HomeMusicFever Ray’s Karin Dreijer, Behind the Masks

Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer, Behind the Masks


Karin Dreijer’s is a face of many masks. Around 20 years in the past, when the Swedish musician first started releasing songs with the eerie, beloved digital duo the Knife, Dreijer and their brother, Olof, had been usually photographed sporting black, face-obscuring beaks — just a little bit bubonic plague physician, just a little bit “Eyes Wide Shut.” The solo challenge Fever Ray, begun in 2009, provided Dreijer extra alternatives for putting visible imagery and character work. They as soon as accepted an award from Sweden’s Sveriges Radio sporting an eerily lifelike masks that made it appear like their flesh was melting.

As Fever Ray, Dreijer invents one other uncanny guise on the duvet of their newest album, “Radical Romantics,” which finds them embodying a sort of zombified workplace drone character with skinny, stringy hair and eyes and mouth rimmed with a sickly yellow. That picture, Dreijer stated in a current Pitchfork interview, was influenced by a seminude self-portrait of the 79-year-old Norwegian figurative painter Odd Nerdrum. “I considered it as a Grindr pic,” they stated of the Nerdrum piece. “It incorporates a lot longing: throwing your self on the market, head over heels. I attempted to do a face like his.”

Dreijer is, against this, barefaced and bundled in a nondescript, oversize black hoodie after I attain them by video name of their studio in Stockholm. Their white-blond hair is cropped artfully, and so they sit in entrance of a white wall as clean as a primed canvas. They can be leaving for the States in two days to embark on the five-city North American leg of the “Radical Romantics” tour, however they had been trying additional forward, too. “I’m eager about what I’ll do subsequent,” Dreijer says. “Which is an effective factor, so that you don’t simply drop after the tour. Touring is intense and plenty of enjoyable — there are such a lot of folks round. I’m planning what I’m going to do afterward.”

Fever Ray’s music is one way or the other each brooding and ecstatic — a sonic kaleidoscope that explodes with infinite variations of grey. Throbbing synthesizers and driving digital beats present a gentle spine for Dreijer’s bracing, shape-shifting vocals and stressed experiments in genres as various as punk, ambient and industrial-tinged psych-rock.

“Radical Romantics” finds Dreijer working with some acquainted collaborators (like Olof, for the primary time for the reason that Knife launched its closing studio album, “Shaking the Habitual,” in 2013) and a few new ones, like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who add an edge of business menace to 2 of the album’s boldest tracks. The visible language of “Radical Romantics” was, like a lot of Dreijer’s work, developed with longtime good friend Martin Falck. “We’re all the time sending one another photos and movie clips and stuff on Instagram,” Dreijer stated. “‘Look, we must always do that subsequent time! This appears to be like superb, we must always do that!’ We gather all the pieces in a folder after which attempt to manage it, which is nearly not possible.”

For all its imaginative character play, “Radical Romantics” is Dreijer’s most weak album — an open hearted exploration of affection and its doable failures. “I feel we began to actually work on a intestine feeling for what we discover enjoyable,” they stated. “And then we speak about what we discover enjoyable in relation to what we’re actually, actually afraid of, what we discover scary.”

“Me and Martin, we’re afraid of all the pieces,” they add. “I feel we’re each the world’s most scared folks. But then I feel now we have change into fairly courageous, as nicely.”

What time of day do you’re employed?

I’ve two youngsters, so I’ve needed to work correct workplace hours, as a result of that’s when you will have baby care. And I feel additionally, to have a great routine, to go [to the studio] within the morning and you’re employed through the day and you then go house and you’ve got a social life, you’ll be able to meet pals and hang around together with your youngsters. I feel that has been fairly necessary for me. Then I additionally do actually wish to go there on holidays. Like for Christmas, or in the course of the summer season. Because that’s if you really feel such as you get a lot time and no one interrupts. And everyone thinks you’re away doing Christmassy stuff, however you’re truly there working.

My oldest child is popping 20 this yr, so I’ve had that routine for a protracted time. But now I really feel like when they’re about to maneuver out, and so they additionally don’t want me the identical manner within the evenings and weekends and stuff, then yeah, I feel I began to take pleasure in going there in evenings and nights, as nicely.

Are there set hours that you just sleep?

I’ve understood that I must sleep, eat and work out to have the ability to operate correctly. Which is a bit annoying, as a result of it doesn’t really feel like enjoyable stuff when the one factor you need to do is simply proceed working. But it’s not so useful to skip these three issues.

What sort of train do you do?

It’s a great biking distance to my studio, so I attempt to bike there. I actually do like scorching yoga. Going to the gymnasium is admittedly boring, however I do this, particularly now, after I’m on tour, I’ve to do this. In the winters, I ski loads.

What embarrasses you?

