“No one takes any responsibility for the Swedish music scene”

Amason just released their impressive debut album proving they make flawless indie music. Radar met up with the band at the Ingrid studio to both laugh about their obsession with animals – and be quite serious about the state of the Swedish music scene.

Meeting up with Amason is like meeting up with a group of really good friends who’ve just been reunited. Which is also more or less the case. The members, all busy playing in other bands (Miike Snow, Idiot Wind, Little Majorette and Dungen), only spent a total of twenty days during two years recording their debut album Sky City.

Band members Amanda Bergman, Gustav Ejstes, Pontus Winnberg, Petter Winnberg and Nisse Törnqvist met up with Radar the week before the official release, which meant anticipation and excitement were in the air making the whole band giggly. Also, they tend to always be quite… talkative when being together. “Making music is what takes the least time, because that’s the only time we don’t chatter. And well, chatter takes time”, singer Amanda explains.

Is there a theme for this album?
Petter: Animals…
Amanda: Ambition.
Pontus: Different types of ambition. Ambition: song. Ambition: gig.
Amanda: Haha. Should we maybe try and answer seriously?

The animals are always recurring! Why?
Amanda: We have a lot of animal lovers in the band. Also the songs with Swedish animal titles were the titles they got before the lyrics were added. I almost always make instrumental songs first and I wanted to call them something a bit more inspiring than “Instrumental no. 1” and so on.
Pontus: We also had requests to have some of the titles in English so that more people could relate to them. To reach our massive crowd abroad…

Laugter

Pontus: That wasn’t a joke.

Amason

When talking to Amason the easy-goingness of the band is evident. They seem to be so completely driven by the sheer joy of just hanging out and making music.

When you were starting making this album you said in an interview: “Amason is starting to become something we have to put in our calendars”. Does it scare you in any way that Amason is becoming a bigger deal?
Gustav: No, not at all. That’s the ambition.
Petter: We have always wanted to play live, and gigs are something you have to plan ahead and put in your calendar, so it’s a good thing.

You’re not afraid to loose that feeling of doing it just for fun? 
Petter: We didn’t have any clear ambitions when we started playing. We were only driven by wanting to make music together and that is still the driving force behind Amason.
Amanda: Amason is sort of like a sanctuary, there’s no pressure to live up to any expectations.
Petter: Exactly. Since we all do other stuff on the side and no one invests their whole life into this, it makes this less forced.

The band agree that their relaxed attitude is in some way a result of being signed to the record company Ingrid, an artist collective with musicians like Lykke Li, Peter Bjorn and John and El Perro Del Mar. And a place where creating music and having fun with colleagues and friends by your side is more important than… everything else in the industry.

What makes Ingrid different from other record companies?
Petter: The collective part of it. You build a team and work together every step of the way, and that way you also share the responsibility. It’s all very informal and it doesn’t matter if you’re releasing a record, planning a gig or having a party; the same people are involved. There shouldn’t be more to it than just make the music, distribute it and communicating that it exist.

Amason

The band has just begun a mini tour around Sweden with a small detour to reach Olso. When we meet they emphasize their strong yearning to play their songs live (“We’ve probably said ‘it will be fun when we start playing live’ like a hundred times”). And not only that, the band want to reach more than just the Stockholm audience.
Nisse: We want to get away from being “music for the big cities”, and tour around the country.

But this time the tour will not reach all those smaller cities Amason is so eager to go to.
Pontus: The sad part is that if you’re this size of band it easily becomes very Stockholm-centered. Years back there were a lot of good places where you could play in Swedeb. But that whole art form of every middle sized town having a place with concerts every weekend, is gone.
Amanda: It’s really such a shame.

Would that be one of your wishes for 2015, to be able to reach smaller cities?
Everybody: Yes.
Gustav: But it’s difficult doing more than maybe four stops on a tour in Sweden if you don’t count the festivals during the summer, because of the economical factors and the lack of good places for concerts.
Pontus: What really provokes me is how politicians always flaunt how Sweden is such a great music nation but no one takes any real responsibility for the music scene.

All photos by Alena Sucher