It’s All In the Timing: An Interview With Paddan


Sigtryggur Baldursson and Birgir Mogensen have been making music for a very long time. They first played together in the group KUKL along with future members of the Sugarcubes; the music the duo makes now as Paddan, though, takes them in a very different direction. Their debut Fluid Time is a hypnotic collection of songs, both propulsive and willing to linger and explore unexpected sonic corridors. I spoke with Baldursson about their debut, their approach to collaboration, and the subgenre they’ve coined to describe their sound.

The two of you have a literal decades-long musical history. What brought you back together for this new project?

We are childhood friends and had our first experiences playing in a band together as teenagers, actually a band where we wrote all our own stuff because we did not feel we could play covers very well. We thought it was much cooler to write our own stuff, and sink or swim with that.

We have always been close friends although life has taken us in all sorts of directions and not always together, for instance I lived in the states for most of the 90 ́s while Birgir Mogensen lived in Sweden during the late 90s. We decided to rent a studio together in 2017 and started having some fun coming up with little grooves and stuff, mostly to please ourselves, but it was not until the Covid years that we decided to try and finish a few tracks and get them out into the world.

What does your songwriting process look like? Do your songs generally emerge from jamming? From loops and samples? Something totally different?

Generally from loops or grooves that we tend to jam on. Once we have a frame or groove that we are comfortable with, we tend to add stuff independently to the structure and then edit the tracks until we are happy with the outcome, which can evidently take some time.

The name Paddan derives from a small Korg synth that we would make up loops on, to jam over. We called it paddan which means bug, or insect.

What does the concept of “Fluid Time” mean to you?

As we grow older, time seems to move faster, and our perception of time is truly a fascinating concept. And one of the songs on the EP has completely fluid time, it actually changes its tempo constantly. It was something that happened organically but we had to figure out ways to make it work technically, which was also a challenge but made us think even more about the concept of how we perceive time. Both musically as tempo but also as the all encompassing clock we live by. When we came back together and started working on these tracks it became evident that a lot of our early influences were popping up so we often pondered the elasticity of time and space in that regard, for instance regarding influences of other music that are processed in our psyche, and come back in different form later, basically morphing and jiggling through time.

How do you classify your own music? And given that you’ve also released music on Crass’s label, do you still see a punk sensibility at the core of what you do?

We jokingly call this “Sauer Kraut Rock” as it has elements of psychedelia, krautrock, punk, jazz, postrock and whatnot. As we are not exactly spring chickens we do indeed have quite a roster of influences up our collective sleeves and the punk sensibility comes out in trying to do as much ourselves as possible really but also enjoying the company of good associates. And trying to come up with something we genuinely like. We generally adhere to the “first impressions are often correct” philosophy, meaning that we try to trust the intuition and work with the ideas that are initially recorded.

Your website features a number of live videos in which you collaborate with other musicians; where, for you, do you find the balance in working as a duo and collaborating with others?

We generally try to do as much as we can ourselves but alas neither of us is very good at playing trumpet, harmonica or lap steel for instance, and so that´s some of the things we would ask friends to help with. Basically when writing we will ask people to come and play certain instruments when we hear a specific element being called for. When performing live we also use playback and sync our videos (visuals) to the playback. Paddan has not played out very much but we are planning some gigs in the autumn and will hopefully have some players with us for the run.


Photo: Sigtryggur Ari Johannsson

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