ray of light

by Paul Morin

an interivew with Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray

Fever Ray
Fever Ray

As one half of the Swedish duo The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson probably didn’t have much time to sleep, much less to dream.  After receiving six Swedish Grammys, placing number one on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of 2006 list, and gaining a reputation as one of the most interesting live acts in the world, Karin and her brother Olof decided to take some time off.  In addition to having her second child, Karin began working on her own album, the self-titled Fever Ray.  Full of many of the same hypnotic haunting moods present on The Knief’s Silent Shout but with a quieter more minimal approach, Fever Ray seems to pull words and sounds from a dream (maybe Karin’s waking dream) to create a surrealist collage of light and darkness.  Being a bit more relaxed and reflective after the journey, Karin took time out to talk about inspiration and the act of creation.

When Silent Shout came out, you said you were moving away from the sound on Deep Cuts. Do you feel this album is a move away from your previous work in The Knife or a continuation of an aesthetic?

Karin: I don’t know. Maybe both, it must be some continuation.

I think Fever Ray has a lot of the elements of The Knife in it but it seems to be going in a different direction.  Was that intentional?

Karin: I didn’t think so much about the direction. When I started, I just wanted to try out ideas that I had been collecting during The Knife years and after that, with things that I couldn’t really do together with somebody else.  Hopefully it contains things that I haven’t done before but at the same time I started to play the guitar again which I did on the very first album as well.  It’s a little bit of everything.

Do you feel this is more of a personal album?  In the past, you have used masks as a metaphor and said that you think of your work as fiction rather than truth…

Karin: Yes, I think it is more personal because it’s only me involved in the songwriting process and most of the recording process also.  It’s more personal but at the same time I [still] work with fiction.  I don’t think when doing that, it doesn’t remove personal elements.  I think it can make them more clear and maybe maximize the expression in a way.

You were becoming a mother for the second time when making this album.  Has that affected your approach to the making of the music at all?

Karin: I think yes, definitely.  Maybe I write more about… I like to start from the inside more than I have done before.  Becoming a parent is a very big change in your life and it was also, at least for me, the first time I really started to understand what death is about – and life also.  So it was some kind of awaking that is very scary and a very important thing in your life.  It definitely affects your work.

A lot of your music seems to have a mystical or spiritual quality to it and especially on this album.  Are there influences outside of music that are inspiring you?

Karin: I feel a lot of feelings.  I think that during last year when I was going to be ready with the album I was very into Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man.  I think it contained a lot of elements that I wanted to use.  Things that I think were very important, like he perfectly described emotions and environments in the film that I feel connected to, and the kind of ideas that I try to work with in my music.  I discussed that feeling a lot with Andreas Nilsson, the director of the “If I Had a Heart” video.

Did you have an input in the “If I Had a Heart” video?

Karin: Yes.  We discussed the synopsis, and before he came up with an idea for the video, we talked a lot about references and what direction we wanted to do something in.  I said I was very into Dead Man.  I wanted it to be black and white at first and I wanted it to contain 19th century elements in it.  I wanted it to be set in another time/space.  We discussed a lot before.  Andreas is very fun to work with and we are both very open to discussions.

You had a strong visual element in your live shows with The Knife. Will that continue and how will that change with Fever Ray?

Karin: When you have been working with the music for a long time and being very isolated, that is the way I usually work, then I think it is fun and relieving to start with the visual part of the music afterwards.  I think with the live shows, if you have the possibilities (time-wise especially), it is great to work with the visual aspects of it.  Andreas Nilsson and I are already discussing it because we already have a few shows scheduled at the end of March.

I think that’s all I have. Is there anything you would like to add?

Karin: No I think that’s fine.

Thank you very much!

Karin: Thank you.

from the February Issue of Auxiliary Magazine

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