Imagine a summer yet to come, undoubtedly the best summer of your life. Watching vapour trails, losing track of time….and that is Korallreven. Over three singles they’ve given us the sound of unbridled wanderlust: light like a feather and deep like an ocean. For all the spaces between wild nights, this is how we can always look back and remember the summer: sweet, easy and smooth.
Or maybe it’s just equally a sound about the simplicity of summer that lingers in memory and nags with longing through the dead of winter. Korallreven are that, too. Even when summer is a million miles away, ‘The Truest Faith”s soft dance-inducing dizziness and sparkle of celestial synths are a swirling sunburst. Bringing with it the sounds of summer escapism – cyan skies, crinkly tropical coastlines and aerial sunsets – it can make real life glint like the briefest of magical moments.
In early September, they released their third single, ‘Honey Mine’. Featuring Victoria Bergsman, it’s another four minutes of unadulterated pleasure, the sonic equivalent of most tender form of ecstasy there is: floating overseas through the seasons of change, looking at the sea of blue above and below you, and knowing things will never be this good again.
So just as the summer is ending, it felt like the right time to ask Korallreven some questions. After releasing three singles, their first album comes out in Spring 2011. So talking about the future, their real lives and inspiration, and just what exactly it is about their music that makes it so warm and fleeting like the sunshine, here’s Marcus Joons to give some insight into the world of Korallreven.
Hi Marcus. So Korallreven is yourself and Daniel Tjäder, who is also the keyboardist in The Radio Dept. In Swedish, the name means Coral Reefs? I may be asking a question with a really obvious answer here, but why did you choose it?
Mostly because it’s easily one of the most beautiful words in the Swedish language. Also because it’s pretty close to the Samoan word for spirituality. As you may know, Korallreven all started in my mind when I was in Samoa three years ago. And though I wanted us/Korallreven to make pop songs that were spiritual like the local Samoan Catholic church choirs, hypnotic like the breathtaking tropical nature and above all a feeling of finally reaching the other side, it felt kinda natural to call it Korallreven. Just taste it once again – Ko-rall-rev-en. Beautiful, ain’t it? And fresh.
Tell us a little bit about how you met Daniel, where you were when you started Korallreven…some basic facts.
We met in Malmö like seven years ago, where we both lived at the time. I think we did the things that you should do in Malmö. Like escaping to Copenhagen as soon as you got the chance. I was totally lost at the time and actually wanted to escape from everything that reminded me of a sorted life. Like love, et cetera. So I went to Scotland, LA, Iceland, Australia and Samoa. And when I wasn’t on the run, I guess that I was trying to run away from myself, Daniel was so kind as to let me stay on his couch, sometimes for weeks. So he helped me out. We became dear friends. I’m thankful forever for that. Then, one day, when I told him about my Samoan dream, I quite soon discovered that he had one of the most secretly gifted musical minds around. It’s such a cliché but I think that we complete each other like fire and ice.
“We complete each other like fire and ice” - Marcus Joons & Daniel Tjader
What was the shared vision you had together that resulted in Korallreven? Describe the feelings you wanted to capture with your sound?
We have had an extremely clear vision since the birth of Korallreven. It has been all about expressing what makes us feel the pure ecstasy of what in popular terms used to be called ”life”. It has been all about high inexplicable feelings. And I truly hope that you feel the same. It has been the easiest thing that I have done in my life – because there isn’t a tune that we have written that won’t be on the album. And at the same time it has been the toughest because this is in my mind, all the time, you know?
The progression between your first single ‘Loved-Up’ and the most recent, ‘Honey Mine’, is stunning. ‘Honey Mine’ sounds like a lost St Etienne outtake that was found in the South Pacific… How would you say Korallreven has evolved between them?
Thanks for the kind words. I don’t know, we just have this vision that we follow. It just felt natural to release the songs in this order. Just wait for the next one – ‘As Young As Yesterday’. I guess that is the most magical so far. This is at least how it feels today. And that is all that matters, right? How you feel today.
