Eric Wahlforss doesn't want to tour the world and play his music for audiences. It wouldn't really be right, he said, it wouldn't fit the songs. The music isn't meant for dance clubs or sweaty bars or commercials, either. It only really works in two places: in your headphones and on the iPad.
Wahlforss' newest album, Ecclesia, was developed as an interactive experiment between him and the iPad -- a mix of live church music and electronica, with animations that look torn from a futuristic stained glass window. The album can also be heard on his Soundcloud page.
The iPad app is multimedia experience, combining the songs and trippy, complex visuals, courtesy of artists Leonhard Lass and Marcel Schobel. Each track has its own artwork of rotating shapes and images.
Wahlforss -- who was raised in Sweden but now lives in Berlin -- is also part of another important, forward-thinking trend. In fact, he started one. As the CTO and cofounder of Soundcloud, he's at the helm of one of the fastest-growing audio distribution platforms on the web. With 10 million registered users, Soundcloud is sleek and simple and very much of-the-moment in terms of its real-time user comments, apps and social media capabilities.
It makes sense, then, that Wahlforss would turn to the iPad, as other contemporary artists have done in recent years. Its animation possibilities made a good match for the music, Wahlforss said, and he liked the idea of giving his songs a visual vocabulary.
Last year Bjork released an iPad app in conjunction with her album, Biophilia, along with artist and programmer Scott Snibbe. Facing criticism from her detractors, Bjork said that soon everyone will own a touchscreen tablet, and she spoke of albums and apps as natural partners. Trying to explain why songs and iPads work well together, she said, is "like trying to explain how to dance in an email. If you would just turn it on and do it together, it'd be way easier."
The way we share music seems to change by the week, as does the way we make it. For his part, Wahlforss says you can come into his music -- filled with church choirs, organs and eerie voices -- from any point of reference.
"My mother came through formal education, conducting, playing the piano," he said, "whereas I came to it in a world of science fiction, technology, fantasy."
Wahlforss has always been interested in the church, though he now doesn't consider himself religious. His grandfather was clergy and his mother directs the church choir in Stockholm. He hated being "dragged to that place" as a kid, he says, but there was something magical about the choirs and the sound in that room when it was full of music. At first, Wahlforss says, he resented it, brushed it off, but as he got older he found a new appreciation for it.
"I remember at one point I was exploring my grandfather's record collection, and there's all this choir music, really experimental stuff. I rediscovered the magic of it. And basically ever since then, it's probably 50 percent of what I listen to."
Church music, he said, doesn't have to be about Christian rock or gospel -- secular people can enjoy a good choir, too. He points to the thousands of gorgeous old churches in Europe and how they're used in all sorts of ways now: for dance parties, fashion shows and film screenings.
"In a way, that's how things are going," he said. It's all about how you look at them.
Take a look at Wahlforss' iPad app:
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more