Boeoes Kaelstigen <3 weird sounds, melancholy and management

Electronic duo Boeoes Kaelstigen just released their new album. We sat down with Tor Rauden Källstigen och Leo Nathorst-Böös to talk about everything from their new sound and collaborations to Swenglish, fizzles and their unexpected bureaucratic qualities.

Tell me about the album title Overcomes Love, Time and Space.
Tor: The concise explanation is actually a quote on a metal etching, which is placed on a building on Alexanderplatz in Berlin. It shows some space travellers and it says “Der Mensch überwindet Zeit und Raum” (“man overcomes/conquers time and space”). It fit since the album is linked to Berlin because I lived during part of the process. Then we also added the love-aspect to the title, which is a theme on this album.

You’ve said that this album is about “The Big Feelings”, would you say that you’ve actually made love songs?
Leo: In a sense, yes. The love theme felt like taking a step that was sort of uncomfortable, just like space travel.

So you feel you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone quite a lot with this album?
Tor: Yes, when we started planning this album we were at a crossroads and were actually thinking of not even releasing it under our name, but as a new project. The sound was heading in such a different direction, but it ended up being a Boeoes Kaelstigen album anyway.

But even though it feels more like pop music, the melancholy and the electronic, colder vibe’s still there.
Leo: Yes. It’s very hard to make happy music that’s also good. It’s almost impossible. But getting a hopeful vibe is easier, and that’s what I think we’ve done.

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Name The Pet, Asha Ali, Stax Osset and Vanbot are all featured on the album. Was it easier conveying feelings in those collaborations, where you worked with vocals?
Tor: The collabs are such a different type of production. We send an instrumental base together with some half vague guidelines and then they put their own touch on the song.

Leo: It’s as much their stories as ours. And we’ve let them have quite free rein.

Tor: The instrumental songs aren’t as in-your-face with the feelings, but we’ve sort of calibrated that sound during a long period of time, which has made us feel comfortable with it.

Did you inform the people you worked with about the love theme?
Leo: Yes, we actually gave them a brief of our ideas.

Haha, really?
Leo: We’re incredible business minded when we’re in contact with people. When we first started working on the album we created this informative document stating what it should be and our thoughts about that we wanted to convey.

Are you guys perfectionists?
Leo: It’s more a way to get the people you collaborate with inspired and to get them going. Some form of restriction tends to help the creative process. Then it’s up to the person to interpret our ideas and create something of their own. Plus it’s also a way to get an entity.

Tor: I think both of us are quite organised people. We like melancholy and management.

 I think both of us are quite organised people. We like melancholy and management

Have you thought about a new title for the direction your music is headed? Before you said you were making “minimal trance”, someone also called it “armchair techno”.
Tor: Haha, yes “armchair techno” was a really good genre title. But anyway, so much has happened to house music since we started. Back then, the whole EDM concept didn’t exist.

Leo: Yes, the boundaries between the different sub genres in electronic music are getting blurred, so categorisation has kind of lost some of its meaning. But I guess we’re making some sort of electronic pop music.

Minimal EDM, maybe.
Leo: Exactly.

Tor: But we might go back to a really minimalistic sound after this album. We have been thinking of which way to go and we still don’t really know.

Is it easier making straightforward pop songs when you’re working with vocals?
Leo: We always think in terms of those classic elements, like intro, verse, chorus, verse and so on. While the classic structure in dance music is build-up, drop, build-up, drop, we’ve always had more of the pop song structure.

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You made a podcast for Nöjesguiden where you talk about your album and stuff around it. One episode’s about what you call your “toolbox” of sounds. Are you really nerdy when it comes to sounds?
Leo: Yes. We’ve also named a lot of sounds, like “pys” (fizzle), which is what we call all the sounds we use for transitions.

Tor: We get some funny feedback when we export our files, and people are like “Is says pysbuss (fizzle-bus) here, what does that mean?”

What’s your favourite sound?
Tor: I like the sounds an arpeggiator makes.

How does that sound?
Leo: It’s when you fracture chords, and play them note by note. I’d say my favourite sound is reverb, which is when you use reverberation to make everything sound bigger.

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Can you tell me about the diplomat song, Segue?
Tor: Haha, how do you feel about it?

I was sort of confused by the whole “living in intellectual weightlessness”. But it feels really philosophical!
Leo: Tor did an interview with former top diplomat Erik Cornell. He is very philosophical as it is but we also cut the parts that were more concrete, to make it sound even more abstract. You don’t really get what he’s talking about but he has this great, old Swenglish accent.

Tor: I did the interview with him in a different context, about when he was posted in Pyongyang in the 70s. And then we decided to use some of the material from a part where he’s talking about when he just got to North Korea and was reporting home.

How did he react when you asked him if you could use the material?
Tor: He was very confused about being on an album but said “Sure”.

Has he heard the track?
Tor: I think so. I’ve sent it to him but he hasn’t said anything about it yet…

Boeoes Kaelstigen will celebrate their release with a party at Trädgården tomorrow, including a live set featuring both Name The Pet and Asha Ali. Check out the event here!

Photos by: Liam Warton