After a steady stream of singles ahead of his new album, The Making of a Paracosm, beloved Swedish electronic music artist Kasbo has finally released the project in its entirety. Out today, following previously released tracks like “Play Pretend” and “Skogsrå"—out via Foreign Family Collective and Counter Records—that alluded to a project brimming with the most mature and experimental music he has released to date, The Making of a Paracosm fully lives up to its propitious expectations.
Kasbo initially earned critical acclaim with his 2018 debut album, Places We Don’t Know, but it wasn’t until after its release and rave reception that he started to pursue music full time. It was during the album’s supporting tour when The Making of a Paracosm’s story began, written on tour buses and in between shows. Finally completed this March, its journey was long and, at times, frustrating, with Kasbo periodically losing his hearing in his left ear in 2019. Triggered by stress and anxiety, the resulting depression and fear halted his work for months.
“I think the turning point came when I just fully, in some way, accepted the fact that I could be deaf in my left ear without knowing,” Kasbo said. “I think just accepting that fully and being okay with that fully - it’s something that took a lot of time.”
Working from his home in Gothenburg, Sweden, Kasbo, who just turned 25, pushed forward, working in a local studio for the first time and figuring out how to record new instruments, he said. Stepper organs, live pianos and bells can be heard throughout The Making of a Paracosm, elevating its depth from the guitar-, percussion- and synth-based Places We Don’t Know.
Even more, Kasbo was able to define and lean into his personal paracosm, defined as a detailed, subjective universe created in someone’s mind. This titular idea was core to the album, he described, with a guiding goal of letting listeners into his safe space and helping them get away from it all. Especially while in the midst of a global pandemic, this escape is essential now more than ever.
Ahead of his album, we chatted with Kasbo to dive deeper into The Making of a Paracosm, discussing his first experience with his own paracosm, how he overcame his hearing loss, and the potential of a remix album.
EDM.com: Getting right into it, tell us about how The Making of a Paracosm relates to your debut album, Places We Don’t Know.
Kasbo: It started as somewhat of a continuation of the last album, because I felt like there was more to tell in terms of the sound. I felt somewhat restricted in different ways when creating the last album, so I wanted to explore that, the concept, and the style a bit more. The last album was also around the similar concept of exploring a side of the world that’s actually a very dark and grim place in a lot of ways. But when more things exist in your head, the more perfect and flawless they can be.
I think this album is more about directly showing this world I have inside my head, and more directly connected to its details, whether through field recordings or some visual aspect or just lyrics. I think it’s dialing in a lot more than the last album.
EDM.com: You said there were some restrictions you felt on the last album. What boundaries were you trying to overcome and push in this new album?
Kasbo: One of them was just how much I knew about producing, just my skill set. But then, I also think there was some feeling when I created the last album that I wasn’t really at a point where I felt like I could do music for the rest of my life. It was up in the air, seeing if this was something I could do or not. I was a bit concerned about getting over the ledge of succeeding as an artist, which didn’t necessarily actively change the way I did things, but I think passively, I had a different mindset.
I was still trying to figure out what my sound was, and in that I think I was restricting myself a tad because I was not wanting to delve too much into one or another direction. I was like, ‘Okay, this is the box I’m trying to build of who I am as an artist.’ But this time around, I was a lot more confident in who I was as an artist, so I felt I could take more risks and still have it feel like me.
EDM.com: Tell me about when you first stumbled onto the idea of a paracosm?
Kasbo: I was laying outside at this lake, feeling terrible. It was at the time when I was feeling really depressed and couldn’t really work because my ear was really bad. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll try to come up with a name for my album.’ I was just thinking of cool sound words, and ‘paracosm’ was one that I’d heard. I searched for the meaning of it and it was perfect. It’s something that I’ve had a relationship with without even knowing the actual word for it, you know? After that, it colored my entire progress of the creation of the album.
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EDM.com: When do you think you first created your own paracosm?
