SPOT Festival in Aarhus is one of Scandinavia’s biggest showcase festivals, and so it seemed a pretty natural step to head there and see some music and meet some bands. We saw some great shows (shoutouts to ZAAR, a supercharged Tuvaband, Hoy La, Fufanu, Selma Judith, FRUM and more) and we took the time to try and cram in as many conversations with some of our favourite new artists playing the festival as possible. You can check those out below, and hey, maybe soon they’ll be some of your favourite new artists too.
Linn Koch-Emmery (SWE)
It seems like you’ve been on the road for pretty much a year now, and that you’re playing nearly every festival in the entirely of Europe this summer. So how is it to be on tour so much, because live shows must feel like home at this point?
We’ve been going back and forth a lot. This spring it’s been like three shows a week, so we’re always going back and forth. It feels like I never unpack my suitcase, I come home and think ‘okay, those jeans can be in there until next weekend, that’ll be fine’.
It’s like living out of a suitcase?
It’s definitively living out of a suitcase. I’m living in my suitcase at the moment.
But is it enjoyable to play so much? Or is it a two sides to the coin situation, you like playing but the travelling is tough?
I love playing live and I love touring, and I have a great team with me. But at the same time, you’re constantly driving, or on a train or a plane, that gets frustrating after a while. Especially since I’m going back home a lot, so I’m going away for a weekend, and then back, and then away for the weekend again.
It’s not a consistent tour?
Exactly. I think I’ve driven down to Germany at least five times this year, so it’s a little ‘oh, not this again!’ [laughs]. You see the same places and you stop at the same gas stations, and that gets a bit depressing.
Someday you can write the guide to the best gas stations on the Stockholm-Germany route.
Oh my god, I know all of them.
Do you have favourites?
There’s one outside Stockholm, it’s called Sillekrog, it’s a classic one. We stopped at one yesterday that was nice, well, not nice…
It’s still a gas station?
It’s still a gas station [laughs].
But one of the better gas stations?
Yeah, exactly. Some are better than others. We stopped at one on the way to Kalmar, it wasn’t really a gas station, but on the road they had this little restaurant and bar, it was in the middle of nowhere, it was really nice. Can’t remember the name, but it was a really good one.
When you’re playing to so many different audiences, what song generally connects the best live?
It’s surprising, but I would say it’s Come Back still. It really depends on what the audience is. If it’s my own show and not a festival, and people know the music, it’s more the songs from the last EP. But when it’s a new audience, it’s Come Back. Waves also works well. I think Come Back is the one that everyone likes, it’s enjoyable for everyone.
You released Boys and Waves as a joint vinyl last year. Do you see those two EPs as part of the same era?
Yes. It feels a bit different now, with the album coming. With the first EP, we didn’t even know what it was going to sound like, and it just turned out that way and people liked it. We worked a bit more on the next one, and started thinking about it. I feel like it’s been developing a lot over the last year, and I’ve been playing a lot more live. I think you can tell [with the album], that it’s me, but it’s going to be exciting because it sounds a bit different. It sounds better.
When I heard Wires for the first time, and You & I from Waves EP. It felt like those songs moved your songwriting a little bit away in style from what you did on the first EP, which was very direct and lo-fi. These ones are a bit more developed and layered. Would you say those two marked the direction you’re going?
I could say that, but at the same time I feel it’s not. The songs that I’ve been working on for the album are sometimes like You & I, more worked out pop songs. But there’s also weird elements in there, there’s stuff on that record that’s freaked out and straight-up weird I would say. And I think that resonates with who I am. I always like to write what I think is a huge pop song that will be really good. But I also love to sit at home with my guitar and be like ‘ok, this is going to be really funny’. So when we started recording the album I realised it was a wide spectrum of songs. It still has this weird punky, almost angry feel to it, and then some stuff is straight-up sad. There’s a mix, and I think that’s where I come from as a person as well. Whatever I do is always about big feelings, I feel a lot and the songs resonate that. They’re either really sad or really angry, but it’s not going to be laid-back.
Is it hard to find the time to record and write new songs when you’re on the road so much? You’re always playing shows, or going to and from shows, and presumably you have some kind of life outside of music as well.
At least I try to have some sort of life [laughs]. I try to meet my friends sometimes and have a beer.
So is it hard to find the time to record and write?
