“All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted,” is a lyric from “The Spirit of Radio” by Rush and has always been sort of a guilty pleasure. Saint Etienne cleverly sampled the song’s intro for the track “Conchita Martinez” (from the LP So Tough). Rush’s lyrics speak of magic music at your fingers bearing a gift beyond price – almost free. The song explores the wonder of music and the integrity of the suits that profit from others success – all in hopes that the power of music is stronger.
All of music today is supported by modern machinery but it takes humans to make it open hearted. The Swedish duo Air France have a DIY sensibility that creates a sense of wonder. They are sort of like a dream – no, better. Airy, dramatic and melodic barely begin to describe their blend of skillfully placed samples and blissfully out of control synth-pop.Their music is cinematic; a world of make believe you can make believe in.
Air France has two EP’s (No Way Down and On Trade Winds) and a few remixes so far. They’re currently hard at work on a new single, and slated to do a remix for a band that I’ve been asked not to mention quite yet. The news got me super excited because the unmentionable band is one of my favorites of all time. (update: This ended being a remix of “Spring,” by Saint Etienne – March, 2012)
Joel Karlsson and Henrik Markstedt of Air France recently took time out of their busy DJ and songwriting schedules to grant us an interview. I found them to be humorous and brimming with positivity in our e-mail exchanges.Because I’m such a fan I had to ask if there was an unreleased or exclusive piece of music we could use on our blog:
Air France: We’re sorry we haven’t got any exclusives for you, we’re working right now on a summer single, but since we’re only about half-way in, it would be weird to send you a song with just a bass line and drums and girls saying “huh?” over and over.
The Color Awesome:Your music is moody, yet positive. I have to say, it doesn’t sound planned out – it sounds more natural than that. What approach do you take to get such an effortless sound?
Air France: Tremendous planning I’m afraid, haha. But there’s a certain amount of experimenting going on as well. When a song lacks something that we can’t really put our fingers on, we’ll put our blindfolds on instead and start throwing samples and stuff in there to see if anything sticks, if anything ends up where it was supposed to be all along. It usually works out quite well, I think.
TCA: It must be flattering to be asked to do remixes for other bands. You’ve mentioned that you’re picky about choosing. We love the remix for Friendly Fires’ Skeleton Boy .It becomes a duet, completely original. Do you have plans to do more remixes at this time?
Air France: As we’ve said before, we have to regard a remix as a song that’s completely our own, as if the original is a first draft we felt like turning on its head. If we manage to make the remix feel like it’s been our song all along, we’ve done our job.We’re going to remix (top secret band name here) for an upcoming release. We haven’t decided which song, and you never know if it ever will be released so forget I said anything. Next question, love.
Air France: A big and essential part of what we do involves keeping the listener guessing, never to leave them with a sense of closure or satisfaction. We’re quite fond of My Bloody Valentine’s sweeping vocals, and even though it’s never really been our intention to mimic the way Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher moan every syllable, it’s an effective way to lend mystique to a song. And the lyrics, I dunno, there’s not much of that. Maybe they’re hard to understand because we try to put as much meaning as possible in a sentence.
TCA: I read a story about one of your CD books being found and sifted through by an overzealous fan after a DJ gig. Is this true? Did you get them back, and how did that make you feel?
Air France: Haha, sounds like us but I’m not quite sure to which incident you are referring. Once in Barcelona, Joel got in a cab and as it reached it’s destination he found he’d lost his wallet. He tried to pay the man with his CD case. The driver refused, but as Joel ran off he left the case anyway, not having to feel like a complete criminal for dodging the bill. Other than that, Joel thought Barca was fabulous.
TCA: Do you revolve female vocalists? We love Teresa Jaksetic’s voice – it adds another element to the beauty of your music. Will we hear from her again?
Air France: Yeah, it’s important for us that the vocals blend in well with the music, so different songs require different vocalists. What they must have in common is that their voices sound like waking up in Heaven after overdosing on love, haha. Teresa is Henrik’s girlfriend, and hopefully she’ll stay that way.
TCA: What other mediums inspire you? Do you have a favorite film, director, music producer, or artist?
Air France: It may sound a little bit pretentious but I say Life. You know, you’re always surrounded by shit all the time, but if you scratch the surface there’s beauty underneath. It can be simple things like waking up to birds chirping after a restless night and bad dreams.
TCA: We know you love the beach – What is your favorite beach?
Air France: We’d have to say the Swedish West Coast Archipelago. There’s not much sand, but the cliffs are really smooth, like clouds warming up in the sun. I swear it’s like it never sets, just floating on the horizon all night.
TCA:What would you like our readers to know about Air France?
Air France: They know too much already, luckily most of it is not true.
Download: Air France – No Way Down