Their debut album The Big Black and the Blue would never have you believe Klara and Johanna Sderberg are a couple of teenagers, capricious and probably a bit dizzy over the good fortune they've seen come their way over the last year or so. You see, the Swedish sisters can count a host of highly esteemed musicians as fans of their band First Aid Kit. Fleet Foxes and Karin Dreijer Andersson (Fever Ray, The Knife) immediately come to mind...and we're pretty sure our latest segment of The Guest Apartment will make an admirer out of you the moment you dive in to it.
That's because the vocal arrangements that strafe across this performance are so impeccable they sound as if they could only be the product of years of formal training; something classic, and perhaps a bit rigid at times. But our conversations with the sisters reveal a very different ingredient at work here. Joy. It's ripened over time and come of age along with the girls...especially of late, given the kinds of opportunities that are now coming their way. This is folkal music (they'll explain) that brings with it an undeniable amount of magic, and it's one of the reasons we feel very lucky to have snagged some time with a group of musicians we know we'll be hearing from for a very long time to come. - David Pitz
We've always been singing together, since we were sisters. I got a guitar when I was 13, started writing songs, and Johanna sang some harmonies with me. We had our first show in 2007 and that's when we decided that we were going to do it together. music with focus on the vocals. - Thought about that one for a long time. Yes. - But it's a lot of harmonies and acoustic. - Lyric-based. - Yeah. Simple, but good. - But good. Another business trip. Another reason to stay away You're coming home on Monday, smelling tangerine They say that I should leave you Yeah, go and find someone new Who doesn't love a girl that smells like tangerine? I'm not going to beg. Just say, "Please, please, please, be good to me" This happens to all of us. Apparently I'm not good enough I can't make you laugh like tangerine. And you say, "But I'm still here That proves that I love you, dear" Late at night you come home smelling tangerine I'm not going to beg. Just say, "Please, please, please, be good to me" I'm not going to beg. Just say, "Please, please, please, be good to me" La da da da da da da da. La da da da da da da da La da da da da da da da. La da da da da da da da da da da La da la da da da da. La da da da. La da da da da dum - The first song we played was called "Tangerine. " I wrote that when I was 14, and it's the second song I ever wrote. So it's a special thing to be playing it. Yeah, it's a story about a woman and her husband and another woman who smells like Tangerines, pretty much. - It's really straightforward. We just try to write what at one time was close to us. We don't try to analyze our lyrics too much and the only thing that matters is what we think. It's a weird thing and people say that we're mature, because we don't think we're mature. It's not like when we're writing we're not like, "This is so mature, everybody's going to think this is mature. " It's just what comes from the heart, I guess. So, yeah. So you ask for my opinion. Well, what is there to say? To be honest and just foolish won't make you want to stay You've got to go on and get moving and I can't do that for you Got so many plans and so much you want to do Love is tough. Time is rough Love is tough. Time is rough on me Well I see you've got your Bible. Your delusion imagery Well I don't need your eternity or your meaning to feel free I just live because I love to and that's enough you see So don't come preach about morality that's just human sense to me Love is tough. Time is rough Love is tough. Time is rough on me, on me, on me And it's one life and it's this life and it's beautiful And it's one life and it's this life and it's beautiful And it's one life and it's this life and it's beautiful And it's one life and it's this life and it’s beu-ooh beu-ooh, beu-ooh, beu-ooh, beautiful Love is tough. Time is rough on me - Hard Believer's a, that's a song about a friend of ours who is very religious, and he still is. And just had a lot of conversations with him about religion and wrote that to him as a way of saying, "Hey, here's what we think about it. " I think he was pretty happy that we wrote a song about him but I don't know if he was super thrilled about what it was about. There's not really a writing process. It just happens, like you've got a line in your head and you start working on something or you just... - Usually Klara starts off with the guitar and a melody and then I come in and we get the form together. We work it out from Fever Ray or The Knife released our WEP in Sweden in 2008 through her label, Rabid Records. We've always wanted to sing one of her songs, and when we heard "When I Grow Up," we thought it would be perfect because it's such a strong melody and we really love the lyrics. We give it a different feeling than the original, I think. Yeah. When I grow up I want to be a forester. Run through the moss on high heels That's what I'll do. Throwing out a boomerang Waiting for it to come back to me When I grow up I want to live near the sea Crab claws and bottles of rum. That's what I'll have Staring at a seashell. Waiting for it to embrace me. Oh, oh I put my soul into what I do Last night, I drew a funny man with dog eyes and a hanging tongue It goes way back. I never