At the moment we’re recording the album, but now I’m in a phase where I can just focus on the touring. But it’s kind of sad, because it’s in my personality to constantly write music, I do it all the time. I sit down and record music at home as my hobby. But I feel like when you’ve been out on tour for a while, I just want to lay down or meet a friend or watch Netflix, I don’t want to pick up the guitar in that moment. You get a bit mentally exhausted by hearing so much music and being in it, it’s also nice to have a little break. But that feeling goes so quickly. I tell myself I’ll take two days to chill out, and then I find myself sitting on the tube and thinking ‘ok, I want to go back home and open Logic and start working’. Because I love it, it’s my favourite thing. I love working on writing music. So I guess I’m lucky that I don’t have to force myself to do it. I’m the kind of person that will eventually want to do it. I miss songwriting when I’m not doing it. Because I think to me, songwriting is being in my space, and sometimes I miss being by myself, because when you’re away you’re always surrounded by a lot of people, and you miss being by yourself.
And so to wrap it up, what’s on the horizon. What can you tell us about the album?
Festivals this summer and then releasing some new songs. I got the first drafts of the recordings recently. They’re not even done, and I’m already so proud of them. I feel strongly about it, I think it’s going to be really good, I’m loving it at least [laughs].
How has your festival been so far? You played yesterday?
It went well. It was quite tight, as we arrived shortly before our gig, so it was hard to find the focus at the beginning of the concert. But the audience were really attentive. You got the feeling that they came to listen, were curious about the music and really open to whatever came. I was really grateful.
You’ve been playing music in different bands for years, but when did the Excelsior project start?
It started in 2015, when I was studying at a sound design school called Sonic College in the south of Denmark. I was curious about working on my own, because I’d been in a lot of bands. So I wanted to challenge myself and see what I could do working totally on my own.
The new single is In Silico, so what can you tell us about that?
In Silico is a song about being both alive in a digital world, and being very much human at the same time, and trying to manage this co-existence. This split mentality.
Having so much of your life play out in digital arenas, while also having real life run in parallel?
Exactly, yeah. Also, I think I really wanted to express something very simple and straightforward about it. The idea that I post an image, and I feel like I need the rush of doing that, while at the same time it makes you feel hollow.
When I went through the lyrics I saw things like ‘drunk on aluminium’, ‘high on the Golden Ratio’. There’s kind of a lot of abstraction in your lyrics. I was wondering what inspires the way you write, and where you go in your lyrics? You want to write using this technological, almost engineering-like vocabulary?
Yes, I decided I wanted to use the phone as a theme. So I started researching what a phone is made of, and a big part is made from aluminium, for example. So I pick words from that, and I try to see how much poetry you can find in a very technical description. To almost embody it in a way, to find out what it is to be drunk on aluminium, you meld with the technology. I also found this description of the term ‘In Silico’, which means, I can’t remember if this is exactly right, a biological experiment simulated by a computer. I used the poetry of sentence.
In an earlier premiere, for the Argo video, you spoke about being inspired by the Golem story. Technology also clearly has a bit impact on what inspires you. Do you find you get inspired by a lot of different sources?
I think that I can write about something inside of me only up to a certain extent, and from there on I need to focus on something else, that has nothing to do with me. I think with that inspiration from history or whatever, you can learn something about yourself.
It’s like with In Silico, there’s a personal narrative, which is the digital hollowness feeling which is personal to you, and then you wrap it up in this technological language?
It’s been two years since the last EP, is there another release on the way soon?
I’ve signed with Big Oil Recording Company, so now we’re figuring things out. I’ve made a whole album, so we are just trying to plan how and when to release it.
From the rest of SPOT, have you seen anything you really like, or are there other artists on the line-up you would recommend?
I didn’t get to watch much yesterday and I’m leaving today very early. But I know that Collider are playing tonight, this shoegaze band, very cool and very intense. And Liss, I would have liked to see them.
To go back to the start of the Special-K project, you’ve been making music with other projects for years, like Reykjavíkurdætur and Kriki, but when did Special-K as its own distinct project start?
