Per Boysen, "In search of the unplayed music…"

feature and interview by Greg Howard

     After starting tapping with the Grand Stick, Swedish musician and composer Per Boysen added the guitar scale SG12 (Stick Guitar) to his toolbelt, taking full advantage of the shimmering highs and guitar-like tones offered by the shorter scale and PASV-4 pickup. His improvisations and compositions range from sweetly tonal pieces to more abstract soundscapes. Per has performed at festivals around the world, including the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands.

Artist's web site | Artist's YouTube page

October 2014 US West Coast Tour

Oct 10, Seattle, WA, North West Loop Fest, The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. 6pm – 10pm. more info.
Oct 11, Portland, OR, North West Loop Fest, The Analog Cafe and Theatre, 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd. more info.
Oct 12, Ashland, OR: North West Loop Fest, Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., +1 541-450-2656. more info.
Oct 15, San Jose, CA BEST of Y2K14 International Live Looping Festival
     ANNO DOMINI GALLERY, 366 South 1st Street more info.
Oct 15-20, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco: YK2 International Live Looping Festival. more info.
Oct 22, Long Beach, CA: SoCal Loop Fest, diPiazza’s, 5202 E Pacific Coast Hwy. more info
Oct 24, Canoga Park, CA, Per Fest, Guitar Merchant, 7503 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, 818-884-5905, 7pm – 11pm
     On stage: Emmett Chapman, Kevin Keith, Don Schiff, Gary Jiblian, Michael Johnstone,
     String Planet (featuring Larry Tuttle and Novi Novog), Mike Kollowitz, Gene Perry, Per Boysen. more info


I'd like to know why the SG12 resonates so well with you. What can you tell us about your experience with it, compared to other intruments you've played? How would you characterize the sound and feeling of playing it?

     The SG12, with its shorter strings and higher tuning, has a more snappy feel and I really like that! It takes less time between tapping a string and hearing the sound coming out of the speaker. The tonal range of the SG12 is in fact the range where I think chords sound the best, so the added bass range of the 12 stringed 36" scale Grand isn't really needed for me. But I have a big Stick too, I just don't bring it for a lunch concert in a church or for down-town street busking. The studio is the only place I use my big Stick and then just for adding the lowest bass tones that the SG12 doesn't provide. The SG12 generally resonates in a way I like better; with the more focused tone and hotter temperament. The way I prefer to play the SG12 is musically closer to harp music than to guitar or bass music. But sound-wise the SG12 relates to my old beloved Fender Stratocaster electric guitar.
     Before I picked up the Stick in 2010 I played only monophonic and non-multitasking instruments; starting with the guitar, then learning tenor sax, alto flute and EWI. All these instruments needs you to practice using both hands synchronised as part of the same musical gestures. But the Stick is totally different, on the Stick you use both hands independently, like two jamming musicians conducted by the brain. It took me one year to rewire my brain and only after that initial year I was able to play the music I had been dreaming about for the Stick. After having played so much lead melody instruments, often with live electronic extensions, I was longing for an instrument that would let me perform different parts like chords, bass and melody all at the same time. And I also wanted to explore rubato style playing, something that is almost impossible with a lead instrument plus live looping technic.

What can you tell me about your new recording projects?

     I'm busy making a Stick based solo album right now - for public release that is. The concept is to combine three aspects: inspired first-takes on the Stick SG-12, my recent experiences from producing three albums of media music and my two decades of playing "meta instruments" that includes interactive electronics. The music will be easy to follow and yet inviting for a deeper emotional experience.
     A few months ago I released a Stick CD based on the natural Stick sound, as the instrument sounds when you just play it through an amp. I made that - Stick Street - album to meet the demand for a CD that I was confronted with as a Stick busker here in Stockholm. In fact, I had to spend some studio time in research of how to replicate the busking sound of the SG-12 going out through a Roland Cube Street battery amp! On this modest amp I had found ONE setting that sounds excellent and this was the "street sound" I tried to reproduce in a recording situation.
     With the new upcoming album I want to offer a more varied listening experience. Not just the sound of "a person playing a piece of music on a Stick" but an experience bordering to watching a movie, reading a book or having a dream. You could say the recipe is to have the Stick Guitar as the lead instrument and let it interact with what you might hear in film music while the general sound design of the recording helps to communicate the music. Cinematic Stick electronica, kind of.
     Finally there is the live electronics, the third element. I don't see this as an "add-on" or "extension of the instrument" but more as part of my special self designed meta instrument, just like the Stick is also part of that. Signal routing for immediate simultaneous audio processing has been my greatest interest since the early eighties, when the first digital delays and harmonisers appeared on the consumer market. Today I use the fine amplifier Fractal Audio AxeFx II for my both Stick outputs and in this box I'm able to virtually cable up most of my favorit processes and play them in real-time by foot pedals as I play the Stick with my hands. With this magic meta instrument I like to record one stereo take and if the performance is good there isn't much more needed in the mixing or mastering department. So it is a totally here-and-now based recording production method.
     I don't know about more "new recording projects"... when this album is finished I don't think I need to record more. I'm basically more interested in performing live and hear other artists play live. Few people buy CDs in these days and you only need to make them as a kind of "super expensive business card". I will of course continue to record media music, but that won't go out to the public market, only into the music recourses archives for TV, film and game producers.
     Oh, I almost forgot; there might slip in some vocals into these recordings. I used to play a lot of alto flute and love that sound for my live electronics. But when I picked up the Stick four years ago it just took over and now I want to play Stick more than any other instrument. On the Stick it is hard to get those "fluffy cloud pad" sounds that a flute can produce, so I thought I'd try to use my voice instead, since both hands now are tied to the fretboards. I bought a TC Helicon Voicelive2 effect box for my vocal mic and this too goes through the Fractal Audio box with the expression pedals etc. Not sure about how much this singing will take off but it's fun to expand a bit into a new field for starters. I often find lyrics rather stupid - since music already communicates - but if you invent fake languages or sing with no words I guess it can work as music.

Greetings from Sweden

Find out more about Per's recordings
and performances at



Per performed Sub City 2064 in Istanbul
in 2012 with guitarist Erdem Helvacioglu
through an octaphonic sound system

Per's new CD for 2014 is
Beyond the Beyond and Further Beyond
It includes several original compositions and some electronically inventive interpretations of Eric Satie's "Gnossiene No. 1", and the English traditional song "Greensleeves".

Now available from Stick Enterprises on CD.

Per's 2013 Stick Street CD
recreates the "listener's experience"
as if one encountered him busking
on the street for the first time.

Check it out on BandCamp.

Find out more about the guitar-scale Stick Guitar here

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