Daniel Liljekvist Leaving Katatonia and its Reflection on the Music Industry
I’m taking a break from the run of previous blog posts about self analysis and progression to reflect upon some news that passed a couple weeks ago within the realm of progressive rock and metal. The same realm in which the musical side of Socionic exists. That news being the departure of Katatonia’s drummer, Daniel Liljekvist from the band.
Now, I know that a member leaving a band, even for whatever dramatic reason from creative differences to entertaining band feuds is not really remarkable or at least, unique news by any means. Granted, Katatonia is one of my favorite bands, and news of the loss of a very talented long time member by them is disappointing, but his reasoning for leaving is what have given pause to reflect…
As stated in the post on the Katatonia website, Liljekvist says:
“I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of months and I’ve come to the sad conclusion that i have to leave the band. It’s got nothing to do with ’difference in views´or any other bullshit. I just cannot combine job, family and commit 100% to Katatonia. Times for musicians are rough and i’ve decided to concentrate on my family and get a normal job that gets the bills payed.”
The band later goes on to say in the post:
“It makes it so much more frustrating when it happens for the wrong reasons or before reaching our terminus. Particularly, we can’t pretend the current climate has nothing to do with it, in fact this is undeniably yet another outcome of musicians struggling at the crossroads of today’s “scene/industry”. Tragically, this situation forces a member, brother – and our fans favourite long-time drummer – to resign from a band he sacrificed a decade and a half to build. While encouraging this topic to inevitable debate and re-evaluation, we will always be grateful for the years we shared together and we wish Daniel the best of luck in the future."
I sincerely appreciate the candor of the band in their statement as to why he is leaving the band and the truth in expression of their worry. Katatonia is a band that has been around for quite some time, and if you are familiar with their catalogue, you will know that they have written some incredible and unique songs and evolved beautifully throughout their career.
To comprehend that one of their core members who had been a part of that evolution for the past 15 years, and help bring them to the place of creative prowess at which they stand today, would step aside because of the reasons stated is heartbreaking. It is discouraging. That someone so talented as part of something so unique and interesting, and influential to all those whom it touches would be moved in such a way to make that decision is disturbing.
There are plenty of reasons why a decision such as this might be made, including family or other personal reasons, but they clearly stated that he was struggling to support his family and was stepping aside to get a regular job in order to make it all work. That says an incredible amount about the state of the industry which supports boldness in art and expression of the type that Katatonia creates.
Looking through the comments, it is clear that Katatonia has many devoted fans who follow their actions, appreciate their music and are moved by their art. Many comments share the disappointment instilled by hearing hearing this discouraging news and share support, understanding and disbelief that such reason would be given by a band that is at the top of their craft within the genre and industry.
It frustrates that in today’s industry, such support is not enough. It frustrates further however to read the few crass and short sighted comments that cast obstinate opinion about the true difficulty of surviving as a musician today. The scene is being taken over by corporations and conglomerates and are focused on virality, a quick turn around, and a sure thing. But there is nothing new in a sure thing. There is no discovery, no danger, no growth. We need quite the opposite, perhaps today as much if not more than ever.
I want to assert that the words written up to this point are as those of a fan and not an artist or aspiring musician. Being that the type of struggle apparently presented could keep a cherished group of musicians and artists from creating and releasing music or touring to my town is a loss for me and all others that have been inspired or moved by their craft.
From an artist perspective however, it is most certainly sobering. That a band of the quality and level of Katatonia is struggling to live comfortably for their family is a terrifying notion for those aspiring to reach their level. Knowing all the work recording, touring and practicing that they have put in, and even with all they’ve accomplished things are still tough, is discouraging indeed.
A product of many factors in the evolution of the industry, with no clear enemy or solution, it makes one wonder about the future and what it will look like. When bands such as Katatonia eventually retire along with other 90’s era bands such as Tool, Deftones, NIN, who will take their place in that realm of quality? Will any of the young music fans growing up in the generations to come be able to experience the quality of that level of music, art and expression when it continues to be corporatized and commercialized for the easiest hook and the most viral qualities to turn what’s left of a dollar in the industry?
The point isn’t about money for musicians to be rich, but to support themselves enough to continue to pour themselves into their art so that they can grow and reach new levels never before reached, as has happened in the past. It took Led Zeppelin several albums before anyone knew their name, and now you couldn’t turn on a classic rock station without hearing a song of theirs. And what label or investor today would take a risk on Pink Floyd?
This topic warrants much more thought and examination, for another time and post, but this event brought the concern again to the forefront of consideration. I hope that the news is perhaps in some way sensationalized and it isn’t as bad as it sounds, but I fear that it is not.
We and the many convicted artists out there creating art and music for the simple joy and fulfillment of self exploration and expression will continue to make music and art and be grateful for the chance. But we also hope that the industry finds a way to again support the development of creativity that has inspired so much of us to create for ourselves.
I hope to hear many more albums from Katatonia in the future. And I hope to be able to create many more myself.