Tony Clay­ton-lea

Swedish duo First Aid Kit, aka sib­lings Jo­hanna and Klara Soder­berg, talk to ahead of the re­lease their new al­bum, Stay Gold

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

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?

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