Erik Mikael Karlsson came in contact with electro-acoustic music in 1984 via his early interest in avant-garde jazz. He studied composition and computer music at EMS (Institute for Electro acoustic Music in Sweden) with Hungarian composer/conductor Tamas Ungvary among others.
His international breakthrough came in 1991 with the experimental music-drama "Threads and Cords" (commissioned by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and composed in collaboration with composer Jens Hedman) which was awarded the European Broadcasting Union/Unesco Rostrum-prize for electro acoustic music in 1992.
His style is characterized by a strong personal sense for dramatic effects but also for the poetic, the intimate. His works are often epic, with long meditative lines counterpointed by outbursts of vocal and percussive powers. His interest in the human voice can easily be traced through pieces such as "Known" (1990), "Threads and Cords" (1990-91), "La disparition de l'azur "(1993) and "Intensities and Interludes" (1998). Karlsson's instrumental music is compared to his electroacoustic music extremely quiet and slow characterized by softness and stillness, yet with an enormous tension and inner drama ("Still Life with Wound" for soprano, lute and viola da gamba, "Still Life with Desire" for piano etc.)
At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s he took an active role in the Fylkingen Society for New Music and Intermedia Art in Stockholm, as a member of the board of directors and as a member of the program-committee. Between 1990 and 1996 he was a member of the executive committee at EMS in Stockholm. Since 1995 he has been teaching composition at EMS in Stockholm. In 1992 he was awarded a grant from the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm which entitled him to work during 1992-93 at the Electronic studio at the Technisches Universität in Berlin.
He has been awarded numerous international awards for his music such as the EBU/Unesco Rostrum award, in 1992 (selected piece) and in 1994 (recommended piece) and 3 first prizes in the Grand Prix Internationaux de Musique Eléctroacoustique in Bourges, France.
As a composer he has worked at EMS in Stockholm, the Danish Institute for Electro acoustic Music in Århus (DIEM), le Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB), the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation in Stockholm, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation in Copenhagen, the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne (WDR) and at La Muse en Circuit in Paris.
Commissions have been received from the French State (Commande d'Etat Français), the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, INA-GRM at Radio France in Paris, The Cullberg Ballet, the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Sonic Arts Network in London, l'Institut International de Musique Eléctroacoustique de Bourges, the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm, the Swedish Concert Institute, DIEM etc.
Erik Mikael Karlsson is a member of Collège des Compositeurs at Insitut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges in France.
Erik Mikael Karlsson has lectured about his work in Europe, USA and Canada. His music has been performed and broadcast worldwide. He is represented in the International Edition of Who's Who in Music. In 1998 he moved to Denmark and Copenhagen where he lived for almost 3 years but moved back to Sweden (Malmoe) in the beginning of 2001 where he now lives and works.