First Aid Kit: Places That Don't Exist Interview | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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First Aid Kit

Places That Don't Exist

Jun 24, 2014 Issue #50 - June/July 2014 - Future Islands Bookmark and Share

Though sibling acts often struggle to keep their professional relationship from ruining their personal one, Klara and Johanna Söderberg of Sweden’s First Aid Kit sound more like best friends than sisters, completing each other’s sentences and laughing at each other’s jokes as they discuss their third full-length release, Stay Gold. In Los Angeles to shoot a video for first single “My Silver Lining,” 23-year-old Johanna and 21-year-old Klara seem downright giddy, explaining how producer (and Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk member) Mike Mogis helped them create a more sophisticated, texturally ornate sonic palette, one to fit the more mature themes of longing, heartbreak, and escapism.

“We listened a lot to Townes Van Zandt, his record Our Mother the Mountain, and it has a lot of strings in a haunting way,” Klara says. “That’s what we brought up for the song ‘My Silver Lining,’ and we talked to Mike and were like, ‘Yeah, but these kinds of strings would work with this song and this song and this song, too,’ and it ended up being on half of the record. When we were in the room listening to themit was 13 people from the local string playersand it was so moving that I almost cried hearing them play.”

Those ever-present strings help deepen the loss and restlessness that hang over the album, two themes the sisters say were drawn from missing their friends and family while spending two years touring, then feeling out of place when they finally got home. The result is a release that expresses a distinct feeling of displacement, of longing for a place that no longer exists.

“We realize it’s a pretty dark record,” Johanna says with a mischievous laugh. “We’re pretty optimistic people, but we deal with our pain and issues through music. We like howin country music, especiallythere’s the contrast between the sweet and the bitter, the dark and the light, singing about something dreadful but doing it beautifully. We love the kind of tension that creates.”

That tension comes across in “Waitress Song,” a song whose protagonist dreams of fleeing her troubles by moving to a small town, changing her name, and waiting tables. “Master Pretender” is another such moment, a song about growing up and finding out you’re not the person you thought you were. These are the kinds of things you think about when you spend your late teenage years touring the country in a van, thrilled to be doing what you love but wondering how you feel about it all. In their case, at least, they are never alone.

“It’s good to have someone that you’re so close to, to work with them and travel around the world doing this really strange thing,” Klara says. “We’ll always feel like we’re at home because we have each other.” And, as if on cue, they harmonize together, cooing “Awww.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s June/July print issue (Issue 50).]


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