liked that sad look From someone who wants to be loved by you. Oh, oh I'm very good with plants when my friends are away They let me keep the soil moist. On the seventh day I rest For a minute or two, then back on my feet to call for you Oh, oh, oh. Ooh. Ooh. You've got cucumbers on your eyes. Too much time spent on nothing Waiting for a moment to arise. The face in the ceiling And arms too long. I'm waiting for him to catch me. Oh, ooh - I think there's a combination of things that inspire us. - A good movie, could be a good book. But mostly it's just listening to other music. - Yeah. You can get this mood when you listen to a song and you want to capture that and make something of your own with that. That happens a lot. Like I said, it's not a planned thing, it just happens. - It's hard to even know where it comes from, it's just there. - What do we say about "Ghost Town"? - It could be about anything, but we wrote it traveling and leaving people behind. You meet so many people in the world that you never get the chance to meet again, it's about that. Or being somewhere in your life and not being able to do what you want. - You know you're missing out on some things but you don't really have a choice. All of these ghost towns I keep traveling through All of these traffic signs and lonesome bars Blindsiding me to you. And I swear I can be better I could be more to you. But there are things that line my path That I just have to do. If you've got visions of the past Let them follow you down. For they'll come back to you someday And I've found myself attached to this railroad track But I'll come back to you someday. To you. To you. To you someday And I remember how you told me all that you wanted to do That dream of Paris in the morning or a New York window view And I can see it now you're married and your wife is with child And you're laughing in the garden and I'm lost somewhere in your mind If you've got visions of the past let them follow you down For they'll come back to you someday And I've found myself attached to this railroad track But I'll come back to you someday To you. To you To you someday Well, maybe I should just turn around and walk away For no matter how much I really do want to stay You know I can't. No, it's too late For I've found myself attached to this railroad track But I'll come back to you someday To you. To you To you someday
FIRST AID KIT is comprised of Swedish sisters Klara (17) and Johanna Sderberg (19) who call Enskede, a district of Stockholm, home. The duo have been steadily inspiring teenage and adult hearts alike since the April 2008 Swedish release of their Drunken Trees EP on The Knife-owned label, Rabid. Upon conquering local clubs with their wise-beyond-their-years, country tinged pop, Wichita Recordings signed the young sisters to a worldwide deal in the Fall of 2008. This union resulted in a broader release for the EP, steady UK/European touring, festival appearances and ultimately the completion of their debut album, The Big Black & The Blue. Spring brought the release to North America on May 25th.
The album, released abroad this past January, and did not go unnoticed:
"A masterpiece" 5/5 " Sunday Telegraph
"The Big Black and the Blue is a sparkling jewel that belies the tender year of its creators" 4.5/5 " The Sun
FIRST AID KIT soaked up everything from Buffy Sainte-Marie to Bright Eyes in their formative years, which shaped their way with songwriting, arrangements and even the use of a second language. Upon the re-release of their EP in 2009, the girls took to the Swedish woods where they filmed a series of covers, including Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" that became a YouTube phenomenon (currently at over a million views). Shot simply and surrounded by glorious forest and sky, the power of the sisters' natural talents shone. Their deep love for the celebration of music could be felt in the quiet joy of performing their favorite songs together.
FIRST AID KIT is now unveiling a remarkable debut album to call their own, on which the sisters shared vocal duties; Klara mined guitar with Johanna performing keys and autoharp. The Big Black & the Blue was recorded intermittently throughout 2008/2009 with the help of their father, Benkt Sderberg, at their home studio Cellar Door. The collected work transports the listener via shimmering, almost telekinetic harmonies and thoughtful lyrical imagery. The songs on The Big Black & the Blue seep under the skin and claw at you. Surface playfulness is deceiving as the tracks take on a darker hue in moments, creating a surefooted yet interesting balance. By the first strokes of the acoustic fused opener, "In the Morning," we enter the warm and spellbinding nature that is FIRST AID KIT'S world. Transitioning to the mesmeric "Hard Believer," where a real-life argument about religion provoked the rousing, urgent line "And it's one life / and it's this life / and it's beautiful", then resting in the jauntiness of "Sailor Song," which is underpinned by a classic lost-love motif and a driving autoharp. Yet another album highlight, "I Met Up With the King," borrows a line from Gram Parsons to marvelous effect and "Heavy Storm" soothes with its loose swing. FIRST AID KIT penned all of the material for the album in addition to lovingly designing the sepia-toned artwork.
Pure of heart and entwining relentless imagination and talent, FIRST AID KIT is poised to stir some souls on their forthcoming adventure to the US. Won't you join them?