Tuesday, November 02, 2010

[INTERVIEW] The Amplifetes: the fantastic four

Left to right: Korpi, Tommy, Henrik, Peter

La version française de l'interview a été posté sur le blog My Tour Manager.

Not so long ago I had the pleasure to meet The Amplifetes, an awesome electro-pop-rock band from Sweden, whose eponymous debut album was just released in France. The four guys were a pleasure to talk with, and we had a lovely chat in the gardens of the Swedish Institute in Paris, during which we talked about things as diverse as Madonna, Swedish winters and shampoo. But most importantly, they told me a lot about their brilliant record which sums up pretty much everything I love about music: pure pop songs with a little something else. Read our chat and get you hands on the boys' music as soon as possible through any online retailer. You won't regret it.
It’s Pop ! Your debut album offers many different sounds (pop, rock, electro), and shows very diverse inspiration sources. Who and what does inspire you as musicians?
Peter (singer, the told one with the beard) : We’re a lot inspired by other artists who are also inspired by other artists. Like David Bowie.
Korpi (drums, the blonde one) : He was taking a lot of things from Jacques Brel, you know, and William Burrough too, his technique to write lyrics.
Peter : We’re inspired by a lot of stuff. It’s so much fun to take bits and pieces from all around the place and go “hey, we can use this too, within our frame work.” So I’d say bowie is THE influence, even though we don’t sound like him.
Henrik (bass/keyboards, the tall one with short hair) : He’s the one that connects us, coming from different musical backgrounds, when we were kids.

 IP : What are your musical tastes and backgrounds ?
Tommy (Keyboards/samples, semi-long hair) : I’m a guitar player. I’ve played since I was a kid. I was listening to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, generally rock music. Even Black Sabbath! But you know, you evolve!
Peter: I was a “melodic guy” when I was a kid. The Beatles, the Melodic 70s, like Supertramp, Queen, ELO, but also the 80s with Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, all that kind of BRRRRILLIANT pop. I’m not sure why I did that sound, but… (laughs)
Tommy : I was really into metal, but also at the same time I listened to the new romantic bands like Ultravox or Duran Duran and then I evolved to all kinds of new wave music and also techno and electronic stuff (like Kraftewerk for example).
IP : How would you describe your debut record?
Korpi : “Eclectic” is probably the word that comes to mind, but that’s such a boring word! For us, it was really important to be able to challenge ourselves, by mixing a lot of influences to finally come up with something new. I don’t know if we totally succeeded but at least we tried our very best, by mixing influences from Georgio Moroder to The Sweet. We tried to, or more precisely we forced ourselves to come up with something new.
Peter: We also tried to tell a story instead of trying to make twelve pop singles.Our album is a journey, a little planet you can come visit. 
IP: I noticed some things about some of the tracks, tell me if I’m wrong but to me the bass line in Fokker is very reminiscent of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, while When the Music Died has similarities with Madonna’s Cyberragga (a rare b-side from the Music era). Now tell me do you have a thing for pop divas?
Henrik : Oh really? We don’t know that Madonna song.
Korpi: I think we can definitely say that Madonna was NOT an influence, at least for The Amplifetes. As for Donna Summer, hell yeah! You know, the first maxi-single ever done was I Feel Love. It’s EPIC!
Henrik: Our influence on the one was probably more Georgio Moroder (the song’s producer) than Donna herself.

