Fortune Finds Me Fit And Able: An Interview With First Aid Kit

Feature by Ewen Millar | 20 Mar 2009
  • First Aid Kit

Judged solely on musical content, First Aid Kit's début The Drunken Trees EP sounds like it was written by two wizened female folk singers in the deep south, who've distilled their lifetimes' highs and lows into a series of acoustic ditties washed down with gallons of Jim Beam. To find out that Johanna and Klara Söderberg are actually Scandinavian teenagers (aged 18 and 15 respectively) is a little disconcerting, but any worries about these girls being scarred by horrendous teenage experiences is quite misplaced: “We don't do teenage angst sort of stuff- we're story tellers. We just tell stories”, they say, interjecting over one another amongst good natured banter, banter that extends into their writing process: “We have small arguments, but neither of us wants to do Black Metal (both laugh).”

Their sunny disposition extends to the notion of touring their material. “We've always wanted to tour- it's not a negative thing, it's such a privilege. It's so great to meet people and have people listen to our stuff. We might get sick of the songs, but every time you play them, you notice something new about them. As long as you don't drink too much and stay up late, then touring shouldn't be a problem.” So, peppermint tea all round then? “Absolutely, peppermint tea (again, both laugh).”

To hit such creative highs at such tender ages means that there hasn't been a lot of time for the 'years in the wilderness' that many musicians go through honing their craft, but that doesn't mean that these two have had any formal training. Klara states: “I actually auditioned for music school when I was ten, and I'm really glad that I didn't get in. The train you to sing in a certain way, you know? Everyone ends up sounding the same.”

So, we're talking about a real overnight success story, one predicated on a certain internet website. “Actually, MySpace helped us a lot- we added 200 friends a day, until someone at a record label heard us, and we got signed from there.” The internet also allowed Fleet Foxes to hear the girls' cover of 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song'. Klara explains“(it) was quite surreal, we posted it on the internet one night, and the next morning Johanna was screaming because they had actually left a message for us saying how much they liked it. It's pretty much a dream come true.”

But, as the expression goes, prophets are never welcome in their home towns: “We didn't get much airplay on Swedish radio at all- maybe a thirty second clip. It's very difficult getting on Swedish radio- you need drums! We're actually much bigger in the UK than we are in Sweden.” But that doesn't mean that the girls are stuck rigidly to folk orthodoxy- they would like to expand their sound. “Well, we'd like percussion- but we can't find anyone!” There are, of course, drawbacks to a full band set-up: “full band concerts are too loud! You go in and they hurt your ears. With just the two of us, it's more intimate.”

Lest you think that these two are spending 24/7 fulfilling their Wichita musical obligations, rest assured, the girls are still finding time to do teenage things. As fans of the Mighty Boosh, they're quite happy to wax lyrical about the relative 'sex-god' virtues of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt. “We don't understand the Noel thing (laughter)- Julian Barratt, he rules.”

The Drunken Trees EP is out now via Wichita Recordings.