Tag: Swedish Grammy

Interview: A Q&A with Rising Swedish Pop Duo Vargas & Lagola

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes MadonnaAviciiSwedish House MafiaDavid GuettaAxwell /\ IngrossoKaty PerryGhost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album TIM, contributing on three of the album’s songs.

Last year, I wrote about “Forgot To Be Your Lover,” a carefully crafted pop song that balanced easygoing AM rock, yacht rock breeziness and achingly melancholic nostalgia while sonically the track was centered around atmospheric synths, lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines. In some way, the song – to my ears at least – reminded me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, but with an ambitious, arena rock feel.

The acclaimed and commercially successful Swedish pop duo’s highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo’s latest single “Someone That Understands Me” continues a run of ambitious, arena rock-like pop. Centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, achingly plaintive vocals, enormous hooks, thunderous drumming and a scorching, Purple Rain-era Prince-like guitar solo from Ludwig Goransson, the song is the contented sigh of a world-weary person, who has stumbled upon one of life’s rare gifts – finding someone like-minded, who truly understands and accepts you for you.

I recently spoke to the duo via email about the new single, which officially drops today, their soon-to-be released album and more. Check out new single and the Q&A below.

V&L_somebodythatunderstandsme_artwork

 ____

WRH: How did you get into music?

Vincent Pontare: My father is a singer, so I got my first guitar from him when I was seven years- old.

Salem Al Fakir: I started to play violin and piano when I was three.

WRH: Who are your influences?

VP and SAF: We love all types of music! We have our roots in hip-hop/reggae/70s/60s but get most of the inspiration for VARGAS & LAGOLA from 70s Americana.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar with you and your work?

VP and SAF: Imagine if Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix had a kid that listened to Wu-Tang and loves to go to Burning Man, that’s us.

WRH: Who are you currently listening to?

VP and SAF: Khruangbin, Chet Baker, and Watain.

WRH: Can you name a couple of Swedish acts that should be getting love outside of Sweden but haven’t yet? And why should we know about them?

VP and SAF: VARGAS & LAGOLA. We feel that our type music is unrepresented out in the world at the moment.

WRH: The band is comprised of two, highly accomplished and incredibly successful solo songwriters and producers. What brought the two of you together to collaborate? And how has working together changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: We had met before through mutual friends and had the same booking agency and later on we shared the same studio for a month and then one day we said: we should try to write a song together!?

And the rest is history. . .

It’s a blessing to be two and in the same boat! When the other one is out of ideas or need a break the other one jumps in

WRH: Both of you have managed to write material for an impressive list of globally known pop artists. Has that work influenced or changed your creative process?

VP and SAF: I think success affects [sic] your compass for what works or not in a good way, you trust your gut feel[ing] and that’s the most important tool we have.

WRH: Your latest single “Somebody That Understands Me” features a guest spot from Ludwig Goransson. How did that come about?

VP and SAF:  You might think we already knew him cause we all are Swedes, but we didn’t’! We just fanboyed him up on Instagram and said, “Would you be up for trying a guitar solo on our upcoming single?” And he said “Yes.”

WRH: Speaking of “Somebody That Understands Me,” the track is one of those big, arena rock-friendly sentimental pop tunes with the sort of hook that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. In some way, the song kind of reminds me of Purple Rain and 1999-era Prince. So who and what influenced the song? Is it influenced by personal experience?

VP and SAF: We both have a soft spot for 90s arena rock, so we wanted to please ourselves for a second. Who doesn’t love a 12-string guitar riff!???

The song is about the beauty in finding like-minded people and a homage to thinking outside of the box in life in general. All types of music or genres we’ve been obsessed of comes from an underdog or rebellious perspective. So we wanted to get a little bit of that feeling into the lyrics and the production

WRH: Your highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release at the end of the month. What should we expect from the album? 

VP and SAF: We want to give our fans a more nuanced palette of our musical landscape, so The Butterfly Effect is a piece in that puzzle.

WRH: What’s next for you?

VP and SAF: Promotion, touring and writing more music.

