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A chat with HEART ON MY SLEEVE

HEART ON MY SLEEVE, a female fronted screamo / post hardcore band from Sweden took some time with us to talk about loads of peculiar stuff. They’re about to release a cool split with their mates from COMA REGALIA and CAVALCADES, so watch out! Lots of hot news and interesting thoughts can be checked out below. Don’t miss it!

Hey, Kalle! How you’re doing , man? Everything cool down there?

Hi Karol! [smiles]. I’m good, how are you?

I’m great! A bit tired, though. I’ve had a busy weekend. Ready to shoot us some answers and let Idioteqs know more about HEART ON SLEEVE? [smiles]

Yeah same here, a little bit hangover today [laughs].  We’re ready for some questions [smiles]

Cool. Are there more of you over there? [smiles]

Yeah it’s me and Ina (the singer).

Nice. Hi, Ina! [smiles] Great to have you both. Alright, to start off, please give us a brief history of the band. We’ll gonna need that to have the full picture.

In late 2010 it started with Gabriel (guitar) contacting Kalle (guitar) on a online community and asked him if he was interested in starting a band. At that point we had never met before. The two of us met up and jammed together and we wrote our first song (Ctrl, Alt, Del) then. Later on we asked some friends if they wanted to be a part of the project and that filled the positions of bass and drums. Gabriel had shortly played with Ina in her previous band (THE HOPE AND THE FAILURE) and asked her if she wanted to try out for vocals and that’s how it all got started.

What drove you to form this pack?

Gabriel isn’t here so we cant’t really answer that but he is very passionate about creating music and he didn’t have a band at that point (his old band FOLLOWED BY 37 SECOND OF HAPPINESS had broken up) so he was eager to start something new.

Alright. Talking about your previous/other projects, what are some of the other bands HEART ON MY SLEEVE’s members were or maybe still are involved in?

Ina was in THE HOPE AND THE FAILURE, Gabriel was in FOLLOWED BY 37 SECONDS OF HAPPINESS and Martin (the drummer) is currently in another band called HIGH VIOLET.

Cool. So I guess one of the biggest events for you this year was the release of “Stand-By, We’re Going In For Life ” EP, right? Tell us more about it.

Yes we have recently released our first record and that is really exciting. Our earlier stuff has only been released digitally on the Internet so it feels more real to have an actual physical record to show off [smiles]. We have gotten a lot of positive feed-back and people seem to like it. We tracked the material in May at Garaget Studio, which is the same studio that we have used for all our recordings. Micke, the sound engineer, was also our stand-in bass-player during our European tour.

It was self-released, right? Why did you decided to put it out this way? DIY for life or were you simply tired of looking for a label? [smiles]

Actually, we were not looking very actively for a label, we just wanted to get the record out. Of course DIY is an important part of the punk/HC community that we are a part of and without the DIY-mentality bands like us would never be able to play shows or do interviews like this one. We are an active part of the DIY-movement but for our next release however, it would be nice to have a label.

Why?

The main problem is to get your record out there so finding a label can help distribute our music. Money is also an issue, since it´s super expensive to ship records from Sweden to the rest of the world. If a person outside of Sweden orders our record, the postage will cost more than the actual record.

Our intention is not to find a big label, but a small DIY label that we could cooperate with. It would be awesome.

I see. Are there such labels? Do you have someone in mind?

There is a lot of great labels out there, like Dog Knight Productions (uk), Middle Man Records (US), Pike Records (GER) etc. And for our upcoming split with COMA REGALIA and CAVALCADES there are four different labels who are putting it out together: Middle-Man Records / Sea of Tranquility Records / Moshtache Records / I.CORRUPT.RECORDS.

Oh yeah. There are lots of great people involved. How did you team up with 2 other bands? Who’s piloting the whole cooperation?

Shawn from COMA REGALIA asked us about doing a split for a long . Then we saw on a Factimeebook post that Allan from CAVALCADES wrote that he wanted to do a split with us and then Shawn wrote that he had dibs on a split so we decided to do a three-way together. Shawn is the main pilot of the plot.

Great. Do you have everything wrapped up for this outing?

No [smiles]. We’re going into the studio February 1st and we’re writing the songs as we speak. Regarding the artwork we don’t know yet.

Cool. About the songs, I mean both the new EP and this upcoming split, how do they differ from your previous EPs?

It’s more melodic and we’re working on creating more dynamics in the songs. We don’t really sit down and think “now we are going to write epic songs”, it’s a process and everyone in the band has their opinion so that needs to be considered.

