It’s not unusual to come across a musician that has put their fingers in all the musical pies, so to speak. Whether it’s testing the waters with different styles or techniques or taking on a new sound altogether, music fans have certainly been treated to some fine collaborations over the years. Never one to shy away from new territory, Dennis Lyxzén is about to undertake another path on his musical journey, with the release of INVSN‘s latest album. On the eve of its release, we sat down with the frontman to talk about lyricism, punk rock and pushing boundaries.
By Meghan Player
“I’m really, really happy with the way it turned out,” Lyxzén begins. Speaking from his native Sweden, the vocalist might be unwell as we chat today, but is in high spirits as we talk about INVSN and the impending release of their English debut. Understandably, Lyxzén is looking forward to the release, which is only a few short days away.
“When you start to write songs for a record, you kind of have a vague idea of what you want and what you want the album to be. But I’m really happy. The sounds are great, and I’m actually super excited about it.”
Certainly, it’s interesting to call the album a debut – as the band has previously released two albums to date, both in the Swedish language. While the move to English shapes their third record, Lyxzén explains the process in writing the album remained quite similar.
“I think that it’s a weird process because I write the lyrics in Swedish and then I translate them to English, which is not really commonplace,” he explains. “It’s interesting and kind of strange. I think that some of the English translations actually turn out better than some of the Swedish originals. Then there are some of the Swedish originals that say things that you can’t really translate across.”
“Sometimes it turns out really perfect, and other times it’s like ‘eh, that could have been better’,” the singer laughs. “It’s hard to get the translation perfect sometimes.”
Naturally, with the absence of absolute perfect translation, the opportunity for the songs to express new ideas and take on new life is worth the time, and undoubtedly something Lyxzén is aware of.
“The phrasing, the way I sing it and how it turns out actually sounds better in English than in Swedish,” he tells. “The biggest discrepancy between the languages is that when I sing in Swedish, I sing in dialect. You can’t really emulate that in English in the same way. That’s the biggest thing that gets lost in translation”
“We’re from up North, from the sticks – so I kind of have a hick dialect,” he adds with a chuckle.
Be that as it may, the album is nothing short of intriguing. An array of goth/synth/80s pop greets the listener from the opening bars, while the stark lyricism and bursts of aggression throughout, immerse you in the album completely.
While the vocalist is no stranger to different styles and techniques via his diverse past, the opportunity to present familiar ideas in a new way was a big drawcard.
“I think the record is broad. It’s a pretty coherent record. The way we play together, is pretty similar in all the songs, it’s just that some of the songs are a bit more mellow or a bit more aggressive or hard. Everything is really strict, there’s no fucking jamming going on here,” Lyxzén laughs
“It’s a very strict and very controlled way of playing. There’s like two or three times on the album where we kind of lose that control and you hear this big difference.”
Interestingly, it’s INVSN’s clear drive to create something that pushes, not only the boundaries, but the band members themselves that inspired the albums overall sound – a point Lyxzén makes quite honestly.
“I think that anytime you want to be an artist, you have to push yourself. Anytime you want to be serious about your art, you have to push your boundaries. I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
“I think we have a pretty coherent idea of what we want to accomplish with this band, and how we want it to sound.”
That idea and vision of how the band will sound begins even before the band puts the pen to paper via an all-encompassing collaboration – with most of the initial music being written by the band’s drummer, Andre Sandström.
“It’s a cool thing,” the singer explains. “His sense of melody is very basic, which makes it really interesting. He’ll send me demos that he recorded at home – like really fundamental drums, bass and guitar. Then he’ll send it to me, I’ll straighten it out with what sounds like the verse or the chorus, then I’ll add the lyrics.”
“We’ll take it to the rehearsal stage, then Sara [Almgren] brings her take to it, and then we’ll add the guitar parts – so, it’s very collaborative in that sense.”
Naturally, it’s not only the bands commitment to INVSN that inspires their collaborative process, but their collective past that pushes their sound and story one step further.
“Everybody in this band has a story that is fucking amazing,” he explains. “Everyone in this band has toured and released tons of records. We’ve all been in the hardcore punk scene for the past 16 years, all of us. So, in that sense, it’s pretty cool. We sound like indie-rock or whatever you want to call it, but we’re all old punks. We’re all connected to that scene.”
“Whatever we play, there’s always that much more of the approach to what we’re doing even though the music sounds radically different. I mean, we always have that in the back of our minds. We play music like a bunch of punk rock kids would play.”
Considering their collective pasts and roots within the hardcore scene, it’s not surprising the angst, aggression and powerful lyricism found its way into INVSN’s psyche – a position that Lyxzén seems pleased to be able to continue to represent.
“The music has a lot of depth I think, and I hope that’s going to come across. It’s not pop in that sense. I mean the music itself can be poppy, but the subtext and the ideas behind the songs are pretty serious and have a lot of reach and a lot of depth.”
“Musically there’s a lot of things happening. There’s a lot melodies, guitars, keyboards and what have you,” he continues. “but the topics that we sing about and the way that we sing about them it is, in that sense, a pretty heavy album. Just because it’s not heavy music, it doesn’t mean that we can’t sing about real and heavy topics.”
“I’ve written songs about anti-capitalism my whole life, I’m not going to stop,” laughs Lyxzén.
Certainly, with a number of different factors descending on how fans and music lovers alike will receive the album – it’s when I ask Lyxzén about how he hopes it will be heard, that he has the perfectly honest, straight-up answer.
“When you’re in the practice studio, writing these songs and the lyrics – the person I want to challenge at this point in my life is myself. I’ve got nothing to prove anymore. If there’s something to prove, then it’s to myself.”
“It’s kind of hard to imagine what other people are going to think about our music or our lyrics or our ideas, but hopefully I want people to hear the music and get excited. Like to come out and see us play when we come to town, and just sit down and listen to the music.”
“I understand with our collective past – and my past – that a lot of people when they hear it are going to say ‘This does not sound like Refused at all’, but it’s part of a growing up process for me, and everyone. It’s part of evolving as a human being. Hopefully we can get some of those people along for the ride and hopefully we can find some new people who don’t give a shit about Refused or International Noise Conspiracy or whatever.”
“The goal is just for people to hear the record. It’s a good record. I fucking like this record. I want the record to mean something for them.”
Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to chat to us. Special thanks to Helise @ Shock Records. You can check out INVSN and order their new album via: http://invsnmusic.com/