Probably the cutest sibling duo in music since Angus and Julia Stone, First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara Söderberg may offer up sweet-as-honey vocals and dreamy costumes but in the music biz they’re a force to be be reckoned with. Their rousing harmonies, fanciful lyrics and lighter-than-air melodies have paired these girls with some of the industry’s most respected names and ensured a career that is anything but flash in the pan.
Just as the new folk movement took over our earphones — think Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale — First Aid Kit broke onto the scene and settled comfortably into indie’s latest genre to love. Hailing from Enskede, a southern suburb of Stockholm (that we like to imagine as a magical wood), the sisters were snapped up by Wichita Records before hitting the festival scene and growing a dedicated band of followers. Us Topshop girls stumbled upon the duo at Latitude 2010 in an ideal forest setting and have never looked back. But it wasn’t just their achingly gorgeous vocals that had us flocking to download their tracks but their dedicated style of late ‘60s, early ‘70s garbs that’s all floaty dresses, fedoras and hypnotic prints. Swoon!
When we heard the twosome were coming to London, we knew we had to feature them. Read our quick chat with the lovely ladies on performance wear, maxi dresses and Jack White.
When did you two start performing and creating music together?
Since we’re sisters, we’ve been singing together since we were little children, but we started writing songs and performing as First Aid Kit in 2007.
What or who encouraged you to start taking music seriously and consider it as a career?
What got us from being passive music fans to music nerds was the band Bright Eyes. When we heard their album “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” it was like a revelation to us. It was so pure and honest and beautiful. We thought, if they can write these amazing songs with just vocals and guitar, why can’t we do it too? So we tried to write our own Bright Eyes songs and they ended up being the first First Aid Kit songs.
What band influences you most?
Besides Bright Eyes, we’re very influenced by Simon & Garfunkel. We think Paul Simon is the best songwriter on earth. We think his and Arts harmonies together are the best, they sound like two angels, we strive to be as half as good as them one day.
What are your thoughts on the modern folk movement and how far its come?
We think it’s fantastic that people are into folk-inspired music right now. In a really technology-obsessed culture with all the house music and autotune it’s great that people also look for something more simple that is timeless.
Do you have a favourite gig you’ve ever played?
It’s so hard to narrow it down to just one gig, we’ve had so many fantastic ones. However, it was really cool playing the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island this summer. It’s that really famous folk festival where Bob Dylan went electric for the first time. All our favorite bands have played there. It was a big honor to get to be a part of such a legendary tradition. Also it was awesome that Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes was there and we got to collaborate with him during his set and our own.
What was it like collaborating with Jack White?
Insane! He is so cool We were just in awe of him all the time. To get to see him in the studio producing our single was incredible. We were really inspired by his live show and by his visuals. The way he has everything under control, everything thought through, and still can sort of let loose and just go crazy on stage was very impressive. The craziest thing was when we were at the Roskilde festival in Denmark and stood on the side of the stage watching him performing “Seven Nation Army” for 60,000 people jumping up and down and screaming like maniacs. That’s not something you see everyday (unless you’re Jack White, of course).
What’s next for First Aid Kit?
We’re thinking a lot about our next record in terms of what it’s going to sound like and what imagery will be attached to it. We want to take some time off touring just writing songs for it. Maybe go to Greece and relax in the sun and find inspiration there.
What are your must haves when touring?
A couple of good books, dry shampoo, earplugs…and lots of new music to be inspired by.
What do you feel most comfortable performing in?
We just got some maxi dresses custom made for us by a designer in Los Angeles called Miss KK. They’re super comfortable. They’re really flowy with lots of fabric and huge angel sleeves. They’re made out of silk with paisley prints…We love anything clothing-wise from the late 60’s to early 70’s.
Catch the siblings in action this month at the following live venues.