Jens Linell

Jens Linell was born in Östersund, Sweden in 1982. His father, a guitarist teacher, let him into the studio room at the age of seven where he got his first taste and fell in love with drumming. He started playing in punk and hardcore bands and eventually ended up in a music school where he discovered classical music, jazz and also Swedish folk music.

At the age of 17, he joined the great theatre company ”Västanå Teater” in Värmland, where the family had moved. He got totally absorbed by folk music in the three years he worked as a musician during the summer plays. Here he got to meet and play with some of the best young folk musicians around, and there has been no turning back. Jens went on to study Cuban music in Habana, started playing his beloved tambourine with the wonderful master Björn Tollin (Hedningarna, Boot) in 2003, the tambourine was the young musician’s way deeper into the twines of the Nordic traditional music. A fabulous forest of different dance rhythms and melodies where the tambourine guided his hand closer and closer to the melody players.

In 2006 Jens started at the College of Music in Gothenburg and studied there for around 3 years, one semester at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway, where he started to play the Hardanger fiddle. Mostly as a way to go even deeper into the rhythms and melodies of the Nordic traditional music, to learn how it felt to play the tunes first hand. At this time Jens started his career as a freelance musician, first with Triller (2007) in Sweden and SVER (2008) in Norway.

Since leaving school in 2010 Jens has been active as a freelancer on his own, and as apart of others' projects. The core has always been to be able to follow the melody player to the extreme. This has formed him into one of the leading percussionists in the Nordic folk music scenes of today. He has dedicated himself to the art of being a melody player on drums, and also bring in elements from jazz, rock and free improvised music.

”I want to step out of the role as a drummer, the timekeeper, and to just follow the melody - wherever it goes”. The first thing you'll notice is the fact that he plays mostly with his hands: smashing cymbals, softly caressing the snare or banging the tambourine.

Jens has opened new doors with SVER, touring the USA & Canada, on the youth radio charts with Snakka San & SVER and at jazz festivals with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. He does solo concerts as well as being part of Mæd Luggumt, GKN5, and Triller.

Interview with Neil Pearlman from the Tradcafé Podcast: