QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Sebastian Ekstrand (Escape the Day)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hey Sebastian. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys of Escape The Day?

Sebastian: Well hey! I’m fine thanks. Things are going great. It has been an intense start of this year for me with work, but things are starting to come together now, which gives me more time for music. The other guys are fine as well. We all have our struggles and life puzzles to solve. But we’re trying our best to keep up with everything to be able to make great music. 🙂

Pix666: Please introduce your band Escape The Day to the readers in a few short sentences.

Sebastian: Escape The Day is a Trance Pop Metalcore act from Sweden focusing on bringing all the best pieces of our mixed genres together to one greatsounding piece of music. Escape The Day has been around for over 10 years now. Our sound has varied a bit over the years, but our core sound has always been kept intact.

Pix666: You joined the band a year after it was formed. How did you get in touch with the band members and what did you do musically before you joined Escape The Day?

Sebastian: It all started back in the summer of 2008 when I moved to Gothenburg, which is the second-largest city in Sweden. I had just graduated from University and had left my old band. I knew right away that I would like to be a part of a band in this new city that I now lived in, so I made an ad on one of the largest marketplaces for musicians here in Sweden. And right away the former guitarist and songwriter of Escape The Day, Patrick Möhlenbrock contacted me. We talked a lot and he showed me some early demos of songs that the band had been working on. I remembered that I got hooked right away. So I got invited to do an audition where we tried out my voice in one of the songs. And it turned out that they really liked my voice and the way I sang the song, so they offered me to be a part of the band and for me, it was a yes straight away.

Before Escape The Day I have been a part of two other bands. My first band ever was a band formed in high school called encoRe. We played around 2002-2005 and the sound was a Pop/Rock/Punky sound. I was doing vocals and guitars back then and we played at a lot of smaller venues and festivals. I was really young back then, but during that time my signature voice was sort of born.My second band before Escape The Day was called Patronize 11 and we played together during my time studying at University. This band was more of a Pop/Rock/Grunge band and by this time I started to focus on only the vocals. I still wrote the majority of all the songs, but on stage, I just focused on singing. Patronize11 also played at a lot of smaller venues and festivals, but since I moved to Gothenburg after graduation, we had to stop.

Pix666: Your line-up has changed a few times, the band even had a break many years ago. Now you have been together in the same line-up for about seven years – what do you do better or differently now than back then?

Sebastian: Yeah, we have had a lot of line-up changes during the years. We have been 7 people in the band at most and now we are back to 4 people. And during the last 5 years, we have had 2 smaller breaks where we just needed to figure out our lives during the changes we went through with kids, family, and work. And these breaks have been great for us to get some perspective on it all. We are all ordinary people with ordinary jobs in the band. So the amazing feedback we get on every release, it’s the perfect confirmation that we need to keep going. When it comes to what we do “better now from then” the answer is that almost everything is the same. I mean, we have evolved a lot in the songwriting and production process, but since we are doing everything ourselves: recording, mixing, producing, creating artwork, marketing the band, you name it. So things are taking a lot of time. And that could be done in a better way with more people in the band of course. But it is what it is at the moment and we make it work.

Pix666: … what was your inspiration to become a musician in general? What are your personal favorite bands?

Sebastian: I have always been interested in music. I made my own mix-tapes at the age of 5 and carried a freestyle with me almost everywhere. And on Christmas when I was 9 years old my grandma bought me an acoustic guitar. And that was the start of my music career I think. I started off by taking guitar lessons until I was around 13 years old. And after that, I started practicing on my own. I discovered my voice back in middle school when I made a lot of sound effects while playing video games with my mouth. Back then I also practiced a lot by mimicking different sounds. And I believed that I thought myself a lot about my voice and how to use it by doing that.

It wasn’t until I turned 12 years old that I started to sing songs and practice singing regularly. I’m mostly self-taught, but I took some singing lessons when I was around 25 years old. Nowadays I don’t sing that much really. But I put down the hours I need to make it work with the songs that we create. But of course, I will need to step it up a bit to make it work when my voice needs to be in shape for more than 1 hour a time. Some of my favorite bands and artists that I have listened to a lot and that have inspired me during the years are: Europe, Michael Jackson, Blink 182, Green Day, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, Creed, Alter Bridge, Foo fighters, Red, Josh Groban and Michael Bolton.

Pix666: What have been your best experiences and adventures as a musician so far?

Sebastian: I think my best experience so far is that I learned so much about the whole production part. How to take an idea from the first note to a finished product. I mean I record a lot of stuff myself and have become more of a studio musician recently. Live is still live, but to get your head around how to package a song and to make a great impact on the listener, is still an art of its on. And that’s something that I enjoy working with.

