First Aid Kit are Joanna and Klara, two sisters from Sweden making beautiful folk music with spine tingling harmonies. Joanna speaks to DIY from a hotel room in Hamburg, Germany about their new album, recording with Jack White and dancing… Gangnam Style.
Describe a typical day for First Aid Kit…
We wake up around 9 and then we go in to the car and drive around for maybe four, five hours. We just sit around in the car and watch crappy TV shows. We get to the venue, unload and sit in the dressing room and wait for our turn to sound check, then we wait again until the show starts.
Sounds like a lot of waiting! This next question is quite important, we want to know what your favourite crappy TV show is?
Buffy The Vampire Slayer!
Jack White’s a big fan of your music, how did that come about?
I don’t know how he actually how he heard about us. We were just like totally taken by surprise that he even knew about us, but he called us one day when we were in Nashville two years ago and he was like ‘Hi, I’m Jack White’. We were like so blown away by that, and he invited us to the studio the next day and we recorded a single for him.
What single was that?
He has this thing called Third Man Blues Series, and it’s all these artists that record with him. We recorded two covers, one blues standard called ‘It Hurts Me Too’ and a kind of anti-war song called ‘Universal Soldier’. I think they’re on iTunes.
Has anyone else of Jack’s status shown interest in your music?
I don’t know if there’s any one that can compare to Jack White, but we’ve met a lot of amazing artists and musicians. The craziest thing we’ve ever done is what we did two months ago. We played for Paul Simon at this thing called The Polar Music Prize in Sweden, which is like the Noble Prize but in music. He was awarded a prize and we got to play at the ceremony. We performed a song for him and that was the most nerve wracking thing we’ve ever done, because we think he is the greatest song writer currently alive. We were very, very, very nervous but he loved our version apparently. That was pretty insane.
Your album The Lion’s Roar got a lot of positive attention - you won ‘Best Difficult Second Album’ at this year’s AIM Awards - how did that feel?
Yes, we were very surprised by that, very unexpected. It’s funny we didn’t think this album was difficult to make at all really. It was the album we really wanted to make, it was a dream come true. We recorded in Omaha with Mike Mogis, and we felt like it couldn’t have gone better and easier.
We hear you did a Gangnam Style dance when receiving the award? Can we expect to see it at your shows?
[Laughs] We hope that we can someday do it live on TV, it’ll be fun. I’m doing it right now.
You’ve been picked as one of DIY’s albums of the year. When you were writing and recording the album did you imagine it would have this success?
No no, we had no experience of success like that and we didn’t expect such a big audience but we did feel very good about it. I remember the first time I played it I was struck by how beautiful we made it, not to sound like… you know… but we feel very strongly about these songs but we definitely did not expect success like this. It’s just our kind of music. It’s really weird that it was number one in Sweden, with our genre it’s so rare that that kind of music has a broader appeal.
What does go through your head when making an album? Who do you feel like you were doing it for?
For ourselves, it’s what you should do when you make music. You shouldn’t think about adapting it to fit an audience. We do it because it’s so much fun and we love singing and recording. It’s like a comfort for ourselves, it’s the way we see music, it’s therapy.
What do you want people to feel when they listen to the album?
I hope they feel more alive and also calm and like they have a friend in our music coz that’s what we feel when we listen to music, it makes us feel less alone like we have something in common with other people in the world.
What’s there a track that you most enjoyed writing?
I think the song Emmylou, it’s such a special song that I don’t know how we wrote it, it feels like it was like magic. It just stood out to us instantly, we felt like it was the best song we’ve ever written.
What’s it like working with your sister?
It’s great. I think we have a unique, strong relationship and we complement each other very well. I’m more laid back and Klara’s a bit more outgoing. It’s hard to explain but when we write songs it just works.
Are we allowed to know what track you will release next from the album?
Err… I don’t know… Maybe it will be ‘King Of The World’, I’m not sure.
What are your plans for rest of the year?
We’re going to Australia, we’re spending New Year’s Eve in Australia we’re really excited about that. I hope the rest of the shows go as well as the others. They’re all sold out in the UK. These shows are really big for us, we’re used to playing small club shows so we’re very excited and bit nervous.
First Aid Kit’s ‘The Lion’s Roar’ is number 47 on DIY’s Albums Of 2012 list. Find out more here.