Interview: Johanna Söderberg (of First Aid Kit)

After capping off a big 2010 that included releasing a debut LP, The Big Black and Blue, receiving two Swedish Grammi nominations for “Best Newcomer” and “Best Folk Artist”, and embarking on a pretty extensive world tour (big festival stops included), Swedish folk sister duo First Aid Kit marked the start of 2011 with the release of a Jack White-produced Blue Series single courtesy of Third Man Records. Last week, I spoke by phone with one half of the duo, Johanna Söderberg. She shared her thoughts on working with Jack White, her favorite album to come out last year, and her and Klara’s plans for the year ahead.

How does it feel to be in Sweden again after the huge 2010 that you and Klara had?

It’s nice relaxing and being back home. Right now, we’re working on and writing a few songs for our upcoming record.

That’s exciting! What was it like working with Jack White and Third Man Records?

Just incredible. It all happened really fast. He seemed to know exactly how he wanted the music to sound. He’s an amazing musician to work with.

You and Klara have a hometown gig lined up with Band of Horses in February. How does that feel?

It’s amazing! I couldn’t think of a band I’d rather open for. They’re one of our favorites. And the Globen Annexet in Stockholm is a big venue in Sweden, so it’s huge for us.

What were some early influences for the two of you?

Klara was into Bright Eyes and a lot of other American folk music when she started writing songs, but I was listening to a lot of electronic music. Our whole family loved what she was coming up with, and once we started writing together, we were basically trying to write Conor Oberst songs. [laughs] So, yes, Bright Eyes were definitely a huge influence.

What’s your current favorite album?

Villagers from Ireland. They’re just amazing and the singer’s voice (Conor O’Brien) is just incredible. Their album Becoming A Jackal was probably my favorite album of last year.

Acts like Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling are becoming hugely popular, and folk music seems to be making a bit of a comeback. What’s it like to be a part of a revival in folk music?

Well, it’s not very big in Sweden. I didn’t really know that folk was making a comeback or anything, but it’s my favorite genre of music, so it is nice to be a part of a movement if there is one. [laughs] I’m not sure because we’re really into the older folk musicians like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. Also, Buffy Sainte-Marie who sang “Universal Soldier”, one of the songs we sang on the single we just put out. She has such a powerful onstage presence.  And Joni Mitchell is very influential to us; I think the album we’re working on now sounds a bit like her.

What are First Aid Kit’s plans for 2011?

Well, we’ve just started working on our next record. We recorded the last one with our father and at home, not in a studio. We’re looking into hiring a producer and a full band, so the sound may be different. We’ve received a few festival offers, but so far nothing is planned yet. Hopefully, we can wrap up and release the new record this year.


Follow Consequence