Karin Dreijer Andersson isn’t homologous with her music. The cryptic and ethereal sounds of Fever Ray, clawing its way out of some uncharted land that sounds of writhing ghosts and dystopia-like themes, is brooding with ideas. The seemingly enigmatic Karin isn’t so perpetually intangible as one would think, the artist says, as she concedes that her body is merely a vessel for her mysterious vocal entities. The music works autonomously, whereas the person behind it works anonymously. Fever Ray’s debut album was met with universal critical praise – Under the Radar Magazine labeled it as one of the best albums of the decade, while Pitchfork.com heralded it as a record with “…anxiety and dread.” – making the Swedish born musician a hot commodity at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. When listening to Karin’s auditory phantasmagoria, there is a lot texture that grows with each listen. Cinema Spartan was lucky enough to interview the humbling artist about her successful solo career.
Robert Patrick: Fever Ray, though having some of the same underlying elements of The Knife, is a little bit darker. Even the cover is monochrome, bringing out this bleak kind of atmosphere. Was this album a way of exercising some raw emotions that you couldn’t otherwise get across with the Knife?
Karin Dreijer Andersson: I don’t think that there is any limitations within The Knife, the difference is that it’s two people working together in The Knife and in Fever Ray it is just one. I could choose more freely though how and where to spend my time, I never had to compromise about that.
Your videos are visually arresting; I think “When I Grow Up” is one of the most haunting pieces put to celluloid. I feel like there are shades of David Lynch or even Ingmar Bergman when I watch your videos. What influences did you draw on when planning out these visuals?
I am usually not too much involved in the actual making of the videos, but I choose who to work with. And I often have discussions with the video directors. Martin de Thura has a strong sense of making images and that is what I like about him, the images intensity.
Going back to the “When I Grow Up” video, was there a deliberate nod to Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”? I noticed that eyes were drawn on both of your palms.
You have to as Martin about that, I didn’t think of it, but I have seen the film. It isn’t me in the video though as you suggest, I almost never appear in videos. I like the videos to be the video directors interpretation of the music, my physical body has nothing to do with it, only the (mental) audio.
You were critically heralded in Sweden at the P3 Guld Awards. Your acceptance speech was, to modestly put it, memorable. Tell me about the reaction you received after you left the theater; did you find the end result to be what you wanted?
Again, why do you think it was me? I think it very important that the music work is being able to stand for itself, without the physical body of the writer. A show is a show, a show can be a film and a performance at a stage is a performance. An award ceremony with stage, audience, lamps and a camera filming is of course also a performance.
You’ll be among the first artists to play at Coachella this year, on day one of the festival. The energy is going to be running very high on that particular night. What can we expect from your performance, and are there any artists you’re excited to see?
I hope it will be not to warm and that we have made it through the customs and border controls with all our equipment. If yes, it have the possibilities to be as good as it gets.
Can we expect more from Fever Ray, or, now that you’ve made this record, will you feel content to going back to making albums with the Knife full time?
I am now settling down in the studio, after the latest The Knife release. I will start working but I don’t know yet with what.
The art of film and music are synonymous with evoking feelings and memories. What are some of your favorite films, and in what way have they influenced your music?
Oh, there is so many. Lately, during the making of this album, I have watched films by Kim Ki Duk, like “3-Iron” and “The Isle.” Also the vengeance trilogy by Park Chan-Wook. Old favorite is Julio Medem, I recently watched “Chaotic Ana,” which was as good as the previous “Earth,” “The Red Squirrel” and “The Lovers Of The North Pole.” I also watched “Dead Man” by Jarmusch from where we borrowed the canoe for the If I Had A Heart video. I am also fascinated by the “Kill Bill” films and “Death Proof” by Tarantino. And “Miami Vice.” And [the] “Trailer Park Boys” TV series.
I’ve heard that a lot of cinema has been important to your work as an artist. Would you ever consider scoring a film, and if so, what director would you want to work with?
It would be interesting to do it again, The Knife did music for a feature film called “Hannah med H.” I will probably write for a theatre play later this year. I think it depends more of the script than director.
You embody so many voices and characters as the Fever Ray entity, is it exhausting or exhilarating to channel all of these ethereal beings? Did you feel a release when you finished the album?
It is always a release finalizing an album! The voices are not a problem though, I see them more as friends now, mental characters that are part of me sometimes.
When you first played the completed Fever Ray record for your brother Olof, who has been such a wonderful companion for you musically, what was his reaction?
I don’t remember, you have to ask him.
How did the Knife come about writing the music for an opera about Charles Darwin and his writings?
We were asked by the danish theatre performance group Hotel Pro Forma to write music for their Charles Darwin piece. Olof and I though it was a good opportunity to start working together again, but also in a new constellation as we did when inviting Mt. Sims and Planningtorock as collaborators. Check it out!
For more information on Fever Ray and The Knife, visit www.feverray.com and www.theknife.net.