6 Nov 2002

Helena Josefsson, backing singer at AGM Studios (I): Winokur's Swedish Diary (I)

Vallarum, Skäne. The beautiful, peaceful countryside of southern Sweden is the home of the remote rural residential recording studio AGM, owned by Christoffer Lundquist since 1998. AGM is a fully equipped professional studio with accomodation for up to ten people. AGM is primarily an analog studio with a very large and unique collection of musical instruments, synths and amps, two live rooms, two isolation booths and two echo chambers. The digital side consists of a ProTools HD2 system (40 in/48 out). The concept of AGM is that of the classic studios of yesterday when recording studios had a soul, a sound of their own and a strong vibe.


The Aerosol Grey Machine Studio was designed by Christoffer Lundquist's wife and built in an old barn using the classic recording studios of yesterday as a model. The acoustics of the recording spaces are meant to be used and heard on the recordings and they are easily variable so you can quickly get anything from a very live woody sound to a pretty dead yet warm sound.

Justin Winokur, an American artist, is going to record at AGM Studios very soon. Helena Josefsson is said to be the backing singer. We think it is interesting to LJdM readers to read the words of Justin during the recordings. Keep reading his funny blog!

Dear beloved friends and family,

You may or may not know that I am going to Sweden next week. Now, why am I going to Sweden? The point of my trip is definitely not to have a vacation: this is a miserable and dark time of year in Scandinavia. I am going there to work on a projectwhich has been cooking in my conscious for about two years now. I am going to begin recording my first solo album. Sure, I have out some other CDs with Spitkiss, Mortal, and the Blamed. But, this one will be different.

About 12 years ago I noticed something. Even though I played in heavy / rock/ punk/ industrial bands, I always (and almost exclusively) wrote sad love songs on my guitar. Pretty much no matter what I tried to write, just about the only thing that ever came out was a sad love song. And I spent the last many years shelving these songs and trying to write in styles that worked better with whatever band I was focusing on at the time. But one day, about two years ago, it occurred to me that sad love songs were my style, and by attempting to coerce my hands and lips and mind to create otherwise I was suffocating that which I already generated naturally, without effort.

Until that moment I did not realize that those songs I wrote were actually there for a reason. There was some void in this world that they were to fill. This was hard to imagine for me, since I had never heard songs quite like mine before and so I wasn't really able to visualize a place for them in this world. Duh. Of course not. They did not exist yet, so how could I visualize their place in this world? With that realization, my goals and my life's vector changed dramatically.

I started compiling, completing, and recording demo versions of the songs that I had written during the last 12 years. I wanted to make a solo album where I sang and played the songs that meant something to me, the songs which leapt from my heart and lips no matter how hard I tried to contain them. I wanted the songs to be more than demos, though. They needed to come to some sort of fruition beyond that. I wanted them to have the indescribable quality that my favorite albums have in common. I needed to find a producer, a partner to work with who could help me to this goal. But, who? Who would help guide me and keep me from becoming myopic? Who would push me to think outside of my regular patterns? Who would sharpen me when I became dull?

Duh. Why not contact the very people who produced my favorite albums? Why not ask my musical heroes to work with me and help me to mold the songs into something that was more like my dreams than the dreams themselves? It was so simple. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. So I did. I called and asked. And the answer was yes. Actually, it was more than just a "Yes, we can work together." It was the biggest honor I could wrap my brain around, really. One of the people who crafts the albums which inspire me to feel alive and live fully and make music was actually telling me, "I like what you do, so you and I are going to make your art together and have some fun." I felt like I could die that day and be happy.

But, I didn't die. Instead I booked my flight to Sweden, where his studio is. Starting November 15th, I will be working with Christoffer Lundquist, the bass player of Brainpool and producer of one of my favorite albums of all times, "Stay Free" by Brainpool. We will spend 17 days in his studio to record 4-5 of the songs which will appear on my solo album. (I would have stayed long enough to do the whole record at once, but my work would not allow it.)

On top of that, he is going to play the songs with me and sing some harmonies with me. Neither of us play drums, though. But, that is not a big deal since he will get the Brainpool drummer (Jens Jansson) to play on the songs. Wow. My musical heroes. Singing and playing with me on my songs. I feel all shivery and giddy just thinking about it. If it sounds like a dream come true, that is because it is. And, I want to thank you for the support and love and friendship you have given me that has carried me to this place along my path, this roller coaster path where dreams can be a reality. I would not be able to do this without the foundation and framework that is built up from the moments I have shared with the extraordinary people this life has blessed me with. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


There is only one part of this equation that I don't have figured out. Money. Not surprisingly, I don't have enough money to pay for the producer and studio fees. I love to help and give but I hate to ask for help and feel like I don't really know how to. I think my pride prevents me. But, this is me swallowing my pride and asking. I need some help. If you can help me out financially in any way at all, whether it be $2 or $20 or $200, now is a time when I could really use it. So much love and thanks,
Justin Winokur

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