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QRD #33 - the Father's Day issue - June 2007
about this issue
Martin Bowes of Attrition
Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
Sam Rosenthal of BTFABG
William Amundson
Josh Howard author of Dead@17
Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance
Aaron Molina of If Thousands
D.A. Sebasstian of KSK
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Shane Sauers
Rune Flaten of Origami Arktika
Tore Boe of Origami Republika
Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Timothy Renner of Stone Breath
Patrick Ogl of Thanatos
Mats Gustafsson of Broken Face
Jason Wallach of Unquiet Void
Chris Wade of The Wades
Nevada Hill of The Zanzibar Snails
Wayne Barnes
Dan Sostrom of Tonevendor
Colin Newman of Wire
Joe Kendrick of WNCW
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Interview with Mats Gustafsson of The Broken Face & Broken Face Recordings
May 23, 2007

Mats Gustafsson is famous for his zine The Broken Face from the late 1990’s that covered wyrd folk, space rock, & experimental music that you couldn’t find out about anywhere else & created a sense of global community from his home in Sweden.  He eventually started a record label that eliminated the free time for doing a zine.

Name: Mats Gustafson
Magazine: The Broken Face
Label: Broken Face Recordings
Website: http://brokenface.fupp.net, http://brokenfacerecordings.blogspot.com

QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to work in some capacity in the music industry?

Mats – Well, I’ve never really felt that I’ve worked in the music industry, but there was obviously a point when I realized that I wanted to be more involved than just being a dedicated follower of the scene.  It’s difficult to say when this really happened, but I would say in my late teens or early 20’s.  I remember coming to a point where I found myself being blessed by so much great music that I simply had to find a way to pay back, to contribute.

QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?

Mats – Doing the Broken Face was loads of fun, tons of work & something that I’ll carry with me for the rest of life.  That last bit might sound pretentious as hell & maybe it is; but when looking back at things, it really feels like we did accomplish something & somehow found our own little secret vista in music journalism.  In retrospect I think this is what makes me the most proud.  But given all this, nothing really beats the feeling of holding a new issue or a new release in your hands.  Checking it out for the first time, realizing that the image that you thought might be a bit too dark worked out after all or just being impressed by the number of reviews we managed to get done in time.

QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?

Mats – That’s obviously not something I decided on my own.  It takes two you know, but I think that I always have known that I want to be a father.  It was more a matter of finding the right woman.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?

Mats – My wife Anna was probably the one that in a way made me realize that it wasn’t enough to “just” be a follower & a fan.  The only negative thing I can think of is the most obvious one, the time aspect.  Having a full-time job, family, house etc. & doing the zine & the label on the side is simply an impossible equation in the long run, & something just have to give eventually.

QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?

Mats – All the wonderful friends we’ve made all over the world.

QRD – Have your children effected the music you listen to?

Mats – To some extent I tend to play more melody-based music when the kids are awake than I did before.  My oldest daughter Katja loves to dance & there was a time a few months back when she demanded pretty much every single day to play Neil Young’s “Lookin’ for a Love” or the first couple of tracks from Love’s “Forever Changes”.  I don’t mind….

QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?

Mats – I’ve never really seen it as an option to do what I do musically speaking as a job & given the fact that I have rather well paid job, money has never really been an issue.  On the contrary it’s been an advantage that I never have had to live on music journalism or the label as it has made me able to do exactly what I want to do without taking the financial risks in account.

QRD – Do you think being a father or running a label/magazine has a greater impact on your community?

Mats – I guess it depends on what you mean by “my community”.  On a local level I am afraid that the Broken Face & Broken Face Recordings have had virtually no impact (apart from the odd article in the local newspaper), but if you mean my worldwide music-related community I would say that we somehow found our own little secret vista in underground music.  I won’t mention any specific examples, but I believe that we’ve helped a few underground movements to get going & get more attention. 

QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or a parent?

Mats – This will sound cliché-like, but all I really want is that my kids are happy & if it makes them happy to be musicians I will support them all the way.  If it makes them happy to do ski jumping you’ll find me be by their side.  I guess what I am saying is that it’s up to them to form their own lives, but I will obviously give them all the creative input that I can offer.  Being a parent is the best thing that ever happened to me & if we do a good job with our kids I am positive that they eventually will become great parents.  So, if forced to a corner at gunpoint to choose I’d probably go for a parent….

QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in.  How do you end up dividing your time?

Mats – The time aspect is by far the biggest challenge & the only way I’ve found it to work recently is to work like crazy for an evening or two every now & then.  I simply cannot spend the hours I used to on music every day.  All it comes down to in the end is priorities.

QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a musician?

Mats – I wouldn’t call it a secret life, but since I am a public person (I am the head of the urban planning department in this rather small municipality).  It’s not something I shout out at any given chance either. 

QRD – What do your children think of your music?

Mats – Miriam is too small to express her opinions, but Katja has a very clear idea of what she likes & what she’s not that fond of.  The thing I like with her approach to music is that she’s learned that music can sound in many ways & that she gives most music we put on a chance before clearly making her opinion heard.  Of all the styles of music I listen to, I would say that her favorite genres are psych pop & instrumental guitar music along the lines of Jack Rose & Glenn Jones.

QRD – Any words of advice to young people?

Mats – I genuinely think that anyone just thinking about following that crazy idea in his/her head should give it a go.

Another QRD interview with Mats:
Mats Gustafsson (The Broken Face) interview (march 2004)