During the last seven years, Hoffmaestro have been one ofthe hardest working bands – as well as one of the biggest draws – in theirnative Sweden. Their live shows became staples of the biggest festivals, whilesetting new records of attendance as headliners.
Hoffmaestro build their audience the old-fashioned way:through being a great live band that always delivers, come rain or shine. As alive act, Hoffmaestro represent a unique combination of discipline and chaos. Anyone who’s experienced the band livecan attest that Hoffmaestro are a force of nature, a runaway freight train thatno one can stop.
”We rarely fail onstage, regardless of situation. Our lowestlevel is high. And it’s not due to people knowing all the songs. The reactionis pretty much the same all over the world”, says Jens Malmlöf.
All along, Hoffmaestro have released hit albums, singles andEP’s in Sweden. Now it’s time for them to take on the world.
Hoffmaestro belong to a worldwide family of bands thatinclude acts like Manu Chao and Gogol Bordello. What these bands have in commonis that they combine various elements, styles and spices into their own musicalmelting pot. If one word sums up what Hoffmaestro are all about, it’s raw,unabashed Energy – whether it comes from ska, soul, country, hip hop, folkrock, reggae or punk. In the end, it results in a style that’s unmistakeablytheir own. Another of their main sources of inspiration is the city of NewOrleans and its sensual sounds – a musical melting pot in itself.
The seeds of what was to become Hoffmaestro were sown on the90’s suburban live scene of Stockholm where, while a sense of communityprevailed, there was always room for a healty dose of competition.
”We played youth clubs around the suburbs of Stockholm. Eventhough we were friends back then we played in different bands and we allwaystried to outmatch each other when it came to getting the crowd hyped up andjumping the most”, remembers John Lindgren.
Another one of their tricks, before they were able to pull acrowd of their own, was to arrange huge parties. And guess who played live atthose parties?
”A lot of bands look down on small towns, or low-key events.We never did. No gig was too small, no venue too strange” remembers Jens.
The founding members of Hoffmaestro first attractednationwide attention when they wrote and directed a feature film, ”StockholmBoogie” (2005), for which they also provided the soundtrack, including thetheme ”Desperado”, which became a hit. The film was a cult success, and theband took off. Since then, they have focused on touring, recording, and makingmusic videos.
Hoffmaestro appeared on the Swedish scene around 2005,during a period of worldwide music industry confusion. Most record companies inSweden failed to understand what was happening, and didn’t quite know what tomake of the latest tools available, like social communities and networks.Combining the best of both worlds, Hoffmaestro were able to build theirfollowing playing live, while communicating with the very same people online,thus forging a relationship of mutual respect that lasts to this day.
”Early on, we made sure to communicate directly with our fanbase. We still do”, says Karl-Uno Lindgren.
Needless to say, it doesn’t matter how internet-savvy youare, if you don’t have the goods: memorable songs and an ability to deliver.Owners of their own studio, a cottage in a park near central Stockholm,Hoffmaestro thrive on throwing themselves into the creative process as often aspossible. Their diverse backgrounds in music makes for another secret weapon.The fact that this band can rely on any combination of writers, means that theyare able to avoid being stuck with a predictable formula.
”Something special happens when you combine self-taughtsongwriters with trained musicians” says John. ”If you leave room for greatmusicians to breathe, they usually enjoy the freedom to add their own identityto the material”.
If you want to know what they’re about as people, justlisten to the lyrics. At this point in their career, Hoffmaestro feel that theycan write about almost anything that occupies their thoughts, and lives. In thebeginning, a lot of their lyrices shared the same sense of joy as the music –it was a lot about living in the present.
”But we sometimes to try to keep things interesting andunpredictable by, for example, combining reflective or melancholy lyrics withoptimistic music”, says John.
”Our next goal will be to experiment with moods live, andmaybe include album tracks that are less intense”, says Jens.
The fact that everyone in this band seems to have othertalents, whether it’s as producers, accountants, arrangers, organisers or filmmakers, is another added bonus.
”We grew up with a do-it-yourself attitude, and remain veryself-sufficient”, says Karl-Uno.
”In a way we had to do it that way, since the music industryhas changed after the digital revolution. We did a lot of things the wrong way,at least according the the existing music business rules – but those rulesdidn’t apply any more” says Jens.
A lot of bands that have reached national success are toolazy or safe to leave their home country. Always up for a challenge,Hoffmaestro started touring Germany two years ago, at the peak of their Swedishfame, choosing to utilize their considerable collective live experience tobuild an entirely new audience. Since then, they have gradually moved from thesmallest stages to the big ones.
Now the time has come for their firstinternational release, consisting of six Hoffmaestro ”classics”, and six newlywritten songs (released back in Sweden as a new EP). Twelve studio recordingsthat capture their famous live energy, while adding nuances and folk flavoringsthat draw you in, and encourage repeated listens.
Hoffmaestro make no bones about the fact that they want tosee how far they can take this, in every way. And they don’t expect a hitsingle to do the job for them.
”We’ll work our way around the globe. Travelling and seeingthe world sure beats working in an office. I hope we’ll end up as old men,still gigging – even if we need chairs”, Jens laughs.
Their aim is to work hard, while retaining the carefreesense of joy and cameraderie that has characterized this band from day one.
Regarding the future of the band, Karl-Uno gets the lastword: ” The bottom line is that we’re all great friends. There’s always been anelement of playfulness to what we do, that we don’t intend on ever losing.”