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Interview with Jon Krashenninikoff Skarin

Blckbxxx | 8:05 AM | 3 kommentarer



Jon Skarin is a 25 year old electronic music composer from Denmark who creates enchanting, mesmerizing songs, blending a variety of styles such as dance, new age, classical, celtic/irish. He has no albums out, but wherever you come across his music online, listeners posted reviews that leave no doubt as to what they think of Jon’s music. I'm amazed! What a talent... , Jon, this is beautiful… , Love at first sight… , Music soundtrack stuff! Beautiful composition, develops nicely, great piano playing, This is great stuff! Mastering is awesome, sound are so clean! This song makes me feel sad and happy at the same time - wonderful job! Absolutely great track Jon! To list a few…

Forbidden Fruity wanted to know more about this talented composer and his music, so we asked him for an interview. So here we go…


Jon, to begin with some of the things I wrote in the introduction, how do these positive online reviews make you feel? Is it important to you that people let you know they like your compositions?

Most artists (whether they are visual artists or composers) love to receive feedback regarding their work. But for me it is more a question of being understood. If I only get a little bit of praise or none at all does not matter, as long as I am satisfied with my own work. Since I have never been strong verbally or with written language, it is a great pleasure to read that people can understand one's musical language. That they even write they love my music is absolutely fantastic. For every day that passes I learn more about myself and at the same time my music keeps developing. And it also means that I can be understood more clearly through my music. Beethoven once wrote: "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." I could not agree more.

So yes, I think it is important because it gives me the courage and the desire/joy to continue, but I will never stop even if only got negative or no feedback.


What strikes me in many of the reviews is that people refer to emotions. I guess this is what you – as an artist – hope to achieve. That people are moved?

I love to be understood. If I've made a track and was maybe a little bitter that day, so will the mood of the music automatically become a bit bitter. That people then write that they perceive and feel the joy or pain in the music is quite amazing. This means that I'm on the right track as far as music is concerned. I have always said that I find it fantastic that we can be influenced by “sounds”.

We all have a "Favorite track" and the song is often associated with a personal feeling or experience. Being able to recreate the feeling or experience for a brief moment through some music is absolutely fantastic.

Music can make us remember, cry, laugh, dance, etc. etc. and that is simply amazing.

So yes, I love that people write what they feel so I can work on becoming even clearer in my expressions. No musician, visual artist, writer or singer is perfect so you can always evolve. That is fantastic because I love working with music.

"There is no rule that must not be severed to create something better and prettier."


I read somewhere that you started to compose/play piano from a very early age, but that you actually never learned to read music. Is that true?

Music has always had a tremendous impact on me. I have, as far back as I can remember, always loved music. There were always some special tapes or records my mom or dad would let me listen to just before bedtime. I've always felt most comfortable when I was "surrounded by sound."

My mother has and had a piano in the living room that I composed music on. I was not very old but can still remember some of the themes I made back then. Back then I was not aware of what music would actually come to mean to me but I do remember how much I enjoyed it even though it was only play. I've never learned to read music, everything I've learned is "learned by ear"

When I was about 13 years old I was involved in an accident which resulted in that I got deaf in my right ear. It ruined my career as a hockey player (I was on Denmark’s youth team). At the same time I stopped being involved in music. I simply could not tolerate the loud sounds. But after a few years I slowly developed the desire and joy to make music again. I suddenly discovered one can make music with a computer, which was the beginning of my musical career.

Listen to Jon Skarin – Era


Have you ever experienced this to be a problem?

On one hand, I really would like to learn how to read music. It can be quite annoying not being able to write down my ideas as I have 100,000 different melodies in my brain every day. Some days I have a full orchestra in my head - 24/7 - but cannot write any of it down because I cannot write down notes. So then I must just hope that I can remember it when I get home.

But on the other hand, I have always had some strange idea that if I was taught music it would change my view on music and influence my perception and mindset regarding music. It might be nice, but I am just not interested in it. I like the challenge and the way I perceive music.

