- Well, first off, I feel like as a critic I’ve written so much about you, and I’ve read so few English-language interviews from you. Are there any big misconceptions about the Embassy you’d like to address?
T: We are sometimes filed under balearic or synth pop but we think we play punk, punk funk and punk funk disco.
- Last year you released the single “Roundkick” on Service. Why was that your last release for the label?
F: It was time to move on for all parts. And it felt like the cover of the Roundkick-single symbolized and summarized the era pretty well too.
T: We spent more time arguing than creating and there was a financial swindle. It was very hard to move forward or even be friends so we split up.
- Obviously, Service has since called it quits. What’s that label’s legacy, in your opinion? What was their distinct contribution to the music scene?
T: Huge impact in Sweden first half of 00-century. The media, other bands and the audience were afraid of us back then but instead of joining the party and celebrate they stole and back stabbed the movement. Today no one gives a shit about us or Service, we are not important. And outside Sweden it’s to too late to tell anyone anything, it’s just nostalgia, boredom. Please tell them that Service never was about escapism, we were all about here and now.
- What’s the significance of your new label’s name, International? (Obviously it shares a title with one of your new songs.) Do you plan to release music by other bands?
T: Yes, maybe.
F: Maybe yes.
- Hadn’t you once criticized the album format? Why a new album now?
F: The album format had a decline, but it’s back both listenable and visually thanks to new streaming media
T: There are so many songs floating round, impossible to communicate that way today. The Embassy is all about impact, even though we are quite insignificant.
- The album cover for Sweet Sensation bears a strong resemblance to cover of Spacemen 3’s Playing With Fire. What do you see as your connection with that group?
T: It’s not a copy of that cover, though we love it. The words we use are open, there’s no attitude here, it’s business language. We’re just saying “this is how it feels being an embassi 2013”, and we say it in a circular way cos the discussion never ends, and with colors cos we love all colors.
- You’ve said this album would be a “brotherhood album.” What did you mean by that and how did it play out in the music
F: Before the recordings we had put ourselves in a position where we had to rely on ourselves only. It was like the early days again with no one else involved in the process. With that comes freedom, loneliness and brotherhood
T: Sweet Sensation is a tool, the reason we made it was to renew our feelings about the music and art industry.
- You also said this album would be more dance-oriented than its predecessors, which it totally is. The bass really stands out to me, too. But then there are your vocals, which seem very much in a different tradition. Can you talk a little bit about what helped inspire you as far as crossing these elements that maybe are traditionally considered “disco” with other elements that might be classified as “indie”? (Sorry, I hate labeling things as much as the next person but I feel like this could help unfamiliar listeners understand how you sound and why you sound the way you do.)
T: For us it’s simple. We grew up with indie pop and house music. We just wanna merge what we like the most into one unity. And we’re getting better at it every day.
F: I found a small article from the local paper in my parents house the other day. It was from 1990 and about a café that my classmate had started and where I used to DJ. He is quoted: “..the café is a hangout. Fredrik, our DJ, plays indy (misspelled) and house”. So yes, that has always been a natural mix for us. We’re just diggin’ deeper, keep looking in new corners
- That song also starts with a quote from Andy Warhol about whether or not he’s “playing a joke on the public.” What interested you about that quote?
T: When the song is ready, when we release it, the big laugh starts.
- The album also samples the Marine Girls, on “U.” Their quotes are brilliant all around, but it interests me that they’re so stridently opposed to careerism, and yet now Tracey Thorne really has become a successful professional musician. What’s wrong with the careerism that happens in the music world? And I’m curious: What do you guys do for a living, or is music enough for you to get by now?
F: We’re doin different things for a living. Sometimes only music, sometimes dead-end works. But that’s how we want it. We need that inspiration, wind ourselves up and start again. We love professional musicians though. Careerism is something else.. But it rarely works anyway.
T: The sample is not really a statement its musicality, we like the sound of their voices. Being a professional is ok, but for us it’s hard. We’re into things like irrational logic, simulation, and shoplifting. We wanna make groovy music from the bottom of our hearts without knowing how.
