This is the best introduction for Swedish musician and composer Matti Bye, an excerpt of his bio on his official site: “Matti Bye’s music is like a series of these highly charged moments. It makes you lose yourself, it makes you discover yourself. It takes your hand, it sets you free. And it’s damn exciting.  

Extraordinary music such as Bye’s does not fall fully formed from the skies. Since the late eighties Bye has been employed by the Film House in Stockholm (“a hive of film-related activity”) and there he has created, in his own words, a “private world of music”. A somewhat odd career by anyone’s standards, but a very fruitful one – it’s given Bye time to develop his own voice. 

And, as said, what a voice it is. 

The lights go up.

The audience goes home.

The curtains go down. 

When a film stops rolling you – hopefully – keep on thinking about it. Key scenes and choice dialogue from it replays in your heart and soul; you look into a blackened department store window and one of its protagonists stares back at you. “This is me,” you think. 

Matti Bye’s music is like this, as well. It’s a vessel for understanding, a wide-eyed declaration of innermost feelings, a traditional/innovative art form – i.e. deeply personal – yet it’s extremely easy to love and relate to. And you can hum it in the shower, if you’d like. 

So listen to Matti Bye, and hear the best movie you ever saw.

So Matti, how did you get involved in music?

I remember I hummed music.. My father put me into piano lessons and I loved the piano from the beginning I liked to practice and the classic music was my new world!

Tell us a few things about ‘Den Allvarsamma Leken’. How was the experience like doing this soundtrack?

Its a famous novel in Sweden that you read when you are young and in love because its about a forbidden love.. It was very easy to make music for the film with my string quartet I played with for such a long time.. We know each other like in a rock band and instantly respond to images.. We played a lot to silent films in live performances and then you get trained in quick articulation to images, so I give them some themes and we just play to the film and enjoy.

In what way is ‘Den Allvarsamma Leken’ unique for the neo-classical fan? In other words, why should the unaware one get hold of your music?

I don´t know, sorry.

Your previous album ‘Bethanien’ was released by Tona Serenad. Were you satisfied by this cooperation?

Yes! They’re my best friends that run the Tona Serenad. I love them and they are brilliant artists.

You were nominated and won the Swedish Grammy Award? Is it true? If yes, how did that affect your life & art?

I was of course very happy to get the prize, film music has not always been in the center of filmmaking but I notice a change coming..

You are one of the big names of new classical music. Which are your favourite genre artists?

There are a lot of good new pianists around, I like they play soft! I think every composer and pianist for piano music struggles with the balance of not being too sentimental if you know what I mean ; ) and that is every since Chopin and all the other romantic composers started to make music. For me my big inspiration is from composers with strong melodies like Beethoven and Schubert. I always listen to them and play their music but I also like very much the attitude in the avantgarde composers like Satie and John Cage.

Is new music, like yours, promoted by the Swedish government?

Yes, sometimes.

Matti Bye’s soundtrack for the film “Häxan” stood out for the way it enhanced the content of the film’s sequences to maximum effect, intimately complementing the theme, atmosphere and various elements in the scenes. The central musical theme, while remaining consistent, ranges between highly evocative free allusions and thematic uniformity in a bewitching flow of wide-ranging sequences, without ever losing expressive tension.

Did you expect this reception for “Häxan” soundtrack?

Very nice review but also made with the great Finnish artist Lau Nau, she is a great part of the soundtrack atmosphere.


Which are your future plans? Are you currently working on new stuff?

Yes a new piano record on Tona Serenad! Its called ‘This Forgotten Land‘, out on November 3rd, and of course already thinking of the next piano record… I have so many new ideas!!!

Any plans for live appearances? Visiting Greece maybe?

Yes I would love to come to Greece, please invite me if you know any place to have a piano session. I don’t have a booking agent and never have time to contact concerts venues so if you have any suggestions please let me or John Henriksson know.

Something else you’d like to add and haven’t been asked?

Dear John (& Christos), ´Thank you for your questions and I´m so happy you like my music, hope we meet some day.

Photo credits: Martina Hoogland Ivanow (2nd one)

***Also published on Recordisc wordpress.

Christos Doukakis – John Pallas