By Gabriel Soucheyre.
I was born in Landskrona, in the southern part of Sweden, an old town from the seventeenth century that was for some time capital of Sweden. Because Landskrona means the « the crown of the land ». It’s by the water and well placed. Then the Danish walked in, so it was Danish two hundred years and then they fold back and it became independent. It ‘s a city filled with lots of dreams.
I was born in 1968 in this city of one hundred thousand people. The town was for a long time dependent on one business, the shipyard. In the 80’s, the business went down and so the whole city was quite dead. In bad times that means music, culture, everything like that got a real boost. It was a really creative time when I was a teenager. Everyone was playing in bands and doing arts, so it was a really strong experience for me.
I have an older sister, she is five years older than me. That’s too much, because you don’t want to hang around with a younger brother. . Between my sister and me, there was this invisible wall, we couldn’t reach each other fully. Now, she’s starting her dream with a little shop. Her big dream thrue out her life has been a knitting shop. It’s a totally different life from mine. I’m the extravagant of the family.
When I grew up, I always had a « best friend », a best friend that may change after a period. I wasn’t the sort of person with a lot of friends, I had one at a time, but he changed. I have always been interested in persons but I can only focus on one
My family is a typical working-class family. The food was on the table at half past three everyday, rustic, homemade food. My father was a construction worker and my mother was working in a hospital. Everyday, we met at half pas three for a big meal. Every morning, My mother used to make two sandwiches, and every morning I threw them in the trash bin in my room. Every morning, she saw that of course, but she still made the sandwiches. Breakfast wasn’t a big deal for me. The funny thing is that I started to drink coffee when I was 6 or 7 years old, no one knew that it wasn’t healthy.
I enjoyed school. I was the middle guy, neither the bully guy, nor the bullied guy. I always walked my own way, I never cared that much what happened and my parents never worried about me. Because I was really positive and I could take care of myself, they always trusted me with that. From kindergarten, I have one memory, there was this big guy, his name was Ambjorn, and we were making sort of wrestling stuff. He took my little finger and pushed it back. That’s really strong because for now, when someone touches my joint or where the bones get connected, somehow, I get this feeling right away, it takes me back to that moment. That’s the only memory I have from kindergarten.
I was quite good at school. My father was a typical worker but he read a lot, everything, he was really interested in stuff. So, when I was a kid and whenever I had some questions, he always pointed at the books, because we had a big bookshelf, and said : « You go and look it up ». So in first class, when I was around 7, my teacher had some words that he pronounced wrong and I raised my hand and said « No, it’s like that ». And he asked me how I knew that and I answered : « It’s in encyclopedia on page 41 ». I’m not like that anymore now, all that knowledge is gone. So I read a lot and started early but also, my father really made me interested in films. He watched a lot of television of course. Back in Sweden then, we had two TV channel, 1 and 2, but in the south we could get Danish TV. And Danish TV always had American films, French films, all subtitled in Danish and I couldn’t read it. So I heard them in their original language. But I was so happy, used sitting there and… when I think about it now, it must be the moments when I was closest to my father, because, we never talked, we were sitting on the sofa watching films.
In secondary school, I tried all the sports. I played Ice hockey, I was goalkeeper and quite good at it. When I do something, I have to do it all the way, so I go full in but when I get tired, I drop it all. So that’s why I tried so many things, did each to the best of my ability.
Making films is what I have been doing for the longuest time. I remember reading a with Brian Eno interview. One question was like : « Will you do this forever ? ». And he answer : « If I knew I would do this for the next ten years, I would stop now ». That’s what I feel.
So, I played golf because Ice hockey players play golf in the summer. But I wasn’t the best, I always got the second best, but I always tried my best and never was sorry about that.
I said that I used to have one best friend. And when I was 9 or 10, I got a best friend and he was the bullied one but he was also really smart. We always stayed together because I like people who have something more. I always get something back.
After school, and still today, people think that you have to take the « decision of your life ». I think that it’s so terrible when you’re so young. My mother said to me « For your own sake it’s better to see new borns and dead people, when you are young as possible ». So I chose to study to a prenurse. That gave me empathy at a really young age. I think it’s the best thing you can give to your kid. So I started to work in a hospital. My mother’s work was taking care of people in a hospital for mentally disabled people. She did it for a lot of years. I didn’t know but she used to clean other people houses when she was really young and work in the fields because my grandfather was alcoholic of course like most back then.. He was a bricklayer and he moved around in the southern parts, built houses and drank all the money so my mother and her sister had to go and beg for food when they grew up. And that made them the people who they are, desperately trying to give us what we need, they sacrificed a lot for us. I’m thankful for that, not enough but…
In the 70’s, there was this « free » feeling, with no rules or everything should be discussed, and I remember when my mother had problems with me, she walked to the library and searched in books on that topic and learnt about it, how she should face this problem correctly. Without any criticising of the author of the book. This brings me to another memory now. Every Tuesday night, a couple of blocks away from the flat where we lived, there was this little library where me and my father went to borrow books each tuesday. And I still read a lot and about everything. Now, we’re living in a farm and each wednesday comes a library bus, and we go there. And my children also get this interest for reading, and it’s so nice. I don’t know if my father had a plan with this, but I have a plan now because I know what it gave me. But for him, it was more like « I want to read book ». It made me see more of the world.
