Interview with Danish guitarist Steen Grøntved. (July 17th 2007)

Hi, first off all I just want to congratulate you on your “Night Vision Goggles”. Are you satisfied with it?


Steen Grøntved: I am very satisfied with the result. I have made all the decisions myself and I haven’t compromised on anything. The result is a pretty unique mixture of styles which I think it is very close to what I heard in my head before we started to record.


Well, you’re from Denmark so how did you hook up with Lion Music in Finland?


Steen Grøntved: One day I received an email from another Danish guitarist (who I didn’t know). His name was Torben Enevoldsen (TE) and he told me that one of his students had played some music for him that he thought was very interesting. That music turned out to be one of the early Night Vision Goggles (NVG) demos I made to “visualize” the whole album before the final recording and to play it for different musicians to try to find the right ones for the album. TE told me that he was signed to a record company called Lion music and he said that if I send him some PR material he would send it to Lion music and put in a good word for me. I did so and a few days later, he called me up to tell me that Lion music would offer me a deal.


How would you describe your music to any of our readers who may not have heard of you before?


Steen Grøntved: NVG travels through many different styles of music mixed up together in funny ways. The overall music style can be categorized as jazz/fusion but it is absolutely not a classic jazz/fusion release. NVG is not made for the masses and it might take some time for the common listener to get into the music. In return the album will be “long lasting” because it takes time for the listener to unpack all the small details in the music**. All synthesizer solos/themes on the album are played with a guitar-synthesizer tuned in 5’ths (like a cello) instead of the 4’ths (and the one 3’rd) most people are used to on a guitar. This makes the synth. phrases very different from almost anything else and adds some extra edge to the album. 


How old were you when you first picked up a guitar for the first time and who are you influenced by?


Steen Grøntved: When I was around 12 years old I was playing the accordion. I had an almost blind teacher in a music course that accidentally mixed the word “accordion” with “guitar”. I grab the chance to learn a new instrument and got hooked almost immediately (I haven’t played the accordion ever since). Actually I really didn’t know any famous guitarists at that time but some friends in high school (efterskole) introduced me to Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and I listened and learned a lot. Later my choices fell on Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai. 


Do you have any formal or classical musical training in your background?


Steen Grøntved: No I am mostly self-taught. I had a teacher once when I was about 14-15 years old called Lars Romild. He was not exactly a guitar virtuoso but he introduced me to Joe Pass (not in person) and taught me a lot of other stuff that has inspired me a lot and contributed to the style of playing I have today.


Even though I’m more into harder music I really like your album. Especially tracks like; “Timber”, “Run” and “Find The Pick”. Are there any tracks that are special to you?


Steen Grøntved: There isn’t a track on the CD I would consider removing from the album. The tracks are very different and to me they make a perfect universe together. I think the most unique tracks on the CD are: The Worm, Secret lab, Round and around and what mango but without the other tracks to soften it up a bit I think the CD would be to complex (for my taste).


How do you typically get the ideas for your compositions?


Steen Grøntved: Actually I don’t really know where they come from. For me it is just a question about following the ideas that comes to me and not trying to force “corrections” on them. I have listened to Yellow jackets, Salif Keita, Scott Henderson, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Greg Howe and they have all inspired me to write some of the tunes for this album. 


Do you prefer instrumental music or would you record with a vocalist if given the chance?


Steen Grøntved: I have recorded a lot with vocalists on other releases, but if I were to make a follow-up to NVG I’m pretty sure it would be instrumental. I think it gives me a lot more freedom to experiment on the compositions and that is what I like about this project.  


Are there any other guitarists or musicians you'd love to record or collaborate with in the future?


Steen Grøntved: It is always exiting and inspiring meeting and working with new people.


Who has done the cover artwork to “Night Vision Goggles”?


Steen Grøntved: The artwork is made by a good friend of mine (together with me) called Andreas Larsen. For a start I just let him come up with some ideas without trying to affect him to much. After that, we discussed the ideas together and made some changes here and there. He came up with the idea of the red led in the night picture and the mirror on the front cover (that is actually a real analogue reflection made by a huge glass plate). The idea with the night/evening-shots and the suit was as far as I recall my idea.


What do you like to spend your time with besides music?


Steen Grøntved: Besides making music I like to run, mess with computers (program in C, Java, VHDL etc…). I like to write, direct and cut movies too but it is unfortunately very hard for me to find the time for it all.


What tasks presently lie ahead for Steen Grøntved?


Steen Grøntved: I am participating in an instrumental very easy chilled out/lounge project called Mindtrap. It is our plan to make another release in the near future. I would like to make a follow up record for NVG some day but I’m not sure it’s going to be right now. I don’t want to rush it and I’m not sure I’ve got the time or inspiration for a whole new album right now.


Looking ahead, where do you want to be five years from now?


Steen Grøntved: I just want to keep on doing the things I’m doing. It is nice for me to be able to do so many different things. It keeps me going and I don’t get bored that way.


I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought for the future?


Steen Grøntved: **There are things like Bailey’s or Malibu-rum that most people like the first time they taste but you come to a point where you have had enough. There are other things that take some time to get used to like beer and coffee. When you first get in to them you will never get enough…




Interviewed by Peter Laursen

Steen Grøntved - Night Vision Goggles

Album available on
Lion Music

For more info Steen Grøntved - click on the album cover.