Ste van Holm (born Stefan Holm, 1977) is a Danish musician and video artist living in North Sealand, Denmark who recently released an album titled “Tesla,” named and inspired after Nikola Tesla. In the interview below, Stefan talks about his musical beginnings, the album, and more.
How did you start your musical journey?
I got interested in music when I was about ten years old. In the beginning I listened to pop like a-ha and Phil Collins, but very soon I found myself preferring the likes of Mike Oldfield, Genesis, Pink Floyd and The Alan Parsons Project. I began taking guitar lessons, but I wasn’t really interested in the instrument in itself. I was much more into music production and songwriting.
Which bands or musicians influenced your work as a musician at the most?
That depends on which album I’ve been working on. I try to move forward constantly, and not dwell on a specific genre or sound. For my latest album, ‘Tesla’ I was very influenced by the works of Steven Wilson. I try not to be narrow in my influences. I listen to a lot of different things from Einstürzende Neubauten to King Crimson, from Jean-Michel Jarre to Lamb, from Tool to Rachmaninov.
I found out that you are a physician. Does it in any way effect the music you make? Except for the fact that you named the album “Tesla.”
In a way I think the two are very closely knit together. In physics, I am not important, only the subject is. Same goes with my lyric writing. I simply don’t write about myself, and I generally don’t like personal songs. I prefer lyrics that deals with other things than personal relations, and I am not keen on love songs. A few years back, I did an album called ‘Anyway’, where I wrote some songs about scientists and their discoveries. There were songs about Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard and their journey to the deepest spot in the sea, and about Thomas Edison inventing the incadescant light bulb and another about Marie Curie. I also wanted to include a song about Nikola Tesla on that album, but I soon realized I couldn’t say what I wanted about Tesla in only one song. So that became a whole album.
Have you been or are you involved in any other projects or bands?
No. From time to time I do some collaborative work, but I am not a member of a band. I used to direct music videos, and I did a few for Trey Gunn of King Crimson.
What would you tell us about your recently released and above-mentioned album “Tesla”? How would you describe it?
The ‘Tesla’ album is a one hour long biography. I read a lot of books about Tesla, and I mapped out a timeline of important events that I thought would make up an album. In contrast to my previous works, the story dictated the direction the music would take. This makes it a compendium of ideas and moods, and you can’t really take one song out of it’s context. It is carefully woven together, and you have to listen to it as a whole. Just like the good old concept albums from the 70ies. I don’t know if it’s progressive rock.. If you listen to the individual tracks, it isn’t. But as a whole it might be progressive rock. It carries a lot of the hallmarks of progressive rock. It is a concept album, it has got a lot of mood changes, lenghty compositions and a lot of mellotron. But most important it follows the rule, that anything goes. If it sounded like progressive rock, it wouldn’t be progressive at all. It would just be mimicking the acts of the 70ies. Then it would be prog, and I don’t think prog is very interesting. There are also aspects of classic progressive rock I dislike. There were a lot of pretentiousness in progressive rock, and quite a lot of bad fairy tale lyrics. I’ve done my best to avoid that.
Can we say that there is a bit of influence of jazz in your sound?
If there is, I’m not aware of it. I’m generally not interested in jass, and I haven’t listened to a lot of it. I’m much more into rock. But I’ve been told, that some of my music is jazzy. Especially ‘Black Stalks’ from my previous album ‘Harvest’.
Do you plan to make concerts/tour to promote your album?
I hope to do a series of concerts around Europe in the summer of 2016.
How do you see progressive rock today? Do you believe that the genre progressed or is it kind of degenerated by the touch of modernity?
Progressive Rock was killed by punk in the late seventies, and remained dead for some 20 years.
There were some bands who tried to play something like it, but to me they weren’t progressive at all. If you replicate what was done once upon a time, it isn’t progressive. Then it’s prog, and that’s not very interesting to me.
But then 10 or 15 years ago, something happened, and a new kind of progressive rock emerged with bands like Tool and Porcupine Tree. Today the genre is alive and well, albeit underground since it doesn’t fit the ipods very well. Especially not on shuffle.
I think Steven Wilson more or less saved and revitalized the genre.
Where do you see yourself as a musician in the future?
I don’t know. Every time I start a new album, I try to go places I haven’t been before. I don’t know where that might take me.