With the recent international success of artists such as The Knife, Sweden is at last stepping out of ABBA’s shadow and proving they have far more aces up their sleeve. And now here come Leo Drougge and August Hellsing, otherwise known as Lo-Fi-Fnk, the latest forward offensive, rather Nu Rave sounding band in Sweden’s mission to take over the music world.
How did you guys meet and get Lo-Fi-Fnk together?
Leo: We met in high school and started working on music together about five years ago. Our school had a talent show which we entered and we won it.
August: So then we came up with the name Lo-Fi-Fnk which just seemed to connect with what we were doing back then. I guess our style of music is luscious lo-fi pop. We had to invent a genre to try and describe what we do!
What were your early shows like? What kind of venues did you play?
Leo: We just placed these really small box clubs.
August: We didn’t do it quite like we do it now.
Leo: We didn’t sing back then. It was all instrumental. And we didn’t really fit in anywhere. We played house clubs and indie clubs in Stockholm. Of course, we didn’t have many fans.
August: It’s funny because every time we did a show our equipment broke down in some way and we would have to end the show before we were supposed to. We were so nervous.
Leo: If I hit just one note wrong, it seemed like people looked at me like I was really strange. And then August just shouted things in the mike because we thought it was so boring, so he just said things like some MC or something. So it was always crazy. I think people just thought it was some crazy ploy.
Your album is called Boylife. How did you come up with this name?
Leo: Since we ended high school we have been concentrating very much on the music and living the same life for five years just because we were so much into the music. We haven’t even got a driver’s license or anything like that. We’re just living like boys, really irresponsibly!
What would you say are the main themes on the album?
Leo: It’s a really easy album. It’s maybe not what you would say are the deepest topics you could think of. But it’s still the things that we care about in our life, like going out … and making out!
August: Girlfriends. Small problems. Boylife!
Some tracks, like City, have this epic sound, this kind of stadium-style rave sound. How did you achieve that?
August: It’s an effect: Stadium! Stadium filter on! We just produced it track by track. We wanted everything to be kind of bigger. Not be as lo-fi as it had been. We wanted it to sound really …
This early 90s classic rave sound is coming back in a big way and that is evident on some of the album tracks. Is that a deliberate reference to that particular time and sound?
Leo: I think it’s, like, us listening to rhymes in some garage and rave stuff and they use those sounds and I think that’s why we liked it. And also it’s, like, when we make dance music we’re not so nerdy and very into it and it comes very naturally.
Your album is released on London-based label Moshi Moshi. How did you get connected with them?
August: Through a blog called Fluxblog. At the time it was quite trendy for the music business people. They just started to look for new music there, so we got interest from a lot of labels from outside Sweden wanting to release us. Mostly from the UK actually.
Leo: It’s really working and you sort of hang out a lot with the bands on the label and we do stuff together. It’s like a family and it’s getting better all the time!
You’ve had a really heavy touring schedule lately. What have been the high points so far?
Leo: Well we’ve been touring in Spain, France, Germany and England.
August: We were in Fabric in London recently and the audience was totally nuts. That felt so good. I think it was a really good show. It was so much fun. The time just went by really fast and we did all the songs and we were, like, oh my God we have to stop now.
When you do your live shows, you have a third member on stage with you. Do you want to clear up the mystery as to who that is?
Leo: She’s my sister. She’s called Nova. She plays bass and does some backing vocals.
August: Well, we actually had a bass player before, but then he went into the Swedish army. But he wasn’t very good! And I don’t think he really wanted to play bass anyway.
Where do you come from in Sweden?
August: We come from Stockholm. It’s the capital of Sweden.
Leo: It’s supposed to be a big town. But it isn’t that big actually. It’s kind of small.
Leo: We lived in Malmö for 10 months or something and when we came back to Stockholm, it felt like it was really, really big. Like, oh my God this is the big city. But then it takes, like, two weeks and it’s like it was before. You know everyone.
August: It takes, like, two weeks and then you recognise all the faces at the clubs you go to. But it’s a beautiful town. You can take walks around the town. It takes maybe only a couple of hours, but it’s really nice.
Did you find the fact that the place is so intimate a problem when you were growing up? Was it confining at all?
Leo: I don’t really think that way. If you’re meeting the same people all the time, that’s not that important to me. Because I’m not such a social, outgoing person anyway. So it’s OK.
August: When you were younger it’s not the same anyway. You stayed in your hood and you’d think it was really cool. And you didn’t know anything about the other part of the island and you just didn’t care.
Leo: You can easily get bored of Stockholm, but right now it’s not like we feel like moving away.
There’s a lot of music coming out of Sweden that is doing really well internationally. Any ideas why all this cool music is coming out of Sweden now?
Leo: Well in Sweden, the culture is quite like the United States or London; at least in the big cities it’s quite the same. So the bands who make it from Sweden, they are quite English, quite American.
August: It’s really important that you understand that typically Swedish music doesn’t make it abroad. It’s just the typically non-Swedish music that makes it.
Leo: There is a lot of shit music in Sweden though!
When you first started making music, who were your influences?
Leo: I guess a lot of contemporary house music from the time. We just thought it was exciting dance music and it seemed that there was a new dance hit every week. I guess Daft Punk were really role models then. But there’s lots of stuff. Stuff you listen to when you are a kid always plays in later.
Which other labels are you fans of?
August: Kitsune. Ed Banger …
Leo: Moshi Moshi are quite good.
August: Yeah, I suppose they’re quite OK! (Laughs).
Since it’s the run up to Christmas, what do you guys have on your Christmas lists?
Leo: Hmmm … spa treatment.
August: A really expensive compressor would be a really cool.
Leo: Some microphones!
Is there anything the world needs to know from Lo-Fi-Fnk?
Leo: We are 24 years old. Not 16!
Lo-Fi-Fnk’s debut album, Boylife, is out now on Moshi Moshi.
Interview by Gavin Blackburn