Advertisements

Choosing the band name Vargas & Lagola because they thought the names sounded like characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the Swedish songwriting, production and pop artist act comprised of Swedish Grammy-winning duo Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare features two of their homeland’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters and producers: the pair have had successful solo careers before teaming up to write hits for a who’s who list of electro pop and pop that includes Madonna, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Katy Perry, Ghost, and Sia.

Founded back in 2017, the duo’s collaboration is a decided change in sonic direction from their previous output as the project finds the Swedish songwriters and producers experimenting with their own unique take on melodic alt-pop, which meshes elements of 70s Americana and Nordic melancholia. Coincidentally, as they started their own attention-grabbing project, the duo received accolades for co-writing Avicii’s “Without You” and “Waiting for Love,” which led to a Swedish Grammy Award win for Composer of the Year. Adding to a growing profile across the international electro pop scene, Al Fakir and Pontare performed their co-written hit “More Than You Know” with Axwell /\ Ingrosso at Coachella — and they played a key role in finishing Avicci’s posthumously released album  TIM, which they contributed on three of the album’s songs.

The duo’s latest single “Forgot To Be Your Lover” is a carefully crafted pop song that finds the duo balancing an easy-going AM rock meets yacht rock breeziness with an achingly melancholic nostalgia. Sonically, the track is centered around atmospheric synths and lush layers of shimmering and twangy, country-styled guitar lines — and in some way, the track reminds me of Danish JOVM mainstays Palace Winter, complete with an soaring and infectious hook.

“It’s a story of neglected love, as well as reflection of what love really means if one person drags the other one down in the gutter,” the duo explain in press notes. “We wrote it while searching for a melancholic piece in Vargas & Lagola’s musical puzzle. With it, we created our own space to experiment with and express what’s on our minds.” 

 

 

 

 

True Moon is a Malmo, Sweden-based post-punk/dark wave quartet, comprised of founding members Karolina Engdahl (vocals, bass) and Tommy Tift (guitar) — both of whom are former members of Swedish Grammy-winning act Vånna Inget, along with Linus Segerstedt (guitar) and Fredrik Orevad (drums). The Malmo, Sweden-based quartet can trace their origins to when its founding duo of Engdahl and Tift felt a desire to create something more raw and visceral than the material they were working on with their then-primary gig. “Karolina and I are bored with the Swedish music scene at the moment,” Tift explained at the time. “It feels like everyone has the same blueprint, like there’s an industry rulebook now for how bands must sound. We wanted to do something different.” Vånna Inget’s 2013 full-length effort Ingen Botten found the band sonically exploring New Wave and dark wave, and as Tift went on to say they felt a need to explore it more themselves.  “It was like an urge and we just had to do this,” True Moon’s Engdahl adds.

“We were listening to artists such as Joy Division, Killing Joke, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and early Cure. There is a purity and honesty and integrity to that music that’s missing from the current scene,” the band’s Tift said back in 2017. “Those bands weren’t making music to be pop stars or rock stars, it is pure expression and pure art, and that’s the aesthetic we were pursuing.” Segerstedt and Orevad were recruited to complete the band’s lineup, and they began working on their 2016 self-titled debut, an effort that received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that actively went for the sort of raw, urgent and unpolished feel and sound reminiscent of Martin Hannet‘s work with Joy Division.

As a result of attention they received from their self-titled debut, the Malmo-based post-punk act played shows across Sweden, the UK and the States, opening for Killing Joke, King Dude, MCC, Against Me! and a number of others. Building upon a growing national and international profile, True Moon’s highly-anticipated sophomore album II is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Lövely Records —  and the album finds the band continuing their ongoing collaboration with with producer Jari Haapalainen, who also contributes guitar to the proceedings. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Poison” continues the raw and urgent aesthetic and feel of their full-length debut — and while clearly being indebted to Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others, the track reveals some ambitious songwriting, as it possesses an enormous, arena rock-like quality.

 

 

 

 

e

 

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed, Swedish Grammy-winning,  Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang, and as you may recall, with the release of “Sleep,” and “Strangers,” Klang received praise across the blogosphere for crafting heartbreaking and achingly sad material that meshed Americana, country and pop and was frequently compared to  Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley.

