First Aid Kit Talks Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll
- Written by Bernadette Marty
The Swedish folk singing sisters, Klara and Johanna Söderberg, of First Aid Kit, will be performing songs off their latest album, “Ruins,” at the Pageant on June 10, 2018. On March 21, I had the honor of interviewing them and deciphering their harmonious vocals over the phone.
KDHX: Klara, your latest album chronicles your break up with your ex-fiance. It's going to soothe a lot of broken hearts, living up to your name, First Aid Kit. What music did you listen to to help alleviate the pain of that loss?
KS: Um, (laughing) I don’t know. All the same music I've listened to all my life, I think. Joanna, you've been through heartbreak, too. Of course, things like Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” is never a bad thing to listen to and make yourself feel less lonely in your pain.
JS: Sometimes listening to sad music when you're sad can be too much. Like you have to stop wallowing in your own feelings to get over it. In general, you looked to a lot of music that inspired you, right?
JS: Old favorites like Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and a lot of, what's the name? Lee Hazlewood.
KS: Yeah. Also we really love the band Thick Thieves. I think the biggest coping mechanism for me at that time was writing. It’s always been the best way to just learn about myself. And so that's what I did. And a lot of that [writing] turned into songs on the record.
I'm sure you're asked a lot of the same questions over and over again. What questions do you wish you were asked? What do you want your fan base to know about you?
JS: It's really tricky. I think a lot of times we talk about things that aren’t about the music. You just don't get to know us better through those questions. But that’s our job.
KS: We understand the questions that we get are the same because that’s what people want to know and that's fine. Sometimes it's hard when you get questions that are so out the blue. I mean it can be interesting, but can also just surprise you. And you just go, 'What? I have no idea.'
JS: The best way for our listeners to get to know us is at our shows and through our music. I mean, that's what we do.
JS: [Music] That's always been our focus. I think there's other bands who are more like personas or celebrities and that's how they connect with their fans through social media, but we always focus on the music.
Life on the road is hard. What is your favorite part and how do you care for yourself and your voice while on the road?
JS: My favorite part, I think, is just the thrill of it. Like not knowing where you're going to be tomorrow or the next day. Like, no day’s repetitive. Well it is repetitive, you're doing the same thing, but always in a new city. I think it's a great way to challenge yourself. You can never get too comfortable anywhere. You have to leave and I think it makes you really grow as a person. That's one of my favorite parts.
Of course, I like the connection with our listeners. Sometimes, after we’ve traveled on really long flights, and we’re exhausted we question, 'Why are we doing this?' And then the next day we’re on stage performing and people are crying and we’re crying and it's overwhelming and you realize it's worth it.
KS: Yeah, totally. I mean the excitement of playing a show like that, it's always so fun. The feelings of nervousness, and we’re just like, 'Oh, how's it going to go tonight?' You just want to give it your all and when you can, when you're fully present, is such a magnificent thing. And how we take care of ourselves…
JS: We don't – it’s not the sex, how do you say, 'Sex...'
KS: 'Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll.'
JS: Yeah. I mean, there's not that much of that going on, unfortunately. It’s kind of missed. It's really hard. You have to take care of yourself.
KS: Doing shows every day is so...
JS: Exhausting. It’s different if you're a DJ or just singing but we’re playing instruments every night. It’s so physical, it really takes a toll on you. You have to be in good shape. So sometimes, when we have a day off, we just like stay in the hotel room and have room service.
KS: Because that's the best thing.
JS: You could go to the gym or get a massage. You really have to take care of yourself, otherwise you just get burnt out.
KS: I think it's hard as well, like you're on the road, there's so many new things happening all the time, so many things to take in and that can make you really exhausted. Even when we have a day off somewhere really cool and they're like, 'Oh, we really want to walk around and see all these different things.' A lot of times, like Joanna said, we just gotta stay in bed.
JS: You got to limit your input. You can’t do too much.
Music is, as is all art is, subjective. One man's First Aid Kit is another man's Megadeth. With that said, how do you define success in this business? What milestones do you wish to meet?
KS: I think we're a little different in those terms. The main thing for us is that we have fun and that we make music that we love. That’s the most important thing.
Everything else is a fun extra thing. We’ve had things on our bucket list like – play a certain venue or be on a TV show and we've done a lot of those things and they’re cherished memories, but after you’ve done it, you’re like, 'OK, what’s next?' Like they're not goals where you…
JS: It's not what gives you satisfaction in the long run. I think it's really fun to have ambitions and a drive to feel like your band is growing and you're becoming more comfortable. There's a certain amount of comfort that comes with success and it's really nice to have. We started out, you know, touring in a van with our father, just the three of us.
KS: Not even in a van.
JS: Not even a van, just a regular car. Not getting any sleep. We were young and we had the energy, but I think at the end of the day we want something that's sustainable and that's kind of, we're still sort of getting there. We’re working on it, trying to figure out how to do this touring life.
KS: Yeah. Like how to balance it. Which is a trick and something that we're still working on.