Erik Svendson healed through musical expression
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:10
Like many sixteen-year-olds, Erik Svendson felt insecure and extremely self conscious, particularly around girls. Lack of physical activity and eating too much left him slightly overweight and socially anxious. For years Svendson kept to himself, bottling up his insecurities.
“At home everyone was surprisingly into appearances and having things a certain way,” he said. “It was like if you acted okay then everything was okay.”
During his sophomore year, Svendson’s emotional issues caught up with him and he began having regular visits to a mental health hospital.
“I was at the mental health hospital in an out until sophomore year of college. I was there for depression, bipolar disorder... I guess my official diagnosis was bipolar depressive, a non-specified eating disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.”
Svendson believed his problems stemmed from not knowing how to deal with his emotions and not expressing himself properly. It was through music that Svendson began to learn how to express himself and better his communication skills.
“For me it wasn’t what was going on in my head more so that I didn’t know how to deal with my shit. So once I finally learned to do that, once I got into music and creative forms, I learned how to better express myself and put myself out there. Music became cathartic. If not playing it, then listening to it. Music saved my life.”
Throughout high school and much of his life Svendson was surrounded by music. As a kid he would go to bed excited to listen to the radio late into the night.
Through radio, Svendson was introduced to bands such as the Beatles and Van Morrison. But it was the vocals from “The Four Seasons” that left the biggest impact on the young listener.
“The Four Seasons dude, that falsetto voice was always crazy. It had that unique sound -- something special about it,” he said.
In later years Svendson gravitated towards classical, specifically the orchestral music from movie scores. He got into John Williams, the composer of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and Hans Zimmer, who composed the recent Batman trilogy and Inception. In high school Svendson listened to a variety of pop and rock albums.
“‘Demon Days’ was given to me by a friend in sophomore year and that’s when I seriously got into pop music. I also started listening to some darker stuff like Nine Inch Nails. ‘The Fragile’ is probably my most influential Nine Inch Nails album. I also liked Brian Eno’s ‘Apollo: Atmosphere and Soundtracks’”
The first instrument Svendson played was the piano, for which he began taking lessons in middle school. Initially, Svendson didn’t want the lessons. He didn’t enjoy the way they were structured and found it creatively unfulfilling.
Svendson’s teacher was the first to notice that he possessed musical fortitude. At the time Svendson didn’t believe her, believing it was a ploy to get him to practice more.
In high school Svendson took a small break from piano and picked up bass guitar. He later dabbled with regular guitar and took some voice lessons in his freshman year of college. Around this time he began to experiment with recording by pirating a music software program and using his Rock Band microphone, a videogame peripheral.
It would be in college that Svendson would begin to record and compose music seriously for the first time, thanks to a laptop he received with professional recording software. In the same year he used up most of his graduation money to buy more music gear, much to the chagrin of his parents.
“What really got me going into the music stuff was the MacBook Pro I got for graduation as a gift from an affluent family member. At that time I had Logic Express at my disposal and I just started learning how to play. I would sit down and record a bass line, programming in some drums, and laying down some keyboards… Logic Express really opened my eyes to the creative world of music and how much you could do. It blew my mind, overwhelmed me at first.
Since first recording, Svendson has been a member of three eclectic bands and is currently working on his main project “Erik Sven and the Wynd” in which he plays and records all the instruments. At the same time he’s working on his Bachelor’s degree in recording arts at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.
Today, Svendson is in good spirits. He looks vibrant, healthy, and fit, no doubt a positive side effect of Florida’s sunny weather. He’s living in the moment, doing what he loves, and going with the flow.
“I don’t have any expectations. Expectations lead to disappointments. I was unrealistic in the past, and I’ve gotten hurt from being unrealistic. I think that’s really just how it is. I keep an open mind and things I would never expect to happen can then happen because I’m not expecting them. Just try to keep an open mind about everything. Doors will open, doors will close…”
Svendson paused momentarily.
“So don’t close any doors!”