Kasbo: It was a bit more recent. Growing up, I realized I had had a really sheltered upbringing, and I didn’t really see or understand that the world is pretty grim. Once I started meeting people around the world and just broadening my horizons, I was like, 'Holy shit. I thought the world was perfect.’ But it’s obviously not. Once that realization came, when I was 18 or 19, with that stress it became important for me to have an escape, which, to me, has been music. But with that, this very visual world became something that had a larger and larger part of my life. It’s very inspired by stuff that is comforting, mysterious or exciting to me. Naturally, it’s very inspired by a lot of environments you can find here in Sweden, or kids stories that you get told when you’re a kid here.
EDM.com: Do you think that relates to your goal for the album, to really bring your listeners into this fantasy world?
Kasbo: Definitely. It’s become more of a concrete goal as time’s gone on, just because of the pandemic and all that. Now more than ever, it’s very important to have that place you can escape to, where stuff isn’t completely fucked and the world isn’t burning. I just wanted to create this world that people could escape to, and I think that’s something that I always, on some level, will get back to. For me, music is this big escape, and it always has been. That’s something I want to offer to my listeners, is this big escape.
EDM.com: What emotions do you think you were trying to pursue?
Kasbo: Because I made the album in two and a half years, it holds different phases of my life. 2018 was a lot of happy, joyful and danceable songs, and even just more emotional stuff. But 2019 was a pretty difficult year for me. I lost my hearing in May and went into this big depression, and was annoyed with everything and frustrated. At that area of time I made more I guess, aggressive electronic music. Stuff that’s more angry, and that you can take out your frustrations to a bit more. “Skogsrå” is an example.
EDM.com: What was it like to go from not being able to make music, and then being able to be in the studio and finally produce again?
Kasbo: It’s a weird thing, because the hearing thing it’s necessarily figured out still. As much as I could possibly know about it now, it's caused by stress and anxiety. So it was more that it would be bad for three days, then good for two days, and back and forth like that. For the first few months I couldn’t really do anything because I think I was really freaked out about it, and I was really depressed and scared. Just the mental aspect was tough.
After a few months I had to just try working through it. It was really hard. I think the turning point came when I just fully, in some way, accepted the fact that I could be deaf in my left ear without knowing. I think just accepting that fully and being okay with that fully - it’s something that took a lot of time. But that alleviated the mental constraints that the issue came with. So once I fully felt like that, which took eight or 10 months, it stopped coming back as much. Since January I haven’t had much issue with it at all. That realization was a big thing, because it stopped the negative spiral that would make me anxious and cause my ear to fuck up.
EDM.com: What are some songs on the album that you’re proud of, and that stand out to you more than others?
Kasbo: I think one of the songs that has a natural extra something for me is the last song, 'Snö.' It’s based off of this piano melody that I’d been playing for six or seven years at home. As soon as I sit down on my piano, I play that melody. But I never figured out how to make it into a song that was a Kasbo song, which comes back to how, with the last album, I was very worried about sticking into this one area that I defined myself in. Now, I’m more open to exploring different sides, and finally got to a point where I could feel comfortable trying my hand at making that piano melody a song. It’s one of my favorites.
EDM.com: 'Snö' does conclude the album on this very profound note, just resonating in your head. What were you hoping to leave the listener with, ending the album in this way?
Kasbo: I wanted to leave the listener in a space where they felt like they were fully engulfed in this imaginary world, that hopefully the rest of the album has been slowly building up. Really vaguely and conceptually, I imagined the first song on the album being as if you’re exploring and getting familiar with this paracosm. It’s really based around the idea that you get dropped inside this world, and you’re trying to figure out who you are. Whereas 'Snö' was fully becoming comfortable and laying down, and just surrendering yourself into this fantasy world.
EDM.com: Looking more toward the future, I know you did a remix EP for Places We Don’t Know. Is that something on radar for this album?
Kasbo: Definitely. When the pandemic really started, I bought this big CDJ so I could start learning how to DJ. I’m really excited about the idea of having songs that are still my songs, but they can be interpreted in ways that will fit for different scenarios or occasions. Just imagine having a version of 'Snö' that’s fit for the club, you know? I’m very excited about that, and we’re definitely looking at doing one for this album.