Interview with B’ee of In Gowan Ring and Birch Book

On the Dragonfly Festival 2009 I saw the Swedish band Lisa o Piu. Back in Oslo, where I lived at the time, in the beginning of September I went to see the band again. The main artist of the evening was In Gowan Ring and I hadn’t heard about him before. Together the two acts created musical magic. Now some years later I’m really into In Gowan Ring and Birch Book, both project by B’ee. So I contacted him for an interview.

Lets start with the present. Where are you? What are you up to? Where is your music now?

I’m in Leipzig, Germany – before winter settled in I finally settled down after most of last year being homeless and on tour. So, I’m trying to develop my ‘domestic skills’. People who keep house all the time don’t realize the kind of talents they use everyday to keep things together! So I’ve set myself up a nice little wood shop in my room and I’m building instruments – there’s lots of materials discarded in the streets here, so I can use some of this. With the sun coming out, I spend a lot of time in the woods nearby here, there’s some really nice parks as well and some folks get together for bonfires on the Full & New Moons. But, yeah, the Music, Its waiting for me! Although I don’t have the most ideal material situation to develop it, from an ability perspective, I’m in the best position ever to make best use of all the songs – they’ve built up quite a bit over the years, so I have about 5 albums of material, and I guess most of it is better than anything that came before, but still, I need some time, and ‘life’ usually bullies its way to take precedence….

The first of your music for me was at the Garasje in Oslo with Lisa & Piu (autumn 2009). How did you get with the group?

We were put in contact by James Reid who used to run Autumn Ferment Records in Scotland – he released the first Lia O Piu 7” and we were always intending to make a release on Autumn Ferment, but he’s on to other things now – so, back when, we were writing, and he thought we should get together for a show or something – I ended up inviting them on a tour I was arranging (I don’t remember when this was!) and so they kind of became my ‘backing band’ for that tour as well as playing their own set. The next year they returned the favor by setting up another European tour and brought me along, and we’ve all been ‘in the family’ ever since, so we see each other at least every year it seems.

Do you work solo for now or collaborating?

Well, yes, I think there is some collaboration going on – in the last few tours I’ve been playing as a Duo with Gunhild Andersen (From Nowegian Polar Orchestra). We’re able to do a lot with just the two of us with different instruments, vocal harmonies and such and we’re able to bounce ideas around and ‘develop’ things, and so I’m hoping to use some of these ideas when we get to recording – she’s up in Gothenburg, but we get together for shows fairly regularly.

once someone knows how to read, then they can learn anything themselves

When I asked you for the interview you mention something about new instruments you’re making, what are you making? Are you self thought or had a master craftsmen to tech you? I ask because I met this man who was 70 at the time and he had been learning the skill from his 60th year, so ten years into it he was very happy and very good.

I’ve just been experimenting and building instruments for myself for over 20 years – I’ve got a lot of good information from other builders and repair people, but never any school or anything – my interests are too varied to get much from specialized schools and such – those situations just seem a little claustrophobic for me, but I’ve had the fortune to know lots of builders of instruments, and as one of my teachers would often say “once someone knows how to read, then they can learn anything themselves” – so for most things I’m an autodidact and experimenter – I think ‘intuition’ and ‘thinking’ about things as well as getting perspective from others is how I discover things and develop techniques.

So, I’ve just launched my Handcrafted Musickal Instrument moniker: Lune Musick. I’m hoping to have some instruments I can have available to others. My first publically available instrument is a unique design for a Mountain Dulcimer..

Did you grow up in a musical environment, artistic parents and so on?

Yes, actually, we had a grand piano in the living room and everyone had to take piano lessons at a young age – I didn’t particularly like Piano lessons at that point, but it was there. More importantly, I was in Musicals when young, singing, dancing etc. This theatre atmosphere affected me greatly. I wouldn’t say that my parents are ‘artistic’, no, well, my mother makes quilts, and sewing clothes – she always sewed my costumes in theatre – but there was always music its true, but when I reached adolescence my own artistic projects were not at all encouraged, but the opposite – the usual materialist infection of doing something ‘practical’ – so in this respect, I didn’t grow up in some bohemian haven, but I’m grateful that I had good food from the garden when I was young, that there was some woods nearby and of course my young experiences in theatre.

What can the listeners expect this year? Any given dates?

Well, I hope to have something small for the summer shows, and then it would be great to have a new album for the autumn, but actually looking at the calendar… I guess we’ll see.

In Gowan Ring – Facebook

Birch Book – Facebook

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