First Aid Kit: Doing What They Want

Anthony Hill accosts the younger of the pair for a jolly good catch up…

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Posted 8th March 2010 in Features & Reviews, First Aid Kit | By Anthony Hill
First Aid Kit

Currently touring the UK in support of their debut album 'The Big Black & The Blue', folk duo First Aid Kit – comprising Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg – are taking taking town after town by storm. Twelve months since our last chat with the band, and somewhere on the road from Leeds to Stockton – ‘Wherever that is,’ adds KlaraAnthony Hill accosts the younger of the pair for a jolly good catch up…

How has the tour been so far?
It's been good, and surprisingly busy I think. It's different every place you go, but we've just had really nice crowds at the last gigs we've played - it's great.

These are your first UK shows since releasing the album - has that changed anything?
Yeah, I think that the album being released has changed a lot. Going from being a band who've just released an EP to being a band who actually has an album out - I think that's a big change. I hope that with time more and more people will find it and more people will hear about us.

And how do the European shows compare to the ones you're playing over here?
Well, we've only really played Norway since the album came out - and we only did three shows there. I guess I'll have to get back to you on that one!

So, let's talk about the album - 'The Big Black & The Blue' - what was the approach you took, as a band, to making your first full-length record?
With the Drunken Trees EP it was just like we wrote these songs and we kind of worked from there. It was never really a plan that the album would be about something special, or have a theme or whatever. Some of the songs are actually from the time when we did the EP but we didn't want to have them on there because we didn't think we could do them justice - with arrangements and stuff. I think with the EP it felt like we were just experimenting. Those were the first songs we ever wrote. So, I think when we made the album we were more confident with how we wanted it to sound. I guess you can hear that.

Since finishing the album, you've also left school - which you used to juggle with your musical endeavors. What effect is the extra time having?
Well, we actually finished recording the album while we were still in school, so we did it at weekends and in the holidays. I don't know how that really influenced us or the way we made the record - I guess we just really had to focus. It was good because after doing a song we would go back after a long time and say 'Ok, do we like this?' or 'Can we change this?' I guess we'll see what's going to happen when we can just make an album and do that full-time.

You seem to have a really good partnership with your sister, Johanna. Can you tell us how this works behind the scenes?
I write a lot of the songs and we also write together, then sometimes I start songs and we finish them together. It's always different - it's not like we have roles, like I write the lyrics and Johanna does the music or something like that. I guess Johanna arranges the songs more than I do - I'm more into the songwriting. I'm like 'Let's just have guitar and vocals on this one, that's enough' with every song, and Johanna's like, 'But maybe we could add something to it'. I'm like 'Yeah, whatever,' then we hear how good it sounds and it's great. I mean, we could both do it on our own but it just wouldn't sound like us.

Your dad is also involved a lot with what you do - producing the records and as your sound engineer at gigs. How does that work?
Well, musically, me and Johanna are definitely in charge (laughs). He would never try to decide too much, and we wouldn't let him do that. He comes with great ideas and we say 'Yeah, sure', but when he comes with ideas we don't like, we're just like 'No' (laughs). But it's really good to have different ideas. And our mum, she also helps out - we'll be like, 'Mum, what do you think of this?' And she's like, 'No, I don't like it'. We're all that honest with each other.

One thing we love about you, as a band, is the extra time you spend after gigs meeting fans, signing merchandise etc. Is all that stuff important to you?
Definitely. I mean, I enjoy talking to people so much, and meeting our fans - even the crazy ones - is really nice. I think it's important for us to show that we actually care about the people who come and listen to our music, because we really do.

Now, we all know you're Swedish - we can't do an interview and not mention it - so what makes you write songs and perform in English?
It's just the way it is. I don't know - it just comes naturally. I can't picture myself singing in Swedish, I don't really know why. I do write poetry in Swedish, but I guess with music I just think English. We listen to so much English and American music - it would just be weird doing it in Swedish. I don't know if it might feel too... personal? I don't know if that sounds weird...

Maybe doing it in English helps separate you, the performer, from just you, Klara...
Yeah, maybe a little. But it's still just me.

This isn't the first time you've come to England, so what made you want to come back?
Um... Marks & Spencer? (Laughs) They have amaaazing food. We just have lots of fun here. What I really like about playing the UK is how, after the shows, people really want to talk to us. In other places people are more shy. I really like that about England...

And is there anything about our country you don't like?
Oh, I couldn't say... (Laughs)

Oh, come on - be honest...
No - I really can't think of anything.

Good answer. So when you're not touring, not recording, not writing songs - is there anything else you like to do?
No. (Laughs) Well... I don't know... um... we see our friends whenever we have time to. I was going to say I play songs with my little brother, but that's music as well! *laughs*. He's just six but we've made a few songs. Those ones are actually in Swedish because he hates when I sing in English. I don't know... the usual stuff...

You mentioned your friends - what do they think of you being in a band and touring the world?
Well, they're really supportive. It's hard - I don't think they know really how to react to it, or what to say. I mean, it's hard that we're away from them so much - but, of course, they think it's fun what's happening for us and stuff.

So, now that the album's been out a little while, are you beginning to work on some new material?
Yeah, sure. We haven't finished any songs but we do have a couple of ideas for songs. I'm really excited to get started with that - I think you have to be really, and I really am. I want to see, in terms of the production, what we can do with it. So, yeah, it's going to be a lot of fun. I don't have any clear ideas of how it's going to sound just yet, and I don't think we're going to stress it, you know, just recording something to have new stuff out. We'll take our time.

Finally... what's the best thing about being in First Aid Kit?
I think the freedom of working with my family, I really like - that we can be so open with each other. And we're just doing exactly what we want to do. It's good.