Land Of Trees is the project of Marcus Friman, the nature lover that keeps on giving us folky tunes full of raw emotions. Rooted in the landscape of mountains and pine trees in northern Sweden now living on the Westcost, he has released his third album, this time without any labels involved. We sat down to have a chat with the tree man himself about his newly released album, how to stop and look for the beautiful details around you and why he always carries a camera around.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
I started playing the trumpet when I was only 10 years old but never really understood why I had to learn how to read sheet music so that never stuck with me. A few years later I found that piano was a great way to express your emotions through music but since I could never bring one I learned how to play the guitar. I realize I might have to get a piano.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
There’s no ’one song’. I didn’t really make a decision to pursue a life in music either. Other than filling my life with music to cope with my emotions and thoughts. I used to write lyrics to rap beats and I run to everything from Cat Stevens to Bad Religion. I can’t keep my hand off of instruments no matter where I find them and when I have something pressing on my mind I tend to write lyrics. In not an extension of me, it’s who I am.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Probably playing at a local arena for just under a thousand people in the audience, where I expected no one to care, but every single soul sat quietly focusing on every note I took. It was so powerful and humble at the same time, pure magic.
“I decided early on in the process of recording the album that I wanted every song to not only focus on an emotional atmosphere but to actually create a space from a specific geographical location.”
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
It’s hard to say, I love so many things! I’ve been filming and editing a lot lately and that has always been a huge passion of mine. I love going on hikes, travel, snowboard and surf just as much so it’s impossible to narrow it down.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your latest album ‘Backlight Sonnets’?
Like most of my music, these songs focus primary on hard-dealt emotional situations and the little glimmer of light I find when writing them. I decided early on in the process of recording the album that I wanted every song to not only focus on an emotional atmosphere but to actually create a space from a specific geographical location. Every song on this album has ”a place” to be in, for instance; ”Same as Before” and ”Stretching for the Sky” are both from the same little town in Portugal at different trips and speak of different eras of my life. ”Here We Are” is just as much an emotional journey as the physical one I took through the mountain chains of Norway and ”Dancing ’round my Heart” plays out in a warm wooden kitchen with a hot coffee and an open window.
You also just released a documentary that takes us through your process in making this album, filled with many different clips and stories. Do you always carry your camera with you to capture little moments of your life?
Yeah, that caught on early and I’m so glad it’s been something I have done over the past 10 or so years! I have so many stories to tell and I just recently found that I can combine music and that footage to create even more relatable storytelling. It’ a chance for me to show how genuine I am about this. It’s not just something I want to become, It’s something I want to be.
A few weeks ago you released a range of sustainable merchandise including ‘Tree-shirts’ and ’I-care-about-carrying’-bags. Is sustainability a passion of yours?
Well, It would be pretty hypocritical to call myself ”Land of Trees” and not care about the climate, wouldn’t it?
I grew up in the mountains of Sweden and have witnessed the changes in nature, the huge difference for every passing winter and got some information on the issue when I started surfing, haha. The surf culture is reeeeeally aware and informative on the issue, so it has always been so obvious to me why sustainability is important.
You have to be blind not to notice it, I reckon I’m one of those hillbillies looking down on big city-folks when they neglect the issue just because they don’t experience it on a daily bases.
Everything you create seems to revolve around the forest, nature and peaceful living. What is your biggest tip for anyone missing this in their life, getting too caught up in stressful living?
I’m not so sure on the ”peaceful living”-part, that’s probably just how I make it sound in my songs but I’m always at it, no rest. But that might be my first tip: Go do something with your energy and you might feel peace, for me it’s writing and playing music, running and surfing/snowboarding. Just find what you can exchange Netflix with and you’ll be alright.
Second tip: Look for the details around you, they’re everywhere and as soon as you start missing them you’re brain is somewhere else. This takes huge amounts of practice but that’s why the forest is such a great place to do it. No distractions, a lot of pinecones, leaves and birds to focus on, quiet and really no where to go. Like you’re already where you are supposed to be and wherever you go is just as good.