That’s actually a fun story. I was playing with Soléy in 2016, and she became kind of like a mentor to me, I almost felt like an intern, being in her band and learning how she directed her project. I saw how she worked, and she’s very inspiring. We were going to Georgia, and on the plane she said, ‘Katrín, when is your solo album coming out?’. So I said ‘hmm, guess I’m making a solo album!’. Then we were playing in Japan in late 2017, and I opened for her as Special-K in some cities. I had started writing the album in summer 2017. I was lucky enough to have enough income from the Soléy tours that I didn’t have to get a summer job, which I usually do. So I had enough free time, and I was living in my parents’ garage, and I had my piano there and I could play all day. I was also touring with Reykjavíkurdætur that summer, but whenever I was back in Reykjavík I would record. I bought a sound card and YouTube tutorialed my way through Ableton. I wrote all the songs that summer, and starting making the videos in the fall then went to Japan and played those shows. But I was in my final year of studying visual arts at the time.
So it was also an outlet for your visual art ideas?
Yes, and I managed to combine both of these. The idea was born in Japan, backstage at a place called 7th Floor in Tokyo. I had opened for Soléy, doing some songs with playback, some with piano, and even a little trumpet. But I did Date Me I’m Bored with just playback and vocals, and introduced it as my karaoke song, as karaoke is really big in Japan, and after the gig Soléy said ‘I think you’re onto something with this karaoke thing’. And after that I developed the idea for the visual album with karaoke lyrics. And my graduate project from art school was this album, and the final performance/installation was me performing the songs in front of the videos, with no instruments. So definitely inspired by Soléy a lot, this album, though I’ve been writing songs forever.
I guess you touched in this here, but what was the motivation to do a video for every song on the album?
Yes, so I had decided in Japan, then I came back to Iceland before Christmas and asked friends who were talented if they wanted to help me. I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own, I only had three months to make 12 videos. So I contacted friends I wanted to work with. It was a great experience to do this collaboration thing. The first person I talked to was Kristín Helga, and we made Date Me I’m Bored, the video with the puffins. I had made one before, but the rest I did in three months.
Did the concepts for the videos come from collaboration, or did you have a strong idea going into each one?
Usually it was collaboration. It was totally inspired by Lemonade, even though it’s a very different album, I was very impressed by Lemonade. But there were people around me doing visual albums. For I Thought I’d Be More Famous By Now, I had that idea and got a friend to help with props and shooting. Date Me I’m Bored was totally Kristín Helga’s concept. It was a big conversation all the time, and I chose really nice artists to work with, so I trusted them really well. So some were my concepts, a lot were the artists I worked with, and I would just serve their ideas. There were a few made on my own, like Waste Of Time, the line-dancing one. The background is actually my little sister’s class. They did it for some kind of party, so I took their video to use as a background.
I was wondering about your lyrics, because your lyrics with Special-K are very open. I was wondering if you see Special-K as a character distinct from yourself, so you can express these lyrics and feelings in these songs, while being able to put a bit of distance between them and you as a person?
That’s a really good question, I hadn’t really thought about it. It’s definitely a character. But I wrote the songs before I chose the artist names, and it’s the only way I know how to write lyrics, I can’t write vague lyrics, it doesn’t happen. The Kriki lyrics are very naked lyrics too. That’s the only way I know how to write lyrics really! [laughs]. Those are also the lyrics that appeal to me, I kind of like it when people are bare, obvious. Like Soko, I really like her lyrics. But there is a distance I guess, and people don’t necessarily know what is real and what isn’t real. When I did the graduation show, my aunt came, and she’s like 90-something. And she took everything very literally, and came up to me after and said ‘Katrín, are you okay?’ [laughs]. Because some of the songs were really sad. It is based on real feelings, but like exaggerated. But it comes from somewhere real.
When I was listening to the album for the first time, it’s the bitterly funny lines that stand out, like “I have no fans and I’m not getting laid” and “You are talented I try to tell myself, maybe one day dad will think so as well”. There’s quite a few through the album, do you like writing those?
Punchline-y things? Yeah, I guess so. It’s funny that you mention those two, because at first it was “I’m not getting paid”. Because that was the true reality, like ‘I’m never going to make a living out of this’. Then I thought it was even more pathetic to say I’m not getting laid.
It’s a funnier punchline.
Yeah it is, even if the real struggle is the money. And with the dad thing, I wrote that because I didn’t want to say ‘my music doesn’t sell’ twice. I think I do like writing those punchline-y things. When I was a teenager I became kind of obsessed with Jarvis Cocker from Pulp, he writes really witty lyrics. I’ve always been kind of inspired by wit.
