This Stockholm-based quartet makes jarring electro-pop with a twist, drawing inspiration from ground breaking music by Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. This immaculate pop is nothing less than a result of a mind-boggling harmony between Sweden's electronic eeriness and Australia's polished dynamism.
Swedish instrumentalists (Markus Dextegen, Hampus Nordgren Hemlin and Oskar Sikow Engström) and Aussie singer Kate Akhurst enrich their music with bright hooks, icy synths, acrobatic vocals, and in the meantime still maintain a common Scandinavian sense of cultivated mystery. The band members' appearance and acts during their performances might lead you to think they want to hide their identities; you are not mistaken, because they want to fuse together and form, at least externally, a homogeneous entity. That doesn't mean they want to keep their identities totally anonymous, but they rather express their uniqueness through music and performances. The way they describe the band resembles the way Captain Planet is combined from superpowers of different kids. They say they're a team, a real squad, if you will.
So, I made a little interview with Kate Boy and asked them about their projects and their creating process. There's something about Scandinavian pop that I absolutely and utterly adore, so I was delighted to have gotten this awesome opportunity.
Hey Kate, Markus, Oskar and Hampus, how're you all doing?
We're good, thanks! Just on our way from Seattle to Austin for out last show of our North American tour, it's been such an amazing trip.
So, I have to ask (Kate in particular), what brought you from Australia to Sweden? Have you grown tired of the beautiful weather Down Under?
Never grow tired of the Australian weather! But I was intrigued by the music that came from Sweden, I wanted to go there to see what would come out of it. And luckily for me I met the guys on my first week there.
I've read somewhere that you guys came together by pure chance. Do you think your lives are affected by chance or do you think we are all governed by fate?
We might all differ here a bit in opinion, but one thing that definitely happened for us is that the moment we met - it all felt like fate since it was so easy and smooth. But getting the point of meeting each other was a long road of trying different things that weren't so easy and smooth. Whether that is chance, fate, or just hard work and hanging in there, we are grateful for it.
So many talented and well-known artists are coming from Sweden, it's like a promised land, a real pop Mecca. Can you tell us what you thing is the secret behind the thriving Swedish pop culture?
We think it might have something to do with the long dark winters, being in the studio when it's so cold outside feels so cosy and you can get really creative because otherwise you might go mad unless you have something to throw yourself into.
Do you think that your Swedish pop music predecessors paved the way for you and other newcomers?
We think Sweden has a great reputation for pop and electronic music, it's why Kate was drawn here in the first place ... So we think in many ways it has paved a path for us, however it can also pigeon hole artists coming from Sweden. Many times people have written "yet ANOTHER band from Sweden" like it's over saturated. We like having the rarer mix of Sweden and Australia, kind of like a clash of the climates mixed into our music.
Since we're talking about Sweden that's globally known for great pop music - is the Australian pop music machinery very different from the one in Sweden?
In Australia and New Zealand the approach is predominately indie and the machinery is very DIY. Still people like Lorde, Tame Impala, Empire Of The Sun, Ladyhawke, Gotye are showing that there is still a way of crossing the other side of the world even though most people consider our countries as "so far away".
Your videos are definitely one of a kind visual pleasure. What does visual art mean to you? Would you say that it is equally important as the musical part of your work?
For us releasing a song is not only about the music but also about the whole feeling and atmosphere around it. Videos and pictures act like a modern substitute for the old school record cover and the poster on the wall. Even though we all set out from the beginning to put a lot of focus on the visual side of things, we are not that calculated when it comes to creating it. We go from video to video, picture to picture, and just think "what do we want to do now?" and follow our gut felling on every decision. We like to start with a clean canvas and we just improvise a painting based only on what we really feel like doing at that moment. Since there are no other people involved, what you see is a map of us, what we like and what we stand for.
The production of the "Northern Lights" and "In Your Eyes" is DIY approached. Is this important to you, or in other words, do you want to keep up with the "do it yourself" work?
It's not like we have a rule saying that we're only going to do everything ourselves, I mean if something comes up, an interesting co-lab or anything like that, we'd consider it like we consider every other decision we make. There are thousands of people we'd love to work with, but it's just that up until now we've done it all ourselves.
When you recorded "Northern Lights", did you think it could become a giant hit?
It was actually a hard decision for us to release that as the first song. But we kept coming back to it because in many ways it felt like the blueprint of our sound, also it was symbolic to release it as the first because it was the first song we ever wrote together. We never spoke of it being a giant hit or anything like that. We just wanted to put something online, one simple step at a time!
The writing process - what's it like? What inspires you? What makes your imagination run wild?
The writing process is heaven and hell. Sometimes it's the easiest thing you've ever come across and sometimes you couldn't think of anything harder to do. We find sounds and beats inspiring. But also movies, poetry or novels. Anything that makes us want to create something. Record stores are very inspiring. The smell of vinyls.
You've released an EP - do you have an album in the work?
We are working on the album right now. We don't know what songs are going to be on, but we do know how it's going to feel. If you liked the songs we've already put out you're going to be happy. But playing all these songs live we've grown to love the ambient textures that can glue all these different worlds together. Hopefully our album is as much of a journey as out live set is.
Ok, now I seriously can't wait for their gig. My Slovenian readers will be able to check them out on 4th of October at Kino Šiška (21:00 pm). I think it'll be a mind-blowing show, so be there or be square!