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Aid Kit

Hair & Makeup by Regina Törnwal
Interview by Ally Mullen
Shot by Viktor Gårdsäter

Klara and Johanna Söderberg are the Swedish sister duo from the dreamy folk band First Aid Kit. Wearing some of our favorite spring looks, we sent them on a trip to the great indoors.

Hi girls! We just heard that your new album, The Lion's Roar, is the top selling album in Sweden?

Johanna: Yes! It was just released. It's awesome. It's totally unexpected. The genre of folk / country is not what usually tops the charts so it's very surprising to us. We're very thankful that so many people have found our music. It's great and exciting.

Where did you get the name for the album?

Johanna: Well, "The Lion's Roar" was the first song that we wrote for the record and we felt like it was a new chapter in our song writing. It changed the way we write songs, it was just a different kind of feeling. We felt that it had a big part of the record. The Lion's Roar is a very strong imagery in your head; it could mean several different things to people. It could be a warning or some kind of force in you. I think it's about expressing some kind of very deep emotion, and that's what we tried to do on this album.

Klara: I agree!

What are some words that describe the album?

Johanna: Oh gosh, that's hard! Dreamy, harmony, guitar, keyboard, drum, bass! (Laughs) The things we were trying to go for were dreamy, ethereal, mystical...

Klara: But still personal.

Johanna: A bittersweet, '60s/'70s vibe.

Aside from the artists named in your song "Emmylou," what else would we find on your iPods?

Johanna: The Roches. They're three sisters who sing harmonies beautifully.

Klara: The album we're listening to is from '79.

Johanna: It's self-titled and that's one of our favorite albums right now. Also Leonard Cohen's new album, we've been listening to that a lot.

Do you find you have the same favorites when it comes to music or do you have your own? Johanna: Klara likes Nick Drake more maybe. We have our own favorites but I think in general we listen to the same kind of thing. And with what we want to see in our music, we're really on the same page. We really don't have to talk about it, and we rarely argue about it. So, tell us about the photo shoot you did with us photographed by Viktor Gårdsäter. Johanna: We started out at this beautiful hotel, and it's also a venue, in Sweden called Berns. It's a very glamorous place. It started with the story of us going from this party or something where we feel kind of out of place, and then going out to the Museum of Biology, which is a really old museum of Swedish nature. So it's us finding some place we belong. Our music is very much something of an older time and close to nature so I think it was reflected in this photo shoot. It was amazing. Viktor is really talented.
From what we can tell, the museum looks really awesome. What was it like?
Klara: We got to go into these cages and stand next to these taxidermy animals. It's from the end of the 19th century so it's really cool because they haven't changed anything. Johanna: Yeah, it's just really old and shows an old part of Sweden. It's a tiny museum; there are three booths with lots of taxidermy and deer and birds and wolves. I think it really fits with our image and our music. It was a really cool place but very cold—they didn't have any heat in there and the light came from outside so it became dark really quick!
It was shot close to where you are from. Where are you right now? Johanna: Home! In Stockholm, Sweden in a suburb that's about ten minutes away from the city.
What do you like to do when you're home?
Johanna: We're planning on starting Zumba dancing. Klara: Oh wow, I didn't know we were telling people that. Johanna: It's so much fun. Klara: I'm a terrible dancer but I think it could be one of those things where nobody would really care if you danced terribly. So it feels like it would be a good thing for me.
Do either of you have any other unexpected hobbies? Johanna: Maybe we're boring in that way? Do we have any hobbies, Klara? Klara: We're always working. We're just always singing, that's what we do! Johanna: We're always singing karaoke Whitney Houston songs and Mariah Carey songs. We do that a lot.
Klara: : I collect sand! (Laughs) No, no I don't. Johanna: Maybe we're boring in that way? Do we have any hobbies, Klara? Klara: We're always working. We're just always singing, that's what we do! Johanna: We're always singing karaoke Whitney Houston songs and Mariah Carey songs. We do that a lot.
Are there good karaoke places in Stockholm? Johanna: No, not really. We do it mostly at home. Klara: : I feel really bad for all of our neighbors.
You both have really great style. Where do you find your clothes? Johanna: We like to go to vintage stores. When we're traveling and touring we try to find cool places. We have a lot of dresses from all over the world so it's great. Instead of a regular souvenir it's like, this dress is from here or there. We also like the Swedish designer Rodebjer. They have really bohemian, comfortable clothes that we like to wear on stage. We really like anything that's bohemian and has the '60s/'70s vibe going on.
You spend a lot of time touring and on stage. Do you have any show rituals? Johanna: Well, since our vocals are pretty important we try to sing before the show. We've been starting to sing this song by The Roches called "Hammond Song," which is really an insane song because it goes really high and really low. It's a good song to warm up to. Then sometimes we watch Emmylou Harris videos because she's an amazing performer and we love to get into the right atmosphere before the show. We're really not the type of artists who get nervous or have stage fright; we just try to be a bit calm before the show and focus on what we're doing.
What does it feel like being on stage? Johanna: It's the best feeling ever. Klara: It's so rewarding being on stage. You can look into someone's eyes and see that a song really means something to them, and they're really moved by what you're doing. It's a huge compliment and it makes you feel good. It's really special getting to share these songs with other people. Johanna: I think today you're so seldom living in the moment but when you're preforming you can only focus on the music—that's the only thing that matters. I think that it's a really special kind of feeling to feel like you're totally living in the moment. Hopefully at your best show, if that's how the audience feels too, you share this energy or something. It's almost supernatural. You get so into the music that the here and now—the world—doesn't matter anymore. It's just the songs that matters, and that's all there is. It can be really powerful.
Have you had any embarrassing stage moments? Johanna: One time in Norway we played a festival and this naked guy came up on stage while we were preforming, which was kind of distracting. Klara: He just came up and danced behind us while we were playing. Johanna: Yeah, he did really disturbing stuff. (Laughs) We just kept playing until we couldn't play anymore. The guards came but they were really late. Klara: But he wasn't doing any harm. He was just a happy naked dude who was dancing. It wasn't scary, just a bit weird. Our little brother was watching the show and our grandfather—he's a priest—and it was the first time he saw us so we were like, "This always happens at our shows!" But the audience just ended up laughing. Klara: Also, I'm diabetic, and I once got low blood sugar on stage. It was really scary but I just had to stand off to the side of the stage and eat a bunch of sugar. We made it into something funny and we laughed about it. It wasn't that bad but it could have been.
The year is already off to a good start for you, but what else are you looking forward to in 2012? Johanna: We're looking forward to the unexpected things. The best thing about touring and going places is that you never know what to expect. You never know what's going to happen.