Mar 2023 16

ReGen gets an inside look at the electronic and environmentalist world of Swedish trio Twice a Man.


An InterView with Dan Söderqvist, Johan “Jocke” Söderqvist, and Karl Gasleben of Twice a Man

By Edgar Lorre (ErrolAM)

When one is an obsessive enthusiast, one that spends a great deal of time researching, discovering, and unearthing music, film, art, and literature from the past, it is fairly common to uncover unfamiliar, yet actually old artists – an obscure female Renaissance painter, a silent film about insanity, a mid-century suicidal Latin poet, or a tremendous English hotel dance band from the 1920s. What is more unique is uncovering a far more somewhat contemporary band only marginally heard of who for 40 years has quietly released 21 studio albums, written for theatrical performances at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, and has also created music for movies, exhibitions, dance performances, and computer games. That band is Twice a Man, the pioneering Swedish electronic ensemble who, long before it became fashionable, were strong environmental advocates – a constant theme running throughout the band’s music with its blend of futuristic electronics and organic elements. Dependent Records has just released a career retrospective entitled Songs of Future Memories (1982-2022), a long overdue and beautifully packaged three-disc anthology of Twice a Man. In this special contribution to ReGen, Edgar Lorre sat down and chatted with Dan Söderqvist, Johan “Jocke” Söderqvist, and Karl Gasleben of Twice a Man for an enlightening conversation about their four prolific decades of work.


Congratulations on the 40th anniversary collection on Dependent. Although I see that there was at least one collection of 1980s material released in the past, is Songs of Future Memories (1982-2022) the first true career retrospective for Twice a Man? Who came up with the idea to do a vast collection like this? Did the entire band sit down and curate the collection yourselves?

TAM: The idea came from Dependent, who told us that there is a need for a teaser of the band’s work and career – simply put, to compile ‘The young person’s guide to Twice a Man.’ Putting the collection together was not a problem. Decisions were made by the three of us with advice from the record company, friends, and fans. And since we still work together and have the same taste in music, it was easy to come up with a list of songs.
Since we basically are a studio album oriented band, we normally spend a lot of time putting songs in an order where they complement each other in a good way. Some of the songs on the compilation may sound even better if you listen to them on the album they originate from. But for us, this work has given us a bird’s eye view of the drawer of our work in the past.

One of the new songs on the collection is ‘Dahlia,’ which also has a new video. TAM is one of the first bands to express deep environmentalist concerns about the planet and has regularly utilized imagery and lyrics that reflect that. ‘Dahlia’ epitomizes that, and Dan recently stated that the song is ‘a reflection about our time.’ Can you first expand on what the song is about? Additionally, are you optimistic that things can change with our planet?

TAM: In these dark times with wars, pandemics, and above all, climate change, environmental destruction, and through that, loss of biodiversity, all caused by human activity… we experience a conflict between the outer world and an inner imaginary world. We need to feel comfort, and music – at its best – gives us that inner peace.
The Earth will survive, it is just altering in a way that will no longer host the human race. These changes intensify from our lack of respect for the planet. Is greed better than survival? Is a reckless behavior a way of honoring what we have? Our songs often float around the idea of taking care of each other and our surroundings. A decent survival for future generations seems more and more like a fantasy and not a reality. One way of experiencing the lyrics of ‘Dahlia’ is, ‘We are here, tasting the scent of a dark future.’



When TAM was first taking baby steps for finding a sound and an identity circa 1977, there were only a handful of artists utilizing electronics and synthesizers either at the forefront or as part of their sound. At the time, TAM must have been affected or influenced by a diverse list that includes Kraftwerk, Wendy Carlos, Brian Eno solo and his work with Bowie and Roxy Music, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Krautrock, perhaps some of Giorgio Moroder’s work. So, while these artists all share electronics in common, their styles are drastically different from each other. Are you partial to any of the aforementioned and do you have any thoughts as to what led to this expansion of electronic music in the 1970s?

TAM: Of course, we listened to all of them, but the minimalistic school of composition was also a big influence, with names like Terry Riley, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, and others. The great thing with the electronic equipment is that you can add sounds in the composition that were not heard before. And as the drone heads we are, from time to time, a solid sound can be altered forever.
We also listen to some of the ’60s psychedelic experimental music with electronic sounds, like The United States of America, White Noise, and also some of Pink Floyd’s early work. But perhaps the initial idea to start the electronic Dadaist punk band Cosmic Overdose (the first incarnation of Twice a Man) came from listening to the albums Low from Bowie/Eno and Pink Flag by Wire, where we tried to make a hybrid of two very different expressions.

Do you feel as if it became a bit easier once you had a few contemporaries like Gary Numan, Mute Records, Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode, and New Order? I often wonder about things like this because I would imagine that having access to equipment, synthesizers, and basic gear must have been challenging. It seems that not a great deal was yet available, and I’d imagine what was commercially available was not highly in demand in music stores in Sweden. With that in mind, did TAM have to literally invent some equipment or adapt non-musical gear for your purpose?

