If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may know that the Swedish cities of Umea, Sweden’s third (and most Northern) and Malmo, Sweden’s twelfth (and most Southern) have emerged with reputations as being Sweden and Scandinavia’s newest, most exciting creative hotbeds as an increasing number of artists and bands from both cities have started to receive international recognition — including the likes of JOVM mainstays Moonbabies, Cajsa Siik, Frida Selander and YAST and others. I have to add to that list, Umea, Sweden-bornsinger/songwriter, producer and sound designer Catharina Jaunviksna, who splits time between her home country, Italy and Ireland and who has received attention with her solo recording project Badlands. With the release of 2012’s Battles Within EP and single “Tutu,” Jaunviksna’s Badlands project received attention from the likes of The 405 and Under the Radar for a sound that many of my colleagues have described as possessing elements of trip-hop and experimental pop.
April will mark the release of her forthcoming full-length effort Locus and album’s first single “Echo” reveals yet another change in sonic direction for Jaunviksna, as the single is a dance floor-ready song consisting of layers of staccato synth stabs and layers of cascading and twinkling synths, swirling electronics and an infectious hook paired with Jaunviksna’s ethereal coos bubbling and floating over the mix’s hazy surface, which give the song an eerie and spectral undercurrent. Thematically and lyrically the song reportedly discusses self-censorship and the inherent dangers self-censorship can entail. As Jaunviksna explained in press notes “Even though the first intentions might be good, it always ends as a witch hunt and nobody daring to speak their mind.” But sonically speaking to my years, the song channels the likes of Depeche Mode, Still Corners and others as the song possess a captivating pull, begging the listener to come up closer.
Most Americans would be familiar with Stockholm, Sweden‘s capital and largest city; however, over the last decade or so, Umea, Sweden’s third (and most Northern) and Malmo, Sweden’s twelfth (and most Southern) that have emerged with reputations for being some of Scandinavia’s most exciting creative hotbeds as an increasing number of artists and bands from Umea and Malmo have started to receive international recognition. Some of those acts have been profiled here — including the Malmo, Sweden-based lo-fi rock quintet YAST.
Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you might recall that I’ve written about the Southern Swedish quintet before. The band can trace its origins to when its founding members Carl Kolbaek-Jensen, Tobias Widman and Marcus Norberg met in the steel town Sandviken in 2007 and started writing and playing music as a way to escape a dreary life in even drearier environs. By the following year, Jensen, Widman and Norberg relocated to Malmo which has developed a reputation for a growing dream pop and indie rock scene. Some time later, Markus Johansson and Niklas Wennerstrand, who were both members of Aerial were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound.
With the release of their self-titled debut released in 2013, the Swedish quintet started to receive attention both in their native Sweden and internationally, and as a result they’ve opened for renowned psych rock acts including TOY, The Drums, Tame Impala, DIIV, and they’ve made appearances at several large festivals, along with a UK tour, which suggests that the band’s international profile is growing — and rapidly.
The band’s sophomore album, My Dreams Did Finally Come True was released earlier this year through Adrian Recordings to international attention with the release of the album’s first two singles — in particular, “Together Forever,” a shimmering guitar-based pop song that managed to channel 120 Minutes era alternative rock. Building on the buzz they’ve received from their first two singles, My Dreams Did Finally Come True‘s third single “I Don’t Think She Knows” and its B-side “My Dreams” will further cement the band’s reputation for shimmering and slow-burning shoegaze-leaning guitar pop with anthemic hooks and an earnest, aching heart at its core — all while being remarkably buoyant and ebullient.
Over the past year Moonbabies, a Malmö, Sweden-based indie electro pop act comprised of husband and wife duo Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick have become something of a mainstay act on JOVM, as I’ve written about several singles off their impressive Wizards on The Beach, which was released earlier this year and have interviewed Ola Frick as part of the site’s ongoing Q&A series.