Pix666: You released your new song ‚Hollow‘ some weeks ago. How were the fans’ reactions to the song?

Sebastian: The reaction we got was incredible. We had been away and a bit quiet for some time just before the ”Hollow” release. And the love that we got was amazing. In the end, we’re nothing without the people who are listening to our songs. So we are really grateful to have such amazing fans.

Pix666: Do you look at the numbers of streams on Spotify, the views on YouTube, or do you know in which countries the people who listen to your music live?

Sebastian: Yeah, I follow the statistics a lot to see how our releases are performing. And it’s really fun to see where the people that are listening do live. Helsinki, Stockholm, and Moscow are our top 3 cities on Spotify at the moment. 🙂

Pix666: You have released relatively few video clips in the long history of the band. What is the reason for that?

Sebastian: I assume you mean both music videos and videos from the studio etc.? Well, the short answer to that is that video material takes a lot of time to make. So we have not focused on that type of media that much, unfortunately. And we know that we have a lot of potential for improvement on that part. So we just need to put in more time 🙂

Pix666: Are there already plans for a new album? Did you have time to write songs during the unusual time around the Corona Pandemic?

Sebastian: We had plans for a new album, and we have materials for a full one. But we have decided on releasing singles for now. And maybe that will be packaged into an album later on. But for now, we will focus on singles. During the corona pandemic, we had some time off from the band. And during that time we didn’t write music for Escape The Day. But we wrote some music for our other projects that we are involved in. I took the time to focus on my EDM project VoColor and that was really great for me. It’s nice to have the opportunity to work on side project from time to time. By doing that you also get a great toolbox that you can use to solve problems in both mixing and arrangement.

Pix666: How do you generally create your songs? Is there a certain plan? Who in the band is responsible for what?

Sebastian: Most of the songs is starting off with ideas that Sebastian Westman in the band is creating. He’s great to pull off ideas that we use as foundations to build from. Then I always take over to add vocal melodies on top of that and works on the arrangement and layers etc. Both me and Sebastian are doing most of the musical parts and arrangements and then Jonas and Kristian are filling in with both lyrics and other ideas where we are missing something. So its sort of a collaboration with everyone, but Sebastian Westman and I are doing most of the hard work.

Pix666: When will be the next live performance of Escape The Day – are there already new tour dates or festival dates?

Sebastian: We haven’t decided yet. We would love to come out and play live soon. It’s been a while since we stood on stage. But I think we will wait till next year so that the pandemic life can get back to normal a bit more.

Pix666: What do you currently have in your shop, are there some clothes that the fans should definitely wear in summer?

Sebastian: We actually opened our shop recently. We haven’t been doing merch before, but decided on giving it a shot. I think one of the best pieces in the shop right now is our snapback hat. It has a really good quality and looks amazing. Other then that we have a lot of variety in the shop, so there shall be something for everyone that wants to support us.

Pix666: Social media and music streaming are both a blessing and a curse for bands. From your point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this development for your band. How much do Escape the Day use social media and where are you represented?

Sebastian: Social Media is really great. You can reach so many people all over the world with just a click of a button. But yeah its also really hard to get everyone to know that you exist. And I believe that’s something that we have struggled with for a long time. We often hear from fans that just discovered us that we are so underrated and that we should have so much more followers etc. But yeah we are working on it. We have always believed in that great music is selling itself. But sure, we still need to put a lot of time marketing it. We started with myspace back in the days and then jumped on Facebook and YouTube. But it wasn’t until 2018 that we started to use Instagram. So we’re not that into social media. We try to keep it minimal since we don’t have the time to work with all the platforms at once.

Pix666: As a musician, you surely spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to distract yourself – are there any interesting hobbies you pursue?

Sebastian: Well, I’m a creative person. I work as a professional Design and IT consultant so most of the time I’m awake, I do something that is related to that. Having a full-time job and trying to make it in the music business isn’t the best combination, unfortunately. I mean my family suffers a bit sometimes when I focus on music too much. But they are understanding of the situation of course.

Pix666: Do you have any other news about your band that you would like to share with the fans?

Sebastian: One thing that can be interesting to all of you, is that we’re planning to make a music video for one of our upcoming singles. We are still in the early sketch phases of it so can’t say anything more than that for now. But hopefully, we can have a great video for one of our upcoming songs soon.

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck and stay healthy!!!




photos © by Sebastian Ekstrand und Patric Ullaeus