Interview with Victoria Bergsman (Taken by Trees, former The Concretes)

Interview with Victoria Bergsman of Taken by Trees
Originally posted: February 14, 2010
on TheAmbitiousC

Due to tour in only a matter of a few days on her North American tour, Victoria Bergsman of Taken by Trees was almost stopped in her tracks late last year when she realized she ran into financial trouble. Her ambitious album “East of Eden” was the result of Victoria wanting to be as far removed from the studio recording process as possible and found herself in one of the most unlikely places. Pakistan. Despite constant warnings from the Swedish embassy not to travel unless given extreme urgency, they reluctantly allowed Victoria to go finishing the album despite failing electricity and constant discrimination simply for being a woman. Soon after the release of her album, Victoria was hit with another bombshell when she found herself struggling to continue touring. A true veteran of the independent music scene with fifteen years under her belt since her debut as vocalist for the band The Concretes, Victoria proves these difficult times leave no room for mediocrity. We spoke to Victoria to find out more.

Peter: Hello Victoria how are you?

Victoria: I am very well thank you, how are you?

It’s really nice to see you are keeping up to date on your site with your picture of the week. It’s sort of like a blog in a sense. You know what they say a picture is better than a thousand words. How do you arrive at that perfect picture?

A perfect picture you say? Thank you. Well, some photos I take myself and then some I found when I Google, and some are given to me by friends and family. I think it is a nice way of documenting what is happening around me and with me.

So you’re in New York right now I assume?

Yes I am, it feels very inspiring and exciting to have a new home.

I guess the first question is a bit of a provocative one. You recently ran into some financial troubles with touring late last year, what’s it like being back on the road again with El Perro del Mar? In your fifteen years in the independent music industry how have things changed financially for artists if at all?

Well it is hard times for artists at the moment, you just have to be more creative to make things work, in a sense that is good. Musicians really work harder and make more interesting things right now. There is no room for making mediocrity, so in that sense these hard times are good. But it is really hard to make a living and to be able to get out on the roads and do tours, ’cause there is no money for musicians. I am so glad we managed to get this tour together, me and Sarah. She is a very good friend of mine, we are both looking forward to it very much.

Well let’s talk about the good things. Your new album it’s fantastic. It was recorded in Pakistan. Why did this country in particular stand out to you?

I had been listening to a lot Asian, and especially Indian and Pakistani music for a few years, and I felt I wanted to try and integrate my music with that kind of music. Also I was bored with the traditional way of recording an album in a studio. I needed to do something else, something radical to get inspired again. Pakistan seemed more mysterious, so I choosed Pakistan.

Was it particularly difficult finding the musicians you wanted for this album and was this carefully planned on what musicians to use was it more of a spontaneous thing?

Our host had a lot of connections with most Pakistani Sufi musicians, so he arranged for us to meet a bunch of them and after that decide who we would work with.

You mentioned that you wanted to be as far removed from the studio as possible. The studio is a very sterile and stable environment. You mentioned that there were frequent technical problems with power shortages being one of many problems. Was it difficult to find your sound and were there any problems with completing everything as scheduled?

Doing field recordings is always a bit shaky with power shorts and batteries running out et cetera, but at the same time extremely rewarding when you do capture that certain feeling on a take. It is so alive and real, that is the beauty about it and I have never experienced that same “reality” in a traditional recording studio. I think it will be very hard for me to go back to recording in a studio again. But at the same time, why should I?

Pakistan was something completely shocking to you as a Westerner. In many cases it was a very harsh and unforgiving place, but as a tourist what did you most enjoy about Pakistan being about the people and the country?

People are very friendly and generous and make you feel welcomed .Also I adore the nature of Pakistan with its high dramatic mountains.

Pakistan isn’t the most tourist friendly place in the world and in many situations just plain dangerous. You said there were no regrets going to Pakistan, but you weren’t sure if you were either brave or just stubborn going there. If you could do it again would you?

I wouldn’t go again, at least not in a very long while. It is still too dangerous.

One last question. Music has taken you many places. Where do you see yourself next?

Not sure yet, where I will go is quite dependent on how the music turns out, what melodies comes around. We’ll see…

Well thank you for the interview Victoria. I’m really glad you got to take the time to talk to me today.

Sure, no problem see you in Toronto.