When you listen to music all the time, it takes a lot for an artist to make a big impression from the first time you hear them. Malmö artist Croquis, the project of musician and producer Wallentin Richardsson, is one of the rare ones to have that impact. His debut singles from the newly-launched project, last month’s BYOB and the new single Ask Again, which we’re premiering today, are both examples of beautifully-detailed, lush, open-hearted art rock. It’s a testament to the power of strong songwriting, along with with the ability to put enough of yourself into a song that the emotion shines through it, that makes Croquis some of the most powerful music we’ve heard in a while. There’s a full album on the way, but in the meantime you can check out Ask Again and a Q’n’A with Richardsson below.
You started your career working as a producer and player for other musicians. Did you not want to write your own music before Croquis?
I’ve actually been writing songs in and out of bands since forever. My career as a recording and mixing engineer evolved out of recording my own stuff and helping friends out. I just completely loved, and still love, the recording bubble and the camaraderie in the studio. That feeling of everything being up in the air and everyone being on their toes creatively when trying to capture something that resonates within the group, that’s where I want to be!
So what was the motive in the end to start Croquis?
Croquis is a way of creating that space for myself I think. To step away from routine, band practice and all the potential practical difficulties that come with being in a band and instead loosen things up a bit by trying to be creative with what I have access to at the moment when it’s time to get a song on tape. In many cases that means me enlisting the usual suspects but not because I (or they) have to in order to fulfil our role as a band member, but instead because we feel like it.
You spend a lot of your time around other musicians working on other projects – was putting a band together for Croquis just a matter of gathering the talents of the people around you?
This record actually started out as a shared endeavour with three of my favourite people: Erik Sunding, Niklas Björk and David Scholander. We arranged the songs together and tinkered with them for quite some time but as I re-worked stuff over and over the whole thing kind of morphed into more of a recording project of mine than a band in the traditional sense. This new way of conceptualising the project really changed what the songs could be for me, I think. I was no longer trying to make the songs fit us as a band. At this time I conveniently ran into Patrik Bartosch (Eggstone) at the studio and he ended up doing the string arrangements.
If feels like what really makes the songs stand out with this project is the strength of the songwriting, in an old-school traditional sense. Was that a priority for you, to master the craft of good songwriting and put it to use on this project?
Well, thank you! My songwriting process always starts with just stream-of-consciousness babbling over a chord progression that I, for some reason, find appealing. It’s most definitely a craft in some sense but it’s so far from thinking in terms of music theory or lyrical themes or whatever. At first it’s really just about keeping on until something clicks and to know that that something is a song. I love songs that have some sort of essence to them while still being layered in a way, if that makes any sense? Anyway, the only way for me to get anywhere close to that is to start writing without any idea where I’m going. I just write until I figure out what I’m trying to say and by that time I have a lot of peripheral, side-tracky stuff that I think a song needs in order to be dimensional. I guess that the tedious process probably streamlines the songs in a way!
Tell us about the song Ask Again.
There is so much comfort in self-pity, which is why it’s such a tricky mental state to get out of. It kind of becomes who you are and by that time it’s even harder to shake it. Ask Again is me contemplating what might have triggered that mindset I think, and my call for a do-over!
Ask Again is out on June 24, and Croquis’ debut album No Longer, Not Yet, is out on Feverish on June 26.