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"Catharsis in the midst of difficult times" - Interview with Nuclear Sludge

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Photo: Åke Tireland

by Stina Isabel Gavrilin

Bringing his live energy to Beats From The Vault on April 15th, Nuclear Sludge is the pseudonym of the Stockholm based producer Jimmy Svensson. Sprouted from a world of punk and industrial music with a DIY aesthetic. A transformation from bass player in punk bands into an industrial machinist. Harsh vocals on top of forceful bass lines and intense rhythmic madness lay the groundwork for his industrial fused electronic body music.

Also known for his aggressive and vivid live performances as Yabibo Hazurfa and as a member of Alvar and Æmit. Straight out of Stockholm's DIY underground.

Nuclear Sludge is very much a mirror of a kind of present dystopia. Having been active in music since the start of the century, is this a theme you’ve felt the need to address now more than before?

It’s always been important for me. Then, as now. My music is very much a reflection of the current state of the world. Exploring dystopian themes, societal issues that plague our world and my own mental health in the midst of it all.

For me, music has been a way to channel my emotions and find a sense of catharsis in the midst of difficult times. Ultimately, my music is a reflection of my own experiences and the times we live in, and I feel a sense of purpose in using it to explore these themes.

And as a side note, I started earlier than the turn of the century. From the late 80s, throughout the 90s and up until now, my love for creating music has been an ever-present force in my life.

When you started this project, it was entirely instrumental. How did the decision to include a vocal come about?

Quite quickly. I’ve always loved experimenting with sound and after a while I felt that something was missing. A raw energy. Adding vocals allowed me to explore new sounds and textures I wouldn’t have otherwise. Not only lyrically but also using my voice as an instrument. These days I often add vocals live to the older instrumental songs.

You’re active in quite a lot of different projects. What is it that you can express as Nuclear Sludge that there’s no outlet for under any of your other identities?

I wanted to create something sharp and confrontational. Draw from the rawness of punk and merge the two worlds of industrial and punk into something fast and aggressive. Especially live. Raw energy, fast tempos, and charged lyrics. Although most of my bands and projects spill over into each other. Honestly, they’re all a reflection of me.

Given your background in hardcore, how does playing live as an EBM act differ energy wise? Which do you find more rewarding?

It doesn’t. It’s about the energy right then and there. The exchange between me and the audience. The joint experience in just that moment. It’s all equally rewarding in it’s own way. No matter if I perform with a punk band, industrial band or with one of my solo acts.

The Swedish scene has been on the forefront of the oldschool EBM revival for nearly twenty years now. What do you think it is that has given rise to such a huge amount of quality body music from Sweden specifically?

As a musician in Sweden, I feel lucky to be part of a tight-knit community where a lot of us know each other. Collaborations and new projects are easily explored thanks to this closeness. But when it comes to the history and lineage of bands, I'm not the most knowledgeable. You might want to talk to Gustav in Sturm Cafe or Leif from Pouppée Fabrikk for that kind of expertise. As for my own music, I'm not sure if Nuclear Sludge is considered old school EBM, but honestly, it's not something I'm too concerned about.

Where do you draw inspiration from musically, what are your influences?

My influences are constantly evolving and shifting. In the beginning, I was drawn to the raw energy of punk, metal, and industrial soundscapes of the underground. But I’ve never want to limit myself. I am always eager to explore. I love devouring culture in every form. What a non answer. Right? Not a single band mentioned. The thing is, I could say Throbbing Gristle, Dismember or any other band that I like. But non of that matters on its own. It’s the sum of everything I take in that affects me and my creativity. It could be anything from the punk youngsters playing a show at the local venue where I live to the Jesus lady ranting on about scripture on the metro train. Yes, all of it.

Besides the “anti-compilation” of all of your singles that was released for streaming, are there any plans for an LP in the future?

Anti-compilation. I like that. There are plans for physical releases. That’s all I can say right now.

What form can we hear you in next? Anything upcoming from your other existing bands/projects or maybe even something completely new brewing?

There's a lot happening. Live shows and new releases with both Yabibo Hazurfa and Alvar. New releases under my own name. There’s also plans for live shows and new releases with Nuclear Sludge, as I mentioned earlier. Hopefully a documentary I’ve scored will be released this year as well. And yes, there is a multitude of new things brewing. Unfortunately I can’t talk about that just yet. Keep an eye out.

Looking towards your upcoming show in Tallinn, is there anything that ties you to Estonia in addition to the remix you did for Bedless Bones a few years ago?

I have a relative from the 1700s that took part in a sea battle outside the coast of Estonia on the ship Rikets Ständer. There’s a monument close to Estonia Puiestee in Tallinn consisting of a canon and an anchor from the ship. A monument of failure. What a note to end on.

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