June 10, 2017
An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 80 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
My name is Didrik Soderstrom. I am the founder and creative director of the Hnossa Project. I also perform with Hnossa as a storyteller.
I’m a first generation American. My father was from Sweden and most of my living family is there.
I’ve been based out of Brooklyn for about 8 years now. I grew up on a small road in Durand Eastman park. I was home-schooled early on and went to Harley for high school. I spent a bridge year working for The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm before starting at NYU Tisch for theatre.
What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
Ever since I was little my mother dragged me to chamber music and orchestral performances. Once I turned ten or eleven I stopped sleeping through these I got swept away by the music and the history of classical and jazz composers and songwriters. I wasn’t a super emotional kid but the big symphony performances was one of the only times I really felt emotional. It was awesome. I remember crying at a Rachmaninov concert. You can’t beat that kind of catharsis when you find it.
I also spent a lot of time listening to Jay Stetzer’s storytelling. I was a student of his for a bit as well. He had all these stories bursting from the seams of his mind and I ate it up. He told these old stories. They had this amazing sense of history, like it had this pre-history feel to it. Like his words were woven with the breath of the ur-myth. That’s the feeling of connection I chase.
The emotion I want to create in my storytelling is the meeting of that ur-myth and the catharsis of a symphony performance.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
That post school slump was big for me. I lost my father to an accident a bit before I graduated. I pushed the feelings of it aside and barrelled through school. I think the slog of daily life, working two or three jobs to support your work, (which is a job in and of itself) really wore on me from the outside while the feelings I hadn’t faced about losing my father clawed at me from within.
When you’re in school, conservatory a residency etc. you are blessed with this time to focus solely on your art without worrying about the day to day. And when you leave an environment like that you expect yourself to create with the same tenacity and passion you had before. You can’t surge forward in the same way. You get worn by life. The real strength of an artist is made in that time. Can you create when the whole world seems determined to stop you?
I’m still fighting it in a lot of ways. But I’ve come a long way. I started seeing a therapist to take care of my mental health and I started seeking out work that inspires me. I try to see as many shows, art openings, and concerts as I can afford. I love reading old books. This stuff is what gives me the ideas to create.
My medium is a pretty different. My performances transition between original poetry, prose, and song with a healthy dose of foley. I also strive for a level of intimacy that I’m told is disarming. That’s the thing that people tell me is the most different about what I do. They don’t expect to feel that close to my process since I do everything live from scratch. There are no tracks, no complex lighting, there’s no intense choreography. That’s the only thing live performance has over film in my opinion. We have genuine human connection.
I love argentinian tango. I just got a new pair of shoes and they are so rad. It’s freeing to improvise within that set form and to listen and be welcomed into an aspect of a culture that is totally different from my own.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
I have a show going up in Chicago in September with their fringe. My production company has a few things coming down the pike. We will be recording a concept album with a Swedish singer-songwriter named Clara Strauch in mid fall. A few illustrated books will be out around then as well, one illustrated by Pete Lake (rochester local) and another by Kjersti Jorgenson. We are also working on a horror film set to shoot in 2018.
I’d like to have this work with The Hnossa Project be full time. I am hustling to get myself and my artists in the company to the place where we can live off our work.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
You have to feed yourself once you are out of that safe place where you are blessed to only work on your art. You can’t create in a void. Challenge yourself. Go to the art gallery. Go see some live performances in mediums and genres you’ve never seen before. If you are tired and feel like you can’t make anything go see something cool, go do something cool. It’s not wasted time or wasted money if it is inspiring you. It’s a business expense.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
You can follow us on facebook and instagram as well as on our website.
ON ANOTHER STORY TELLER