First Aid Kit is a Swedish folk/pop duo, with haunting harmonies and beautiful melodies.
First off, what is The First Aid Kit story? Tell us about yourselves and how you came to be.
Well, we’ve been singing together since we were kids but the idea of having a band and making music came later. When Klara was twelve she heard Bright Eyes for the first time and she fell for it instantly. Something with the honesty and simplicity of that music really stood out from all other music she had heard before. So, Klara got a guitar and started practicing, and with the first chords came the first songs. Then I joined in to sing harmonies, and it all just made perfect sense, and we started to make songs together.
A lot of your fame and recognition came from the YouTube video of you guys taking one of the most beautiful songs in recent history (Tiger Mountain Peasant Song by Fleet Foxes) and possibly making it more beautiful. What was that like? How has that video helped you? Or do you think it has hindered you (made it more difficult to get your own music out)?
That cover was very spontaneous, a spur of the moment sort of thing, we were really not expecting that response. We just thought it was an amazing song, and we liked to sing it and we thought: why not? It has helped us a lot, definitely, we’re so thankful because it’s enabled us to get our music out to the world. The only negative thing would be if people wouldn’t listen to our music and simply think of us as a Fleet Foxes cover band. That would be sad, because it’s our own music that really comes from the heart. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case. But really it doesn’t matter, if people only like the cover they don’t have to listen to our own music, even though it would be nice if they did.
Did you ever hear from Fleet Foxes?
Yes! The day after we uploaded the cover on YouTube they wrote a comment on our Myspace page. It said, "AMAZING!!!!!!!! Such beautiful singing!!!!!!!! What harmonizing! SOOO GOOD! What an honor!!!!!" It was very surreal and we never expected them to write back to us! Then they uploaded it onto their Myspace profile. They were really positive and they seem to be such sweet people. In November we played at the same festival in Holland and they invited us up on stage to sing with them, which really came as a surprise to us. It was a great honor. They're such a good band.
You guys are “a family band,” what is it like to work together? Do you think that makes it harder, or easier, because at the end of the day, you are family, and it will all work out?
There are advantages and disadvantages with the family thing. Musically it’s great because our voices are very similar and we don’t have to practice the singing too much, the harmonies come naturally. But of course we have an occasional fight now and then like we’re sure all sisters do. However, in the end being sisters is fantastic because we can be totally honest. We don’t have to be afraid that the other one will get really mad and split the band, haha.
You are also both very young, but there are hardly any hints of youth in your music, both the song writing and the songs themselves are very mature. Is that something you are conscious of, or does the music just so happen to turn out that way?
It’s really not intentional; we just sing whatever we feel like singing about, personal experience, made up stories, whatever feels good. We don’t really see our music as “mature” and even if we sing about things we haven’t experienced ourselves we can still relate to them. It seems like a lot of people have a picture in their mind of what you’re supposed to be singing about when you’re in our age and what music you should be listening to, but most of our friends listen to the same music as we do.
What are some of your favorite themes to write about in songs?
We rarely think about what theme to write about. We just sing whatever lyrics come to us first, without having to struggle for inspiration. We like to tell good stories. About relationships, or about the love for nature...Universal things, not too personal things. Apparently we also like to sing about housewives, adulterous business men, crossing oceans...
What artists most influenced you?
We would have to say Bright Eyes because discovering that music was such a change in our lives. Since we found Bright Eyes we found similar music, like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Karen Dalton, Vashti Bunyan, Gram Parsons, Nick Drake, Joanna Newsom, just to name a few.
Your music has a lot of American folk roots, how did you come to that sound, being a Swedish band. What did you find most relatable/appealing of this sound?
The American folk music feels extremely genuine, its music made for the pleasure of singing it, disregarding money and fame. A lot of the songs are tragic, but carry wonderful cheerful melodies. We really dig that combination. Also not to forget, you can find some of the best harmonies in the music history in the American folk roots music.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
To release our record and play some good shows around the world; it would be a dream come true to tour the States. But most importantly we hope to have fun and develop our thoughts and ideas.
—First Aid Kit Interview