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Musikmesse presents: Mattias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen)

Gitarist Mattias Eklundh is niet even met een korte introductie samen te vatten. Hij is van nature linkshandig en heeft zichzelf rechtshandig leren spelen, wat mede aan de basis ligt van zijn soms bizarre sound. Eklundh is verreweg het meest bekend van zijn werk met Freak Kitchen, maar heeft daarnaast tal van sessies gedaan met anderen, waaronder ooit met onze nationale shred koning Marcel Coenen en op de nieuwe soloplaat van Jen Majura. Om die reden nodigde Majura hem dit jaar uit om net als zij op te komen treden op de 2018 editie van Frankfurt Musikmesse. Dat lijkt de ideale plek voor hem om gelijkgestemden (no pun intended) te ontmoeten, aangezien hij ook een begenadigd gitaarleraar is. Daarnaast organiseert hij ook de Freak Guitar Camp, waar vrijwel nooit kaarten voor te krijgen zijn. Zijn optreden op Messe, zijn toekomstplannen, natuurlijk Freak Guitar Camp en al het andere dat hem bezig houdt, lees je hieronder in een veel te kort interview.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

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Hi Mattias, nice to meet you. Welcome to Lords of Metal. Do you realize a whole generation is arising now who know you as a YouTube star and a teacher, more than as the guitarist of Freak Kitchen, do you? How does that make you feel?
Oh, I tend not to think about stuff like that, I have to admit. I certainly do not consider myself a YouTube star, compared to a whole lot of players, gamers, vloggers out there. I squeeze in a video every once in a while, but I would never let a channel own my time and post or upload for the sake of it. That quickly becomes a prison. I merely do what I do, walk my very own quirky little musical trail. I am however extremely grateful about the global interest in my strange stuff and that I have been able to make a living out of this for thirty years. It's nothing I take for granted.

Great! So you must have started when you were five, right? Hahaha. Being the teacher and the instructor, is that what you will be doing at Musikmesse 2018?
I will try to share useful musical tools and how to put them into context. I often feel things are so fragmented today. Trying to understand the big picture is important. Real, profound knowledge takes time. There are no shortcuts. It is frustrating at times to dig deep, but the reward is all the more splendid once you truly get it.

Have you ever been a guest there before?
Nope. But I have certainly played at the Messe on behalf of Laney amplification for twelve years or so. I am looking forward to do this.

We look forward to you too, man! Last year they introduced the Sweat, Blood & Tears Box, an intimate setting where the artist performs, rather than on a big stage, or the total opposite, a booth clinic. Do you like this concept?
Absolutely! Close and personal is great compared to only bashing away in a noisy booth, sonically competing with everything that's going on around you. You can actually get stuff through. Way more fun. My cup of tea.

They hit bull’s eye there for you then, awesome. Tell us a little about Freak Guitar Camp, which is blowing out twenty candles, this year, right?
Oh, it is the true highlight of the year for me. The best time ever. Tons and tons of work and preparations but boy, does it pay off. I am so honoured and humble the camp is packed year after year. Again, nothing I take for granted. And yes, it's the 20th anniversary this summer. That is sort of hard to grasp. I do however have absolutely no plan to stop doing this. Uli Jon Roth came by a while ago and he has never, during his long professional life, seen the collective dedication. The legendary man was simply flabbergasted and couldn't stop teaching. The campers are the best and we have become lifelong friends, brothers and sisters from virtually all over the world. Hell, there are well over a thousand guitar players that have attended since our somewhat shaky start in 1999. I was terrified no one was going to show up but a bunch of brave guitarists did. There was nothing like it at the time and without sounding cocky, I don't think there is anything like it today, despite the fact that everyone has a guitar camp. What we do is so hard core, exhausting, rewarding, fun and tough. Long, long days, serious lack of sleep, way too much demanding music, but such a great, great time. I love the campers so much and am plain shit-proud of them. They are real heroes and heroines.

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Are novice guitarist welcome too, or do you expect a certain minimum level of the guests?
I used to interview everyone to make sure they were not beginners, they could read music, etcetera. But I have, wise from experience, discovered that being a very skilled player compared to a beginner isn't always preferable. Advanced players tend to be stuck in routines and sometimes have a hard time thinking outside the box, whereas not so experienced guitarists tend to have an open mind. This of course is not always the case, but the main requirement to join the camp is that you have a fundamental, and a will to learn and grow as a musician.

What other artists will you definitely try to check at this year’s Messe?
My fellow instructors are actually the only players I am aware of so far. I will have a look who is also around soon. It is good fun to stroll around and have a listen.

You also contributed to the last album of the other Musikmesse star Jen Majura. Was that a reason why you are now here?
Jen is a wonderful human being, a fine, hardworking musician and we have known one another for quite some time now. She was close to getting me on board for Frankfurt last year, but I was on the road with Freak Kitchen. Jen has also been to the Freak Guitar Camp and is coming back this year despite her insane schedule. She has also joined Freak Kitchen on stage several times.

Yeah, with her agenda I think there must be at least two clones of her walking around, secretly. What is it like to work with her, or did you contribute with filesharing?
I recorded my stuff in my studio in the woods of Sweden. That is where I usually record. It is my Mecca.

What is your best tip to starting guitarists, or to guitarists who get stuck in their level, like myself?
Freak Guitar Camp! Well, the thing is, you constantly have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow. Progressing little by little by listening to other types of music, travel, art, movies, books. Let life influence you. Be brave. Be fearless. Be free. Don't worry what other people think about you or your music. You cannot please everyone. Do what feels good to you. Focus on music, not the gear. You can write great stuff on a € 10 ukulele if you want to.

Are you being represented by any particular brands at Messe, by the way?
I play Laney amps. I always do and have been since 1996. But I don't play on their behalf at the actual Messe this particular year.

Will there be coming out any new work of you any time soon?
Yes. Very much so. ‘Confusion To The Enemy’ is the name of the upcoming, ninth Freak Kitchen album to be released in September. Eleven groovy tracks played on my Caparison Apple Horn 8 guitar. I also constantly record music for the Freak Guitar Camp that I release one by one on iTunes and other digital outlets. I also wrapped up a project with the three Dutch DJs and a rapper plus a few guitar hero friends called Guitars and Beats. We will see where this leads but I am very comfortable playing to heavy, radical beats and this surely something I would like to sink my teeth more into in the future. Stimulating.

Caparison, that is what Mantas and Courtney Cox play too right? What else is on your calendar worth mentioning?
It will be a great deal of touring once the Freak Kitchen album is released. That will take up the better part of my time in between recording new, sinister tunes in my studio.

What is the number one reason for fans to come at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2018?
The guitar camp should hopefully provide a new musical perspective. I get truly annoyed when people say everything has been said and done. Everything is recycled. We have heard it all before. I think we merely scratched the surface. I will try to share some thoughts on this.

We are looking forward to that. Thanks a lot for your time! Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Lords of Metal, or the visitors of Musikmesse? Now is your chance.
Hope to see out there! Stay true to yourselves. Stay freaky.

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