Most of your output seems blissful and simple on the surface but is actually composed of elaborate song structures…how does the dynamic work between Daniel and yourself?
I just feel that we are a modern pop group who record modern pop songs. I/We/Korallreven want to combine the ultra artificial with the ultra organic. That’s one of the main thoughts when it comes to the music. This contradiction. We know where we wanna go so we go there pretty quick. It’s like when you are in Rome. As soon as you get there you know that you wanna go to the Fontana di Trevi, so you better go there before anyone else, 5am in the morning, kissing the one you hold close to your heart.
“She looks like a koala bear and behaves like a fox” - Victoria Bergsman
Victoria Bergsman guest-stars in the latest edition of Korallreven…how did that come about? Her voice in ‘Honey Mine’ is like a warm breeze blowing up from the beach.
Victoria is a dear friend of mine. Love her voice and maybe especially that she looks like a koala bear and behaves like a fox. So natural. She is truly here and there on the album. Literally.
What are your influences? Not just music…but anything.
The love of my life and the life of my love. It’s that simple and exactly that difficult.
Do you have tropical needs? What satisfies that urge in your daily life?
Actually, I can’t understand how you can’t long for longer hotter summers if you, like me, was born on the Swedish countryside. I can’t understand how you can prefer greyness to colours and Sandared to Puerto Rico. That was one of the reasons why I left Sweden in February for New York – where it seems to have at least five months of summer. The funniest and sunniest city. Or at least til I’ll see San Juan.
So talk a little bit about the visuals of Korallreven…is this something that you leave entirely up to Rory at Acéphale, or what extent is your input to designing Korallreven?
It’s always our visual idea, our photos, or t-shirts and baggy jeans. It just comes from the inside. When it comes to the records, Rory just designs the back of it and it’s done. And I think that he does that with the same Godlike loveliness as, say, how Julianna Barwick sings.
Single artwork. From top to bottom: ‘Loved-Up’ / ‘The Truest Faith’ / ‘Honey Mine’
‘Honey Mine’ seems to be this slowed motion dance track about lost love in the tropics, paradoxically full of longing and relaxation. Talk about some of the contradictions you feel you need in your music?
I like the feeling of being like a cute kitten who, as soon as you come too close and start to pet it, puts out its claws to scratch you. There might be blood. I like when there is a threat around the corner, in every sense.
If you could do something for the rest of your life, would this be it?
I don’t know if I want to do anything for the rest of my life. I guess I’m too restless for that and always dream of escapes over and again. I’m pretty sure that we will keep recording more albums. Feels like we have ideas for at least one more after this one.
Noticed you’ve released two mixtapes so far. How do you find it a useful addition to your recorded tracks? What do you think of mixtapes – revivalist anomaly, or a good way of cultivating a mood that most people don’t seem to bother with anymore
It’s all about context. Just as in everything else we do. And we can feel that we truly belong somewhere and nowhere at all.
What’s your favorite lost tradition? Something people don’t seem to bother with anymore or that you think is too easily forgotten because of modern life?
I’m not sure if it’s the right timing to answer something like this the day after a Nazi party entered the Swedish parliament. Nazis who want to go back to lost traditions and how Sweden was like in the 1950s. I think we need to be more ’careful’, that to me is a lost belief.
So on to the technicalities. There’s an album coming soon, Korallreven is going places and soon you won’t be just this band that’s been loved so dearly by us and brings our ears to life with every new song. Do you think you’re ready for this?
Ready for what? I’m ready meet people, go up on stage, play around, seeing some new cities et cetera. Don’t you think?
What’s the difference between fun and success? Do you think you can have both at once?
Of course. As long as you have your clear vision. Even if I never totally fully have understood the word success. Where’s the barrier that has to broken to get that S-word? Please let me know and we will try to break it.
Alright now tell us about your future plans….the album, your life…falling in love…..
The album will come in Spring 2011. No title just yet. Ten tracks and some forty minutes of music as fresh as a strawberry smoothie.
Listen to Korallreven ‘Honey Mine’, played exclusively on Octobers edition of The Line Of Best Fit podcast.