Bart's Väsen page

(I'm their biggest fan, you see...)

Mikael MarinRoger TallrothAndré FerrariOlov Johansson

Väsen is (L to R):


The ANA lists any and all Upcoming Väsen Gigs as does NorthSide.


Väsen 1990: Väsen, DRONE DROCD001
Studio Album
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association
Vilda Väsen 1992: Vilda Väsen (Wild Väsen), DRONE DROCD004
Studio Album
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association or CDnow
Essence 1994: Essence, AUVIDIS (Ethnic) B 6787
Studio Album
Purchase: or CDnow
Levande Väsen 1995: Levande Väsen (Väsen Live), DRONE DROCD009
Recorded live, a broadcast for Swedish Radio.
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association or or CDnow
Spirit 1997: Spirit, NorthSide NSD6004
Compilation Album, tracks from the first three albums, plus 5 new tracks.
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association or or CDnow
Världens Väsen 1997: Världens Väsen, Xource XOUCD 118
Studio Album, the Swedish release of Whirled
Whirled 1997: Whirled, NorthSide NSD6006
Studio Album, the American release of Världens Väsen
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association or or CDnow
Gront on Xource 1999: Gront, Xource XOUCD334
Studio Album, also released in the U.S. on NorthSide, for their 10th anniversary tour.
Gront on NorthSide 1999: Gront, NorthSide NSD6041
Studio Album, also released in Sweden on Xource, for their 10th anniversary tour.
Purchase: The American Nyckelharpa Association or or CDnow

Väsen Links

Related Links

About Väsen

Väsen Pic Olov and Mikael started playing together as teenagers right around 1980, and both 'studied' with Curt and Ivar Tallroth and Eric Sahlström as teenagers. I say 'studied' because it's not as formalized as with other kinds of music. They would go to their elder's house and play with them and learn by example, just as the elders had learned from their elders, becoming a link in the Living Tradition that Swedish folk music enjoys. They still count playing with the Curt as the best of experiences, and go out there to play whenever they can. Photo: Eduard Koinberg

Olov and Mikael were at the Vintermarknad in Røros in 1989, as was Roger, and Olov asked Roger if he wanted to jam a little with him and Mikael. Roger said "No, I'm gonna go take a shower instead." Fortunately, somebody else was in the shower, so he came back and got out his guitar, and they played for the rest of the day and far into the night. Among the people in the room was Olle Paulsson, who thought that was the best music he had ever heard, and promised them right there that if they would record a CD he would form a record label to issue it. Thus DRONE Music came into being....

Väsen Pic The following summer, at the first-ever Nyckelharpa World Championships at Österbybruk, Olov outdid himself and won both the modern chromatic nyckelharpa and the gammelharpa (older historical versions) classes. He played kontrabasharpa (made by Hasse Gille) in addition to chromatic nyckelharpa (made by Esbjörn Hogmark). For a history of the various forms of the nyckelharpa through the ages, look here. Winning the Nyckelharpa World Championships added momentum to making the first CD, entitled "Olov Johansson: Väsen". Väsen was just the name of the album, but when people started calling Olov on the phone asking to hire this band "Väsen", he realized that the name had stuck. Photo: Marilee Cowan

It took a little while for the Swedish folkmusic community to accept Väsen, since they present a different treatment of the traditional tunes than had been done before. But if you take away the guitar you'll hear that Mikael and Olov play together in a very traditional style. It's just Roger's fantastic guitar playing that was an obstacle to those who had never heard anything like it before. Nowadays, even the staunchest traditionalists likes Väsen and their treatment of the music.

In 1994 a band called Nordman released their first CD, which featured Väsen along with the other more traditional Rock and Roll instruments. It was a huge success in Sweden, and Väsen toured with them twice, playing before audiences as large as 25,000 people. Nordman's music is essentially Rock, but with Väsen supplying the riffs in between verses that is traditionally supplied by the lead guitar or the synthesizer. The drummer for the first Nordman tour was André Ferrari. One set of André's grandparents are Italian (thus the name), but he was born and raised in Sweden.

Väsen PicVäsen experimented with playing music with André on drum kit and the electric bassist from Nordman, calling themselves "Väsen V". They would play a few tunes before the rest of the Nordman band came on. Olov says "it was a kick to play for so many people, but in the end we felt that the details and finesse of the music was lost when we played with the drum set and the electric bass." A few tunes from Väsen V are on Väsen's new compilation CD "Spirit" on the NorthSide label, the first Väsen CD released in the US. Photo: Olle Paulsson)

In 1996 Väsen added André as a permanent member. This is the first band in which André has played exclusively small percussion, as opposed to a full drum set. André's background and education are in music, and he's played everything from classical to Rock, but he says that he's making Väsen's music one of his own musics now. He's been interested in drumming from different cultures around the world for a long time, and finds the Native American culture to be one of the most alluring. With Väsen, he uses the Ecuadorian Bambo (bass drum), the Middle-eastern darabouka (doumbek), an egyptian drum similar to the doumbek, Indian bells, South American rattles, triangle, chimes, and... you get the picture.

Väsen Pic With André, Väsen has shifted to playing almost exclusively their own compositions rather than traditional folk tunes. They've taken the traditional Swedish folk music from Northern Uppland as a base, and expanded it to see where it will lead. They're not quite sure themselves, but they're sure they'll have a lot of fun getting there. They still have the same humor onstage and off, the kind of humor that Roger describes as Swedish "living room" humor. It's a genuine unpretentious wit, with the added ability to make puns in two languages, and even between two languages. They're just as likely to crack up each other as to make the audience laugh. Indeed, my experience is that they are more reserved on stage than off, if that's possible! Their music is awesome, with a rich rhythmic texture supplied by André and Roger, a rich harmonic texture supplied by Roger and Mikael, and a clean melodic lead supplied by Olov. This doesn't mean that they'll forget how to play the traditional stuff. They still feel that going over to Curt Tallroth's house to play with him is the best thing they can do for their playing and for their souls. And most of their own compositions follow in the style of the traditional music -- they are easily recognized as a schottis or a polska or what have you. But the new hybrid "traditio-Väsen" music has something more, something worldly, something new about it. It's just good music. Listenable, grooveable, likeable. If they come to a town near you, don't pass them up! Photo: Anette Hilmersson

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