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Photo by: Pär Olofsson
‘Everything I am, and everything I want to be.
All I want to achieve, I already have in me’
Backed by a thunderous wall of fat synths and kicking bass, sharp guitar and cracking snares, carried on the silvered voice of an agathokakological angel sent from pop heaven on-high, these are the words of O’Spada, and as soon as you hear them you know them to be true.
O’Spada’s sound is the quintessence of fresh. It transports you to the past and future simultaneously, pulls your moneymaker forever in both directions, and forces your surrender on both fronts to the fundamental power of the groove. Listening to O’Spada is a time-quaking, chromosome-shaking mitosis of the soul, proving once again that Sweden is making the best pop music per capita of any country.
Here’s a taste (turn up that bass):
If that doesn’t get you moving, congratulations, you’re a corpse. Thankfully, there are many warm bodies across the globe getting down to this fledgling dance outfit, and after just two stellar singles released (their second, ‘Ten Strikes’, is one of 2009’s most joyous odes to infidelity (listen below), O’Spada has the world hungry for more. With an album set to drop a few months from now, I had the chance to chat with them for an exclusive trans-Atlantic interview.
Our standard opener at dysonsound: Beatles or Stones?
Julia: Beatles. Better songs.
Julia: I love both! Prince has probably inspired O’Spada’s sound more, but Stevie is a huge inspiration as a singer and composer.
Johan: Yeah, Stevie is probably one of the best singers there is.
Julia: We met when we studied improvisation together, and formed O’Spada in 2006. Our original keyboardist left the group in 2007, and Christopher joined. About the same time, we started getting more serious about O’Spada.
Julia: Thank you! My first big inspiration was TLC when I was 11. I practiced and practiced and the voice came little by little. During my teenage years, singers like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield were my main inspiration. I didn’t sing in public until I was 18 years old, when I started studying jazz and taking singing lessons, which of course affected my sound. By the same time, I injured my vocal chords (permanently)from screaming too loudly at a jam, and that affected my voice too.
Julia: The combination of the stubborn vocals, often expressing strong emotions, and the puzzle-like arrangements, where noone plays very much, but when the pieces are put together, there isn’t much space left. Our grooves are often based on many small riffs.
Samuel: It can also sometimes be atmospheric and a kind of “wet”sound, but still, we always keep in mind the groove and the rythm and we would never allow it to get smudgy.
Julia: Our first songs (e.g. Time) were made 3 years ago when O’Spada was very much my own project. Pretty soon though, that changed, and we became a proper band, which of course affects the sound. I don’t think anyone of us would have guessed we would sound like we do now, and that’s the beauty of it, we didn’t know this sound until we created it, little by little.
Samuel: We definitely know more now of how we want O’Spada to sound, and our next album will hopefully be written during a shorter period of time and probably, because of that, more uniform.
Julia: Why, thank you! I remember the first time I put on my first P-funk record, (Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein) I immediately felt it was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship. Another example is when I first heard the Swedish band Little Dragon a few years ago.
Samuel: I get that feeling from music so seldom that it’s sad, but last year I actually had three favourite albums that I loved and listened to almost exclusively. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus, Miike Snow – Miike Snow and Justice – Cross (I know; I was late on this one). I need something new now though, please help me.
Julia: I have written the lyrics and the vocal melody to all of our songs so far, but all of us contribute with beats and song sketches. We always work out the arrangements together, and that’s definitely the point when the songs become O’Spada songs.
Samuel: For me, it’s very hard to enjoy listening to our album since we’ve been working on it for such a long time. It’s a bit like when you listen to your favourite album a little too much, you know it’s good music but you need to take a break to be able to enjoy it again. Despite that feeling (which might be only me) we’re all very proud of how this album turned out and that we made it all by ourselves. If people like our music, we’re the ones to take all the credit!
Julia: We are our own producers – people often say they’re surprised how alike the music sounds live and on our studio recordings. Samuel is our recording engineer, so when it comes to recording techniques and sound effects etc, he’s in charge. Our album was mixed by Ollie Olson, so he added an extra touch to the sound, too.
Samuel: Since we had no money to buy studio time we had to record everything the DIY way, everything is recorded in our rehearsal place and in our apartments. I think we’ve learned a lot during the process of recording, how we want to do things, and maybe even more how we don’t want to do things. Some things could’ve been done much smoother and better, but since we did it all by ourselves and had noone to tell us what to do we had to learn the hard way. We don’t now how the next album will be recorded, but if it’s going to be another DIY record, we’re ready!
Julia: Hm, that’s a very tough question. I’m really looking forward to releasing the songs that takes a bit longer to get into, but add very much to the atmosphere of our music. But most of all, we aim for hits that hit the listener fast and hard, so I guess if I have to choose, I’m going for the stack of kick-ass singles.
Julia: The album is due in May, at least in Europe. I really hope for it to be released on vinyl, but we don’t know yet.
Julia: Pay Off, probably in May.
Julia: Actually, we’ve mostly played in Stockholm, with a few trips to other Swedish cities such as Gothenburg. London was our first foreign destination, and it was very exciting, we loved the audience and plan to go back there later this spring. I think for me, our coolest venue was an opera stage in Stockholm (Folkoperan), where we played this New Years Eve. We were up on the balcony in this old theatre, and it was such a rush playing there, blinded by the spotlights.
Julia: We’re very eager to O’party in the US too! Hopefully, we’re coming later this year.
Julia: We’d really love for this album to find us new audiences, and to be able to go on a big tour with it. Ultimately, we want to be able to work full-time with music.
Julia: I’m a sucker for Human Nature…
Samuel: I wouldn’t mind being the writer of Toxic (Britney Spears).
Julia: Right now, our own album. It’s just been mastered, and we’ve listened to many different versions of the songs. Out of that album, maybe Pay Off, our upcoming single, or Rainbow, a lovesong in shuffle.
Julia: Some of my favourite directors include Cassavetes, Fellini, Bunuel, Polanski and Allen. Last time I fell head over heels for a movie was Annie Hall.
Julia: Hm… I decorate my walls with Gilbert & George and M.C. Escher.
Julia: A brass, 30’s style tape dispenser my father gave to me 10 years ago.
Johan: A Monstera deliciosa plant.
Samuel: The vinyl cover of Pink Floyd – Wish you were here. I’m not into Pink Floyd, but that cover is just wickedly cool.
Julia: I associate all kinds of stuff with colors. But I can’t pick a specific one for O’Spada. Time is orange, Ten Strikes is blue, and many of our songs are black.
Samuel: “I utav adel och I andre som frie gods begären vad trängens I här rivens och slitens om ynka få gårdar? Drager dit till desse land som rödjer eder så stora gods och eder själv lyster och vars och ens makt tillåter! Jag skall eder med privilegier och frihet försörja, hjälpa och all gunst bevisa.”
– Gustavus Adolphus the Great’s speach to the swedish parliament in the year of 1617.
It’s old swedish, and I really don’t know what he is saying. Found it on Wikipedia…