I think that people are born creative. I don’t think people are artists from the start. It’s more when you’ve find your way that you know. As for me, I can’t say when. I always had a need to express myself. Basically, everyone wants to be loved, and we find different ways to get that love. And if you’re extravagant, you want many people to love you. I played music in a band, and we toured in the southern parts of Sweden; we didn’t start playing in small places, but we booked big places. I played the synthesizer. I grew up with Kraftwerk. But I wasn’t good enough so I started making Pop videos. That’s a typical thing, all Pop videos makers are bad musicians or not looking good enough. That way, I could still be in that creative world.
I moved to Stockholm and worked for two years as a nurse at nights while painting during the day. People had a lot more to offer there. There are not that many original Stockholmers anymore and a lot of creative people move there. There, I met a Swedish girl who had a French boyfriend. When they went back to France they asked me to come. So I quit on the day and left for two weeks but I stayed for 8 months. I was supposed to marry a French girl. I was 19 or 20, she was a little older and I had nothing to worry about. She owned an advertising company, she had money and so if I stayed with her, I could be the artist. And then, for one Christmas, I went home to visit my parents and on Christmas Eve, I went out and I met a girl, I fell in love with her and so I never went back. I went to a phonebooth, there was a lot of snow, it was very dark and I phoned Aude and said « I’m sorry but I’m not coming back ». But she was ok, it wasn’t that serious.
I got my first son with my new girl, two years later. At that time, I was 21 or 22, and I felt the pressure of the society and so I worked hard as a truck driver in her father’s business. That was my first time getting salary every second week, so there was alaways money, and then we got our first son, André and I got married to her.
We stayed together for a while, then this itching came back, so I opened a little shop to sell films, imported, unrated ones, horror movies from Holland… With my ex-wife, we were very Young and never close and we divorced in 1996. This was a big failure for me not to keep it together especially sine we had a son who hot hurt. I went through tough years after that. That’s when I made my first long film. I had a studio in the same town because I wanted to stay close to my son. He lived with me, at my place in the studio. If it was a film, it would be very romantic. It was a nice time, I slept on the floor, I worked there with some other guys, like 5 or 6 people, and we did lots of Pop videos together. I quit the shop after a year, because I wanted to make films fulltime.
I watched a lot of films and at that time, I was really into Hong Kong Action and that slowy transformed over to more Hong Kong art films… and slowy that got me into : « Oh, I have something to say… I should do it ». Especially the year I got divorced, I didn’t have any money, so I sold the shop. At that time, I didn’t make any money but there was this local TV channel and I could use their equipment at night… During the day, I slept on the beach because it was summertime and then, in the evening, I went back to the studio (I lost 40 kilos). Then, I did this film and I had to do a TV show for the channel as well. I had to put on the camera, put on a suit and make a chronic about films, about the local activity, clubs etc. I was dedicated and when it was done, I was more confident because the film got good reviews and I knew that I should continue.
So I continued to make Pop videos but in an experimental way and always doing my own stuff at the side. When a band approached me, the first question was : « Does the band have to be in the video ? ». I had never been into big commercial stuff. I made one video for a big music’s hit, was first for something like eleven weeks. After that, big labels started to call me, and they sent me really bad music coming from poor TV Reality Shows, and I answered their mails with something like : « Please, stop send me that fucking crappy music. I work with real musicians, that’s what I do. » So I got blacklisted by this industry but kept on with the smaller acts. But that was good, so I could keep on doing what I liked. Still today. You get much money if you work with the big industry, but I prefer to do the job I like. And I work very fast, so I could do four videos in a month back then. That was how I survived. I never eally stopped making popvideos since I love music but now only a couple per year. That’s why the normal film business is not my thing because for me it’s unrealistic to spend like a year writing a script. Now, I work when I have the feeling.
© Propos recueillis par Gabriel Soucheyre, Mai 2014 – Turbulences Vidéo #84
Anders Weberg : http://www.weberg.se/