A little bit on the same subject, I wanted to ask about Fashion!, which has the same kind of nihilistic humour. I wanted to ask a little more about that song, it was written for a commission, right?
Yes, that’s the only song I’ve ever made as a commission. There are two girls that have an Icelandic label called Usee. I really like their clothes, and one day I went and asked if I could borrow something for a show. Then they followed me on Instagram, and one day asked if I wanted to do a collaboration. So they asked me to make a song that was a ‘humorous satire of the fashion industry’ or something like that. It’s difficult to do political songs, and I should know because I was in a band called Hljómsveitt with my sister where we sang about sex in a feminist, sex-positive way. So I didn’t want to be preachy, and the only way to not be that was to talk about it with regard to myself, to make myself the target. I guess I specialise in self-deprecating humour. And I am guilty of buying clothes from bad brands sometimes, though I am trying to do it less. It’s so much easier to write something for something else, because I didn’t have to struggle with self-doubt, because it didn’t feel like my artistic output. It was really easy, and now a lot of people say it’s their favourite song and I just think ‘I put no effort into it!’ [laughs]. Then I was just so happy with it I decided to include it on the album.
I was wondering what your usual songwriting process for a Special-K song is. In the descriptions you gave us, it sounds like you come across an idea, and it just inspires you to write a song? You talked about discovering what Imposter Syndrome was, and how that inspired that song.
I think I’m one of the few musicians that always starts with the lyrics. I think the only song on the album that didn’t start with the lyrics was the last one, which doesn’t have lyrics. I Thought I’d Be More Famous By Now came when I was on tour with Reykjavíkurdætur and we had shit accommodation, and it was a difficult time in the band, everyone was tired and grumpy. So sometimes the lyrics come from a feeling and I need an outlet, especially with the sadder songs. I can structure my feelings and have an outlet, and then I write the chord progression and melodies on top. I often get inspirations from other songs for those. One of my new songs, I wrote after having watched ten videos of Joanna Newsom playing live on YouTube, and I thought it was so cool, she’s just singing and doing such complicated things on the harp. And I wanted to do something rhythmically a bit challenging. Many of my earlier songs are very simple, but I graduated music school in classical piano, so I do want to challenge myself a little bit. I want to include that more. I like telling people where I get inspirations from. So many people are like ‘No, this all comes from me, all from inside me’. I like to credit the people I get inspiration from, and I think it’s a nice way to create, to take ideas from different places and uniting them. But yeah, [my songs] are about recognising a feeling, like I did with I Thought, and maybe it’s a feeling I think will be relatable, and they getting inspirations from various places for the chords and melodies and recording it.
Do you have any recommendations from SPOT? Either shows you’ve seen, or artists on the bill you would tip?
I saw some really exciting stuff yesterday. I’m a big fan of Erika De Casier, I really like her sound, that chimes-y, harpsichord-y 00s R’n’B sound. I also saw Athletic Progression, really mind-blowing. The drummer is annoyingly good at drums. I was really blown away at that concert. I’m definitely going to be listening more to them, and also showing my drummer friends and asking ‘can you do this? I don’t think so!’ [laughs]. I also saw a Norwegian hip-hop act called Varnrable. She was just alone onstage with playback, and it’s an art to pull that off. Then I saw Indridi, my friend from Iceland, and he’s always very nice, Salka my friend sings harmonies with him.
Josephin Bovién (DK)
Even though you already have an album out, you’re still a pretty new artist. So how did your solo project get started?
I was doing choruses for rappers on Soundcloud, but I wanted to do my own stuff. So I just started writing to people on Soundcloud, and asking if they had any beats, or people wrote to me offering beats. And that’s kind of how it became a project.
When would you say the official start was? Your oldest songs on Souncloud came out about two years ago.
For the Caramel Babe project, the start was like 2017, like January, when work started.
Did you know when you started on that that you wanted to make album?
No, I didn’t [laughs]. It just happened that at some point, I had a lot of tracks, so I thought I should make it into a project. People have called it a mixtape too, because it’s small bits of me. It was a little after I had made the tracks that I decided. Then some of those tracks didn’t come out, but I had made new stuff with some producers from Denmark.
Is that how you write most of your songs at this point, through collaborations with producers?
Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’ve done it so far. But I really want to get in the studio with a lot of musicians, and do it more live and with organic instruments. So I think the working process is going to be a little bit different for the next project.