An example. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that if you are a film lover and suddenly decide to become a director or might even produce, that it would change your perception and sense of adventure in the universe created in a movie. It is not certain but I think you will find it more difficult to relate to something if you constantly think of it as fiction. Everyone dreams of adventure or has fantasies and whenever I watch my favorite movies, I enter a completely different world. Sometimes I can relate so much to a movie that I feel a part of the story (I am exaggerating a bit, but just to make my point). But if I started to think about how the movie was made and how they are making that special effect, then I would not get the same kick or enjoyment from the film.

So yes and no.


In connection to the above – and in your opinion - is musical training essential to learning how to produce music in areas such as chord progression?

No, I certainly do not think that musical training is crucial for learning how to compose chord progressions or for composing in general. No composers are equal and all composers have a different perception of music. Emotions are crucial for melody or theme. There is no one in the world who will be able to complete Mozart's unfinished works, because no one can put himself 100% into his thinking. But one can try to emulate him by sensing emotions, etc. Only one person can finish his work and that is himself. But these days one can remix without limits and as crazy as you want and there have been many with proposals for how he possibly could have completed a work or perhaps could have changed it.

But the question was whether musical training is crucial to be able to compose harmonies and I really do not think it is. If you go with a melody in your head which you have not really heard before yet keeps sounding in your head, then perhaps there is little composer hiding inside. Then it is just a matter of sitting down at the piano and get started. Play, play, play. I am not saying people should not follow musical training. I just think it is not strictly necessary for being able to compose. Everything is a matter of emotions! Learn to express them and you're well on your way. A music school, however, can be a very good start to get going.


While many composers stick to a specific style of music, you cover a whole spectrum of musical styles. As mentioned in the introduction, you produce dance, classical music, music with new age and celtic influences - and you seem to be really at home in all of them. Can you explain us a bit about that? How come you have such a broad interest?

I love a wide variety of music genres. I love the hard bass giving me a wild adrenaline-rush, but at the same time I also love a gentle piano piece that can make you feel like you are floating on a cloud.

The songs that I composed as Smaasten (Jon Skarin’s earlier bandname) were more or less play. It was not 100% serious though I have put many hours into it. Much of it is fun but there are also a few tracks that are a little gentler. I look at it as an important part in my development.

As Smaasten, I played a lot with mixing trance and classical music, and I think the result of various songs is pretty good. I do not plan to continue my work as Smaasten, but I am about to start a new band. I will not reveal the name yet.

I also have a band on www.bandbase.com called "De Første Følelser" (the first feelings, see http://www.bandbase.com/Defoerstefoelelser/). Under this name you will find themes I have had in my head from when I was little until now.

As Jon Skarin (the band), I am much more emotional. I try to really express my feelings and my world. "Jon Skarin" is a very young band, so there are not so many songs yet, but I assure you there will many more songs under this name as well as under my other new band. It will be anything from Celtic to progressive.

Besides some jazz and the genre "noise" I listen to most music styles and think most of it is quite fascinating. Again, it is matter of expressing yourself, but it is up to each artist to choose the method/genre to best express his or her "emotions".


Is there any particular style of music you like most? And why?

I love and prefer Celtic music. Irish, Scottish, English medieval music. I think it is because it produces the greatest joy in me. The sound of the bagpipe has always given me goose bumps and I can never get enough of a gentle "bagpipe-sonata".

But it depends very much on what mood I am in. Some days I prefer Irish folk music, other days I want some sixties rock n roll.


Can you tell us a bit about your sources of inspiration? What makes you feel like to make a particular song in a particular style? Does your local environment and background play a role in that?

I am never planning ahead to make music. When the desire and the idea are there, I start to produce or compose. However, I have just had a 2 year break from music.

Inspiration can come from many things, love, joy, sorrow, etc. When I am in some specific mood, melodies will usually pop up.

The past and my hometown Kastrup on the isle of Amager (near Copenhagen) also play a special role when we're talking music. It is the place where I grew up and am living today and it is the foundation for who I am today. All the good and negative things I've seen around here really are an important inspiration in my work.

Listen to Jon Skarin - My Sad Secrets


What does your home studio look like in terms of software (sequencer/DAW) and hardware (computer, keyboards, etc.)? Do you use pure digital synths and sequences, analogue hardware or a mixture?

