Axel Krygier’s Magical Musical Mysteries: An Interview

Axel Krygier: An Odyssey of Sound and Rhythm

Axel Krygier has carved a niche that defies the typical labels of rock. Recognized early on by an icon of the Argentinian underground scene, Krygier’s career trajectory was marked by both challenge and opportunity, a duality that fueled his artistic development. It wasn’t until 1999, twelve years after he began to shape his musical identity, that Krygier released his first album, Échale semilla!, a work that announced his arrival on the musical scene as an alchemist of sounds. Krygier’s artistic DNA merges influences and experiences, blurring the real with the surreal. His sound, anchored in Latin American rhythms from his youth and infused with the eclectic energy of post-punk, mirrors the essence of magic realism. Instead of adhering strictly to tradition or modern trends, Krygier’s music is a dialogue between them, using Buenos Aires as a backdrop for this fusion. His role as a saxophonist for La Portuaria was only a prelude to a solo career that saw the keyboard become his canvas, painting soundscapes that defy categorization.

What initially drew you to music, and how did your early influences shape your unique sound?

I remember that there were some songs in the records my parents listened to that scared me, a very pleasant fear by the way. For example the song Within You Without You by the Beatles, or the overture “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Strauss, from the soundtrack of “2001, a Space Odyssey”. I remember having musical nightmares with music whose atmosphere I then sought to represent.  Let’s say that I was always attracted to that which manifested itself as something magical or mystical, but with something ironic or tragicomic. 

In my house we also listened to a lot of Brazilian music, which besides the great songwriters, has great composers of instrumental music influenced by the indigenous and African roots of that territory. In the early 80’s, my sister and I used to spend Saturday mornings listening to ECM vinyl records, with the lyrical improvisations of Keith Jarret, or the exquisite timbre of “Codona”. I also listened with passion to Luis Alberto Spinetta and Charly García, two great references of Argentine rock.

I listened a lot to King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Genesis because I could play over the flute parts, which was my first instrument. Later on I started playing saxophone in pop rock bands, with a kind of new wave or new romantic sound. When it was time to play my own music, I chose an eclectic path, so I didn’t have to assume any position in relation to a style. I prefer not to linger too long in any one place, and in my promenade I have fun walking in different ways.

Can you describe the creative process behind your latest album “Axelotl”? What inspired its name and themes?

For several years I have been working with the sampler, mapping the keyboard as if it were a super Mellotron. I did that process to play the songs of my repertoire, but then I started to create songs from that device. That’s how mostly Axelotl tracks were born. Then, in the middle of the confinement, we worked on them remotely with producer Emilio Haro and in a long back and forth we refined the form and sound. He proposed that name, which together with the somewhat aquatic or underwater elements that sound in the album, a new coherence emerges.

Axel Krygier
Axel Krygier

How does your experience living in Colegiales, Buenos Aires, influence your music?

Buenos Aires is a city of European manners, but very nurtured by tango and folklore. So it was that my first steps on stage were with a Latin American folklore group, whose leader went to my school. At home, British rock, French chanson and classical music were playing. Hybridization was inevitable.

Your music incorporates a mix of electronic elements, altered voices, samplers, and analog synthesizers. Can you explain your approach to blending these elements?

I love the plasticity of Sound, because you can treat it like a painting. When I started recording on cassette back in 1987, the first thing I did was to modify  the pitch of my voice, and then put it in reverse . I recorded with what I had on hand, baritone sax and flute, an out of tune piano, a Poly 800, a Casio RZ-1 and a bass. I was looking to invent a kind of acoustic and electronic Techno, but dissonant and freaky. 

You’ve mentioned using music to invent stories. Can you share an example of how a story has directly influenced a particular song or album?

Many of the themes are influenced by stories or tales that are barely portrayed. For example, “Hombre de Piedra” is based on the theory that the paintings of animals in the cave of Lascaux are actually star maps. The themes with lyrics generate a story, in a more or less explicit way. In the instrumental themes, the stories or images that generated them are just suggested.

You’ve composed music for theater, film, and dance. How does composing for these mediums differ from creating your solo albums?

I like creating music for these mediums because there is a need to obey. By limiting the field of action, the search criteria is simplified and the goals are achieved quickly. When it comes to my own records, the themes can take a thousand turns until they are completely ready. I would be much less prolific if I didn’t have to do those jobs, and in general I enjoy a lot creating on commission.

You’ve explored a wide range of musical styles and cultures in your work. Is there a particular culture or music tradition you’re currently interested in exploring further?

I would like to know more about the musical culture of the Far East. I am very interested in Chinese and Japanese culture, but their music has not yet revealed itself to me.

With the diverse range of equipment and instruments you use, do you have a favorite piece of gear that has been particularly influential on your sound?

I have been working with the Nord Wave 2 for a few years now, and I can say that I love that keyboard. On the other hand there is the baritone saxophone, which appears on all my records and I think it is part of my sound.

What’s your next project?

This year is coming up with two big projects: One is commissioned, and is for a version of Marlowe’s Edward II, for a large theater venue. The other is a personal creation, based on the family memories of my great uncle. It is a chamber piece for 10 instruments, staged as a musical biodrama, and will be presented in October at the CETC (Experimental Center of the Teatro Colón).

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by retrofuturista

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