Has Soundcloud been your main tool for communicating with other artists and producers, and building up those collaborations?
Yeah, at first. Because I was just in my room at parents’ house, so it was the only way. But then I moved to Aarhus, and I started meeting people, and then some people in Copenghagen. And if I meet a producer in Aarhus, they’ll say ‘oh, you should work with my friend on Copenhagen’ or something.
The first release you put out this year was The Right People/ Know That Woman, the double release. The Right People was a super interesting song, because it’s so short and so loose, and it’s almost like a manifesto for you as an artist, you’re talking about what you want to be as an artist. Was that your intention when you wrote it?
I wrote the song and I made the beat, and I decided I wanted to put it out just as it is, a short statement. I feel like it has my thoughts and is very honest, it’s easy to see what I’m trying to say.
Was it always the intention to use it as a paired song, with Know That Woman?
I think it was a coincidence. I didn’t plan on making two songs together, but I had these two songs, and I wanted to do a video, and I thought they would be a good bit. A statement and personal part.
It’s been a busy couple of months, with the album and those singles coming out, what’s coming up in the near future?
I’ve been focusing a lot on SPOT Festival, because I’m playing with a band, and that’s kind of new for me. It’s my second show [playing with a live band], and this is a serious show. And then I’m playing Distortion in Copenhagen in the summer. But after the summer, I think I’m going to go down in my cave and make more music.
For SPOT festival, what other bands are you looking forward to seeing, and who would you recommend?
I haven’t really checked the programme that much because I’ve been doing interviews. But I really want to see Erika De Casier. Also a duo called Fraads. I think their stage vibe is interesting. And Athletic Progression. Astrid Engberg.
So you released Full Body Mirror last year, and that was your fourth EP, what can you tell us about that record?
Ess: It was a twin record for the previous EP, which was Swim. A continuation of that one, chapter two. A very experimental record, where we felt that we would not have any boundaries on what we wanted to do. A bunch of tracks that are very different, they each have something unique in them. After Swim, the songwriting just kept going. But because there were no plans for a release [at the start of the writing process] it felt more free, as we didn’t know where it was going to go.
You guys formed back in 2012 right?
Ess: Yes, late 2012. It’s had to say exactly when we formed. We just started messing around in 2012, and I think for us it felt like we really formed when we released our first EP. Then we were a band.
What kind of influences were you into at the time, that got you into this experimental/drone/ industrial music?
Christian: A lot of different stuff. I’ve always listened a lot to post-rock, like Godspeed You Black Emperor!, that kind of stuff. Scott Walker as well. It just came out this way, we didn’t really plan to make a drone/ambient band. We were just experimenting with pedals and sounds, and this is what we came up with.
Ess: I had written the first two tracks, before we started even messing. Christian was in another band, which I have since joined, Tales of Murder and Dust, and we were just hanging out one day and I was like ‘I’ve written some tracks’. I had severe depression at the time, so I was taking a lot a medication, and this is going to sound so rock and roll, but I probably wouldn’t have written the songs without the drugs [laughs]. So Valium-induced. I didn’t play music before that, I just picked up the guitar and started playing. Then after I joined the other band, both inspired each other, we took things from one band and brought it to the other. Cross-pollinate each band. But I think we actually became the band we are now in 2016, we had a dry spell in songwriting. The I started listening to things like SunO))))) and Swans, and we got really inspired again, and we took a complete different turn. But we don’t see ourselves as having to fit into any genres – bands like Low and Yo La Tengo have inspired us in that approach. To just put out whatever you feel like putting out.
With the music you guys put out, which is almost impressionistic with these layered, built up songs, I wonder, when you play live, do the songs grow into something different than they do on record?
Ess: Yeah, we totally pick them apart.
Christian: We have one song tomorrow that is a ‘song’ song, and the rest is improvised. Maybe 50% improvised and 50% planned.
Ess: When we rehearse we try out different things. I think when in 2016 we decided to play this way, we decided to never have two concerts that were the same. Never a ZRN concert that is the same at any point, I don’t think that has ever happened. We write a lot of songs like this actually, we come off stage and then go ‘huh, that was a good one!’ [laughs]. It creates for the audiences a now-ness in the experience, we are actually present. It’s nice to explore the atmosphere on the song in different ways. Something that sounds really dark on record can have a lighter feel in concert.
