Team Rockit

Last spring we saw them in a crazy horse-video accompanying their song Aura and a couple of months ago their single Gaia blew our minds. With their second album coming up, we met with Ikaros, Gregorian and Merely from Team Rockit in the Sincerely Yours headquarters in the city of Gothenburg.

New album on its way
– Thats right, Ikaros says.

– Correct, Merely says.

– Yessirreee. It will be called Anima and it consists of ten pieces, two of which are previously released, Gaia and Aura. It’s filled to the brim with hit music only, Gregorian adds.

– M-mmm

In what direction are you moving in relation to your last album 1988?
– It’s clearer, more pure, Ikaros says. It’s more of everything that defined our previous album.

– I’m a part of the team this time, Merely says. That means a big difference in how the music sounds.

– Absolutely, it brings a completely new dimension to our music.

New influences?
– I don’t think there are any new influences per se, Gregorian says. Obviously everything you experience becomes part of you, so you can call everything that has happened since the release of our first album ”a new influence”, but for me that’s not the same thing, since it’s just really natural.

– Working on this album has been less anxious than before, but it’s been so much harder in other ways, Ikaros says. It’s much more personal this time around. I didn’t think that was possible before but it’s a very different experience. It’s more honest, more refined, not only in the production, but in the expression over all.

The old and the new both have a place in your music, you often refer to history and mythology. Why is this inspiring to you?
– All of us share a big interest in history, Ikaros says. I like being inspired by times so different from our own. There are a lot of ideals from ancient times that I identify with more that present ones.

Is there a critique against the present in this?
– If you listen to our lyrics I think you get that feeling, but we have no defined political agenda or anything like that, he says. Using historical and mythological references is a good way of describing the feeling of not belonging.

– It’s not necessarily limited to critique, there’s also room for finding things out from history which connects to oneself in the present, Gregorian adds. That’s why it’s as much an ode to the present condition as it is a scorning of it. Maybe rather an ode to the fact that there can still exist things that are important to people. And that we’re sort of just channeling something far more ancient.

We make intense music because
we are intense persons with very
intense feelings

But do you long for a utopia which your music aims at?
– Yeah, bro, but I think utopia can exist wherever and whenever, Gregorian says.

– More like an emotional utopia, Ikaros says. Not like in the structures of society or anything, just being able to relate to other people and to your own feelings.

– And being able to be honest, Gregorian adds. If you look at a lot of our lyrics, I think they convey this general feeling of resentment against falsehood in any form, that there is not enough honesty. You have to peel off so many layers of this society to reach down to anything remotely important. And that’s utopia, the moments when you feel you’ve peeled off enough.

– I don’t write any of the lyrics so far, and sometimes I don’t really understand what Gregorian and Ikaros are singing, but it doesn’t really matter, even if I think their lyrics are really important and I love them, Merely says. Really, they are so sick. But it’s ok if I don’t always understand. My first expression is always harmony and tonality. And when I understand what they are saying or get to read the lyrics it always corresponds. That’s why it’s so very easy for me to start working on songs; I understand it before I’ve heard the lyrics.

– That’s really cool to hear, Gregorian says. I feel like you could probably take any word we’ve ever said and replace it with a scream, a scream that corresponds to a word. The meaning or the feel of the word will shine through anyway, if you do it honestly.

– We write our lyrics in a stream of consciousness-like method, Ikaros says. We write the lyrics and record them very much in the moment. We try to put simple words to complicated feelings.

Team Rockit. Photo by Fredrik Andersson.

Does sub-cultural affiliation have any significance to you?
– It’s no coincidence that we live in Gothenburg and are signed to Sincerely Yours, he says. Somehow, that’s the way it had to be.

– If we are talking about modern Swedish music, Sincerely Yours is probably the only thing I’ve felt part of, to the extent of it becoming an integral part of your nature and identity. But this tradition with Sincerely Yours has been mostly theoretical for us, Gregorian explains. I don’t think we’ve got anything to do with anyone ever in regards to the way we actually sound. The label is more of a think tank. Personally it’s extremely important for me to be a part of this group of people since they’re my family and I love them, but publicly it couldn’t matter less. People may praise us solely based on context, but that goes for negative responses as well. It would’ve been nicer to just exist.

– It’s funny, when I started out making music people compared me to the “Sincerely Yours-sound” and I had to ask what it was, Merely says.

– People seem to have mixed up the expressions “Sincerely Yours-sound” and “good music”, really you could just replace them, Ikaros says. People say that about our music too, that it is euphoric and dreamy and blablabla and I’m like: oh, you mean it’s good music?

Team Rockit laughs out loud.

Are you outsiders then?
– We care so very little of what people think of us, Merely says. We want people to appreciate our music, and if they don’t it’s weird, but we don’t really care. I would never think of myself as being an outsider or not.

