Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I was born into a very artistic family in Stockholm. My mother is recognized as having sold the most original paintings of any now living Swedish artist and my father owned the biggest music management company in Europe when growing up. At the age of 6 I got my first synthesizer from my parents and spent a lot of time getting advice from professionals in the industry and from artists such as the only Swede who toured with Elvis Presley (Per-Erik Hallin), family friend and legend Chick Corea, and world-famous author Astrid Lindgren. These were people who came to hang out at my house and I was only fortunate to be able to spend time with them.
I was then introduced to film music when I received a mixtape from my older brother containing only classic film scores by John Williams, Danny Elfman, Basil Poledouris, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer and so on. I recall that instrumental and orchestral music really touched me so emotionally and sparked my obsession for film scores. At the time, my friends and kids in general mostly listened to music on the radio while film music was considered something you only hear when watching movies. A fond memory is from school, when my teacher asked all students to showcase their favourite music. Imagine the surprise of the classroom when I showed up and started playing John Williams’ score from Jaws…
After school, I decided to travel the world and work abroad, exploring different cultures and music. Returning to Sweden in 2006, I picked up where I left off composing music and decided to devote my life to this artistic expression.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
In my early life I’d say it’s my older brother John who opened up this world of music with his mix-tape he gave on my birthday. That’s where I got to discover John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone and even Hans Zimmer’s score for Rain Man.
My music is inspired by my surroundings and foremost by the art of my wife, Sofia. She is successful painter and published writer/poet and our collaboration is evident in most of my albums such as Scandinavian Folklore; each track being based on a short-story written by Sofia on each entity/being in old folklore of Scandinavia.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
When you mention greatest challenges I’m not sure if I should write about my difficulties or fantastic adventures – haha. However, there are challenges every single day being a full-time artist, paying your rent, succeeding in what you are doing, believing in what you’re doing, finding the time and energy to create and then getting it out to the world. I guess that’s the greatest challenge of it all, to be able to keep doing what you love and that people seem to appreciate your work and want more of it.
At the same time it is also the greatest reward. To communicate a story and feelings with music and someone being able to receive it and feel it all. It’s such a powerful thing.
What are the pleasures and challenges of working with other musicians?
It’s an amazing pleasure to work with other individuals who share your very same passion. It would be impossible for me to do what I do without other musicians in the world. I recall each time I walk into Abbey Road Studios only to be extremely amazed by the wonderful talented musicians performing my music. Their own performing interpretation of each written note on the paper and bringing it to life. It’s like a dance of creativity and they always make it sound SO much better than I ever would have imagined.
How would you describe your compositional/musical style?
That’s a great question, I have no idea, haha! It’s mostly melancholic orchestral score, combined with electronic elements and a tint a dark haunting beauty. Similar to very old traditional folk songs from Scandinavia. You can almost feel and hear the music when you’re out all alone in the forest here, I tell you.
I guess the structure of the music is cinematic at its core, where the story of each song has precedence over anything else. Each element in the music needs to have a purpose and meaning to enhance that specific story.
As a composer, how do you work?
I have set up a studio by my house in the forest, south of Stockholm in Sweden. That’s where I compose my music on the computer and piano. I really sit there and compose for hours and hours. When the music has been composed and is approved for a certain film scene or album etc., it’s transcribed and then scheduled for recording. Depending on budget the appropriate orchestra is hired and we record the live instruments mostly in Abbey Road Studios in London, UK.
Usually I attend these music sessions but when recording Norse Mythology, it was one of the first big orchestral recordings recorded in Abbey Road Studios since the lock-down, all in accordance with the restrictions and guidelines. I was able to attend via direct link from Sweden for a 2-day recording in Studio One. It was marvellous. Following this we had to record a full Norse choir at the Synchron Stage in Vienna. I am so very pleased and happy of how it all turned out despite the pandemic, and it would have been impossible if it wasn’t for the extremely talented and professional people from Audio Network. I’ve also been recording other instruments myself in Sweden together with the synth programming and such, which I do all by myself.
Everything is then mixed by a professional. This is important because I feel that there are professionals that do their thing better as opposed to if I tried to do everything by myself. I obviously oversee everything myself and it’s all done in great collaborative way. It’s quite amazing what people can do with your music when they interpret it and add their own magic to it. When the mixing is done it’s then mastered and later published.
Tell us more about your new album…
It is basically all about HOW the beginning took place in the Universe according to Norse Mythology. It takes us through the different realms such as Niflheim, Muspelheim, Ginnunagap the yawning void, the First gods, the creation of earth and so on. Each track is based on a very detailed story of the myths according to this ancient belief. Living in Sweden I’ve grown up with the old sayings and myths of the old Norse gods and realms. It’s something I’ve been exposed to frequently and I have always been very fascinated by it. Norse Mythology has been frequent in Hollywood films and comics around the world but I feel (in my own opinion) it’s a “glamorous” angle of the whole subject. The original tales and myths in Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries are more ominous and sombre, a tone I feel is missing in the modern adaptations.
Musically I found most Norse mythological adaptions were more worshipping and from a “human” perspective. It has also mostly been about the famous and popular Gods such as Odin, Thor, Valhalla or Asgard etc. My ambition and goal, together with my publisher Audio Network, was to create an epic tale of the creation of the world and the Universe according to Norse mythology. One could say it’s Norse Cosmology. I want to shed light on the different realms and how these famous mythical creatures and Gods came to be – and it’s a wild ride. Obviously, I would be naïve to assume I’ve covered everything since there’s a TON of amazing stories – but at least it’s a start!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
My definition of success is to touch anyone’s soul or heart through my music. If that would amount to just one person, I feel I’ve done enough. Simply because music is one of the most powerful and precious expressions we have as a species that can touch anyone without the barriers of language or other means.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m relieved and SO excited about this new album coming out. It feels as if the world has lived in oblivion of how the Universe has come to existence according to Norse mythology and it’s about time the truth comes out – haha!
Glen Gabriel’s new album Norse Mythology is released through Audio Network on
November 19, 2021.
Glen Gabriel is an award-winning film composer and music producer primarily in the field of orchestral scores combined with electronica.
With over 20 feature films under his belt, including one of James Cameron’s viral projects The Game Changers (produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic etc), 100 commercial major brands and about 700 TV episodes, he is no stranger to cinematic music.