For Folk’s Sake Interview: First Aid Kit

 

Johanna and Klara of Sweden’s First Aid Kit are teenage sisters who are taking the folk world by storm. Their debut EP Drunken Trees, which has been available in their home country for a year, is soon to be released in the UK. For Folk’s Sake caught up with the girls for a quick chat.
 
For Folk’s Sake: How do you feel about coming over to the UK? Are you confident about playing here?
Klara: Well everything just feels very surreal, that we can make music and that people listen to it, whether it’s Sweden or it’s England or the US it’s really huge for us, but it’s definitely bigger for us to play in the UK than in Stockholm because it’s so much bigger.
 
Your EP has been out for a year in Sweden, how has it been received?
Johanna: We just made it so we could play live and that’s kind of what we’ve been able to do it wasn’t a major breakthrough or anything or very hyped but it got us some really good shows in Sweden and we’ve been playing a lot so we’re really pleased.
 
Are you excited about its release in the UK?
Johanna; We really enjoyed our last shows in the UK, it’s a different thing for us, we’re very comfortable with speaking English on stage. 
Klara: We always want to show off our English skills so it’s great to be able to come to England and speak English. 

Why is your English so good?
Klara: We both attended English schools, I’m still attending one and Johanna did before so we’ve heard English since we were 12 I think. And in Sweden we have a lot of American culture, so we’re always surrounded by the language. 
 
I read that you have an album to be released in the summer, is the recording finished?
Klara: No we’re recording it right now, actually. Most of the songs are ready, we’re just trying to find time to record it because we’re both in school still so we have to record on holidays and weekends, it’s very tight we have very little time to record songs.
 
Are they all new songs or will there be some of the ones on the EP too?
Johanna: They’re all new, it’s a completely new start, they’re old most of those on the EP, I mean Klara was fourteen when she wrote the songs, I mean the first songs.

Is the style of these songs similar to the ones on the EP?
Klara: We don’t really know what direction it will go in we haven’t really finished the recording yet so we don’t really know, they songs are still kind of the same. 
Johanna: We just want the songs to be good, then we’ll take it on to different levels. 
 
What will you be playing when you’re in London this month?

Klara: We’re releasing it when we’re playing in London, so it would be pretty weird if we started playing new stuff. It’s kind of a mix but it’ll mostly be from the EP and we might throw in some new songs. 

Who are your major influences?
Klara: Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes has always been a big  big influence, especially for me, because I heard him for the first time when I was 12, it made me look at music from a different angle, it was just so much bigger and more important than it had been before so his music is always going to be important to us. But we just love good music, we like a lot of old music. 
 
Could you recommend us any Swedish music?
Johanna: There’s not a big folk movement in Sweden or anything, but there’s this guy called The Tallest Man on Earth and we’d recommend him. 
Klara: He’s amazing
Johanna: It’s just him alone with his guitar and it’s remarkable
Klara: He’s really good live, you have to see him live
 
You have a really strong vocal sound, do you have any particular vocal influences?
Klara: That’s the way it came out, we haven’t trained our voices or anything
Johanna: Klara, you listened to lots of Billie Holiday
Klara: Yeah when I was a kid I used to listen to her all the time and Judy Garland as well, I don’t know if you can hear that. 
Johanna: But it’s quite a natural sound I guess. 

Do you think the fact that you’re sisters affects your sound a lot? 
Johanna: Yeah sort of, the communication we have is really automatic. Everything falls into place we don’t have to go ‘you should sing like this, you should sing like this’
Klara: We don’t feel like we have to try a lot it just comes naturally. 
 
You must get asked all the time about your age, do you think it’s a hindrance or a help?
Klara: We are young, and we can’t really do anything about it. 
Johanna: There are good things and bad things about it. It’s good because we have lots of time to repair if we do anything bad. And if we don’t break through now we can do it in ten years. 
Klara: And if we want to do something different in the future we can say ‘we just did that because we were kids and we didn’t know what we were doing’ then we can do synth pop or whatever we want to do…! No, but I think it’s good when people listen to us and say ‘Oh, and they’re very young’ but not if they say ‘they’re so good for being so young’. We don’t want attention for our age we want it for our music.
Johanna: One thing that’s annoying is that everyone says about the future. If you release something they say ‘this is good I wonder what could happen in 10 years’. 
Klara: Or, ‘they’re going to be big someday’.
 
How do you find it working together? Do you bicker like most siblings?
Klara: Well we definitely argue from time to time, but we know each other so well that we know we’re going to be friends at the end of the day so it’s never big fights or anything. I think it’s good because we really trust each other and we know what we want and we can tell each other. If we think something we tell the other person. 
 
So you’re really open with each other?
Johanna: Yeah, and I think that if we had a band with someone else it would be a lot harder because you don’t want to make the person sad or whatever, and they could say they don’t want to have a band with you, but we depend on each other so much. 

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Klara: We just want to tell stories, but mostly it’s fictional stories with personal views thrown in there. 
Johanna: You can’t write songs that are completely detached from who you are as a person, it’s always coloured by who you are. Even if you sing about something that’s completely different from what you’re experiencing there’s always something that’s you in the songs. I think we can relate to the songs anyway ‘You’re not coming home tonight’ for us is about emancipation 
Klara: …and love
Johanna: and it’s a happy song
Klara: it’s not a happy song
Johanna: ok well…
Klara: it’s whatever!
 
Are you inspired by books you read or films you watch?
Klara: Well it’s definitely different for different songs, for that song I remember it just came to us, the subject and we wrote it and it wasn’t planned or anything.
Johanna: Most of the time we don’t have to struggle for inspiration, we just sit down and sing and see what happens. It’s almost like it comes from the unconscious mind or something. 
Klara: sometimes we watch a movie and write songs about that – not even about the subject but about the feel of the film. 
 
Do you have any other siblings? And are they musical too?
Klara: We have a brother who is five.
Johanna: He’s probably going to play with us in the future
Klara: We’re going to be like the Jackson five, he’s going to get a record deal
Johanna: He plays several instruments
Klara: Well he can’t play them but he tries it’s really cute
 
What have you got planned for this year apart from your album?
Klara: Touring, playing everywhere. 
Johanna: We’re going to play lots in the UK in the summer. 
Klara: Then we’re flying off to the US too, in the fall when we’ve released our album. 
 
Do you know who you’ll be playing with when you’re in the UK?
Johanna: we don’t really know yet, we have to finish school. We’re going to do a Europe mini tour during the sports holidays, which is just a week. We’re going to do ten shows. It’s going to be great.
 
Interview: Lynn Roberts

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