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Launches second album

Posted by Gestalten—05/2012

Nine years after his debut album, Swedish-born electronica artist, Forss, presents his new and second release ECCLESIA in the form of an audio visual experience app for the iPad. We spoke to Eric Walhlforss, who is not only behind Forss, but also a founder and CTO of Soundcloud about his interest in church music and how sounds and visuals go together.

The first tracks from your ECCLESIA project sound monumental. What made you interested in recreating "the essence of what a church is"? Does that refer more to the spacial / acoustic experience or rather to the spiritual / religious meaning of church?    
One of my earliest memories is one of myself watching my mother practice with her choir in a 12th century church outside Stockholm. I’m just able to peek over the creaking wooden pews to see my mother conduct. As I was listening, I remember a mixture of boredom–I was eager to go out and play–and at the same time a wonderful sensation filling me inside. Years later, through the works of some contemporary Scandinavian choir music composers, I re-discovered choir music again and realized it’s the form of music which is by far the strongest and most emotional to me. The feeling when walking into a large church or cathedral is one of awe. The same goes for a church organ–it’s a demonstration of power! That said, I must admit I generally don’t enjoy organ music as much as choir. But in some works, like Duruflé’s requiem, choirs, strings and organ come together in a masterful harmony that ultimately inspired me to pick that trinity as the instrumentation for the album. From an electronic music creator’s point of view, this was a formidable challenge! How to make choirs, church organs and strings work together in a piece of modern electronic music?


Looking back to you first album: How would you describe the relevance and impact of visuals (cover art, live-visuals, ...) to your music and performances back then?
The Ecclesia project has had a long time coming. I had the idea of creating an album that’s more than just music already nine years ago when releasing my first album, Soulhack. Back then I was quite young and didn’t really have the resources nor the technology available to pull it off! It wasn’t until I met Leo and Marcel and the iPad coming out shortly after that we really started seeing the potential of creating something together. Visuals have always been important for me, and I’ve been wanting to do a more coherent audiovisual work for quite some time now, so it’s great to finally see it come together in Ecclesia.

How did this connection between music and visuals change or develop towards the creation of ECCLESIA? Was the project setup to be as complex as it is now? Was the visual element part of the project from the beginning? 
We’ve actually tried to keep it as simply as possible. We took a quite “conservative” approach with the App–it’s more audio reactive than it is interactive and lets the user experience sound and visuals in sort of a basic and intuitive mode. In the end we hope it´s more of a “contemplative” experience than anything else.


You worked with digital artists on creating the app and live performance for ECCLESIA. Please describe the work process. How involved where you? What was your brief / direction? Did it evolve in a similar way the music did (reference to church music and contemporary composing method)? 
The visual part was primarily created and developed by Marcel Schobel and Leonhard Lass. We developed some initial concepts and framework together, but aside from that we had a pretty clear split between myself on the musical part and them on the visuals. There are endless possibilities with the iPad as a medium, so a big challenge was to say *no* to a lot of things and narrow down the focus to create something coherent and powerful.

How are recording, live performance and interactive experience coming together? 
The reference ‘implementation’ of the Ecclesia project is the iPad app. After having performed electronic music live for a couple of years I deliberately wanted to avoid playing Ecclesia live, after the realization that it’s really hard to perform my musical style in a live setting. Instead we settled on re-purposing the iPad app into a physical installation, and we hope to bring that to a number of media arts festivals and gallery spaces over the coming months. Our opening performance at Berghain was actually an exception, and we likely won’t perform the piece live ever again!

Through your role in Soundcloud you are very involved with the global music scene. What is your impression about the general perception of visuals and new digital formats? Are apps the new format for releases? Are apps killing the videostar? Is the music creation and perception evolving to a new level? 
We believe that Apps will add to the palette of visual expressions for musicians and artists. Apps allow us to create intimate audiovisual experiences that you can immerse yourself into. Tablets as a new medium open up a whole world of possibilities–and we haven’t seen much of it yet!