The authors of one of the greatest record of this decade, Stockholm’s VI SOM ALSKADE VARANDRA SA MYCKET return with their new incisive study of emotions, bringing more quality art that should shake up the world of this specific niche of subtle, atmospheric screamo with wide range of dynamics. Joining them on this new record are their German friends from THEY SLEEP WE LIVE, a trio of passionate musicians inspired by the 90s screamo era, hugely motivated to take it to new levels. Both bands stand strong against racism, homophobia, sexism, or any other kind of discrimination or oppression and have agreed to sit down with IDIOTEQ to discuss their new collaboration, their local DIY art scenes and plans for the future.
Featuring a quality art from Felipe Montt, the split between VI SOM ALSKADE VARANDRA SA MYCKET and THEY SLEEP WE LIVE is co-released with Miss The Stars Records, Blood Of The Young, Dingleberry records and distribution, Pike Records, Tief in Marcellos Schuld Records, and Zegema Beach Records!
Photo: VI SOM ALSKADE VARANDRA SA MYCKET live. The following interview was conducted in late April, right before this year’s Miss The Stars Fest III that featured both bands and more inspiring post hardcore artists.
Hey there guys! I’m so happy to have you back on IDIOTEQ, this time in a great company of THEY SLEEP WE LIVE! How are you?
VSÄVSM: We are great. So glad to talk to you again. We just had band practice preparing for Miss The Stars Fest, where TSWL also are playing. It´s actually the first time we will be meeting in person.
So, we’re here to document this new beautiful co-release. Tell me about the initial idea of this collaboration, who came up with it and how you feel about it now.
VSÄVSM: Jens approached us about doing something on Moment of Collapse. Actually it was after you wrote about us. So we started talking. We think it turned out really good.
TSWL: It’s an absolute pleasure to share this release with VSÄVSM. I think I noticed them when I checked the latest Blood of the Young Records releases and was absolutely blown away by the VSÄVSM LP. Blood of the Young Records was always an important label for me, since they released one of my all-time favorite releases, The Khayembii Communiqué 7inch. More wondrous, that one of the band members moved to Sweden and plays in VSÄVSM nowadays. So I got in touch, to see if these guys are interested in releasing something on the Label I am pleased to be part of, Moment Of Collapse.
During the same time we kind of got started with THEY SLEEP WE LIVE and came up with the idea to do a split release with those guys. I’m glad that we found a bunch of labels, which made this release come true. Moment of Collapse was knowingly no part of it, because I finally just wanted to be a part of a band creating music.
Is it a struggle to organize such a split in support of 6 different labels? Do you need one mastermind to manage it? How do you put out a record like this?
VSÄVSM: For us it´s been a smooth ride. Jens (of TSWL) was the mastermind, he got in touch with the labels and then Axel from Pike Records took the lead. We were able to just focus on writing songs and recording our music.
TSWL: Being connected with a lot of labels was something that made this one surprisingly easy. There were around 25 labels we wrote a mail concerning the release of the split and 6 of them were into it. Axel at Pike Records took care of the whole pressing process and did a great job.
The packaging, artwork and vinyl are way beyond what we expected and we are thankful to work with such nice record labels.
Can you share some thoughts on the artwork for this record? Apart from the front cover, are there more amazing graphics by Felipe Montt inside the sleeve? Also, is there a kind of connection between the lyrics and these visuals?
VSÄVSM: We usually have a specific look on our own releases and wanted to move away from that since it is a split. I (Arvid) suggested early on that my friend Felipe would do the artwork and everyone involved was fine with that. Then me and Felipe worked closely together to come up with an idea. We both like the work of Saul Bass and thought it would be a nice direction to go. And then he delivered this beautiful artwork. Since we didn´t have a mutual theme for the record we went for something that we found pleasing visually. I think it turned out kick-ass.
TSWL: There were two ideas for the cover artwork and we were lucky to choose one we like. Since this is a split release I like the aspect that there are two hands reaching out in the same direction. It’s a plain message that cuts the idea right to the chase of the matter. Felipe’s work on that one is close to Saul Bass, if you consider his works on the Hitchcock movie posters and the Company with the golden arm poster.
Ok, so let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we? What inspired these tracks? Did you produced them especially for this record, or have you already had them in your secret stash full of never released songs? :)
VSÄVSM: We had a spare song from the album (Den sorgligaste musiken i världen) recordings. We always liked that song, but we couldn´t fit it on the 12”. When Jens first approached us that was what we could offer, since we are busy recording stuff for other releases. Then we realized it wasn´t enough, so we recorded ”Alla vägar…”, our shortest song so far.
TSWL: When the idea of the split was set, our contributed song “and the curtain falls” was the one we worked on. So the fact, that we needed a song for this release did have an effect on the writing, especially when it comes to the running time. With a running time of 6:30 Minutes, there was enough space to fill with tension and atmosphere.
To have a check on our own equipment and recording skills, we decided to record this song on our own. Nico, our guitarist, did put a lot of effort on that. Our friend Fabian at Machines of Sleep Studio took care for the mix and master. We are absolute satisfied with the result and lucky that we were able to manage a big part of this on our own.
Have you ever been sorry to see a track go, being assigned to a certain record? Do you consider using the same songs for your own EPs and full lengths, or do you see your split collaborations as exclusive, unique offerings?
VSÄVSM: We always see songs as exclusive offerings. Sure, we might use released songs on samplers or compilations, but for our own releases we want new material.
