With his internationally praised indie pop group Husky Rescue dormant for almost a decade, bandleader Marko Nyberg was drawn towards cinematic music and decided to focus on composing film scores and music for commercials. In January 2022 Nyberg released his solo debut, the beautiful, cinematic, somewhat experimental but emotionally relatable "Ingrid EP".
Coffee, newspaper, all kinds of delicacies and all the time in the world. Marko Nyberg was enjoying a sturdy brunch with his spouse. The couple listened to some reggae and Nils Frahm, until Nyberg decided to play some mixes of his unreleased songs. Nyberg's wife put down whatever she was reading and asked: "Are you depressed?"
Nyberg didn't feel depressed. Instead he realized the difficulties that he had in talking about his feelings. He was expressing the grief caused by the passing of his father in his music.
"I'm not saying that this is a personal therapy project, but my music is a way to deal with my emotions. It's wonderful to be able to process the hardships and move on," Nyberg says.
Marko Nyberg's solo debut, Ingrid EP, was released in late January 2022. It consists of five tracks weaved together by ambient-like piano, abstract electronics, industrial rumble, hypnotic beats, melancholy-drenched singing and hope-filled strings.
Sync or swim
In the fall of 2006 Marko Nyberg was staying overnight at the office of Catskills Records, the revered UK indie label. He was reading an article from The Observer where a group of artists voiced their opinions about selling their music to ads.
In the article, Anohni (then known by her birth name Antony Hegarty) was the only person in that panel not to disapprove the commercial use of songs, if it helped the artist to make a living. You could sense the gap between generations in the mindset about the issue. The established elder songwriters opposed the idea strongly: Jarvis Cocker said it's inappropriate. Nick Cave felt it was offensive.
"There I was, sleeping on a couch of a record company in Brighton because it was the cheapest option while touring the UK, and from the window you could literally see Nick Cave driving his sons to school in the morning in his Rolls-Royce", Nyberg laughs.
The music industry was already in transformation. Substantial amounts of CDs were still sold but the trend were descendent: People were carrying iPods instead of Discmans and the launch of Spotify was just around the corner.
If music is used to enforce a brand and sell products, the creator of the piece should be compensated economically.
Nyberg had first-hand experience in that shift. His band, Husky Rescue had released their debut album "Country Falls" in 2004 via Catskills. It sold over 100,000 physical copies. Not too shabby for an upcoming indie band from Finland playing folk- and country-tinged indie pop. For comparison: Taylor Swift was in the headlines just recently for selling 100,000 vinyl copies of her album in 2021.
Even though Husky Rescue's next albums, "Ghost Is Not Real" (2007) and "Ship of Light" (2010) were welcomed by the press from Pitchfork to Guardian and fans alike, the album sales were decreasing like they did overall globally. Nyberg's pro-commercial attitude compensated the decline in sales: Husky Rescue's music appeared synced to Hyundai ads, beer commercials and in television series like The Sopranos and Top Gear.
"I'm trying to encourage the next generation of songwriters to put a significant price tags on their music. If music is used to enforce a brand and sell products, the creator of the piece should be compensated economically", Nyberg says.
Music from three folders
It's been almost nine years from the release Husky Rescue's last album and final gigs. Marko Nyberg shakes his head in disbelief:
"I don't know where the time has gone. The band never really quit. If the stars are aligned and the sun is shining, who knows, Husky Rescue might come back one day."
During the last phases of Husky Rescue, Nyberg was strongly drawn towards cinematic music, film scores and sound design. He describes that he just "switched the channel" from Husky Rescue to "custom orders", composing music for ads and movies via his own sound production company El Camino.
Companies like Nokia and Finnair have used Nyberg's music in their commercials. He has scored feature films and documentaries. Nyberg was nominated for the HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award for his score for Gold Digger (Onnenonkija, 2016). His movie scores – sadly – are missing from streaming services at least at the moment, for "hygienic" reasons.
"I wanted to clear my presence on streaming services when the launch of my solo career approached", Nyberg says.
My greatest dream is to create a piece where visual and audial elements exist in a parallel and communicate with each other
His solo material started forming as a byproduct of the aforementioned works.
"I have a compulsive need to compose music", Nyberg says.
Nyberg noticed he was composing music for three different albums: there was a folder for hypnotic techno-like beats, a folder for music with a dramatic string ensemble and a folder for songs sung by him. A turning point was when a friend working as a music supervisor paid a visit and Nyberg played him something from each folder.
"He listened to the music carefully and said: Marko, every piece of this sounds like your music. So instead of making three different albums, how about doing just one by combining them all", Nyberg says.
There's a strong visual side connected to Nyberg's music. Music video for the song Ingrid features Sofia Ruija, a dance artist who has graduated from the Ballet School of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Nyberg says the modern dance will continue at his upcoming gigs.
"At the moment it is my greatest dream to create a piece where visual and audial elements exist in a parallel and communicate with each other. I think I'm on my way towards it."