LSTN 11: First Aid Kit
After their beautiful cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountains Peasant Song" won them instant Internet fame, Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg formed the folk duo First Aid Kit and haven't looking back since. We caught up with the sisters after their American tour and had Johanna fill us in on their travels, their crazy fans and why they can't get enough of Alfred Hitchcock.
How did you two first get interested in music?
Well, I think we've always been interested in music, we grew up in a very musical family. Our parents played records all the time and our dad was in a band in the '80s, so we had that background. It was always a distant dream, but it wasn't until we heard Bright Eyes that we knew we wanted to make music and just how we would do it. It was the song "First Day of My Life," so I guess that was the first day of our musical lives. We were struck by the honesty and simplicity of it and we felt like we could do it ourselves and we didn't need producers or anyone else telling us what to do.
What other bands are you into right now?
When you're a nine-year-old, you listen to stuff like Britney [Spears] because it's everywhere, but we don't passionately enjoy it anymore! We listen to a lot of American and British folk music like Bright Eyes, Joanna Newsom and older stuff like Bob Dylan and The Carter Family.
So who has the biggest influence on your music?
Every song has its own special influence. When we're really into one artist and we're inspired by them, it doesn't have to sound like them. There's just something in their songs we're trying to recreate in our own way. Jenny Lewis is a big influence though.
Did you ever end up meeting Fleet Foxes?
We sang with them live in Holland at a festival in November of 2008, so it was pretty soon after we had put out the cover of their song. They were some of the first people who heard that cover because we posted it to their Myspace page, and the next day they replied and they put it up on their profile. I was screaming and crying tears of joy because it was so crazy to get recognition from a band we loved.
Was that when you decided to really go for a career in music?
We were in Sweden and the thought of making music was already there, but that opened the door internationally and in the U.S. It made us realize we had something special when everyone loved our take on that song. It was like a big, warm hug and we just got more confident.
So how did your June tour go?
It was our first American tour, so just driving around the country and having people come to shows and be so supportive and loving was great. Coming to a country where so many artists we love are from, to a new place, and being met by such love is a big thing.
Any crazy fan stories?
We do have some crazy fans. One girl drove from Canada to Chicago to see us, she's wonderful, crazy in the best way. She was there with her First Aid Kit t-shirt looking so cute.
Where did the name First Aid Kit come from?
We were young and naive and saw it in a Swedish-to-English dictionary and liked the sound of it. Now we like the meaning of it, that music can be a consolation and can help people, because we write music as a way to help ourselves. We would like to be able to live on some kind of income, but touching people is the most important goal so we'll keep doing music even if it doesn't work financially.
What do you do when you're not making music?
We did the artwork on the album. We used old pictures of girls with mandolins from the Internet. We're movie junkies, we're obsessed with films, that's our nerdy thing.
Oh god, don't have one. I love Alfred Hitchcock films, they are all masterpieces.
Sisters can get catty, so how do you two get along?
We argue from time to time. We know each other so well that if we fight we know we'll work it out and be friends again soon, so we work really well together.
What did you originally want to do career-wise before your music took off?
For me at least, when I started music I was so young I didn't have a plan. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer but I was, like, seven. We didn't think music would happen but we made it before the age where we had to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up. It happened so fast and just became so obvious. There's a lot of things I can imagine doing, but nothing compares to this.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
That we put a lot of effort into our songs. We wish everyone knew how much it means that people actually listen to our music and say such kind words.