We interviewed Martin Sternhufvud (MaMas Barn), who just released an album “Från ingenting till någonting” (you can listen to it at the bottom of this article and buy it here) and talked with him about his music and many other things.
RXB/ Judith: Hi Martin, we would like to begin with the origins. How and when did you get into music? What instruments do you play?
Well, the impulse to express myself through music came very early in my life, when I was like 9 years old I did my first songs and recorded them on my mother’s cassette-player. But it was in the secondary school when I was 16 years old that I met other friends and we started a band. I remember when I met up with MP at that time and asked him if he wanted to play the drums in our first band. He said: Yes!
RXB/J: Who are your favourite artists and inspiration?
My current absolute favorite artist right now is a Swedish guy who calls himself “The tallest man on earth”. Check it out on Spotify or/and youtube. I enjoy all artists who move from the inner space in some sense – I think that is what touches me as a listener. I want to feel the soul of the other…
So genuine artists as Springsteen, Dylan, Lars Winnerbäck, Bon Iver, Fink, Ebba Forsberg among others may help me to awake to a more genuine reality. I think that’s what art is about.
RXB/J: Could you tell us about the 70ies, how did you get to know Per and Marie and start the band with her (Strul, MaMas Barn)?
Per and I went in the same school and he was kind of eccentric, walked around in suites and a hat (guess he found his inspiration from David Bowie…) which was kind of odd at that kind of post hippie-era! Per was a good friend of a friend of mine so we that was how we first met. Further on we shared the same facilities where our different bands rehearsed.
I remember how Per introduced me to Tom Petty in our chill-out room. I was very impressed by Tom Petty – Per was a great fan to him (and still is I guess).
Marie was the girlfriend of our drummer (not MP – now we are in the late 70’s…). So I asked him if he could bring Marie to the band as the rumor said that she sang very nice…And she did! She blew us all away with her voice…!
RXB/J: What can you tell from that time? Any anecdotes, memories?
Hmm, what else than that we fell in love, me and Marie, and stayed together as a couple in say 3-4 years (if my memory is right). We had a terrible period there as young people have when they fall in love with the right person at the wrong time…. I guess you can imagine…me, her and the drummer…messy!
I remember a gig we did way back in Denmark in a small club (Holger Danske – see picture in my homepage: www.martinsternhufvud.com). As always at that time we were paid in beers…and man we got loaded. Marie handled it quite well but I remember us being stopped by the custom and I wanted to puke out through the window…
But the gig went very well – I think it was our best performance ever… We were quite lousy on stage, as many bands were at that time, did not really understand how to be professional.
Or another one (good or bad memory? I don’t know really): one time our band Strul had a gig at a biker-festival out in the countryside. Our audience was a bunch of bikers who gathered once a year.
The only payment we got was free hot dogs so what to do? The whole band ate hot dogs! Later on that evening they complained that we consumed all their hot dogs…. But well… – if that’s the only payment… There was only another tiny problem, they also promised free beers…
Do I have to say that we ended up quite loaded before entering the tiny stage? All I remember from that gig is a biker running around on the dance-floor screaming aggressively frightening all other guys so we practically played for one man that night…And that not many tunes where on pitch I can tell…Marie was pretty good at eating hot dogs and drinking beers, even though she always had the capability to keep up her professional attitude.
But over all I remember Marie as a very nice and a bit shy woman except on stage where she grew to the star she is.
RXB/J: What did you do after Mamas Barn? I understand that you left music totally behind and chose a new way in your life/career…
Oh – yes. I was so disappointed when Marie left me for her solo-career… I tried a bit with some recordings of my own but never succeeded and my energy was down to zero…Game over!
I did not touch a guitar in two years… I finally graduated with a master in existential psychotherapy and counseling and started to work as a psychotherapist. I still do that.
What inspires me most now is Zen-buddhism, which I’ve practiced and still practice on daily basis for four years now.
RXB/J: As far as I could see, you haven’t played music for a long time and this is a very personal come back, how come you decided to record a new album? What made you come back to music?
I was married for 22 years. My wife wanted to divorce. A fell in love with another woman and split up again…A lot of songs came out from my heart. Absolutely necessary!
RXB/J: I really like the album! And I have to ask you something, what have you done to keep your voice in such great shape after so many years away from music?
Love and meditation. Pure love opens up your heart – mediation stabilizes it.
RXB/J: What are your plans with your album? Are you thinking of giving concerts? Go on with music?
My manager’s name is Buddha and you never know what the plans are for him… He can come up with something sensational whenever. Completely unpredictable this guy – but fun!
But songs keep on unfolding – strange – I’m already working on the next albums. Might be one English album and another Swedish album…If my manager agrees!
RXB/J: Tell us about the album and the process behind it: Did you write all your songs yourself? How was the creation process? Did you write the songs and then show them to MP?
It starts in my heart – then some words come in – then music begins – then I record it on my Iphone – then I present to MP and he does magic to it.
You have to know that MP is a brilliant musician, producer and technician…absolutely brilliant. I think Per Gessle owes MP a lot. I go so far as without MP no Per Gessle (as an artistic concept).
By that I more want to underline MP’s skill rather than diminish Per’s skills but guys like MP very often do the “silent work” out of the spotlight. It’s a bit like this in my project. MP meant a lot in getting this album done. I salute him!
RXB/J: Could you tell us about you? How are you as a person? What is important in your life? Hobbies..? You told me you went to a relaxation / meditation trip without contact to the world some weeks ago, how was that?
I’m nobody – just a construction of memories and concepts – occasionally arising from nothingness and kept in form by pure stubbornness….
It is important to wake up! Awakening with music is my serious hobby, but I do some jogging, traveling, meditation and sometimes have a beer or three.
I am a practicing zen-buddhist so I do sesshins (meditation intensives) with a zen-master at least twice a year. It’s beneficial – try it!