Swedish duo First Aid Kit, aka siblings Johanna and Klara Soderberg, talk to ahead of the release their new album, Stay Gold
Was it always going to be music for you and your sister, Klara?
We always sang together, and we were brought up in a very musical family, so music was always around us. We just happened to land upon country music. When we did that, we started writing our own songs, and then it began from there. We didn’t really think about our choices, we just ended up doing it.
Have you thought about why folk and country felt so right for you? What did it connect with?
It felt simple and authentic; all of the music we had been listening to before was of the pop kind, and that seemed so far away from folk. Folk music also spoke to us, to what we thought about, and how we thought. There is something quite magical about the music, as well as the songs – the traditions, also, appealed to us.
Did the music reflect the nature of your environment in rural Sweden, particularly during the winter months?
If you live in Sweden you can become quite isolated, especially during those winter months – it gets very dark for quite a long time! You rarely go out, and in country music there is a loneliness and that sense of deepness and darkness. Everyone has that within them, of course, but as a young girl listening to old folk music it resonated intensely. I felt the music was very real, and to be honest, it made Klara and myself feel stronger and less alone in our anxieties.
Presumably, it gave you comfort, identity, and inspiration . . .
All of those! The other thing was that with pop music we felt like we needed producers and a range of machinery. With folk, we knew we could just write a song, pick up a guitar and play it within minutes. That was truly inspiring. We also expressed what we felt, but when we first started that wasn’t what we initially thought we wanted to do. Back then, we just did it, without thinking too much about it. Now, it’s like therapy for
Stay Gold is out on June 6th. First Aid Kit play Longitude, July 18th-20th, Marlay Park, Dublin
us. Writing songs is what we do when we’re sad. That’s a fantastic tool to have in your life, and to be able to share it with people is quite amazing. That’s what music is for us – a helping hand in times of crisis. Hopefully our music can do that for some people.
What do you when you’re happy?
We don’t write songs! Of course, we’re not sad all of the time – that would be tragic. But we’re able to tap into our reflective sides and call upon what I term “everyday melancholy” – that doesn’t mean you’re clinically depressed, it just means you think about things. Both Klara and I have an optimistic outlook on life, but there are still gloomy areas.
Growing up, your father was a moderately successful pop star in Sweden. Did you think of him as a pop star, or was he just your dad?
We knew that the rock and pop world was around us with my dad being involved in music, and that gave us ideas that we could do music as a lifestyle choice. We also saw that if you try it and it doesn’t work, then you can always do something else. Not succeeding on any particular level wasn’t the end of the world for him, either, and knowing that made it easier for us to make the decision to leave school and devote ourselves to making music.
Were you surprised that your parents allowed you to quit school to pursue music?
We weren’t surprised at all – our parents have always been incredibly supportive of anything we did creatively. But, yes, I see that some parents might not have given their support so readily for such a venture. That said, we know that we can go back to school – in Sweden you can go back to school anytime. Hmm . . . I can’t see that happening, though, can you?