⟶ Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your creative journey?
I’m Johan T Karlsson. I live in Stockholm but I come from Hässleholm, Skåne in the south of Sweden. I write and produce music such as Familjen, Innerst inne, and other projects such as TV and commercials. 

Where did your creative journey begin, and how has your background influenced your work?
I’ve always loved music since I was a kid. I used to tape several different Swedish radio shows and listen to them over and over. Then I started to hang out with older friends who were producing electronic music and forced my way into their bands and projects, mainly because I was younger and had no money to buy expensive samplers and synthesizers etc.

When I was about to get a driver’s license when I was 18 my parents told me that they would sponsor me doing so or I could use the money to buy instruments if I wanted to. The next day I was a proud owner of an Atari, an Akai sampler, and a Roland Juno 60.

Then I wanted to try other instruments and started playing drums, electric guitar, and bass. I sold my electronic equipment and bought a guitar amp and an electric guitar.
Then I was bored, sold it bought turntables, and started mixing and scratching in a hip-hop band.

I still have no driver’s license (but a lot of instruments and equipment…) 

Could you describe your current creative projects or initiatives? What are you most passionate about in your creative work? 
I try to alternate between different projects so as not to bore myself. My main project is Familjen, that’s what’s paying my bills and I’ve been touring with that project since 2006. Other than that I work on ideas I come up with that don’t fit in the Familjen realm.  

What do you consider your creative expertise, and how did you develop it over time?
My intuition is my greatest asset. That’s what leads me right musically, what puts a great smile on my face and makes my body move from excitement while working. It takes a great time to develop your intuition. It’s really all you have. It’s the sum of all the good things you’ve experienced in your lifetime. 

Creative work often involves revealing hidden layers of oneself. Could you share a personal or professional experience where you had to "take off the mask" to create something authentic? 
I’m always authentic, but my latest album is way more personal than recent ones. Sometimes, it is almost private because the lyrics on some of the songs are about a separation I went through. I’ve never been that personal in my work before. It was something I had to do and it was both scary and weirdly exciting. 

What are some of the challenges you've encountered in your creative career, and how did you overcome them? 
It was tough to deal with the fact that you’re not always going to be at the top of your career. It’s not easy coming down from there, having fewer gigs, being paid less, etc. When that happened to me I did nothing for a long period and slowly my will to create and write music was coming back. 

Who or what inspires your creative process, and how do you incorporate those inspirations into your work? 
My studio gear and instruments inspire me. Random things that happens when I fiddle about. Art-by-accident is a wonderful thing,  it surprises and triggers me to do things I normally wouldn’t do. Sometimes I also have a movie running over and over in my studio just to set a mood while writing.

Do you have any unique rituals or habits that help you tap into your creative flow or overcome creative blocks? 
Some of them I’ve already mentioned but other than that it’s just hard work. When I get writers block I meditate, go to the gym or just give up for the day and leave the studio to do something completely different. 

What exciting creative endeavors or projects do you have on the horizon? Any hints or sneak peeks you can share? 
I’m doing acid house remakes of all my song for a new live-set. I also plan to to a live dub-set on the music of swedish legend Peps Persson. 

For aspiring creatives, what advice would you give them as they embark on their own creative journeys? 
First of all, make music for yourself! Keep it simple and shoot from the hip! Try not to overthink things! Lastly, be a rock star and never attend writing camps!


Behind the mask

A portrait series exploring identity, passion and dreams.


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