Following the release of his debut single ‘Nosa’ last year, Johan Lundgren is releasing his first EP this week.

Originally from the forests of Sweden, Lundgren swapped the cold winters and dark winters for the sunnier environment of California. It was here that he was able to reach the headspace in which he could create outside of his typical surroundings and familiar comfort zone. His debut EP, YSTER, is the culmination of his ideas and a promising taste of his musical direction; full-bodied productions that encompass propulsive dance beats, glitchy vocal samples and reflective ambient moments. Throughout its collage-like five songs, Lundgren moves with confidence as songwriter and producer. Lundgren gained previous experience from working with the audiovisual outfit, iamamiwhoami, with whom he played as a live musician. It seems fitting that the EP is mixed and mastered by Jonna Lee (otherwise now known as ionnalee), co-founder of iamamiwhoami and founder of the label, To Whom It May Concern, under which the record is being released.

Andrew Darley spoke to him about his new work and how it feels like an open door to new possibilities.

What does it feel like to have your first EP released this week?

I’m really excited and sort of relieved. It’s something I had to do and to get out of my system.

Since the format of an EP is short and concise, how did you decide to approach it?

I had lots of tracks but they were not really finished, and lots of ideas about where they could go, but it depended on the format. Once we decided upon an EP I knew I wanted the tracks to be quite direct and supplement each other and an overall mood, so it was all about pairing the ideas with the tracks to get to that point.

There’s a lot of variety in sounds and textures across the five songs. Did you want to showcase as much of your range as possible?

For me the emotional aspect of music has always played the most important part, rather than the technical aspects. It’s about what you feel when different elements are put together. You can have a certain melody, a distant vocal sound or a really clever hi-hat sample or whatever that in itself is really cool, but it has to be put in the right environment to communicate what you want it to communicate.

Some things can work forever in a monotonous way where small changes keep it interesting, and other things only work in a certain place in a song, to accentuate or break up something. I never really thought about getting a variety of sounds just for the sake of it, every element is there to distribute the right mood. In my world, it feels homogeneous on an emotional level, but there has to be odd bits and pieces from here and there to keep the balance in where I want it to go.

Are there specific stories or emotions then supporting each song or are you more focused atmosphere?

I often start with the approach of creating an atmosphere, I play with different sounds and come up with something that connects with how I feel that day or something I want to grasp and make sense of for myself. I know that I’m on the right track when I completely lose myself in those moments. Then I have to sort things out on a more intellectual level, of how to handle it and see if it makes sense. If it does - there’s a song.

Would you say that YSTER has an over-arching sentiment?

As I now live in London, and have been switching countries a couple of times the last few years, this all has got me thinking about borders and limits we create for each other or within ourselves, and how to cross them, to make the transition. These transitions could reflect restlessness or curiosity, but also a security in finding the familiar or to “come home”, wherever that might be. I wanted the songs to reflect this, by constantly being on the move and not really settling down in one place, with vocals that give you a sense of something familiar but you don’t really understand the words.

Tungorna originally began when you moved from Stockholm to California, what changed for you in this time?

First of all, I got really inspired by leaving things behind and start on a clean slate; not because I needed to get away from Stockholm or my life there, but more because it took me out of a comfort zone. I couldn’t have started this project in Stockholm because I would have done things in ways I was used to and I would have been distracted by everyday life. Now everything was in a sort of exemption from the rule, and I had to come up with something new to match the way I felt about it. Southern California in itself is a really soothing place with the ocean and deserts and nice weather - it just makes you feel good, which of course helps.

Artists writing producing their own music has become so accessible and commonly done today. Do you feel a push to stand out from others?

There’s loads of good music out there but I don’t feel a need to stand out; I just do the music that I love and want to hear myself.

Jonna Lee mixed and mastered the EP and is being released on her label, To Whom It May Concern. You were also a live musician when iamamiwhoami performed in concert. Was it an obvious choice to work together on this EP?

Yes it was. We’ve known each other a long time and worked together a lot so when I played a couple of tracks for her and she liked them. There was no need to go somewhere else after that really.

Jonna has consistently spoken about being uncompromising in terms of her art and music. Is this something that resonated with you?

Yes. I’ve seen lots of good ideas go wasted on compromises and other people’s decisions. If you want to do it exactly the way you want, you need to do it yourself, or make sure that those you work with are on the same level.

Out of curiosity, were you every involved in other aspects of iamamiwhoami?

I was and am mainly a musician but I’ve been part of a few different installations in different forms.

Do you have previous experience with other music labels? How does it compare?

My experience with other labels, both major and independent, is that you have to fight much more for what you want to do. They tend to have things planned for you that can be convenient in the beginning, and in some aspects, you get access to things you would never have otherwise, but in the end, they need to make money and there’s not much room for doing things in unconventional ways.

Have you learned anything as a result of working together?

I’ve learned that I need other people to be able to do things on my own. As Jonna is the creative director of To Whom It May Concern she’s also been involved with the visual world of my music. Working with the full vision of music and visuals in progress has been pushing me forward.

The cover artwork is an image in an airport terminal. Why was this image important to you?

I love airports. They connect the world and bring people together, and let you escape and leave everything behind. It resonated well with the songs. The picture is an old one my parents had from back in the day when it was still an extraordinary thing to travel by air for most people, something we today take for granted too much. I can sense a little bit of the excitement behind the picture.

How do you envision a full-length Tungorna album will sound after making this EP?

I really like the album format, especially albums that are more than just a collection of tracks. You get a bigger picture of something and you’re taken for a longer ride. So I can imagine a Tungorna album will take advantage of that and sound strange in some places but with some door openers to invite people in.

YSTER will be released on December 8th via To Whom It May Concern. For more info, click here.