Sweden’s musical sister act talks to Mia about headbanging, Chick-fil-A and going viral.
There are plenty of sibling acts on the music scene today but not very many of them can sing in as much musical and emotional harmony as Swedish duo, First Aid Kit. Their indie-folk style of musical storytelling is almost reminiscent of children’s lullabies in that their songs tend to be filled with the nurturing sounds of beautiful two-part harmonies – but they can also contain themes and tones which are darker than might be expected.
Photo by Neil Krug
When we met up for our interview at this year’s Lollapalooza music festival, I was mildly embarrassed about being five feet tall while sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg towered above me. As I stood there waiting for the two to finish taking pictures, two fans walked up and seemed just as in awe of them as I was. After taking a picture of them with their fans, we began the interview and they basically validated the feelings I have been coming to understand: Musically and Politically, Sweden might be the greatest place to live.
AfterEllen.com: How did you feel when your cover of Fleet Foxes went viral? That was the first time I had heard you two and I was just blown away. Were you expecting it to take off? I just remember seeing it on a blog that was basically like, “Who are these adorable Swedish sisters covering “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” in the middle of the woods?”
Johanna Söderberg: We just went to the forest with a digital camera and did it in one take and never thought anyone in the world would ever watch it. We were still at school and First Aid Kit was already a thing but that really grew it. We were blown away with the amount of views and the amount of love we got.
AE: I was psyched that you gave it away as a free download too because I was like, I need this cover in my life right now. I also loved the acapella version of “Summer Rain” with the powerhouse group of women.
First Aid Kit: Yeah!
AE: It seems like there’s a tight-knit community of artists out there in Sweden.
JS: Yeah, definitely. There’s a lot of talented ladies with really awesome songs and and working together and helping us directly as we started. That was actually really early on, like right around the time we made the Fleet Foxes video.
Klara Söderberg: And it was great because they are all like ten years older than us so it was like having all these moms embrace us and bring us into their world. So it was really fantastic, we love all of them.
AE: Yeah and Ane Brun has just started touring here and Anna Ternheim. What do you think it is that makes, I think in particular female Swedish artists, so kick-ass at any genre. It doesn’t matter if it’s Robyn or SoSo or you two. Something about Sweden is just pumping out great artists. Why do you think that is?
JS: I don’t know, I think Sweden is just a good country to be a woman in, in general.
KS: Yeah I mean, most politicians are very open and outspoken feminists. Which is amazing. And I think for a country like America, that’s kind of hard to believe. But for us it’s such an obvious thing for women to do their own thing. So I think that’s why a lot of women feel like they can do their own thing and it’s not like Pop stars only.
JS: No, we all have our own styles and sounds; we’re not the typical musical women.
KS: It’s a good range.
AE: Definitely. So, have you heard about the whole Chick-fil-A drama?
FAK: Oh yeah.
AE: Coming from a place as liberal as Sweden, what do you think of all the, well, crap that’s going on here?
JS: We think it’s crap! It’s terrible how I feel like this country really needs to step it up – it’s insane. Walking around here you get all these comments from guys that you would never get in Sweden.
AE: Like obscene things?
KS: Yeah. There’s just some lack of respect. We grew up in a family where we learned to respect ourselves.
JS: Our mom told us when we were probably like five years old that she was a feminist.
KS: And that love is love no matter what. We’ve always had that and been taught that so it’s felt obvious our entire lives. So it’s strange to hear something like (homophobic and sexist remarks).
AE: It feels like we’re going backwards.
KS: Yeah! It feels like such an old mindset. I really don’t understand it and I never will.
AE: We can take a lot of cues from Sweden that’s for sure. So, you just played Lolla, what song from your latest release would you say makes you happiest to perform live at this point?
JS: Oooh. I really like playing “The Lion’s Roar” because I get to, like, headbang. [Laughs]
KS: Yeah we can’t help it, we just have to move!
AE: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
KS: Just be you and be awesome. [Laughs]
AE: And give a lion’s roar?
JS: Yes, definitely!
You can keep up with First Aid Kit on their Facebook page, Twitter and while you’re at it, check out their Tiny Desktop Concert. I will leave you with their beautiful performance of “Emmylou” at Lollapalooza.