Good to hear that you’re not Omar Rozdrigez-Lopez-alike [smiles]. He’s a dictator. About the recording process, what’s more important, lyrics or music?

They are equally important, but in different ways. The music could stand on its own but without the vocals (and the lyrics) there would be something missing. The lyrics could be meaningful independently, but they would not be lyrics without music. As a singer I feel that the lyrics are very important but without the music they would only be words scribbled down and probably hidden away in my drawers.

You’re a screamo band, so even if I wasn’t aware of your discography, I would quess that you must have released at least one split before [laughs]. Did you?

[laughs] That’s right, we released a split together with a Russian band called состояние птиц about a year ago. Split’s are a great way to reach new fans and make new friends.

How did you pick up this band?

They contacted us about doing a split together at good old myspace [smiles].

Great. Did you know that the good old MySpace is back? [smiles] Would you consider switching from Facebook and going back to MySpace again?

Since Facebook is pushing administrators to pay for “promote posts” etc we will totally check out the new myspace. I don’t think that we will switch but probably use both if its good [smiles].

Oh right, you recently warned your people about it. Personally I don’t really believe a switch like this would be fast and easy. What about other social networking services. Are you into Bandcamp and Soundcloud, for instance?

Yes we’re on Bandcamp, it’s a great platform to host your music and it’s fun that you could see some stats of how much or songs is downloaded etc. I also hang out a lot at last.fm, it’s easy to get stuck there for hours finding new music. I think we have about 33000 scrobbles there now and i don’t think that anyone in the band ever would have guessed that we would be played that much [smiles].

Ok. You mentioned your European tour before. Tell us about your 2012 crusades.

We were out on tour for 10 days with CONTINENTS from Germany (awesome band!). It was a great experience since it was our first tour but we ended up calling it “The Cursed Tour” because everything seemed to go wrong and we began to feel like we were cursed. First Chris, the singer in CONTINENTS, was not allowed into The UK since he is an American citizen (apparently you need some special permit to tour in The UK if you´re American) so CONTINENTS had to do instrumental sets. Secondly I got a really bad cold early on in the tour which resulted in that I could hardly talk and much less scream, which led to that we had to shorten our set in half for me to be able to produce any type of sounds on stage. Some  other not so fortunate events were that Kalle got sick too,  amps and instruments broke, someone smashed into the rare view mirror of our van (and left a fake note, bastards!) and not that many people showed up to the shows in the UK.

However, we did have a lot of fun!  We are really thankful that we were able to have this experience since we got to play with some amazing bands (CONTINENTS, WE CAME OUT AS TIGERS, CAVALCADES), meet awesome people, see some new and exciting places (even though most of it was seen from the van) and play more live shows than we have ever done before.

We filmed a lot during the tour and made a tour-video that pretty much sums up the tour and is quite fun to watch.

Great! What other friends in European screamo bands do you have?

[laughs] Okay! Except for the bands we have already mentioned there is a Swedish band called DISEMBARKED, they are awesome both as musicians and people [smiles].

Ok, and talking about all genres possible, in your opinion, what band(s) do you think are the most underrated around at the moment?

I have talked to everyone in the band and we can’t really agree on this question since we all have very different taste in music [laughs]. Here are some bands that were mentioned in the discussion: MARIAH, VALES, KAMARA, LARA KORONA, SNORAS, LIFERUINER, GATHERER, OLD GRAY, ANTEATER, READY RESISTANGORA STATIC, DISEMBARKED.

Ok, and where does your inspiration come from? Do you get it from legends only? Can small independent bands be inspiring, too?

Of course they can! I (Kalle) personally listen a lot more to small independent bands than the big ones. We find inspiration in a lot of different music but we never try to copy other bands.

The Real Screamo Compilation is a good place to start with, right? [smiles] How did you hook up with this amazing company of bands?

Real Screamo puts out awesome compilations, I’ve found a lot of great bands through them. I don’t really remember but i think they sent us an email asking if we wanna be on a comp, and that was not a difficult choice [smiles].

Any other comps you’ve shared your tracks for?

Yes, we were included in a sampler from Miss the Stars.

We were also supposed to be on a comp that a guy from South America put together but we have not heard anything about it so we don’t know it’s happening or not.

Great. I promise I’ll include you on the first Idioteq compilation [smiles].

 

Hoookay, my friends. How does it feel to run a female fronted band?