I am a Reason 4.0 user. It is installed on my laptop, which is connected to a keyboard and an amplifier. In addition I have Recycle, Adobe Audition and Melodyne installed, but I’m mostly using Reason as it is in here all the magic happens. I try to create all my sounds using the available synthesizers, but I also have synths that should be used through a digital sampler. For example, piano sounds.


Have you ever used FL Studio? Do you consider using it?

I have never used FL Studio but I really consider investing in it because many of my "music-friends" use this program.


Do you have any favourite synths/VST’s?

I have no VST’s as Reason does not support VST plug-ins. I do have a few refills which I like very much: "Sonic Reality Volume 1-20”. Other than that, I have nothing exciting to mention as most of my sounds are home made.


How long did it take you to learn your DAW and how to make music with it? I can imagine that learning all the technicalities of a software program was a hurdle you had to overcome.

I've tried a variety of MIDI sequencers and I found Reason more or less straightforward. I did not really have anyone who could teach me the basic functions of Reason so I just practiced myself. There are a lot of techniques that I still don’t know how to do, but I am getting more skilled in using the software for each day that passes. Each Reason user has his or her own method when it comes to using and utilizing the program. Personally I have learned some tricks via YouTube.

It took me a while to learn but once you understand the basic functions it will not take long before you are well on your way to produce music.


In connection to that, what was the hardest aspect to learn regarding making music using a computer?

Hmm, what I struggle with most when it comes to music production, is the overall arrangement of the song as well as the mastering.


How much time a week do you dedicate to composing?

I have only just started composing music again, after my 2-year break, but normally I would say that I can use from a few hours a day to an entire day. It differs a lot. But when I really get started I can easily use a full day.


Can you tell us a bit about the mixing and mastering process? Is this something you spend a lot of time on? Can you say anything about how much time you spend on the actual arrangements on one hand and the mixing/mastering process on the other hand?

It can range from a day to many weeks of work. Melodies have always been the easiest for me. My problem is more the arrangement and the mastering.

I am just trying and then suddenly, it is there. Usually, I also do the mastering in Reason.


Do you think there's any disadvantage to composing electronic music rather than playing real instruments?

Yes and no. I think it depends on the genre. Some of today's greatest composers make their music using known DAW's. I am sure that many of the big electronica composers easily could sit down and play an instrument (and many of them certainly do) but it all depends on personality. Who are you as an artist and what is it you want to express. Many believe that music that has been composed on computers is silly and too easy. But I found it amazing and I love the endless possibilities to create your own sound.


Back to these great online responses to your songs, do you ever consider to approach things more professionally? Do you have the ambition to make music your living?

It's definitely a dream. Right now it is as much play as it is serious. I do not think I am quite ready. But I do have dreams and they keep me going.


Do you have any words of advice for our readers who want to compose music, but who are maybe a bit overwhelmed by what the professionals and people like you compose?

Well, play, play, play and practice, practice, practice. You need to start somewhere to find out whether it is what you want. Record your ideas, write them down, put them into the computer and go full speed ahead. I wish you all good luck! Believe in yourself and believe that you can become skilled in the style you want to work with.


Finally, do you have any composing tip/hint to share with our readers (e.g. something related to arranging, mixing or mastering)?

I could write a lot of ideas and proposals down but no composer/artist is the same and everyone has his/her own way to compose. Simply keep playing and practicing to find your way. Find your very own style. Something that works for you.

One possible tip might be to find your favorite song. Try to do an imitation of that track. By doing this you will already learn a lot.

How has the track been arranged?

What can I do to get a purer sound?

As I said previously, when I started making music on my computer, I did not have much. So how did I get started? I tried to make an imitation of a song and it was incredibly helpful. It gave me an idea of what a song meant and what it could contain. I did this until I felt fairly confident. Then I tried to make an arrangement with my own melodies and have done that ever since.


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3 kommentarer

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing this interview! This guy is indeed really talented! Thx again!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow! This Jon makes amazing songs! Nice interview. Keep up the good work!

  3. Hii there, Jon Skarin here:) Again, i want to say thx to marc Demar for this greate oppertunity and interview..

    I have created a new song called: "Du vil altid være en engel"..

    = You will always be an angel.
    Its a classical piano piece.

    Hope you may like it..
    And btw, i am using fruity loops to my production now :)

    Ciao peepz and thx again..