- I know you’ve said you don’t necessarily emphasize lyrics so much, but can you tell me anything about the subject of “Related Artist”? If I’m not mistaken, you sing, “Gender and race, always.”
T: Lyrics are important, but not more important than anything else. Though I always prefer a good tune with bad lyrics than the opposite.
F: Lyrics should fit the music, but they have to be good and stand on their own anyway. You can’t stand singing badly written words in the long run. “Related” is about a common categorization of bands and artists. And it’s about the wish to belong but the refusal being defined.
- Are you going to play any of this album live? It seems like some of the other Gothenburg acts I think of as being in your orbit (TTA, Honeydrips, jj) put on very distinctive, unconventional live shows — what have your gigs been like?
F: We never meant to be unconventional. We do what feels right and necessary
T: We’re looking for a music with higher potential, a spirit behind music, a new power. Often it’s just in our heads but it’s all a question of putting people on the right train, telling them to watch out. TTA was very good at that, standing on stage telling the world “you’re no good, you better shape up”.
- Jens Lekman told me last year that he felt like a lot of the young bands in Gothenburg were playing in a tradition rather than creating something of their own tradition. Now, I’m as skeptical of the idea of music “scenes” in the Internet age as anybody else. But what do you think about the music coming out of Gothenburg these days? How is it different from what was happening in the 2000s? While I’m on the subject, how many of these other bands — Air France, the Tough Alliance, the Honeydrips, Studio, jj, and on and on — were you friends with, or did you all just do your own thing? To an outsider it’s easy to imagine you all hanging out together but then again Gothenburg is a fairly large place…
F: We were, and still are, close friends to many of them. The local scene is not much to talk about for the moment. But it has always been like that in Gothenburg. Quiet for 7-8 years, chaos in 2, then quiet again
T: I agree with Jens but I wouldn’t blame Gothenburg, Service was unique and impossible to copy. So when the movement diminished everything went back to normal.
- The Economist, of all publications, recently said Sweden has become one of the world’s most creative regions. What do you think has spurred all the creativity there in the 21st century?
T: I don’t know about creativity. To me it’s clearer that Sweden is a neoliberal dream, there are IT-billionaires that don’t pay tax, the school system are the most privatized in the whole western world and it’s impossible to get a flat in the big cities and it’s really hard to get a job and the banking sector is very very oversized. In short, we’re letting private banks run this world by creating money out of debt. It’s a consumption based free fall ride that are destroying the planet and giving away our common wealth to a few lucky bastards.
- What did you learn from your time apart, when Fredrik started Crepes and Torbjörn moved to L.A.?
T: That it was was more fun to be together.
F: A perspective on Embassy. A way to look back and a new focus forward
- You’ve said the Stone Roses were a big influence on you. How do you feel about the fact they’ve reunited?
T: I dont care, I like reunions. A bands decline are as important and fun as it’s success, especially if you like the music.
- An especially boring question, but what newer musicians are inspiring you these days? Possibly related: Who do you think you’ve helped to inspire, if you’re willing to say so?
F: Last year Kindness was an inspiration and helped us finish some things. But no idea who we might have inspired. The ones I can think of have all splitted up in bitter ways, don’t know what that says haha ..
- I was talking with an American musician whose sense was that Sweden has bands with punk mindsets but very accessible production, like the Embassy, because there’s so much government funding for the arts. Is that something that has helped you? Or is that a misconception?
T: Government fundings are really important for large scale projects like movies, papers, museums etc. But when it comes to pop and rave fundings easily creates disharmony and false art. Why swedes are “creative” are just because they have time and are bored to death by the climate and most important, open minded.
- I know you guys already told me about your love of indie-pop, but I had to ask: What do you think about the track list for this new ’80s U.K. indie-pop boxset? Is this stuff that means a lot to you?
T: We love the siddeleys, the pale fountains, marine girls.. but we are not a retro group. It’s like The Redskins said “take no heroes only inspiration”.
F: Doesn’t mean a lot right now, but surely meant a lot through our lives. It’s a big part in why we once started making our own music