TAM: In the ancient days back in the early ’70s when Dan had the band Älgarnas Trädgård (two albums out) and Karl had the band Anna Själv Tredje (one album out), there were not that many synths around in Sweden. But some appeared that we could use. Multitrack recorders were hard to get a hold of, so recordings were made on normal stereo machines. We had to literally take the recordings to the reverb, as in recording in stone buildings, churches, empty oil tanks, etc.
Later in the ’70s, when Dan and Karl (together with Kjell ‘the Rainmaker’ Karlgren) started the band Cosmic Overdose (two albums with Swedish lyrics), there were a lot of different synths around. Yet in those days, there were no programmable drum machines, so we used the rhythm machines from electronic organs with preprogrammed rhythms. Sometimes even a person called a drummer was used. When Twice a Man was born, we mainly had the equipment we needed.

Twice a Man reminds me of artists like The Residents, Chrome, Suicide, New Model Army, Scott Walker, and even Cabaret Voltaire and Fad Gadget. Artists, although very different in sound and style, share in common a rabid and loyal true cult following of obsessive fans across decades, yet obscure outsiders not only to mainstream success but even within alternative music. I realize many of the aforementioned artists are not active, yet when they were, they had cult followings that continued after dissolving and even after death. At what point did you first realize that TAM had an international cult appeal and were you always fine with its occurrence?

TAM: If you say there is a cult around us internationally, we have to take this new knowledge under consideration.

How do you feel about performing live? It seems that TAM has not done a great deal of touring; in fact, it seems that your live performances are rather select. Was this intentional and do you think of yourselves more of a true studio project? If I am incorrect, do you have any upcoming planned performances you’d like to tell our audience about?

TAM: We did a lot of touring in the ’80s all over Northern Europe. It was a period when we alternated with recordings and touring. We used a lot of scenography to make our performances unique. But later on, we got more and more involved in doing music for theater and film in Sweden, which occupied our time and prevented us from being a band on the road. After a few years, when we were eager to give concerts again, we realized that the map had changed, and it was harder to do the kind of performances we wanted to give. That made us more selective on which scenes we wanted to attend, and our future plans are the same. We do not mind doing concerts if the circumstances arise and enable us to give the audience what we want to deliver.

It is interesting to note that when TAM began, vinyl records were the dominant format, the 8-track tape was fading, cassettes were gaining popularity, and compact discs were starting to gather steam circa 1984, which later led to the demise of vinyl. Now, for the moment, we have returned full circle to the popularity of vinyl records and the demise of the CD. That said, what do you think of this vinyl revolution, and what are your thoughts on streaming along with the changes in the music world? Does TAM try to pay attention to what is going on, trends and the like?

TAM: The streaming world seems more single oriented, and we are more of an album oriented band. But how to spread the music around is more up to the record company than us. We make the music we want to communicate with, without concerns about a specific platform or vehicle. The CD and vinyl thing is a tricky one. Vinyl is a nicer product with the big cover that gives more artistic possibilities, while on the other hand, the sound is better on a CD.



How do you feel about the current crop of bands and are there any new artists that you admire?

Söderqvist: I have since the start of the ’90s preferred female artists. I think they are the ones that push the envelope the most in new music. At the moment, I listen to ‘new’ artists like Zanias, Rosa Anschütz, Darkher, Chelsea Wolfe, Anna von Hauswoolf, and others, all with their own unique vision, not necessarily electronic artists.

Jocke: At the moment, I am listening to Henryk Gorecki, Giacomo Puccini, and Joy Division… so no, not very contemporary.

Gasleben: Swirling around in the big streaming noise, for a man in adulthood looking for new things, often open up longings for long lost relatives. New stuff often reminds of feelings that I have past somewhere. Sometimes in a better wrapping, sometimes as a path to my old record collection. There are always things to pick up in the noise. But what stays on my playlist depends on my mood of the day.
This week, these artists reflecting where I am right now are Rachika Nayar, Biosphere, Meshuggah, Caterina Barbieri, ¥ØU$UK€ ¥UK1MAT$U, M. Geddes Gengras, Red Mecca, and Gary Numan’s later stuff.

What is next for Twice a Man? Any plans or aspirations that you would like to tell our readers about?

TAM: We plan to make new compositions and recordings this Spring. We will work to try to reinvent ourselves once again. What it will be, we don’t know yet. To make the two new songs on the album, ‘Lotus’ and ‘Dahlia,’ was perhaps the most satisfactory part of the process to make Songs of Future Memories. We have not played live for some years now, but if there is an interest and we can make ourselves justice, then why not?


Twice a Man
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Dependent Records
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram


Photography provided courtesy of Twice a Man


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