beginning it was very important for me that all of the focus should be on the music, and I almost wanted to take myself out of the equation. After a while though, I felt that I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner and become like the guys in Daft Punk with their helmets haha. I rarely have the time to see anything outside of my studio walls, but no, I can safely walk around without anybody recognising me. 
 
I notice that you are very productive, creating music both under L&M and your own name. How do you differentiate those two projects and how do you approach them so you don’t end up sounding exactly the same on both?
 
At the basis of that is that I just love to write music, and be creative. Lights & Motion is my main focus and where I lay most of my energy. But I also like to write stuff that might be more like filmscore etc, and that wouldn’t necessarily fit within the L&M frames, so then it´s great to have a second outlet for stuff like that. 
Basically, I like to challenge myself into tapping into different styles of writing/producing, and I´m in two completely different state of minds when I write for the different projects. 
 
You also play all the instruments and produce your albums yourself. What would you say is the most fun part of it all? Is there an instrument you prefer over the others?
 
Well, the most fun is that I can try to get what I can hear so clearly in my head to come out of the speakers without anyone else stepping in the way of that vision. There is of course also a second dimension so this, and that is that it´s a very isolated and at times lonely process. In terms of all of the different instruments, I am a guitarist at heart and will always treasure that a little bit extra, but for the past 2 albums I have been writing a lot on the piano. It´s almost like every album gets its own process. On my new album Dear Avalanche I tried to be really creative with the production, I put a lot of time into every sound you hear, and it´s filled with what I like to call ”sonic fairy dust” sprinkled in throughout. I really love that attention to detail in music like this. 
 
What kind of gear do you use?
 
I believe in having good instruments, solid foundations so to speak, because that is where it all starts. For my guitar work I play only Fender, and I use a lot of modulated reverbs in combination with modulated delays, to give it a nice width and texture. I´m very picky about what sounds or colours I put into my songs. 
When I mix, I do it in the box - it´s all about knowing where you want to end up and as time goes on you will (hopefully) learn how to get there sonically. 
 
Have you ever considered doing a regular pop/rock album, with vocals and everything? 
 
Not really - I have co-written pop/rock songs for other artists, and that´s fun to do once in a while, but my heart lies in the kind of music that I tend to write, which is very melodic and textured. Cinematic if you will. 
 
Do you have any plans of touring as yourself or L&M?
 
I´ve thought about it from time to time, but I always find a reason to postpone those ideas. For one, I always seem to jump straight into a new project after I wrap up an album, so I kind of get stuck in the studio. 
Secondly, it would be such a huge undertaking to tour with Lights & Motion, having to bring in other musicians to play the parts I couldn’t in a live-setting, and that alone would take a lot of time and effort to coordinate. 
But I´m not closing the door on it, it´s only that my focus has been on writing these past years. 
 
You make this amazing, almost spiritual music. But what do you listen to yourself? 
 
Thank you so much! It varies, but right now my phone is rotating a lot of filmscores. To tell you the truth though, I don’t have all that much time to listen to other peoples music. Since I´m always working on something, I tend to check on mixes whenever I go to/from the studio, taking notes of changes I want to make, thinking ahead to what I´m going to do once I get to the studio, so a lot of it is that. Which I´m sure sounds pretty strange, but that´s the way it goes =) I do love melodic music though, so Coldplay is great, I really dig Oasis for some more grit, and Bon Iver if I need to take it down a notch. 
 
Is there a song that you are particularly proud of having written?
 
Oh, that´s hard to point out from where I´m standing.. But I think ”Perfect Symmetry” on the new album turned out great, and it came to be through such massive experimentation and weird processing of sounds / whole sections, so I´m kind of surprised how it came together myself. 
 
You have gotten music featured in commercials as well as other videos and media projects. What would you say is your proudest moment so far?
 
Having one of my songs appear on the Oscars was pretty cool, but the moment that hit me the hardest was when I was watching the Super Bowl and heard my song open the new Furious 7 trailer. Such a humbling and slightly surreal experience! 
 
I listened to your music while riding on a train in Sri Lanka. The music just seemed to fit the scenery perfectly. I also imagine your music would be amazing on a road trip, anywhere with an open road and beautiful landscapes. Do you have a vision of special places for people to “bring” your music?
 
That makes me so happy to hear! From time to time I get people writing me and telling me how they listened to my albums while climbing a mountain or seeing some beautiful scenery - And I just think it´s so amazing that in a way I get to be a part of that journey through my music. So the actual destination isn’t as important as the state of mind of seeing something new. 
 
You have a great knack for hitting the right spots with your song titles. If you, e g, call a song “glow”, I somehow end up thinking about a glowing light in the distance when I listen to that song. I can also picture a video of mountains when I hear the song Everest. How do you do that?! It is a real gift. 
 
Thank you! I think that is super important, and i think long and heard about what I feel fits the emotion of the song. I have a looong list of titles, phrases and stuff on my iPhone that I return to. It does happen that I begin a song and give it a title, but as I´m working on it I can feel how it changes and no longer fits.. It´s all about colour and tone, and I tend to hear sound as colours in a very abstract way, and the song titles works as an extension of that. 
 
Your music has been described as “beautiful” and “breathtaking”, among many other positive things. I understand that because I just get blown away by certain songs. Is that a goal you have, to make the listener focus 100% on what they are hearing? I just do not feel that I can play your music solely as a background noise. 
 
Those are certainly adjectives I strive for, and do my best to try and live up to! But to tell you the truth, I´m just really grateful that people are listening, and if that is in the car whilst they are driving around thinking about other things, or really sitting down to pay attention, that´s secondary. Of course I do spend a huge amount of time working on the tiniest details of a song/mix, so it´s nice when people really do focus on the music. 
I think some ambient music can work more as ”background”, but I tend to use pretty strong melodic writing, and I guess that might demand a bit more attention. 
 
Do you see a future beyond L&M. Is there a dream project for you to work on?
 
Right now I´m working very hard with this project, and I keep that my main focus. Having said that, I would love to score a feature length film someday, if the right one would come up!
 
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Do you have any final words for our readers/your fans?
 
Thank you for having me! All I could say is that I´m incredibly grateful for the support they have shown me throughout the years, not least with the amazing reception they´ve given my new album, and I wish them all the best! 
 

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