IP: Some of you have collaborated with that kind of artists (Madonna, Kelis). How exactly?
Henrik: It’s me, I was working with [Swedish production team] Bloodshy & Avant. [B&A have produced some of last decade’s best pop songs including Britney’s Toxic and Madonna’s Get Together. They also form pop duo Miike Snow]. I’ve been working with them for ten years, as a musician, a co-writer, a co-everything in fact! So I’ve been involved in small pieces here there and everywhere. I also co-wrote songs for the Miike Snow project.
IP: Speaking of Swedish artists, it seems like the pop scene there is really strong at the moment, with people like Robyn, Lykke Li, both powerful female singers. What’s the deal with you Swedish people?? What do you eat to make such great music?
Peter: I think we have that very open situation, where women can actually find a spot and are very welcome on the scene, which I feel is not always the case in other countries.
Korpi: Plus there’s no language barrier really, so it makes our music much easier to export. Singing in English is quite easy for us, so I think that probably explains some of the success.
IP: That being said, I can’t say that you sound like British or American bands for example. You seem to have quite a unique sound. How is that?
Korpi : Something prominent about Swedish artists is we try to pick the good stuff from both the US and UK and then bring our own melodic trick. We try to make sure that every melody, every lyric really hits the spot. We try not to get trapped lyrically, where it’s not clear enough. So I think making sure to be as clear as possible lyric-wise and melody-wise is a very typical Swedish thing I think, and it comes down to the fashion scene or architecture : Swedish people are very clear and minimal.
Peter: I think we have some sort of melancholia to our heritage from music we try to incorporate to our own sound. That melancholia comes from Swedish folk music. You know, coming from a country where it’s pitch black at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and really cold during winter makes it almost compulsory to stay inside, in a studio and play.
Korpi: Yeah, I think it’s really difficult to write shiny, sunny pop hits sitting surrounded with snow in January. So yeah, our nationality probably has an influence on the type of music we write.
Peter: Same thing goes for France: how come so many electro acts (Daft Punk, Justice, Air…) come from your country?
IP: That’s probably because we take lots of drugs.
Peter: Could it be that?
IP: You record is coming out here in France at a time when things are difficult for newcomers. How do you feel about the current state of the music industry, and the new concepts that are being developed, like pay-what-you-want music or Creative Commons, the fact that you don’t necessarily make lots of money from selling your music, the additional money-making possibilities…?
Korpi: I think this is the most exciting time we’ve lived in a very long time! It just breaks the system down. You know, we’ve been working on the whole “big labels” scene for quite some time now. It was a big, old machinery stuck with recording contracts that hadn’t been updated for the last 50 years. For us, the whole system exploding (kind of) is just very sexy, exciting, and OK! We responded to a question earlier, about the fact that our music seems to be quite popular with advertisement...
IP: Speaking of that, I heard that Somebody New was going to be used in a big campaign…
Korpi: Yeah, it’s for a big cosmetic company [Garnier’s Fructis shampoo]. Another song of ours [It’s My Life] was used in a Roberto Cavalli ad earlier. For us it’s just another way of thinking. Ten or fifteen years ago, that would have been selling yourself to the devil and really fucking cheesy, but today it’s just how the game works. It’s a new way of marketing and bringing our music to a lot of people, and I think you just have to adapt to that. We’re totally aware that albums sell a hundred times less than they used to ten years ago, but in the meantime it makes us want to get on stage and perform even more! In short, for us, all that is super exciting. 
IP: What is a perfect pop song ?
Korpi: OOH trick question! I think the core element has to be the surprise. It has to surprise you. And shock you, either by lyrical content or melody wise. SHOCK and SURPRISE.
Peter : It has to seem really simple and obvious but completely new at the same time.
IP : Now, quick and stupid questions!
- Which artists are you playing on your iPod at the moment?
Peter: Interpol, the latest album. Groove Armada’s last album too. If you like this kind of 80s vibe, you’re gonna love it.
Korpi : Fourtet, his last album is mindblowing.
Henrik: Gui Boratto. I just can’t get his music out of my head. We’d love to have him remix one of our tracks. We fear it might be a bit expensive, but we’ll see.

- One song, one album, one artist?
Peter: Sign 'o' the Times by Prince - Time by ELO - Bowie
Korpi: Ballroom Blitz by Sweet - London Calling by The Clash - The Clash
Tommy : A view to a Kill by Duran Duran - Breaking Law by Judas Priest - Judas Priest
Henrik: Toxic!! No I can’t do that even though I co-wrote it! - (It’s a bit boring but I’ll say ) Dark Side Of Thee Moon by Pink Floyd - Stevie Wonder

Well thank you The Amplifetes. You are pretty awesome. 

1 comment:

Tomas said...

You were asking them about strong swedish female singers. Peter is cowriter of several of the songs on the upcoming album from Tove Styrke, including the recent single "White Light Moment".