Building upon a growing profile, Klang released her critically applauded full-length debut Love In The Milky Way last year, which she supported with touring across Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the US. Adding to a breakthrough year for her, she also played sold-out shows at Gothenburg Concert Hall and Stockholm’Södra Teatern.

The Gothenburg-based singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstays highly-anticipated, forthcoming sophomore album is slated for release later this year and the album was written and recorded during what was arguably one of the busiest years of her young career. The album’s slow-burning and swooning, Dolly Parton meets Carole King-like first single “Call Me,” was centered around twinkling piano, a shimmering string arrangement and Klang’s achingly tender vocals — and as the Swedish JOVM mainstay explained in press notes, the song was “about the love that only happens once. It might not last for long, but you’ll remember it forever.” The album’s second single, the slow-burning and spectral “Endless Sadness” was centered around shimmering and twangy bursts of steel pedal guitar, twinkling organ and a soaring hook, which made it the perfect setting for what I think is one of the most gorgeous and heartbreakingly saddest voices I’ve come across in recent memory.

The album’s third and latest single “New Day Coming” effortlessly meshes 70s troubadour pop and AM Rock with Dolly Parton-like country as it features an uncannily period specific arrangement consisting of a shimmering stringiest arrangement, twinkling piano, strummed guitar and a soaring hook, and it’s roomy enough for Klang’s aching vocals to express hope that in the fact the most difficult and darkest periods don’t last forever — that a bright new day and a new start are often just over the horizon. While continuing a spectacular run of gorgeous singles, Klang’s latest single may actually be the most hopeful of her growing catalog — while rooted in hard-fought, lived-in experience.

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed  Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang. With the release of “Sleep,” and “Strangers,” Klang received praise across the blogosphere for crafting aching and heartbreakingly sad material that some critics compared to the likes of  Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley — although interestingly enough, the Gothenburg-based singer/songwriter has publicly cited Barbra Streisand and ambient electronica as major influences on her work.

Building upon a growing profile, Klang released her critically applauded full-length debut Love In The Milky Way last year, which she supposed with tours across the US, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Adding to breakthrough year, Klang played a sold-out shows at Gothenburg Concert Hall and Stockholm’Södra Teatern — and she won a Swedish Grammy.

Written and recorded during one of the busiest year’s of Klang’s young career, her forthcoming sophomore full-length album is slated for release later this year. Now, as you may recall, “Call Me,” the album’s slow-burning, Dolly Parton meets Carole King-like first single was centered around twinkling piano, shimmering strings and Klang’s achingly tender vocals — and as Klang explained in press notes, the song was “about the love that only happens once. It might not last for long, but you’ll remember it forever.” And as a result, the song’s narrator expressed a bitter and swooning despair and begrudging acceptance over the loss of her love.

Continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, the album’s second and latest single “Endless Sadness” is centered around a slow-burning and hauntingly spectral arrangement featuring bursts of steel pedal, twinkling organ and a soaring hook is a perfect setting for one of the most unique and saddest voices in contemporary indie music. And much like its immediate predecessor, the song is infused with a deeply bitter sense of despair and loss.

 

 

New Video: Acclaimed Swedish Singer Songwriter Sarah Klang Releases Swooning and Sensual Visuals for “Call Me”

With the release of “Sleep,” and “Strangers,” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang began receiving praise across the blogosphere for crafting heartbreakingly sad material that some critics compared favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley, and others — although interestingly enough, Klang has publicly cited Barbra Streisand and ambient electronica as major influences on her work. Building upon a growing national and international profile, Klang released her critically applauded full-length debut Love In The Milky Way last year, which she supported with a tours across the US, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Adding to a breakthrough year, Klang played a sold-out hometown show at the Gothenburg Concert Hall and three sold-out nights at Stockholm’s Södra Teatern — and she nominated for a Swedish Grammy for Alternative Pop Album and P3 Guld Award for Best Live Act.