Although the Fricks have known each other since they were both high schoolers, they started writing and recording together in 1997. And with the release of their debut effort, the Malmo, Sweden-based duo had quickly developed a reputation for crafting an intricate shoegazer rock-based sound. However, by the time the duo had written, recorded and released their critically and commercially successful sophomore effort, The Orange Billboard the duo’s sound expanded and had become refined; in fact, many critics across Europe had compared the album’s sound favorably to Wilco‘s critically acclaimed effort, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And as a result of the critical attention the album received, the duo embarked on an extensive European tour to support it. War on Sound, The Orange Billboard‘s follow-up effort was a critical and commercial success in Sweden and the album’s title track “War on Sound” won them greater international attention as the song was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
As the story goes, the Fricks were busily working on what would be their highly-awaited, third full-length effort, the couple had begun to feel an increasing pressure to create and deliver songs that were commercially viable — to the point that that they had begun to feel as though they were drifting away from their initial creative vision and spirit. Recognizing that they were in a creative rut, the duo forced themselves out of the their comfort zone, relocating to Berlin, Germany. While in Berlin, they quickly felt in love with the city’s globally renowned EDM and house music scenes; in fact, as a result, the material they had begun writing began to lean heavily towards a more electronic-based sound. However, the duo did feel an entirely different pressure — the pressure of having to prove themselves in a much bigger, much more competitive scene, and after two years in Germany, the Fricks returned to their native country and started the recording progress again.
Upon their return to Sweden, the duo found the recording process to be both unsuccessful and frustrating, as they spent time forcing themselves to be push the process forward, scrapping it when the material didn’t feel exactly how they wanted it and then starting over, which according to the Fricks, they did more than 30 times. Interestingly, as the band has publicly noted, the birth of their son seemed to be the catalyst that breathed new life into their entire creative process and forced a change in approach. Their approach became much simpler – move past bad memories and associations, and focus on the songs that evoked a visceral sensation. As they were going through old material, they began to see things that they didn’t originally see within the material, and they found that ideas started to flow about naturally around it — and in a way that they hadn’t had in a while. And the end result was the duo’s aforementioned Wizards on the Beach.
Album single “24” pairs layers of shimmering synths, boom bap-like drums, acoustic guitar and industrial clang and clatter with Frick’s ethereal vocals to create a song that evokes the sensation of waking from a pleasant and yet half-remembered dream while subtly channeling the work of Jose Gonzalez and Junip. Recently, the London-based duo Glass Children remixed Moonbabies “24” as part of a unique remix exchange between both bands (you’ll hear about the band shortly), and their remix pairs Ola Frick’s vocals while an upbeat production consisting of layers of gently undulating synths, propulsive, tribal drumming that makes the song much more club-ready and yet trippy while retaining the dreamy feel of its original.
Comprised of David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou, the London-based electronic duo The Glass Children craft dark, 80s inspired, upbeat electro pop consisting of lush production and ethereal vocals. Their uptempo single “Undone” pairs layers of undulating synths, swirling electronics and Kleovoulou’s ethereal vocals in a song that sways and swoons with a plaintive Romanticism. Moonbabies’ remix pairs Kleovoulou’s ethereal vocals with swirling electronics and tribal-like percussion that actually makes the remix sound as though it could have been on Wizards on the Beach whileretaining the original’s plaintive Romanticism — and of course, adding a dreamy fade out to the conclusion reminiscent of the ending of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.”
I recently spoke to Moonbabies’ Ola Frick and The Glass Children’s David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou via email about their unique remix exchange, their inspiration behind each band’s take on the other’s material and what’s next for both bands. Check it out below.
WRH: Moonbabies and The Glass Children recently remixed a single from their most recent full-length efforts — and both acts are releasing them on the same day as part of a “remix exchange” for lack of a better phrase. With Moobabies being based in Malmo, Sweden and The Glass Children being based in London, I wanted to know how did this collaboration come about?
