Defusing Mines With Music
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The presence of landmines on many different continents still represents a very real threat to millions of civilians, and one Swedish musician is out to fight the problem with music. Jesper Eriksson is the man behind Paradors, a musical collective comprising artists from Canada, the U.K. and Sweden. The newly released MAG Songs is an album designed to raise funds for global humanitarian charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG).
The songs are all listed on the web site with a name-your-price “buy now” purchase system, in addition to share features. “Immediate download of 10-track album in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire,” it says. “Every penny from all sold albums will go directly to MAG.”
MAG’s work clearing landmines and destroying weapons helps some of the world’s poorest people rebuild their lives after war. MAG was founded in 1989, and in 1997 it became co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize for its work helping to bring about the international Mine Ban Treaty that banned the use, stockpile and manufacture of anti-personnel landmines.
The Paradors album is part of MAG’s Music Beats Mines initiative, which brings together artists in support of landmine clearance. Major name artists to have previously supported Music Beats Mines include Elbow, The Foo Fighters and David Bowie. Paradors may feature lesser known names, but leader Eriksson has a deep personal attachment to the cause.
Best known in the music industry as part of Swedish band The Auto Dropouts, Eriksson was inspired to raise money for the charity after spending six years as a development officer and witnessing first-hand the devastation caused by landmines.
"I was only 22 years old when I travelled to Africa,” he says in a statement for the MAG album press release. “We visited Namibia and the Angolan border, where the land had been ravaged by war. Landmines were a real problem, leaving acres uninhabitable, communities in fear and a population of amputees. The trip had a major impact on me. I worked for a Swedish peace organisation during the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1997 and I have supported the work of charities like MAG ever since.
"Without their work communities live in fear, are unable to farm land, or access water. Parents can’t even let their children play for fear of losing them to a landmine or another explosive weapon. I’m proud to be able to help MAG and urge as many people as possible to support them by buying the album."
Featured on the album are Eriksson (songs, lyrics, bass, guitars, backup vocals), Christer Björklund (drums, backup vocals, recording engineer, producer), Scott Cryer (vocals, lyrics), Nick Marsh (vocals, lyrics), Andreas Tuveson (vocals), Sverker Magnusson (organ, piano), Richard Krantz (pedal steel), Mats Grönmark (lap steel), Anders Lyck (guitar), and Johan Nordström (electric and acoustic guitar).
A Canadian component to the Paradors project is the presence of Cryer. He is known on the Toronto scene as a former member of the band Two Thirds Water and he is now half of the duo Dirt Farmer. In an interview with samaritanmag, Cryer explained his involvement, and gave plenty of credit to Eriksson.
"He has been the driving force behind this disc. Jesper has collaborated with musicians across the globe for quite a few years now, thanks to the wonders of technology. Jesper is a lyricist but doesn't fancy himself as being a singer and that is how I got involved. For the Paradors benefit CD, three singers, including me, have contributed vocal tracks.
“The whole concept of recording on different parts of the globe and blending it all together in Sweden worked very well. Jesper would email an instrumental version of the song. I would then record my vocals and send the vocal track, by itself, back to Jesper. He worked with producer Christer Bjorkland to create the final mixes and master the album in Sweden."
Paradors describe their sound as "alternative post-punk roots rock Scandinavian madness." Everyone involved with this album has given their time for free and all profits go to MAG. Ingrid Smith, from MAG’s Fundraising team, summed up the project best by declaring that "quite simply, buying this album will help save lives."
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.