2017 Artist Survey: El Perro Del Mar | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2017 Artist Survey: El Perro Del Mar

Sarah Assbring on #MeToo and Sexual Harassment, Trump, Her Most Disastrous Show, and How She'd Like to Be on Black Mirror

Jan 31, 2018 El Perro Del Mar Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar‘s 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring). She is releasing a new EP, We Are History, on February 23 via The Control Group.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the “Me Too” movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2017

1. Björk: UtopiaThank you amazing human being for being who you are and for making me better through you!
2. Ellen Arkbro: For Organ and BrassThis is the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in a long time!
3. Kendrick Lamar: DAMN.I was lost on To Pimp but back again. Love you Kendrick!
4. King Krule: The OOZGenius mind in a little body. Please handle him with care music business.
5. Jonny Greenwood: Phantom Thread Original Motion Picture SoundtrackSuch an admirer and lover of Jonny Greenwood’s filmscoring. Diving deep into this one.
6. Stormzy: Gang Signs & PrayerShut up.
7. Tyler, the Creator: Flower BoyWish it hurt more but that’s okay! Gorgeous!
8. Arca: ArcaButterfly renaissance.
9. Chino Amobi: ParadisoPerfect dark
10. Ryuichi Sakamoto: AsyncMaster.

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

High: Recording and making my new EP We Are History. Working with my amazing co-producers Jacob Haage and Petter Granberg in our new studio’s been a complete dream.

Low: Logic Pro X. Always SUCH a letdown.

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New’s Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

This is a revolution. This is big! I believe this will achieve major changes not only attitude wise but on a higher political and societal level. This will be able to make bigger damage to patriarchy than anything in the last 50 years. Some will have to be scapegoats and on a personal level, sure it’s a tragedy but that’s just how it goes.

In 2017 the “Me Too” and “It Was Me” social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been the victim of harassment or assault, or witnessed such behavior, or been the perpetrator? And what concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

I’m perhaps one of a few women who haven’t been the victim of an assault. I consider myself lucky. I’ve heard stories from numerous women experiencing it though and there is such a clear pattern. When women now, from different generations, open up about their experiences/secrets they’ve kept inside, a pattern so horrific is revealing itself. Anyone can see there’s something wrong here. So keep talking, keep making men aware we have each other’s backs and that the old way of behavior is part of history. The silence culture is a big part of the problem and I’m hoping this is helping things change in a big way.

It has been said that 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, and, because of the litany of sex scandals, 2017 is the year that your favorite artist became dead to you. Which artist did you stop being a fan of this year? Which public person would you be most devastated to learn had a history of abusive or predatory behavior?

Can’t say I stopped being a fan of anyone in particular but it honestly brought me to think twice about the David Bowie stories from way back. Don’t want to speculate in matters like this. Feels awful enough as it is.

Should we be able to separate an artist’s work from his or her actions? Or should an artist’s negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work?

I don’t think we can even if we’d like to. It’s a tricky and complex question and I don’t have the energy or time to get into it. It’s a university course right there.

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

Everything about him concerns and angers me to a maddening tipping point that I’ve tried to avoid him best I can and that whole way of dealing with it/him I think is dangerous. Just seeing his face has managed to bring out more hate from me than anyone I’ve ever met and I’m sure I’m not alone feeling like that. So I’m afraid of the hate he’s breeding, in all kinds of ways.

I have no idea and don’t really ask myself why his base continue to support him. It all is just beyond all levels of reason I can’t and dont want to even bother with thinking about what his base think or do.

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn’t last long in the White House and yet he’s still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he’ll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won’t win reelection? And although it’s still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

At some point recently I was hoping the #MeToo movement would take him down (seeing what impact it had in Sweden reaching far and beyond merely the celebrity world thus thinking the same would take place in at least Europe and the U.S.) but alas. However I don’t think he’ll win the reelection. Don’t know of any potential candidate though. Hoping for a woman.

The alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump’s reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

It’s all down to the society at large and how politicians choose to govern and take care of their citizens. Taxes, injustice, segregation etc., and education is of great importance. When society fails racism flourishes. It’s a complex problem and having an evil racist asshole motherf**er as president doesn’t help.

2017 saw several music festivals cancelled due to low ticket sales (not to mention the Fyre Festival debacle in the Bahamas). Are there too many music festivals right now?

Maybe, though I think many and smaller festivals bringing a diversity is a good thing.

Which Breakfast Club character are you most like and why?

Had to go back and remind myself but always wished I was Molly Ringwold. OMG the clothes, the mouth, the hair. But in reality I’m just neither of them. Or maybe I’m just Brian.

Tell us about the best and worst dates you’ve ever been on.

Never dated. Well maybe when I was 12 but can’t remember that long back.

What’s your biggest professional regret?

I don’t believe in regret.

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you’d call and what are some of the things you’d do in that week?

Wow I have dreams like that often. Apart from having my boyfriend and son close with me I would just try to gather all the people I love and spend our last time together on my favorite Swedish island Gotland and just have moments looking out at the sea, wandering in the pine forests and talking and listening to the most beautiful music we know in front of a open fire. I would touch and smell nature a lot I guess, look up at the sky, drink and eat and weep.

Would you be open to having your phone and other technology implanted into your body in the future?


If you could time travel what advice would you give to your childhood or teenage self?

Don’t waste your time on vanity and don’t doubt yourself. Don’t be afraid of people.

Do you think 2017 is a prime time for musicians to speak out and be heard, or are musicians still under pressure to “shut up and play the songs” as some artists that are politically vocal complain? Conversely, have you felt under pressure from fans or other artists to take a stand and speak out publicly on an issue?

I do think it’s a good time for musicians to speak out. The music climate’s stripped away some old “privilegies” but also made other things possible such as being political and taking a stand without risking your career in the same way it would have before. Either you do or you don’t-I don’t feel there’s a pressure to do that-you’re free to shut up and play the songs too. There’s a freedom now that I really appreciate.

Tell us about your worst/most disastrous show as a performer. And what about your best show?

I did a show in London some years back using a loop pedal I didn’t really know that well. In the middle of a stripped down song I managed to step on the wrong button and set off a demo song which obviouslay completely crashed the whole show. People started laughing and I had no choice but to do the same (with a tear in the corner of my eye). I hate loop pedals. Best shows just doesn’t stand out in my mind. They just melt into an overall warm feeling which makes it all worthwhile.

If you had to rename your band or stage name due to a legal dispute, which new name would you pick?

Hemlig (meaning “secret” in Swedish).

A different band performed at the end of most episodes of the new season of Twin Peaks. Which other fiction TV show (so not a talk or variety show) would you like to guest star and perform on? (Also, if you watched it, do you have any idea what was actually happening on the new Twin Peaks)?

Black Mirror. I had an idea but I forgot it. Think it was something about “Don’t ask so much questions, just enjoy the ride.”


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