On a chilly gray Saturday in Philly last weekend, Naomi and I made our way to Union Transfer in the afternoon to meet the beautiful and talented sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, who make up the band First Aid Kit. We walked into the empty venue as their crew was getting set up for sound check, taking a moment to admire the venue, with its high, vaulted ceiling and chandeliers before being led into First Aid Kit’s dressing room, a cozy room with oriental carpets, plush furniture, and suitcases freshly unloaded from their tour bus – they had literally just arrived from Washington D.C. Klara made us some green tea and we settled on the couch to chat with the girls about Joshua Tree, traveling, fashion and of course music.
We ended the night by catching their show at Union Transfer – they blew me away! They have such an incredible natural talent, and don’t let their pretty songs and appearance fool you, these girls can rock out and toss their hair around like nobody’s business. But I think the moment that has stuck with me the most was during the song “Emmylou.” Towards the end of the song there’s a point when its just Klara’s voice singing the chorus and gently plucking the guitar – you could have heard a pin drop in the venue, and the sound of her voice at that moment was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
Read on for our interview with First Aid Kit!
You guys shot your video for “Emmylou” at Joshua Tree, where we just shot our April catalog! What was your experience like there?
Great! It was very exotic for us, coming from Sweden, and being in the desert… it felt like there were spirits…for us, we love Gram Parsons and he died there, it was his favorite place, so it was a connection to him for us, it kind of felt like his spirit was there. We played his music in the car when we were there, it felt so perfect.
Did you go to his room at Joshua Tree inn?
Yeah we stayed there.
Did you stay in his room?
No, they asked us if we wanted to but it felt a little too weird.
Are you excited for Coachella?
Yeah! Its our first time playing there. We’ve heard its lots of fun.
So you guys are from Sweden, but you have lots of American influences. Who are some of your biggest music inspirations?
Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris…that’s it. (laughs)
No, haha…Townes Van Zandt, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, June Carter, Johnny Cash… Brighteyes, Fleet Foxes…
Really old American roots, old blues, country.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
Graham. Or Leonard Cohen.
We got to work with Mike Mogis though, and Conor Oberst. They were on our list. They were like at the top of our list.
How would you describe your personal style?
Johanna: We like to wear stuff that kind of relates to our music, natural, bohemian, comfortable.
You have a whole day off. What would you do?
Johanna: Go to Joshua Tree…haha…I probably would go back to Joshua Tree, actually.
Klara: I would go back to ’71 and meet all my favorite bands and go to a music festival…in Joshua Tree.
So what’s coming up for you after your tour?
We’ll probably go home for a little while, we’ve been on tour for so long and haven’t been home in forever, and then we’re going on tour again. We’re touring with Jack White in Europe.
This has been an amazing year for you guys, with your new album and now touring, is there any moment that stands out as a highlight?
Klara: Our show in New York was really cool. It was three days ago, and it was our biggest show here…or anywhere, really, on our own. Just walking out on the stage and seeing so many people, singing along…it was so amazing to be a part of that. It made us really excited to be on tour, because it was the first time playing all our new songs.
What is your favorite thing about Sweden?
Johanna: I think the calmness. And of course, that our family and our friends are there. There’s a beauty to the city, in the architecture and nature, you can’t find it anywhere else.
What are some of your other favorite places you’ve been?
Klara: We like Asheville. We really like Austin, Portland, Australia – Melbourne…New Zealand is really beautiful. We want to go to India before we die. We did get to go to Japan, which was really cool. We did like 22 interviews in one day. But we got to spend some time there, it was really beautiful. We both really like western culture, and being there was so different, but in a good way.
Johanna: We were never the type of family that traveled a lot, and now we’re just traveling all around the world, and its our job…you never really get used to it, but we kindof really love it because you start fresh every day. There’s a freedom to always moving.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Klara: I don’t think there is one. For me it’s just…natural. You have moments where you get inspired and start writing something and you can’t really explain where it comes from. And that’s sort of the magic of songwriting. You can’t plan it. You just sort of wait for it, or even, let it come to you. And it always does, in the worst situations, when I can’t write it down or I don’t have a guitar, and I’m crouched in the back writing something on my phone…but we don’t really know where it comes from, it’s always been a natural thing.
When did you write your first song?
Johanna: We’ve always been writing songs… I don’t know if those count haha..
Klara: I remember my first song. It was called “15 Miles in my Barbie car”…I was 6, and I had choreography and everything for it.
Do you have video of that?
Oh no, but I know the song, I know all the words and everything.
Do you want to sing it right now?
Haha, it’s in Swedish…I’ve actually had to sing it a couple times before.
If your music was a place where would it be?
The woods…that sounds so typical, but we’re always in the woods in our videos. But hopefully it’s the type of music that works in many places.