Sharing a love for experimental lo-fi, Li Stanley and Erik Lindestad of Stockholm duo Wild at Heart makes airy electronic pop, backed up by heavy beats and featherlight vocals. We met with the duo to find out how it all began, why they are working so slowly, and whether they stole their name from David Lynch.
How did you two meet?
Erik: We went to secondary school together. We started out playing in the same pop rock band, before we both joined another band, a big band playing ska.
Li: So we played in a ska band for seven years.
E: It was a band who said yes to every gig, plying everywhere all the time. We were like a travelling party. It was a whole lot of fun, but it was also tedious, and put a strain on the relationships within the band. Eventually we just ceased to exist. That’s when Li and I decided that we should continue, just the two of us. We wanted to make beats, pop and beats.
L: It’s hard to manoeuvre seven people at the same time, so it was such a relief to be just Erik and me. It’s so much easier to take decisions, even if we also can discuss things forever.
How did you find your sound?
L: If I thought about making music myself, it was this kind of music. It wasn’t an active decision we made. When we started working, this was what came out.
E: I knew I wanted to make beats, but I didn’t know much else. We had some references that we listened to and talked about, mostly things that Li showed me. I had been into metal for the past five or six years, so I had to rediscover pop music.
L: We were somehow reasoning our way to the music, listening to various sounds.
E: We were learning by doing.
Do you still discuss a lot during the writing process?
L: Well, some ideas are just born naturally, but I still reason a lot with myself. It becomes a kind of creative process. We have never been a band that spends a lot of time in the studio, rehearsing. Rather the opposite.
E: That’s exactly what we used to do though, with the ska band. We used to really grind away in the studio, doing nothing but rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. Now we begin by writing and discussing, and then we look for ways to recreate the music for live performance.
Are you writing everything together?
E: Not everything. Usually, I start with the outlines, while Li writes the lyrics. Then we both work on the melodies before putting it all together.
So Li writes the lyrics even though you’re the one singing them?
E: Li has a fantastic ear for melodies.
L: I find it strange when people say that, because that’s not how I see it, Li says. Somehow I don’t see Erik as the only one singing. In some way I think that I’m doing it too, even if I know I’m not.
L: Many people think that I’m the singer, though. I remember meeting with a record label who said they liked those ‘brittle, female vocals’.
E: I like that, though. A slight touch of gender bending.
How would you describe your music?
L: Usually I just call it electronic pop, Li says. Dream pop maybe.
E: I would say hazy pop. Hazy electronic pop. I think that’s a good description.
You started working together in 2008, but you still haven’t released more than three tracks. Why is that?
E: We work very slowly.
L: There have been practical reasons as well.
E: Yeah, Li’s been working a lot, and I’ve become a father.
L: At the beginning we didn’t know what we were doing. Everything just happened so quickly. It took shape while we were working with it. That’s also a reason why it has taken so long.
E: We are also very picky with what to release. We want every new song to be better than the last release; otherwise we’d rather not release anything at all. We wouldn’t want to release something we’re not completely satisfied with. There has to be a good feeling in your gut.
L: I’m not dreaming very big either. To me, the most important thing is to make things I can be proud of when I die. My biggest dream is to make a record that I’m proud of.
E: We don’t necessarily have to tour the U.S., we just want to make nice music.
In the window there was this book,
just one book, called Vildhjärtan.
That was a magic moment.
So what are you aiming at now?
L: Now we’re aiming at completing this album. Maybe next year? I don’t think I can wait much longer. Or maybe I can. But I think we need some professional help to get it all together.
E: We have that, though.
L: That’s right. We have Tobbe. Azure Blue. He’s our man.
E: He used to manage our bookings, but now he’s more of our right hand man.
L: He’s like our catalyst. He’s both good cop and bad cop. He’s the best, even if he can be a pain in the ass sometimes. I don’t think any of this would’ve happened without him.
Why did you decide to include four remixes on your latest single, Saving All My Tears?
E: To add a surplus value.
L: We initiated the remixes by TRiFELiFE and Starflux, Tobbe made the one with Azure Blue, and initiated the remix by 1987. I think that one is even better than the original song, the one by 1987. It’s so sick. He’s a little genius.
How does it feel to have your song reworked by others?
E: I think it’s a whole lot of fun, to have a song made into something new, something else. To hear a remix that you like, that’s fantastic.
Can it be frustrating?
L: I get frustrated when I hear that 1987 remix. I really want that hook he made. That soundscape, it’s so inspiring.
When I Googled Wild at Heart, I got millions of hits on this 1990 David Lynch film. Is that where you took your name?
E: I guess. It was one of the guys from Sound of Arrows who came up with the idea.
L: We still called ourselves Cleast Eatwood back then, but we didn’t think that name really corresponded with the music we made. It just didn’t feel right.
E: As a pun it was funny, but no one ever understood what we said.
L: And then we change it to the most Google incompatible name ever, haha.
L: Anyway, the story is that we were having a coffee with Stefan Storm of Sound of Arrows at a place called Rival when he suggests the name Wild at Heart. We liked it, but we were still hesitant. On our way from the café, we walked by a bookstore, and in the window there was this book, just one book. It was called Vildhjärtan. That was a magic moment.
Listen to Wild at Heart’s latest single Saving All My Tears here.
Photos by Mathilda Österlund.