PHOTOGRAPHY BY DUSTIN RABIN
LINDSEY CEPEK—I am a twin. I love my sister more than anything, but I know that spending as much time together as you two do, especially on tour, must be a challenge. How would you define your “conflict management” skills with one another?
FIRST AID KIT—We don’t really have any of those “conflict management” skills. We get on each other’s nerves all the time and create small conflicts daily. We might hate each other and yell and scream our throats out for five or 10 minutes, but then we forget all about and are best friends again. It’s probably really annoying for the people around us, but we think they’ve learned to disregard our silly fights by now. They know we can deal with it.
LC—Who gets the last word in?
FAK—It depends on our moods. Some days Klara’s the boss, other days Johanna’s the boss. We don’t have any real big sister, little sister-type roles. Because the age difference is just two years and because we spend so much time together, we’re more like twins.
LC—Being that you girls are sisters, have you found that balance between family and professional partnership or is it something you rarely have to acknowledge?
FAK—We rarely think about the fact that we’re family. We’ve been working together for five years and collaborating creatively even longer, since we were small children, so it feels very natural for us. We rarely even consider what we do as work. It’s more like getting paid to travel the world and experience crazy adventures together – a luxury.
LC—Are there ever difficulties in relating to one another’s experiences throughout the creative process?
FAK—We try to write lyrics that touch upon subjects we both can relate to, even if our experiences are different, the big picture is almost always pretty universal. For us, we want people to be able to see themselves in our lyrics, and see their own lives.
LC—After a long day in the studio or when you two have been traveling together for countless hours, what is it that can change frustration and fatigue into fun? What makes you giggle amongst yourselves?
FAK—When we’re really fatigued, anything can be funny. We love watching YouTube videos of sloths, for example.
LC—In 2010 you toured the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and some of Europe. Family bonding to the extreme! Being so close to a family member must have been comforting while so far away from home. Did the two of you view the tour as a chance to learn together or were there certain growing pains you dealt with?
FAK—It’s definitely comforting being close to family when you travel. Our feeling of homesickness probably isn’t as extreme as it would’ve been had we traveled alone. It’s a good feeling sharing the responsibility of performing live and doing interviews with someone you know and can trust. The pressure we’ve felt has only brought us closer together and made our sisterly bond stronger. Every tour is a learning experience for us and we’ve certainly learned a lot about what we’re capable of doing and not doing. One thing we’ve learned is not to be too hard on ourselves and accept that we can’t do things perfectly all the time. Mistakes make you stronger.
LC—It’s interesting that you acquired online fame by covering a band from Seattle, Washington, while you are all the way from Stockholm, Sweden. What’s the connection? How did you discover Fleet Floxes?
FAK—We discovered Fleet Foxes in early 2008 through a Swedish television show about the music scene in Seattle. This was before Fleet Foxes made it big and when they’d just released their debut album. We downloaded a track called Your Protector and became addicted to that song and to that album. We had found a new favorite band. We loved the melodies and the harmonies and the old medieval-folk feel to the instrumentation. Then Fleet Foxes played live at a festival called Way Out West in Gothenburg in Sweden that same year and we saw their show – we actually went out busking in the streets of Stockholm to collect money so we could do this. The show was incredible and eye-opening, and inspired us to go out and shoot that cover video in the forest. We had no idea that anyone would ever watch it.
LC—On a family trip I once allowed my sister a free swing at me, resulting in a bloody nose. Sisterhood can be dangerous. What is the most important thing in your first aid kit while on tour with your sister?
FAK—For the sake of our sanity, the most important thing is that we get a little time off from each other. We work and live together day in and day out. It’s important that we can have our own private space and do our own separate things. Sometimes maybe that means going out or going for a walk by ourselves, our simply not talking to each other for a while.
LC—Your first album was called The Big Black & The Blue, with a band name like First Aid Kit, I can’t help but think you’re referring to a huge bruise – any correlation?
FAK—We didn’t think of this correlation when choosing that title! It does make sense now that we think about it, and you’re not the only one who’s made this connection. We see the title as a way of expressing grief, melancholy, and pain – the black and the blues. A lot of the songs on the album are about lost or unrequited love so we thought it was a fitting title.
LC—I have to assume you are animal lovers – the new album The Lion’s Roar and latest single Wolf…
FAK—We are most definitely animal lovers. Everyone should be. Loving and respecting the natural world and all the non-humans is such an important thing. It seems to be something we civilized Westerns have forgotten to do. We seem to think of nature and animals as resources we can use for economical growth instead of as companions in a larger sustainable ecological system. This is very problematic and needs to be acknowledged.
LC—I looked up the contents of a first aid kit and the first item is an emergency contact list. Who is the first person you call when something goes wrong?
FAK—Our mom! She’s been a strong role model to us for all of our lives; she’s one of the coolest, fiercest, smartest, and bravest women we know. We’re very lucky.
LC—A pair of scissors is also included on the list of items. Johanna, do you cut Klara’s bangs for her or does she do them herself?
FAK—On tour, Klara usually cuts her bangs herself. She wouldn’t trust me with the scissors…
LC—And would you ever consider cutting your hair the same as your sister?
FAK—I honestly look better without bangs and besides, it would make us look identical. We’ll see… maybe I’ll have a pink afro for the next record.
LC—Having your own physical identity is very important, but how do your personalities differ?
FAK—It’s hard to assess how we differ; it would probably be easier for an outsider to figure that out. If I was to make a guess though, I’m (Johanna) probably a little bit more dramatic at times, while Klara is more easy-going. I’m also a bit more organized and careful, while Klara is more care-free and wild. We complement each other really well.
LC—What can you safely say is next for First Aid Kit?
FAK—We’ll be touring the rest of the year and next year as well. The US, Europe, Australia, our home country Sweden… After that we hope we can have some time off. We’re thinking of renting a house in Greece and spending a month there relaxing and just writing new songs. We don’t know what’s in store musically, what new direction our songs might take but we’re thrilled by the unexpectedly good reception of The Lion’s Roar. We can’t wait to write new material and record another album. The world is such an exciting place for us right now.