It’s been two and a half years since Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit released a record. With that said, the sisters (Johanna and Klara Söderberg) will unveil their third album, titled Stay Gold, to the world on June 10th. Before its release and their Toronto show on June 6th, I had the pleasure of speaking with Johanna over the phone to discuss studio experiences, grander arrangements, forgetting passports, her love of Simon and Garfunkel, karaoking, and shooting their new spooky music video. Here’s what she had to say:
AMBY: Hey Johanna! How are you?
First Aid Kit: Hey, I’m good. How are you?
AMBY: Great, thanks. I really appreciate you chatting with me today; this new album is so exciting.
First Aid Kit: Thank you.
AMBY: It’s my pleasure. Speaking of the release, you will drop your new album Stay Gold on June 10th. What was the overall experience like recording the album? Were there any highlights?
First Aid Kit: It was an amazing experience recording the album. One of the best things about being a musician is going out to the studio and being able to create things. It’s wild. Working with Mike was just the best, we love him. We’ve become really good friends and it was a really efficient experience since we knew each other so well. We have a lot of fun. Being in Nebraska, we got to hang out with Mike’s family; we had Thanksgiving dinner together [laughs] and bonded. It was a really good time.
AMBY: The songs you’ve unveiled from the album, My Silver Lining and Cedar Lane, both display a disco meets Western nuanced sound which makes each track feel very vintage. What encouraged you both to take this new direction with the album?
First Aid Kit: We didn’t really think about taking a new direction while we were in the studio.
AMBY: How do you think this one came to be, then?
First Aid Kit: We wanted to continue with what we were doing. I think that what we’ve done is the introduction to strings; we’ve had strings on records before but on this record there are strings on almost all of the songs. That’s a new thing for sure. We just felt like strings are so beautiful and the songs we wrote kind of needed a grander arrangement.
AMBY: The first single taken from the album is My Silver Lining and the video for the track is especially spooky. I watched the behind the scenes film for its creation and wanted to ask, what was the experience like recording at The Paramour Mansion? Was it the perfect location to capture your vision of light meeting dark?
First Aid Kit: Absolutely. It was so cool to go there. We had never heard of it before but it was absolutely perfect. It has a real creepy vibe to it but it’s also insanely gorgeous and has that darkness and lightness to it, for sure. The song has a real haunting and serious quality to it so we kind of went for that horror movie vibe, which was cool.
AMBY: In anticipation of the album’s release, you’re on a North American tour (playing Toronto on June 6th). How’s that experience been?
First Aid Kit: We love being on the road. It’s the best thing, especially touring North America, because the crowds are so into it. We’ve been playing seven new songs every night which is kind of a bit scary because you never know how people are going to react. It’s been great. We’re really getting into the new songs and new set.
AMBY: While on the road, what are some things you and Klara do for fun?
First Aid Kit: We like to go karaoking. We were just out the other night in San Francisco and it was amazing. We were hanging out with these Chinese dudes singing My Heart Will Go On and it was just so cool.
AMBY: [laughs] Awesome.
First Aid Kit: We like to go walking and hiking or bowling. We try to be active, but also eat good food and go sightseeing.
AMBY: As far as touring goes, what’s a funny or bizarre story you could share with our readers?
First Aid Kit: We were once driving from Vancouver to Montana which was a twenty-four hour drive. On the way, after driving for eight hours, we stopped at a diner and ate. Four hours later, we realized our Dad had forgotten our bag with our passports and everything.
First Aid Kit: We had to drive back there and it was all really frustrating! Then the people at the restaurant had to hand in the bag to the sheriff. We ended up going and getting our bag, then sang for the sheriff. It was really out of a movie or something.
AMBY and First Aid Kit: [laughs]
First Aid Kit: It was so cool.
AMBY: Sounds it. At Glastonbury last year, you spoke about Simon and Garfunkel, played one of their songs, and have mentioned them in a few other interviews. Do you remember the first time you actually heard a Simon and Garfunkel track?
First Aid Kit: I think it was when we were kids, way back! Our parents listened to Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Boxer and we kind of grew up with that. It has a really strong and deep root, our love for them.
AMBY: Aside from it being nostalgic, what stood out to you about their music to the point where you wanted to take influence from it for your work?
First Aid Kit: I think every song is a masterpiece. The lyrics are just great; they’re like little stories and have very profound meanings. They’re so special and are kind of our role models in many ways.
AMBY: It’s evident in the music; your use of harmonies truly reminds me of them.
First Aid Kit: Oh, thank you!
AMBY: Anytime [laughs]. Now we’re at the last question: what’s the best part about being in First Aid Kit?
First Aid Kit: We’re so grateful to be able to travel and make music for a living. It’s a dream come true and we have to pinch ourselves every day.
Thank you First Aid Kit, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout