Journalist Philip Norén from Östersunds-Posten did an article/interview with me in conjunction with the release of ”The Atonement” that got published yesterday. I’ve translated it as well as I can so you can read it here:
Tomas is a perfectionist to his fingertips
Composer Tomas Grut has just released his fifth full-length album ”Chapter V: The Atonement”. He carries a lot of emotions that he gets an outlet for through his music.
– Music works almost like therapy for me, he says.
Tomas Grut himself describes his new, fifth full-length album ”Chapter V: The Atonement” as dreamy, mysterious, majestic, energetic, happy, dramatic and melancholic.
– I think it will appeal to many because it contains very different feelings and expressions, says Tomas Grut.
Disc number five is significantly brighter than his previous work. This is despite the fact that Tomas Grut during parts of the creative process, which ran for about two years, struggled with feelings and thoughts of both guilt and shame in the aftermath of a bad ending to a relationship. He himself describes these feelings as ”a new form of pain”.
Music helps Tomas Grut to handle both difficult and joyful emotions. That has always been the case, he says. The making of the album has served as a kind of therapy.
– It is important to try to disconnect the thinking. If you think too much you can often go wrong and you can get stuck in what you’re doing. I try to go by instinct and by my feelings in what I do.
I personally have a strong belief that tragedies and darkness in life breed creativity. Do you agree on that?
– I think there is a lot to it. But when I make the best music and when I’m the most creative, I am neither too deep at the bottom and do not feel too good either. Not ”submarine mode” as I call it but more slightly depressed. If I feel too bad, I can barely walk or stand, then it is difficult to make music!
In his creation, Tomas Grut tries to dedicate his entire presence to his music entirely. The fingers dance frantically over the keys and out of the piano comes heavenly piano melodies that testify to both pain and joy.
Would you say that your inner feelings are reflected in the music you create?
– Yes. However, it does not have to reflect my mood for the moment. For example, some of the most depressing pieces I have made, I have made when I have been very happy and some of my happiest pieces I have made when I have been depressed.
During the time that Tomas Grut was working on the new record, he found out, after a neuropsychiatric evaluation, that he has both autism and also ADD. He is clear that it is very important to talk about mental health – especially as a man.
– I have no problem talking about my mental health and I will continue doing so, he says.
How have the diagnoses affected you?
– I do not want to romanticize disabilities and I can almost get provoked by this ”superpower-dialogue” going on. In my case, I see it more as a gift and a curse.
Tomas Grut thinks that he has learned to accept his shortcomings as a human being and tries to live with the diagnoses rather than let them become obstacles.
– I have had a lot to process and accept. And then we have this with trying to see the positive in the seemingly negative. I think I’m pretty good at doing so.
Another approach that Tomas Grut has used to learn to accept his diagnoses has been to focus on the fact that he is in good company when it comes to creative greats with different types of diagnoses.
– Glenn Gould, who is the best pianist who has ever lived. He had both autism and tourettes. You can even hear his tics if you listen carefully to his recordings, says Tomas Grut.
– I probably have the diagnoses to thank a lot for my musicality. I almost have to believe it to be able to handle it.
Tomas Grut says that he has never worked so intensively with a record as he did when he created ”The Atonement”. In fact, he became so absorbed in the music that the piano keys eventually began to make a physical impact on his body.
– I got blisters on my fingers because I played so much haha.
Do you feel that your music must be perfect before then daring to let go of it?
– Yeah, I do, it’s also a bit of a gift and a curse. I am very picky and I have almost had to accept that I will never be 100 % completely satisfied, says Tomas Grut and at the same time says that he is satisfied with the new album.
– But I chase something that is perfect and masterful, but it feels like it will never happen
Now you are just done with a new record that has just been released. How are you feeling now?
– I feel a bit exhausted and my ”hard drive” is empty on ideas. It is a mixture of emptiness and sadness but also relief and joy of course. As it usually feels and should feel. I think it will take quite a long time before I start making new music. But I’ve said that before.
– Now I’ll probably just try to enjoy and celebrate.
Now Tomas Grut is looking forward to playing his new pieces in front of a live audience.