Lisa and Ludvig – The Concretes – Interview

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The Concretes don’t need a long introduction, since they have been making music for us, for the past ten years – they are active, as a band, since 1995. The indie pop band comes from Stockholm (Sweden). They began as a three-piece band – Victoria Bergsman, Maria Eriksson, and Lisa Milberg – but have had as many as eight members at once. Presently, the band members are as follow:

- Lisa Milberg (vocals, drums, etc),

- Ludvig Rylander (horns, piano, etc),

- Daniel Värjö (guitar, mandolin, etc),

- Maria Eriksson (guitar, vocals),

- Martin Hansson (bass),

- Ulrik Karlsson (horns, piano, etc) and

- Per Nyström (organ, glockenspiel, etc).

Don’t be fooled … you might know them better than you think. One of their songs got used in a Target commercial – “Say Something New” – and “You Can’t Hurry Love”  was also used in various films and TV series. However, this is very boring and not interesting and not important. What is important, is the music they make, the way they choose to make it and their musical preferences, as well as other endeavours and future projects.

Lisa and Ludvig were so kind as to answer all of our questions. Take a look to see what new projects they have planned for us, what music they like … just read and get to know them better. You’ll appreciate their honesty; you’ll also laugh with Lisa and get a taste of Ludvig’s irony:

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ZME: You’ve been making music for more than 10 years now. That’s really an accomplishment. Has this long period of time radically changed you ? What are your first conclusions – is it just as you thought it would be? Disappointed or satisfied with the music industry so far?

Ludvig: On a personal level I don’t think we have changed that much besides the unevitable changes that come with age. Musically we always try out new things to provoke some kind of change. We never had any great expectations on how “it would be”. There is no point in being disappointed with the music industry.

ZME: You’re one of the few indie pop bands that uses such a variety of instruments: from guitars, piano and the organ to the mandolin, horns and bells. Your sound is much more than playful keyboards and breezy vocals. How did you manage to organize 7 members, each playing a different combination of instruments, to sing in such harmony? And when recording an album for example, is it hard to fiind the exact sound you want a specific song to have, considering this eclectic use of musical instruments?

Ludvig: Of course it can be hard to find an exact sound you have been looking for. More often than not it turns out as something else, in a good way. When it comes to us being a lot of people with a lot of instruments and different skills it’s more inspiring than it is hard to organize. It would be terribly boring to go with the same instrumentation all the time.

ZME: You’ve released 3 albums, 7 Eps and a couple of singles so far. The last album, however, was released two years ago, in April. When can we expect a new record to come along?

Ludvig: We are working on new songs now. It is a slow process, but if everything works out we will release next album early 2010.

ZME: Of course, the question you probably hate the most by now: did Victoria’s departure diminish your success? A lot of your listeners felt that they were listening to a competely new band, when Lisa stepped in. I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course, Lisa is great. However, have you ever considered that you’re trying to hard to keep up with your past success, when you should maybe embrace and welcome the new style?

<<Former lead vocalist Victoria Bergsman left in 2006 to start a new solo project – “Taken By Trees”. She also had a collaboration with Peter, Bjorn and John – you might remember the very big hit “Young Folks”>>

Ludvig: But we did embrace and welcome the changes. We always embrace changes, big or small. Change is a very vital part of our sound. The quite radical change that came when Victoria left cleared the ground for us to record “Hey Trouble” the way we did which for us was a success, even if it didn’t reach the charts. Our live performances developed a lot. Success is relative to what you have and what you want. The cliché of glamorous success has never been our primary goal.

ZME: Do you have anu booked tours right now? I looked over your MySpace and home page and there was nothing there. Are you going to attend certain festivals this summer? Where can your fans see you perform live this year? And when could we expect a concert in Romania?

Ludvig: We don’t have much going on touringwise right now. We did a couple of shows in Istanbul and Riga recently but there is nothing more planned right now. Touring in Romania would be great and it’s not impossible that we do so in the near future since we work with a guy with great connections in Eastern Europe. Doing shows in other countries than the UK and Germany has been very inspiring.Lisa: There are so many of us and at the moment everyone’s got so many different things on that we’ve had to focus on writing and recording new songs. We love to play live but if we went touring now there would never be a new record…

ZME: In my opinion, „Firewatch” and „A Whale’s Heart” are the two most beautiful songs from your last album. Could you tell us a bit more about these two? What’s the story behind them? Which instrument, would you say, best characterizes each song?

Lisa: A Whale’s Heart is a tribute to three of my favourite men (David, Philip, Robert, they all got a verse each and they’ve all been exceptional in their fields) but it’s also a song to anyone who finds his/her passion and goes with it. Also I am very very fond of whales and am packing my bag as we speak, to go to The Isle Of Skye in Scotland for some whale watching! I love the thought of these massive, wise and friendly creatures patrolling our oceans. For me, Daniel’s guitar is the central part of the song because it reminds me of whale song and a world under water.

ZME: Please mention 10 other indie pop/rock bands you like listening to when you’re at home, relaxing, working, doing chores, etc. Also, please mention a couple of other genres you enjoy hearing, because I’m sure there are quite a few.

Lisa: Bands – Woods, Deerhunter, Dr Dog, Health, Let’s Wrestle, Tobacco, Micachu, Local Natives, The Very Best, The XX.

Genres – psychedelia, folk rock, disco, hip hop, dub step, beach punk, latin soul, lover’s rock, i love music from most genres but I tend to call most of it pop or rock. I find genre names entertaining though. Especially new stupid ones, like folktronica.

Ludvig: Bands – When it comes to the “remember where you heard it first” kind of bands I tend to go with Lisa’s recommendations. She’s the head librarian of new music. Otherwise Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Ramones and Miles Davis will guide me through any moment of work or play, at home or anywhere.

Genres – As an old metalhead I’m into the whole spectre of metal sub genres. The fascination for heavy metal among the indie crowd might seem a bit fake but I honestly love the energy, glamour and mystery that exists only in the metal universe. And there are some really catchy songs.

ZME: Let’s imagine the perfect party: mention 10 tracks you always want to hear, in order for the party to be a successful one:

Hot Party Tracks (Lisa)

1. Love You Inside Out – The BeeGees
2. Rock & Roll – The Velvet Underground
3. Return of Starlight (Invisible Conga People Remix) – Woolfy Vs Projections
4. Still Here – Girl Talk
5. Georgia – Boz Scaggs
6. Louie Louie – Motörhead
7. Magnet – NRBQ
8. Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
9. Clouds across the moon – Rah Band
10. Tengazako – The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit)

ZME: Imagine you get invited to a festival. You look at the print/advertisement and are amazed and totally excited about the names that appear next to yours. Which bands do you see? Who would you love to perform with ? Ignore time frames, it can also be old bands, that do not perform anymore. Give us a couple of names:

Ludvig: The Band, Bob Marley & The Wailers, David Bowie pre Let’s Dance,Lisa: Richard and Linda Thompson, The Faces, Karen Dalton, Shuggie Otis, The Raincoats, Arthur Russell, Rolling Stones, Yeasayer, ELO, Pisces, Dr Dog, The Acorn… I could go on for days!!!!!!!

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