TSWL: This split is our first release. For all further releases, no matter what kind of, we are writing new songs. To release songs in different versions on different releases is something we don’t like that much and wouldn’t do. Every song and release should have a unique story. Everything else is diluting your music. When it comes to discography’s it might be different. It’s nice to get the complete back catalogue of a band you just discovered but already called it quits long time ago.
Photo: THEY SLEEP WE LIVE live at Miss The Stars Fest 2016, by Lotta Herzlich.
Ok guys, you have been active in your local punk scenes for some time now. Can you tell us how you think these environments affected or influenced your artistic approach? How do you see your local independent art scenes evolving in 2016?
VSÄVSM: Most of us have been involved in the punk and hardcore scene since our early teens, so it has been an important part of our lives. For this band though, we kind of started outside of the scene. We just did a project, recorded stuff, and released it online. Then we were approached by Stockholm Straight Edge to do a show opening for DOWSING and ANNABEL. We were amazed to see people who knew our lyrics singing along and getting really into the music. In general, it´s inspiring that the scene is thriving and amazing to get to be a part of it. We have played with so many great bands and met so many nice people playing shows – it keeps us really motivated to do more music and try to be even better.
TSWL: This is a question all the three of us would answer way different. For sure the local punk and hardcore scene had a huge impact on all of us, especially cause we had to build it up part ways on our own, but this is already some time ago and live changed a lot during the last years, Dirk and I are having families, Nico is way younger than us and pretty active, but more in the political thing. The local scene here in the north of Germany is nice; there are a couple of good venues that set space for concerts, art-happenings, assemblies for political actions etc. It is carried as long as people are motivated to defend this space from interests of the mainstream. Especially in cities like Hamburg it is not that easy.
Going beyond music itself, your lyrics can be interpreted many ways. Do you have a particular message your trying to convey?
VSÄVSM: Usually, my lyrics are really personal and it´s a way for me to deal with things in my life. Hopefully people can connect to them. ”Alla vägar…” on the other hand is more political then anything else that we recorded. It´s about the dark developments in much of Europe in where racism and xenophobia seem to be growing. It has to be stopped. We can and must do better than that as a society.
TSWL: Most of our lyrics are affected by things that touch us personal. We consider ourselves as an antifascist band. The keynote behind TSWL is to make yourself aware right here and now. Connected to this approach, a lot of topics emerge easily. So writing lyrics is our way to express our attitude, feelings and doubts towards the western society and all connected failures.
Can you give us some examples of other bands, promoters and supporters you follow?
VSÄVSM: As we said, we’ve been fortunate to play with countless amazing bands, too many to name. Some amazing bands that we have recently played with were fellow Swedes TENGIL and VIVA BELGRADO. Playing bigger festivals like Miss The Stars has been the best way for us to get see and play with more incredible bands like JUNE PAIK, OJNE, RAINMAKER, and many, many more.
TSWL: We kind of stick in the past a bit and have our favorites and evergreens. To name a few: ORCHID, SAETIA, INDIAN SUMMER, WROUGHT IRONSMILE, THE KHAYEMBII COMMUNIQUE, NEIL PERRY, LOUISE CYPHRE, DIE EMPEROR DIE, LIFE AT THESE SPEEDS, RAEIN, JEROMES DREAM, FUNERAL DINER, BATTLE OF WOLF 359, ENVY … the list could go on and on. There were/are too many good bands.
During the last years a part of us got into stuff like RUSSIAN CIRCLES, ISIS, THIS WILL DESTROY YOU, PYGMY LUSH, CULT OF LUNA etc.
Beside this we all take influences from other genres like movie-soundtracks, ambient, classic, blues/funk, jazz and field recordings.
When can we anticipate your live shows and where will it be? What plans do you have for the rest of this year? What is next for you?
VSÄVSM: We love playing live, but we don’t play that many shows each year. As of now, we have two festivals coming up: Miss the Stars in Berlin and Sandermosen Festival outside Oslo. Otherwise, we will play some local shows, and hopefully add more shows later in the year.
TSWL: We are not able to play that much live and doing long tours. We played our first show at the Fiducia Fest a couple of weeks ago and will play Miss The Stars Fest as well as the Cry Me A River Fest. Beside this we booked studio time and will finally meet Fabian at Machines of Sleep Studio in person and record some songs for a 12inch plus a further one for another split release. After this we’ll try to play as much live shows as possible. We’ll see…
Apart from music, are there any other portals of creativity you explore when you’re not developing your band?
VSÄVSM: Everybody in the band has various creative things they do from film to writing to photography.
TSWL: The three of us are very different, so the range starts from having kids, historic research, social studies over to parlor games and Movie Nerdism. Having kids and a fulltime job changed a lot. To continue playing in a band, being a small part of a record label is way enough to handle since time is so limited.
Cool, thank you so much for your thoughts! Congratulations on the amazing record. Can’t wait to hear more from you guys. Cheers from Warsaw. The last words are yours.
VSÄVSM: Thanks for talking to us. We have some exciting stuff coming up that we’ll take this chance to share. We are recording right now for an 8-band double 12” split, orchestrated by Zegema Beach Records, with some other amazing labels involved. It will come out later this year and we are super stoked about it. Then we are starting recording a new 12”. Knowing us, it will take some time. Life is life.
TSWL: Thanks for the interview. Revolution tonight, dance tomorrow.