Christian: Or the other way around.
You’re four EPs in now. Do you plan to release an album at some point? Or do you feel the EP format better suits what you want to do?
Ess: I think it’s the songwriting and the process that dictates. We’re currently in the writing of an album, that will be an album because there are so many tracks, and they’re really really long. So it makes sense to wrap that up in the album experience. And we can go places we haven’t gone before. The EP format feels like you can explore and then move on from that point, but the album format feels like it’s wrapped up in this big narrative, that’s how it works for me, I think. So we have this framework, and ideas and images that we work from, to try and create the full album. One of the things that we’ve learned through the years is not to rush it. One of the problems that we had early on, when we were in our mid-twenties, was to feel like ‘argh, we’re in the prime of our youth and we have to put out an album fast and make a career’. It’s just putting unrealistic expectations on yourself, so now we’re more cautious about putting a deadline on something. Let’s see if it comes out this year.
So, what other bands are you looking forward to seeing at the festival, what other artists would you recommend?
Christian: I think we would like to recommend a lot of artists playing the event we’re promoting tomorrow.
Ess: I got to curate it. We have our own management company, and we decided to do our own thing during this festival, and then we asked SPOT if they wanted to come on board and co-promote.
Christian: I think Nils Gröndahl, the experimental violinist.
Ess: He just did a track for Sky Ferreira [new single Downhill Lullaby]. And the last band on tomorrow, Brunsten, which is all your favourites, Sonic Youth, Swans, all in one band, and they make perfect sets, I love watching them play.
If we go back to your earlier EPs, Once The Lights Are On and Hints, they were more straightforward synth-pop music. ANYONE is completely different, it’s like this chaotic pop that pulls from so many other genres. So do you feel it took time to develop the sound you wanted, and that ANYONE was the final result of that development?
Simon Andersson: We all come from different musical backgrounds, so when we first started making music on the first two EPs, they were the result of us trying to do something none of us had done before, which was a synth pop thing. And then on the album, we wanted to step away from that premise, that it had to be synth-pop when we worked together, and we maybe turned to some of our different backgrounds, rather than trying to stay away from them.
Fine: I also think it’s about how our lives were. It was more simple back then. Things aren’t just about the music, they’re also about our personal lives and how we felt [when they were making each record]. I don’t think we had a period of time where the sound developed – on ANYONE, it was just a reflection of how our world changed. It just followed our mindsets, more than we said ‘now we want to change’. It was really natural.
Simon Kjær: The first things we started working on felt more on edge, compared to things we had done before. It all resonated between us, there was no decision. The first things we made for ANYONE were darker and wilder. I think the spectrum of the album is so much wider than before. When we did things on the edge of what we had done before, it gave us the energy to continue working.
Simon Andersson: We allowed ourselves to have that freedom, and not have too many expectations in advance. Our spontaneous moods really come into the music. On the other hand, we tried to hold onto ideas we were working on and take them to another level than we did before. So we were very free in what kind of sounds we could use, but we had some clear choices when it came to the concepts of the song.
Fine: It was almost like the concept was that there was no concept. That those shifting moods were what we wanted. So if we wanted to do a club song one day and a jazzy, downtempo song the next, we had to figure out how to make it into one sound. The vocals were what united everything, and the production was more everywhere.
Simon Kjær: Early on, we worked a lot on making everything fit together, the guitar with the synthesizers for example. With this album, it feels like we’ve embraced things that don’t fit together. The reason we use guitar on a synth track is that it doesn’t sound like a synth. The reasons the lyrics are sad on a happy track is because it doesn’t fit together, and that’s ok.
The next question is actually about the diversity of styles on the album. It’s an interesting blend because you have the big-hitting, clubbier tracks like Give Me Life and Adrenaline, and you have the slicker R’n’B songs like Strange Is Better and Anyone, and then stripped-back songs like Simple. Did you work for a long time trying to get the mix of styles and ideas right on the album? All the songs sound coherent, like they’re from the same record, but there’s a blend of styles.
Simon Andersson: It’s nice you say that. I remember when we got the final songs mixed and we had the whole album, there was a lot of doubt. We wondered if people would just think this was a collection of random songs, and if they would hear them and not see the connections between the songs. I think as Fine says, despite the fact that there are many different genres going on, there are still come underlying things that are consistent. For example, the mood of the vocals is drowsy. And some other things are consistent, even though other things shift around. But yeah, we had a lot of doubt about that, but we took a chance.