It’s kind of hard for me to answer (Ina) since I can’t really do anything about being female [laughs].

However, speaking for the band I don’t think that is something we are thinking about. It’s more about the dynamic of the band and our sound than the gender of one of the members.

Speaking for myself, I wish that more women would get involved in the punk/hardcore scene in a more active way. There are way too few of us in the scene and even fewer women who play in bands, do fanzines, run record-labels or put up shows.

 

Have you notices any cases of sexism in the hardcore punk scene?

Yes of course I have experienced it. We live in a patriarchy and even though some might claim that the punk and hardcore scene is a safe haven from the norms of the “regular” society, sexism is still deeply embedded in our culture and our everyday behavior. Not many men reflect about it,  but it is a lot harder for a girl to get into the scene than it is for a guy. Also, as an active woman in the scene you  have learnt to accept comments regarding your gender, comments such as: “This band is good for being a girl band” or “It´s so cool that you sing in a band because you are a girl”. Even though the ones who are saying it mean it as a compliment you would never comment on the gender of a band if all members were male.

I have been an active member of the hardcore scene for about 18 years and except for a period in the mid 90´s, when the scene in Sweden actually had a lot of girls, you have gotten used to going to shows and sharing interests with a majority of men. I think it is a shame, especially since I know girls in the past who really wanted to go to shows, but did not dare to or had problems fitting in.  I have gotten so used to it that I don´t reflect as much anymore but like it or not, the hardcore scene is a bit of a sausage fest [laughs].

Hopefully it will evolve into a hot-dog [smiles].

18 years sounds A LOT! What have you been doing apart from HEART ON MY SLEEVE. Tell us about your other projects.

Well, what can I say, I am 34 years old and I got into the hardcore scene when I was about 15 so I have been around for a while. I played in a couple of really crappy I wrote articles/reviews for a few different Swedish fanzines and magazines. I was a apart of the “08 Stockholm hardcore scene” for a hardcore/punk bands in the 90´s that no one wants to remember, I did a fanzine for a pretty long time called “Don´t Blame Josh” and long time and helped put up shows. For a while I had a passion for documentary films and did a couple about the Swedish punk/hardcore scene. Hardcore has been a big part of my life for a really long time and even though I am not as active as I used to be, (mostly because my job eats up all my time) it is still something I really care for.

Are some of these documentaries available somewhere online now?

No, they were all filmed and edited during the time when I used Beta technology so no, nothing is digital or available online. I have the films on VHS and Beta-copies at home [laughs].

However, half of the band work with TV and video productions and both Kalle and Gabriel make awesome videos for different purposes in their spare time.

You have to find it, rip it and put it online for us [smiles].

So after all these years, what’s your view on Swedish punk scene now and back then, when you first got involved?

When I got into punk and hardcore the music came with a set of political views. Punk was very connected with left wing politics, everything from feminism to animal rights and it was assumed that if you went to shows, those were the ethics and politics you shared. Since left wing politics is very important to me I was attracted to the radical opinions of the scene back then. Now, the scene is  far from political, people of different views go to shows and only a few bands still carry the torch. I think it´s both good and bad that the scene has changed. It´s good because it is more open minded and more people are accepted within the scene even though everyone does not hold the same political agenda. Back in the 90´s people actually got alienated because they did not fit into the political norms of the scene. The bad thing about it for me is that you can no longer expect people within the scene to have the same norms and ethics as you do and therefore the norms and behavior of society is more commonly shown. An example is vegetarism, I have been a vegetarian for more than 18 years and there was a time when everyone I knew was vegetarian or vegan as a political choice, that is not really the case anymore which I personally think is sad. What I´m trying to say is that even though the scene is more diverse and there are no “rules” or a “package of political views” you have to adapt to, I still miss a time when hardcore meant more than the music.

Damn, but I hope it still does mean more than music, come on! [smiles] Maybe with that slight difference that “the thing beyond music” is a different one?

Well I think it depends from person to person but yeah, maybe that is it, that the focus has shifted into something else.

Alrightie folks. I guess that’s about it. Thank you so much for your time.

Feel free to sum it up a little and tell us about your future plans or add anything you want. Thanks! [smiles]

Except for the split in February, we have some shows booked in during early spring. Then we’ll see what happens, we have talked about recording a full-length album after the summer and probably playing more shows. Time will tell! [smiles]

Thank you so much for caring about us and for doing this interview, it really means a lot to us.


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