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Josefine Cronholm - "Gardens and Paradises"

Josefine Cronholm is an extraordinary Swedish singer, age 32, and lives in Denmark. With her solo-debut-album "Wild Garden", she already received broad recognition; her latest release "Hotel Paradise" followed in winter 2003. An equally strong performer as she is a songwriting talent, she also is a very warm and humorous person. Never acting like a star or with any manirism, she posesses a natural charisma.

Josefine Cronholm

Katja Duregger met Josefine Cronholm after the first concert with her group IBIS in Germany at the festival in Schloss Elmau.

Katja: Did you ever expect so much attention with your debut?

Josefine: No, actually! I donīt know…are there so many people paying attention to it? (laughs)

Katja: I do think so!

Josefine: Yes, I know there are some people…(smiles), but if you talk about the international response, Iīm still really not sure. Maybe that sounds strange to say but I donīt think about this kind of things. Of course I like to spread my music as wide as possible. And if it happens, I think thatīs fantastic. I know that there are some people in Germany who like my music and that I start to get an audience here, which is wonderful. Actually, this concert in Schloss Elmau is my first concert with IBIS in Germany.

Katja: But youīve been here with other groups?

Josefine: Yes, I did one concert with Marylin Mazur and some years ago with Django Bates - but with this band itīs the first time. But to come back back to your first question: What I wanted to say is, Iīm not the kind of person that thinks in terms of success, who does things only to reach as many people as possible. Iīm not like that.

Katja: Yes, your music "sounds" like that. It doesn't give the impression of a person who struggles to be liked.

Josefine: Yes, exactly, I never think in this terms. I just do the things as I feel. IBIS started… actually it started with a duo: Me and the pianist Henrik Sundh. We met and we started to play my music, which I began to compose at the time I moved to Copenhagen - about eight years ago. Beginning to compose was a real breakthrough for me. But there was no big intention behind it.

I just met Henrik, I showed him some ideas and he liked it. We didnīt have any gigs in the beginning. At that time I had a lot of gigs with other groups, most of all with Django Bates, which was another kind of breakthrough for me: People got to know me and I had the chance to learn a lot from Djangos wonderful musical universe and travelled all over the world.

Josefine Cronholm - "Hotel Paradise"

Katja: How did it come that you concentrated more on your own music and put a real band together?

Josefine: First it was this duo and then, slowly, I did put one on one. One day I thought I wanted to have a trumpet player, so I met Flemming Agerskov. His way of creating music, his universe is totally according to my taste. Then it was a trio and later I met Lisbeth Diers and I thought sheīs great - so I called her and we got together. Actually we played for quite a while without a bass player, because I wanted to do something without the bass. That was really interesting for a while. But after some time I wanted to have the bass as well and I was lucky enough to find Thommy Andersson.

Katja: What is the connection between you all?

Josefine: What connects us is that we are five very strong individuals, very strong in our own voices. And as a group, none of these persons is saying: "Iīm the leader!" We are very dynamic and very open minded, also open in our hearts. We are all very good in listening to each other.

For me, music is a way to reach the nucleus, get into the true essence of a story. Not the story in terms of lyrics, the story in the sense of the feeling of a song, the feeling of the atmosphere, of what kind of story it tells. So we ask ourselves: what do we want to describe? And I write the music, so I have an idea, but after that we meet and we create the music together.

Katja: What are in your opinion the most important skills a musician needs to have so that you like to play with him or her?

Josefine: A good balance between a strong individual is important, a strong ego and an open mind with the ability to listen. An open mind that is willing to discover whatīs in there. Not these cool musicians that think: "Oh, yeah, music is cool, this life is cool, Iīm cool!"…you know?

That seems very boring to me. A very boring cliche. When I create my music, itīs about finding out the essence. Itīs about a strong will of knowing consciously what you want to say. The creativity of listening, being aware of the other one. Thereīs a big difference between a big ego and being selfish. A big ego is important, itīs not something you need to be scared of. In the end itīs what makes us open our mouths and believe in what we say. And it supports the lust and the passion of doing music.

Josefine Cronholm

Katja: All this is being transported in your music, itīs possible to get all this in just listening to it consciously! But – where lie the roots for your being so strong by yourself in what you do, being so grounded?

