Mattias Gordon is an audiovisual artist that has been creating stimulating music videos for various world music artists. He was born in 1964 and lives in Älvkarleby, 150 kilometers north of Stockholm (Sweden). He discusses his music video work with World Music Central’s Angel Romero.
Can you give our readers a brief history on how you started making music videos?
I have been freelancing as animator and illustrator in over 30 years. Since I was small I have been interested in images of different kind and in music. When I closed my eyes and listened to music a whole world was created in my head.
About ten years ago a friend of mine made a CD and wanted me to create animation for a video. That was the first one.
Several of your videos were made for folk or world music artists. Do you have a special interest in these genres?
I listen to many kinds of music but somehow I find folk and world music most interesting. There are such a variety in that music. Of some reason that I cant explain I feel at home when having that music around me. Even if I don’t understand what they sing.
Do you work with other musical genres?
Yes a few of the videos has been in other genres but since I work with animation mostly it must a kind of music that allows fantasy and creativity. I did a video for a Bach-tune earlier this year. That was a challenge.
How do you approach the video development process?
You can say that the process often goes like this. I listen and listen. When I start to get tired of the track, I am ready to start creating. At that time I have listened to the track in all angles.
Then I try to find the visual voice of the track. How much story and how the feeling should be.
I really want to get as close to the music and make the video as unique as possible. I want to drag the artist/promoter into the project as much as possible. I like to discuss how everything develops and shows updates all the time to get as much input at possible.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your videos?
That is a hard question. I want it to be unique. I don’t want to repeat myself. I want to work in a technique that I can explore something new that I haven´t done before. Because then the work get playful and the video more creative I think.
What video and animation techniques do you use?
From the start I am a traditional animation with pencil on paper animator. When the computer came into my life and software started to be better, about 5-6 years ago I started to work with other kinds of techniques. I use different software for different things. I like to try something new and to let the images play. Some videos are more narrative than others. And there are many ways you can vary the way it looks. In the end you have to find the visual voice and feel that it works. So there is a lot of keep looking over and over again to see if you are on the right track.
How do you market your services?
I know different musicians. Sometimes I ask someone I like very much if they need a video and sometimes someone asks me. My films are spread through social media. The last years I have made more videos and more people have started to ask me if I want to create a video for them. It´s both from my own and other countries.
Which videos are you most proud of?
Difficult question. I am a proud of all of them. They all have a unique story and feeling. This kind of videos are not made in a few days so you get attached to the films in different ways, the process, the people and you heard every tone and rhythm so many times so they will always be in your head and heart.
Making the video for Kathryn Williams and ”Before it goes” was very special.
To collaborate with Wade Schuman in the video for ”Hazmat Modine” was an adventure.
Creating the creepy video for Adrian Raso & Fanfare Ciocarlia together with Henry Ernst was a pleasure.
In the new video for Kila I worked in a new style and felt very happy by how it turned out.
A few years ago I made a short film for children based on a children’s book. The music was made by the great Swedish saxophonist and composer Jonas Knutsson. I am so glad he created this fine music for my film.
Which are your favorite videos by other audiovisual artists?
There are so many good artist in the world creating amazing stuff. I see a lot and get inspired but I am not so good in remembering names.
What would the ideal Sunday look like?
I like my work. Even if there are not a deadline that is urgent I like to get up early and work on some of my projects. It could be a film, comic, illustrated book etc. When you get up early in the morning you find all these good ideas that disappear later in the day.
After a few hours of work I like to spend time in my countryside house with my wife and kids ( but they big enough to move soon ), doing things in the garden, making good food, baking bread, taking a walk by the sea and listen to music.
What would you like to learn?
Learning is fun and I hope I will keep learning all my life. I often try to create something new, don´t like to repeat myself to much.
What’s your favorite food?
I eat most kind of food. I try to eat more vegetarian food. Can’t specify a favorite. I like it when the food has many colors.
Favorite movie or movie genre?
I used to watch many movies but unfortunately not so much anymore. Animated films is of course a favorite. I don’t want to watch just to relax. This might sound strange but there are so many videos in my head I have to watch. I like to put headphones on, press play, close my eyes and let my fantasy create amazing stories.
If you weren’t an animator and videographer what would you have become?
I do the things I like, draw, animate and tell stories so if I had chosen another way in life I think it would have been something with music (I play a little myself but never let anyone hear), food and gardening.
Your greatest triumph?
In my profession it will always be my next project. In my private life that I met my wife Gunilla and we brought our children Joel and Ebba to this planet.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I am a creative person. I can’t really turn that off. Stories and ideas keep raining down on my even if I am not at work. Mostly it´s not a problem but I have realized that I will not be able to finish all the great ideas that come to my mind.
What country would you like to visit?
There would be several countries that would be fun to go to but I am more of a traveler in my mind. I try to take care of our planet and therefore I think there is not so good to travel too much. I think that made me less interested in traveling. And nowadays you can have contact with people all over the world through the internet. That is amazing.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?
At the moment I am discussing music videos with several people but there is nothing planned yet so I can’t share it, but at the moment it seems that there will be a few videos next year as well. I am looking forward to this and to collaborate with great musicians.
I am working on a graphic novel project based on a play by Swedish crime author Henning Mankell. I am behind schedule but I do my best to finish it. I have a blog on this: gordoncomics.blogspot.se
More information about Mattias at his official website: www.gordon.se
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.