Slated for a Fall 2019 release, Klang’s forthcoming (and still untitled) sophomore, Kevin Andersson-produced full-length album was written and recorded during an extremely busy year — and the first single from those recording sessions is the slow-burning and heartbreaking single “Call Me.” Centered around an arrangement featuring twinkling piano, a shimmering string section, a soaring hook and Klang’s aching vocals, the song manages to recall both 70s AM rock and Dolly Parton ballads simultaneously, the song as Klang explains in press notes “is about the love that only happens once. It might not last for long, but you’ll remember it forever. ” And as a result, the song’s narrator expresses a swooning despair and bitter acceptance over the loss of her love, mixed with a bit of hope that she’ll know that feeling once again.

The recently released video made by Nadim Elazzeh and Mathilda Adolfsson Näslundis is shot with a hazy, dream-like and old-timey  quality while further emphasizing swooning and sensual Romanticism of the song with Klang looking lost in a nostalgic reverie. 

With the release of “Sleep,” and “Strangers,” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based singer/songwriter Sarah Klang began receiving praise across the blogosphere for crafting heartbreakingly sad material that some critics compared favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley, and others — although interestingly enough, Klang has publicly cited Barbra Streisand and ambient electronica as major influences on her work. Building upon a growing national and international profile, Klang released her critically applauded full-length debut Love In The Milky Way last year, which she supported with a tours across the US, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Adding to a breakthrough year, Klang played a sold-out hometown show at the Gothenburg Concert Hall and three sold-out nights at Stockholm’s Södra Teatern — and she nominated for a Swedish Grammy for Alternative Pop Album and P3 Guld Award for Best Live Act.

Slated for a Fall 2019 release, Klang’s forthcoming (and still untitled) sophomore, Kevin Andersson-produced full-length album was written and recorded during an extremely busy year — and the first single from those recording sessions is the slow-burning and heartbreaking single “Call Me.” Centered around an arrangement featuring twinkling piano, a shimmering string section, a soaring hook and Klang’s aching vocals, the song manages to recall both 70s AM rock and Dolly Parton ballads simultaneously, the song as Klang explains in press notes “is about the love that only happens once. It might not last for long, but you’ll remember it forever. ” And as a result, the song’s narrator expresses a swooning despair and bitter acceptance over the loss of her love, mixed with a bit of hope that she’ll know that feeling once again.

 

Initially members of Swedish melodic punk/dark pop collective Vånna Inget, Karolina Engdahl (vocals/bass) and Tommy Tift (guitar) can trace their latest musical project, the Malmo, Sweden-based post-punk quartet True Moon to a mounting frustration with what they felt was an increasingly sanitized and homogeneous Scandinavian music scene. “Karolina and I are bored with the Swedish music scene at the moment,” Tift explains in press notes. “It feels like everyone has the same blueprint, like there’s an industry rulebook now for how bands must sound. We wanted to do something different. With the last Vånna Inget (2013’s critically acclaimed, Swedish Grammy-nominated Ingen Botten) we got more and more into dark wave and new wave, so we felt we wanted to explore than more.”

“We were listening to artists such as Joy Division, Killing Joke, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and early Cure,” Tift notes. “There is a purity and honesty and integrity to that music that’s missing from the current scene. Those bands weren’t making music to be pop stars or rock stars, it is pure expression and pure art, and that’s the aesthetic we were pursuing.” Once the duo settled on the band’s overall aesthetic, they recruited  Frederik Orevad (drums) and Linus Segerstedt (guitar) to complete the band’s lineup.
The Malmo, Sweden-based quartet’s self-titled full-length debut was recorded by producer Jari Haapalainen, known for his work with Ed Harcourt and The (International) Noise Conspiracy live to analog tape at Tift’s Studio Motion with the producer and band actively aiming for a raw, unpolished feel and sound reminiscent of Martin Hannet’s legendary work with Joy Division — and in a similar fashion to those legendary recordings, the members of True Moon recorded their debut album’s material in single takes, which gives the album’s material a forceful immediacy; in fact, Engdahl completed the vocals for the album in about 90 minutes.
Slated for an April 28, 2017 release through Lovely Records, the band and their label recently released the album’s first single “Sugar,” and while sonically speaking the song — to my ears, at least — sounds like what would happen if Siouxsie and the Banshees had covered Joy Division, complete with a roaring and rousingly anthemic hook, and an undeniably forceful, almost primal and explosive “you-were-there” immediacy that sets them apart from they countrymen and from their counterparts internationally.