Josefine: Iīm not sure... I donīt think that my "being grounded" is part of some kind of evolution. I think it was always there. To me, itīs all about being present. Iīm not able to work without being constantly present, being completely into it. Thatīs why I could never do music as some kind of job, just to make money.

But itīs very hard to talk about presence because: where does it come from? I donīt know. Itīs all about the will to be there, like being here right now, not wanting to be somewhere else, also with the music, not thinking like: "Oh, I wish I could do that or this." Itīs all about here and now. Thatīs the most fantastic thing about music. What is happening now and knowing that it could never be the same.


Iīm not able to work without being constantly present.
Thatīs why I could never do music just to make money.

Thatīs why I chose this kind of music: Thereīs the room to always create something new! Because doing concerts night after night, doing always the same thing, means death. Itīs like the goal seems to be the most important thing and in my music the process is the most important thing. To explain it better: I have a child, a two year old son. And I "created" that child. But as soon as itīs gone from my body, I have to set it free, because then it has itīs own life, itīs own will… (smiles)

Katja: Now you start to get attention, a career. People want to hear you, which means more gigs, more travelling. How do you connect that to your life with a two year old child?

Josefine: Itīs hard, really! But I know that if I couldnīt do my music, I would be unhappy. I would be an unhappy mother and this would be bad for my son, too! I want him to understand my world like I want to understand his world. But every time I have to leave him it´s like hell: Itīs breaking my heart. But I talk to him, he just learned to say these little words like "mama". And I was so glad because I thought: Wow he has a word for me! (laughs)

Josefine Cronholm

Katja: Did your son change your priorities in life?

Josefine: Yes! He will always, always, always, always be the first in my life! This doesnīt mean that I donīt leave him – at the moment Iīm here, you know – but if he needs me, I will be there. But speaking about him is also a metaphor about creating something. And then letting it go. Itīs like a song, creating a piece of music. And then give it to some people I believe in and feel connected to, and feel that they are taking it with love and creativity to their own magic. Thatīs very amazing, I love that.

Katja: Do you think this way of creating is connected to your home country Sweden, or to Scandinavia? There are a lot of strong individuals coming from this part of the world. Is there more room for living this kind of individuality? Like a "playground" for finding a strong inner voice?

Josefine: An important thing for me was the Swedish tradition – and the space. I can only speak for myself: I grew up with Swedish folk music and jazz, in the middle of a big, wide forest. I will always keep that deep inside of me. To me everything started with the silence, the silence of the nature around me.


I grew up in the middle of a big, wide forest.
Everything started with the silence of the nature around me.

I donīt think that you can only find that in Sweden or Scandinavia. If you want, you can find that in other countries, too. But maybe itīs easier there, I donīt know. If I look at Denmark, where I live now and which is a very small country, I realize that in Sweden there is a lot of space. Itīs such a big country, with not so many people living there. Maybe itīs easier to get grounded and find your own space in a country like that. You can scream and no one would hear you – thatīs wonderful! You cannot do that in Denmark.

Katja: What will be your next step? A new CD with IBIS or something completely different?

Josefine: Iīm not sure. My label wants me to record a Swedish composer. One of my absolute favourites, Cornelis Vreeswijk. Heīs dead, he was a poet, guitar player and songwriter – and he wrote some beautiful songs. They want me to do that, but Iīm not sure. I also want to compose.

I think itīs gonna take a while before I do another recording. I need time and space to start thinking, to get a picture of what I want to do next. Because sometimes, like in this period, after two weeks on tour in Sweden and the last CD, I feel totally dry and empty, musicwise. Itīs ok that way, because I cannot really press something new. I need to be in peace with what Iīm doing.

Katja Duregger

CD: Josefine Cronholm - "Hotel Paradise"
(Stunt Records STUCD 03082)

Stunt Records/Sundance im Internet: www.sundance.dk

Fotos: Stunt Records

Jazzdimensions-Service in Zusammenarbeit mit MusicLine:
more artist-info / listen to CD at musicline.de

mehr bei jazzdimensions:
Josefine Cronholm - "Wild garden" - Review (erschienen: 7.6.2002) 

© jazzdimensions2004
erschienen: 6.1.2004
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