– Maybe you automatically become an outsider just by feeling that way, Ikaros says. If you feel that you don’t belong in any context, you exclude yourself from every context. But it’s not because we feel like underdogs, it’s just that we don’t get along with many people when it comes to our feelings towards art and music. It’s not a choice we’ve made to step aside like that, it just happened.

– We’re more like overdogs, Gregorian adds.

I get a feeling of critical state when I listen to you music, both like in a crisis and in an ecstasy. At the same time I get the feeling you want to comfort, as if what you yearn for is also something to fear.
– I think all of these feelings are present in our music, or at least that’s something we aim for, Ikaros says. I think a powerful song can make people want to accomplish things, dance, laugh and want to kill themselves at the same time, because all these feelings are always present in people’s minds even if they are aware of it or not. We make intense music because we are intense persons with very intense feelings.

– To take part of our music in that specific way you have to get rid of certain preconceptions in advance, and that’s sort of difficult I guess. I don’t think you can be very judgmental if you want to appreciate our music, Gregorian says.

You claim never to be ironic, yet you continue to be perceived that way. For example the dance audience of a club where upset when you played records there a while ago. Why do you think that is?
– It’s very sad if people actually feel that way, Ikaros says. It’s so far away from our own idea of music. Irony could never be a part of that. We give equal value to all kinds of music. A religious hymn or a ringtone from Jamba can have the same emotional value and impact to us. We don’t believe in that kind of hierarchy.

– Then again maybe it’s stupid of us to play records at those kinds of clubs, Gregorian says.

– It’s hard not to be naive about it. If we play all these amazing songs, of course people will love it. Why wouldn’t they?

– It makes me sad that people are so insecure, because that’s what it’s all about really, Merely adds. Take the expression “guilty pleasure”, what is that? There’s only what you like and what you don’t like. There are no in-betweens, at least not to us.

– I actually find it very hard to see music as something subjective; I can’t make sense of it, Ikaros continues. If I really love something I don’t understand it when people don’t feel the same as I do, and the other way around. Of course I understand that everybody has different tastes and opinions, but I only understand it in theory, I can’t feel it. It’s like: Are you hearing what I’m hearing? How can you not like this amazing song? I mean just listen!

A powerful song can make people want to dance, laugh and kill themselves at the same time

– I know that I once played a song for Gregorian and he didn’t like it, so I talked to Ikaros and was like: Gregorian doesn’t like this song! I don’t get it! He’s gotta listen to it again! You probably weren’t paying attention before, here listen again. When I get a strong feeling for something, I need to share it.

– Yeah, that’s super important, otherwise you wouldn’t make music yourself, Gregorian says. Maybe people misinterpret that as elitism or something, to have a really strong conviction in your own music. But I don’t think it’s strange or wrong to feel that way, if I feel it I gotta express it. I DO make the best music in the world, how is that my fault.

– If you didn’t feel that way I wouldn’t want you to make any music at all, Ikaros adds.

And you’re sure this isn’t delusions of grandeur?
– Not at all, Ikaros says. It’s the only way for artists to reach their full potential.

– It’s like any other job, why would you be frightened of being good at your job? It’s the same way with music, you do your best until you like the result or else you can just find another job, Merely says.

– You can’t help sounding like a total asshole, but everybody knows it’s the truth.

– But I think it’s really important not to be arrogant when talking about these things, Gregorian says. I have absolutely no intention of coming off as arrogant, but then again we’re doing an interview and I have to say how I feel. It would be so weird if I were to sit here thinking I’m the best without saying I’m the best. Maybe it’s just a feeling of being on the right path.

Team Rockit. Photo by Fredrik Andersson.
Team Rockit. Photo by Fredrik Andersson.

Speaking of megalomania, you just got booked to POP Montreal as an opening act to The-Dream, one of the main acts. How does that feel?
– Awesome, Gregorian says. We love The-Dream. If we hadn’t gotten the Canada-gig we probably would’ve gone to Stockholm for his show there last week. Looking forward to poppin some Patrón with him.

– I look forward to seeing how people outside of Sweden react to a Team Rockit show, Ikaros says.

In your latest song Gaia you sing that you don’t listen to critique ’cause you haven’t gotten any, is that about music journalism?
– I think it’s more of a feeling, Ikaros says.

– Mm. But yes, that’s what it’s about, Gregorian adds.

Are you too weird for people to have an opinion about you?
– I don’t think so, but maybe people find it hard knowing what to feel about Team Rockit, Ikaros says and Gregorian continues.

– That’s just because we can’t afford PR.

Team Rockit’s second album Anima will be released this autumn. Follow them on Twitter @teamrockit4ever.

Photos by Fredrik Andersson.