Interview: First Aid Kit
Swedish folk sisters on their musical influences and why they sing in English ahead of series of UK gigs
Johanna, according to Wikipedia it took you a while to be persuaded about the merits of country music, as you were a big fan of German techno. Is that still something you enjoy?
We made a joke about that in an interview at one point; Johanna did have a short period of time where she listened to German techno because she had a little bit of a crush on a guy who did. It’s pretty funny how many times we’ve been asked that since someone put that on our Wikipedia page!
Klara, last time The List talked to you, it was 2009, and you hadn't yet released your first album. You said that 'if [playing music for a living] doesn’t work, I can still go back to school' – what would you do now if you couldn't make music?
I’d probably go back to school. I’d love to write or make films, something creative. I know how lucky and rare it is to get to do something you truly love though, but there are lots of things that would be fun to try. Music has been such a big part of our lives now for such a long time, it’s really hard imaging doing anything else.
You also said in that interview that you chose to sing in English because 'if you sing in Swedish it’s a lot more ... naked'. Do you still feel that way?
Yes. It is hard to explain and we’re not sure if it’s because the languages are different or because how we use them. We’ve grown up listening to music in English and reading mostly poetry in English so it’s become the language we use to write creatively in. Although it was never a conscious decision, I don’t think we even considered what language we were writing in.
You've played with Fleet Foxes and Conor Oberst – who else is on your dream list of collaborators?
We actually got to work with one of our heroes recently when Jenny Lewis asked us to sing on her song 'The Voyager' from her new album with the same name. We’ve loved her for a long time and have always looked up to her as a songwriter.
You have a very American sound – could you ever see yourselves living there on a permanent basis?
When you travel around as much as we do you realize that a lot of places are very similar to one another and that the biggest difference in why your home feels like home to you is because of the people you love who live there too. We would consider a lot of different places to live just as long as we had our family and friends close to us. As far as America goes, it’s not something that we’ve planned for. We love to be there and it is always a big adventure to tour there. We’re pretty happy where we are now but of course, you never know.
Last time you played Glasgow, you played one song entirely unplugged – it was a pretty special moment! Is this something you do at every gig? Has it ever backfired?
We still do our song 'Ghost Town' unplugged to this day, it is one of our favorite moments of the set. When you strip back everything and it’s just you and the audience it is a really special feeling. That is the moment we can really connect to people, we all sing it together and it’s incredible. The only time it hasn’t worked was when a very loud, drunk person wouldn’t be quiet for five minutes... That was at a free gig a couple of years ago though, at our own shows people are always pretty attentive.
Finally, can you recommend some bands that fans of First Aid Kit would probably enjoy and may not have heard of?
In may we did a month long tour of the US and got to meet Willy Mason who joined us and opened for our shows. We had heard some of his stuff before, but he completely blew us away every night. It was so inspiring to have him on tour with us, we spent a lot of evenings in our tour bus just jamming and singing songs. He has an amazing, deep voice and his guitar playing is ridiculously good. We’ve been listening to his song 'Carry On' on repeat for a while now and it’s a very sad yet uplifting song, in other words, just the way we like them.
We’re taking another very talented musician with us on our European tour. His name is Jo Rose and we met in Manchester a couple of year ago when we played a show together. He’s just made his first album, which I actually sang on, and it’s a collection of beautiful folk and country inspired tunes.