Gustaf Axel Interview

Gustaf Axel, the frontman for the Australian collective Goodbyemotel went on tour overseas playing solo shows from Malaysia, London to his home country Sweden. I recently had the privilege to sit down & talk to him about the tour.

IndieMusicReview: You started off the new year playing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, how did it feel to play in that region for the first time?

Gustaf: Kuala Lumpur is a really exciting place. A very vibrant cultural mix that shows its strength in the diversity of people and perspective. I played two shows at a now favorite spot: The Gaslight Cafe in downtown KL, which is modeled on the the old Gaslight Cafe that once was in Greenwich Village.

Coincidentally Greenwich Village used to be my old neighborhood. So its quite ironic to travel to the other side of the world only to end up in your old local quarters, so to speak. I felt really warmly received in Malaysia. I was invited back to play at Gaslight, and also took part in an experimental noise showcase within a projection installation at Findars Art Gallery in central KL. Safe to say I was the only artist there not with a “noise” background. I loved playing in KL and will be back to play more in the region in the future!

IndieMusicReview: You also played in Sweden and London, what were those experiences like?

Gustaf: Going home to perform in Sweden was a really special feeling, just because I hadn’t performed live for an audience in my native country since I was 12-years old. I played at PSB bar on Södermalm, which I highly recommend checking out if you ever visit Stockholm. I played to old and new friends and family and it felt great to re-connect through my music.

London is just such an eclectic city, and I was really warmly welcomed there. I performed all over the city at Spiritual Bar (Camden), The Bedford (south London), Paper Dress Vintage (Hackney) and The Spice of Life (Soho). Each spot had its own unique character but I especially want to give a special mention to Spiritual Bar aka Spiritual Records for having me perform three times in one week. I am very grateful for the generosity of peoples interest in me and my music in London. Really great people in an exciting environment.

IndieMusicReview: How did it feel to play solo versus with your band?

Gustaf: It felt refreshing and reaffirming that I can convey a feeling through something as concise as a song with limited elements. It’s a very straight forward communication where its just you and the audience. I really enjoyed every show.

IndieMusicReview: How did playing overseas differ from the experiences you had playing with Goodbyemotel in the states?

Gustaf: Well with these particular shows in Malaysia, Sweden and the UK, I was playing new songs I’ve been writing during my time in New York, and so it was interesting to see and hear how people felt and reacted to the music.

Playing with Goodbyemotel is something I really enjoy but the shows with that band are quite extravagant as compared to how bare and vulnerable the shows I do on my own are. I really enjoy letting go of any guard and just being available right there in the moment to sing and play for people. Its also good to realize through traveling and performing that music truly is universal and people from everywhere can connect with music.

IndieMusicReview: How do you feel the audiences received your music overseas?

Gustaf: From arriving and playing my first show at Gaslight Cafe in downtown Kuala Lumpur, to finishing at Spice of Life in London, I felt I connected with people at each show. Something I am so grateful for. I gained a new network of people from the whole planet who expressed their interest in what I do. It was really special.

IndieMusicReview: Outside of music did you get to enjoy the places you traveled to earlier in the year?

Gustaf: I did. I spent some time getting to know Kuala Lumpur, eating delicious Malaysian food. Its a force to be reckoned with I tell you. Curry crab like you’ve never eaten before. In Sweden I explored Uppsala, which is one of the oldest cities in the country. Beautiful cobble stone streets and a more than 700-year old church; striking. In London I tried to see as much as I could. Going over to see Abbey Road Studios was very humbling, and visiting the many excellent galleries and museums in the city was mind opening.

IndieMusicReview: Lastly, what can we expect from you musically for the rest of the year?

Gustaf: This year I really hope to release some new music I’ve been writing and working on for the last year or so. Some more collaborations with friends here in New York and in London perhaps also. Keep your ears ready.

I would like to thank Gustaf for taking the time to chat with me about his most recent tour & upcoming plans. Check out the official website for Gustaf’s band Goodbyemotel by clicking here. Give him a follow on Twitter by clicking here.


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