Who are you?
I am Marja Johansson. I was born in a town called Luleå in northern Sweden, up in armpit or the Gulf of Bothnia that separates Sweden and Finland. My home these days is Turku on the Finnish west coast, where I live and make music, mainly as Tsembla.
How would you describe your sound?
I search for sounds that tickle my imagination and use them as building blocks for composing pieces that are as much about sound as melodic themes and rhythm. The song elements build up of and around these sounds, depending on what the particular sounds seem to call for. I mostly use samples, synthesizers and smaller acoustic instruments. I especially like wind instruments, maybe because they go so deep back in the pre-history of music, and somehow still sound so eternal. And they're good companions to electronic sounds, like yin to the yang or vice versa. Imagination is the key for me. When trusting your imagination, I think and hope, there's a good chance you will tickle that same spot in other human beings.
How did you get into making music?
I've been playing instruments since I was a kid, and playing in bands as a teenager. I was always a keen listener, but as for creating a musical space of my own, I felt like I just kept hitting at it from the wrong angles. About six years ago, after an almost ten year break from playing, I suddenly felt I could start from a fresh angle and do whatever I felt like. It's still often like an adventure of discoveries.
What inspires you?
A lot of things, often literature. Reading about history, paleontology. mythology, astronomy and other subjects that opens up a ray of eternity in your brain, bits and pieces of the ever-humane, and beyond that the humbling scope of the planet and the universe. I like going to the old castle in Turku, for the same reasons, the feeling that all times are simultaneously present. Maybe it's like going to high places, mountaineering or hang-gliding, or going to church. I'm also, of course, inspired by great art in general, as well as meeting people and seeing places.
Name some musicians/bands you would like to be compared to.
I don't particularly long to be compared. Comparison is usually more important on the listener's part.