Swedish oldtime fiddler Agnes Brogeby: interview + tunes

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I’m from Sweden. I grew up in Stockholm, but now live in Gothenburg in the south of Sweden. I’ve been playing oldtime for about ten years, but got introduced to it before I was old enough to walk. Both my parents play oldtime and my mom plays Irish music as well. When I was nineteen I met Rachel Eddy who taught me to play fiddle, so despite living in Sweden and learning to play folk music, the first folk music I started playing was American music instead of Swedish.

I’ve tried switching to playing Swedish folk music instead; it would have been a lot more convenient. The amount of people to play tunes with gets a lot bigger if you’re looking for people playing Swedish tunes in Sweden, than for people playing oldtime tunes in Sweden. I spent about two and a half years living in Dalarna learning to play Swedish music, but even if I like playing Swedish tunes a lot, for some reason oldtime music has always resonated with me more. I think part of it is that I’ve always felt there’s an inclusion built into the genre. Tunes get played long enough that you’re able to learn them while sitting in a jam. People will also play a tune long enough for it to go through different stages, and have a chance to adapt to each other’s way of playing the tune. In Swedish music a tune is generally played three times and then it’s on to the next tune. And even if most people in the Swedish folk scene are very including, the long play-throughs of tunes in oldtime gives more people a chance to participate while building a wider repertoire. But most importantly I appreciate that singers are part of the jam sessions in oldtime music. At Swedish festivals the singers and instrumentalists are separated in different jam sessions, whereas in oldtime lots of instrumental tunes have words to them and a jam can have both singing elements in it and instrumental elements at the same time.

When I was about twenty one I started playing in my first band, called Six String Yada. The band consisted of me and three other people, two of which had solid backgrounds in Swedish folk music. Most often I and Erling, who plays banjo, would play oldtime tunes, and Simon and Jonas would back them up on cello and guitar, bringing their musical experience into it. I also play in several other bands. Other than Six String Yada (you can find us on Facebook, Spotify and on YouTube.

I play with The Rockridge Brothers:

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And in two bluegrassbands: Dunderhead and Rookie Riot

I’ve also played in Friendly Neighbourhood Stringband, to give an example of mixing Swedish with oldtime we’ve recorded a unionization song in Swedish but played in an oldtimey way:

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