Fine: I think if you make a lot of songs in the same period, and especially with the lyrics, that I record in the same mood, it will fit. Unless you’re a singer really that has a lot of different expressions in your voice. I have more of the same thing going on.
Simon Kjær: It’s weird, investigating ourselves and our sound. When I make music, I like that no matter what production style I’ve doing, that there’s always some part that’s consistent, just because it’s the same person. It’s more interesting to hear the consistency between a jazz beat and an electronic beat than if you just heard generic R’n’B beats for the whole record.
With this style you’ve developed now, how is the typical songwriting process?
Simon Andersson: Recently, it’s been me or Simon or both of us coming up with a starting point for the track, usually a beat and the instrumental elements. And then Fine listens to it and she comes up with the melodies.
Fine: It used to be more traditional, I would sit and write on my piano and we would turn it into a song. But it’s never been that I wrote a whole song, it’s always been in phases and then we built it together. To me it’s a spontaneous process, it’s never like they make a production and I just do topline. I listen to some of their small bits of productions, and if I feel something I’ll do something on top of it, and then we’ll maybe shift the vocals or whatever.
Simon Andersson: Sometimes when Fine makes the melody for a sketch, we just take it and put it into something completely different. That can sometimes surprise us a little, positively.
Simon Kjær: We can take each others’ parts out of context. We often work apart, and Fine can get something from Simon, she makes a topline for that, and then I topline that with instruments. As we don’t make the music in the same room, we can do something that none of us could do by ourselves, as we can get things from each other with fresh ears.
Simon Andersson: You wonder what they made. It’s nice, one person can see potential in what the others did that they can’t see.
Fine: It can make it difficult in the ending, when we’re finishing the song, as we can all hear something different in it and like a different part of it.
Simon Kjær: Someone might hear something as rock and another as hip-hop.
Simon Andersson: And you have to negotiate a little for the final version.
Fine: The difficult part for us is not getting ideas and getting inspired. It’s the disagreements in the end.
Simon Andersson: I think it’s the strength and weakness of the way we work. We work separately and all have different backgrounds, and we all have different tastes, though we share a lot of taste too. So we can come up with lots of ideas, but when you have to make decisions, like ‘This is the final version’, that becomes hard sometimes. And especially hard on ANYONE, because we had agreed we wanted to do something different from before, but we didn’t know exactly what.
You played a live show in March, with visual dramatisation of the album from exner.kaldan.jansson. Is bringing ANYONE outside of the world of just music, and collaborating with other artforms, something you’re interested in?
Simon Andersson: If you see our show, we’re not crazy onstage, we don’t have crazy performances, it’s kind of simple. So we’re been experimenting with other mediums to see how it works.
Fine: It reflects how I feel about the album, in that it’s about how we felt. The first two EPs were more about the music, this album reflected us more in a way, and it’s natural that images are a part of it.
Simon Kjær: The records are our main focus, we are a studio band. So when we play live, we want to present the record in the best way possible. So tonight we are going to work a lot with the lighting. Working with video, it felt like the concert was more about the music, weirdly, because the attention was not on us.
Fine: When you play live, it is obviously about us. And we love to play live, but it is in the studio that we’re most at home. Our music is not about the party maybe, it’s about listening. It’s maybe more for people to listen to alone, and that doesn’t fit the live show, so that is a challenge.
Simon Andersson: With the new songs, the protagonist of the songs is kind of drowsy, it’s not a very outgoing form of music. Even though the musical parts are, the protagonist is more standing paralysed with a bunch of chaos around them.
Simon Kjær: It wouldn’t work at all for us to be an extrovert band. So the way for us to solve this is to work on the visual. That concert was a great experience for us, one of the first where we felt us not being extroverts wasn’t a problem. I thought a lot about that, usually we don’t say much on stage and that night Fine didn’t say a single word, and it felt perfect, it would have ruined it to say anything. And we want to make that show, where no-one even questions if we should say anything. Because it’s perfect without it.
What have you guys seen so far, or what would you recommend from the line-up?
Fine: Erika De Casier is playing tonight, she’s a friend of ours, makes really smooth, kind of kitsch R’n’B.
Thanks to all the bands and everyone at SPOT Festival