Daniella Kleovoulou: It was through Twitter actually. When “Undone” was released Moonbabies discovered the track through a blog review and tweeted about it. A bit later Ola [Frick] contacted us about remixing the song which we were really up for. I told him that David [Fairweather] played me “24” a while back from a BIRP playlist and we both loved the song so Ola asked if we’d like to remix it in exchange . . . and that’s how it all started.
Ola Frick: Both of us loved “Undone” when we first heard it, I guess it was back in January-February maybe. And since their other tracks also showed that they’re pretty extraordinary we wanted to get in touch and see if we could do a collaboration or remix exchange, and that was just what happened. Nice peeps as it seems!
WRH: The Moonbabies’ remix of The Glass Children’s “Undone” retains Daniella Kleovoulou’s husky vocals but pairs them with a percussive yet very dreamy production consisting of undulating and swirling electronics before ending with chiming keys and a distorted vocal sample that evoke the sensation of waking from a dream. That remix sounds as though it could have been a B-side to Wizards on the Beach. Ola, why did you choose “Undone”? The remix manages to retain the original’s spirit while giving the song a different interpretation. What inspired your remix?
Ola Frick: I’d say all my good studio work starts with a being filled up to the limit with a great feel/inspiration to begin with. Confidence, as well. And if you have it, it all goes smooth, happens fast and is driven by pure instinct. With this track I needed to have a complete blank canvas and just let it out. It happened very fast, 3-4 hours with some extra tweaks a day or two later, including mix/mastering. I just felt the song, and let it go in any way. And the first path it took (the big rhythm and thick vocals in focus) was the right. I’m very happy with it.
WRH: The Glass Children’s remix of Moonbabies “24”retains the Fricks’ vocals put pairs them with an uptempo, dance pop production — shimmering synths, skittering drum programming, swirling electronics, and the like. It sounds as though it’s both headphone-ready and club-friendly. And much like the Moonbabies’ remix, your remix retains the original’s spirit while giving the song a different interpretation. Why did you choose “24”?What inspired your remix?
David Fairweather: It’s partly inspired by the same production ideas we had for our song “Undone”: a big bass and lots of 80’s analogue synths. We went for a melancholic feel but with some euphoric strings poking their heads in. We wanted to keep the beautiful central riff the Moonbabies wrote on the guitar, but instead translate it to the piano.
Ola Frick: We have a few dancy Remixes we’ve done of tracks by the bands Blind Lake, Cantaloupe and The Land Below, that I guess and hope will be out before the end of 2015. And as you know we just released the Deluxe Edition Version of Wizards on the Beach with 12 bonus tracks. It sort of marks an end to a very long cycle for us. It feel great to get back into making something brand new, a complete fresh start, as were on a blank paper. Don’t know when something new will be out. One thing [that] stands out of the experience of working within the music industry 2015, is that we’re doing it straight out of pure joy, nothing else. We have set up our own imprint label Culture Hero, and no real pressure. My guess is a spring-time Moonbabies single or EP release. When something great pops up, we’ll capture it and release it. And I’m not lying when I say that I feel more confident and inspired than ever.
Although most Americans would likely only know of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital and largest city, it’s Umea, Sweden’s third (and most Northern) and Malmo, Sweden’s twelfth (and most Southern) cities that have emerged with reputations for […]
The Malmo, Sweden-based lo-fi indie rock quintet YAST can actually trace their origins to when its founding members Carl Kolbaek-Jensen, Tobias Widman and Marcus Norberg met in the steel town Sandviken in 2007 and started […]
Comprised of the husband and wife duo of Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick, the Malmö, Sweden-based indie pop act, Moonbabies have known each other since they were high schoolers, and the duo started writing […]
Comprised of the Malmo, Sweden-based husband and wife duo of Ola Frick and Carina Johansson Frick, The Moonabies have been around for quite a while and have had quite a history. Formed back in 1997, […]