It’s attention-grabbing what embarrasses folks. I don’t wish to sing to a small group of individuals. [Laughs.] I actually discover it troublesome to do karaoke. It’s this concept of authenticity that I discover very troublesome. Maybe it’s not embarrassing, it’s extra like, it’s actually scary.

How is that totally different from performing your individual materials onstage?

Because then it turns into a efficiency, and I can mess around rather more with the concepts of authenticity and what’s a pure voice. It’s simpler, I feel, to play with these concepts than it’s when you can’t use props or lights or results. If I say, “This is the genuine me, that is authenticity,” then folks will imagine you.

There’s one thing uncomfortably honest about plenty of karaoke.

And you’re additionally imagined to sound a particular manner. You’re imagined to sound like the unique. That is not less than what individuals are striving to do. And I’ve by no means been capable of sing in that classically “good” manner of singing. I don’t know the right way to do it.

I used to be studying one other interview with you that stated on one of many results machines you utilize to course of your vocals, there’s truly a knob that claims “gender” on it, that you would be able to twist.

Yes, there’s a machine that has that. It’s enjoyable. [Laughs.]

How do you consider music as a spot to play with gender?

I feel I’ve discovered that making music, for me, is to create areas the place I be happy. And enjoying round with gender is one facet of it. Early on, when working with the Knife, we tried to seek out this house the place you couldn’t precisely inform what sort of voice that is, if it’s male or feminine or one thing in between. To discover that house, for me, is a really releasing factor. And it may be performed in so many various methods. It additionally has to do with the way you carry out the vocals, if the vocalist sounds very shut or far-off or [like] whispering or screaming. All this stuff work collectively to seek out this house.

What are you studying proper now?

I’ve it right here as a result of I received it for my birthday a few weeks in the past from my brother, truly. [Holds the book up to the screen.] “Dear Senthuran” by Akwaeke Emezi. I feel it’s superb. It’s a manner of seeing a nonbinary identification from a spot that I didn’t find out about. It’s extra of a religious manner of seeing gender. I’m additionally into studying plenty of poetry about love. I’ve a brand new favourite author known as Chen Chen, who additionally writes actually superb poetry.

You’ve additionally talked about that bell hooks was a giant inspiration on this album. When did you first encounter her work?

I used to be so enthusiastic on the final Knife tour, 10 years in the past, that I gave [hooks’s 1999 book] “All About Love” to all of the band and the crew to learn. It’s been with me for a protracted time. And I nonetheless suppose it’s nice. It’s so unusual when everyone has some sort of relationship with love, however there are so few individuals who have a definition of what it’s they imply after they say they’re in love. What does it imply to say, “I really like you”? I feel it’s actually necessary to share a definition with the folks you need to have shut relationships with. What do I must really feel beloved? And what do it’s good to really feel beloved? And I feel she writes about that actually nicely.

I’ve discovered your music to be so referential to different texts in a manner that’s uncommon. It looks like books are an necessary a part of your musical world. Is it troublesome to include that in a manner that doesn’t really feel too educational?

When we did the final Knife album [“Shaking the Habitual”], it was fairly educational, I might say. Even although I’ve by no means studied on the college, we learn loads and we had plenty of literature lists and stuff like that. And I feel after that, each me and Olof talked about how we’re not so into that sort of course of anymore, that begins by way of the pinnacle after which into the physique. I’m extra involved in issues that go into the physique instantly. But I feel I’ve been as impressed by movie and pictures as a result of I usually have a transparent feeling of a tune after I begin. It’s extra of a sense or an emotion. And then I do know the colours of it and what sort of setting it ought to happen in.

Do you contemplate your self a visible artist? You’re a musician, however there’s such a visible element to Fever Ray.

I feel I’m nonetheless looking for out what I’m, or what I do. I do know I do music, and I’m very concerned in making the visuals. The music is form of the exhausting, troublesome work that I’ve to do. I work largely on my own for a very lengthy time, after which when I’ve the sketches and I do know what the tracks are about, then I invite folks to collaborate. Then when the music is completed, we get to do the enjoyable stuff, which is the visuals. I work with Martin on these.

Is it simple so that you can invite new collaborators in and determine the right way to work with them?

I ask individuals who I feel do attention-grabbing and enjoyable issues. You by no means actually know the way it will end up. So I did begin a few collaborations with people who didn’t actually work out. During Covid and the pandemic, I didn’t meet anyone in individual besides my brother. We have constructed studios simply subsequent to one another.

Is it necessary on your inventive course of to have your brother shut by?

I don’t know if it’s necessary. It was only a sensible factor that he moved again from Berlin like 5 years in the past and we each wanted studios, so we determined to construct collectively. Because I used to be simply renting totally different rooms right here and there. So it’s my first studio that’s my very own. With a window, so I can see the sky. I’ve solely been in basements earlier than.

Tell me extra about your studio house.

First it was an enormous form of industrial house, after which we constructed this dice within the center with two studios in it. It’s a wood dice inside this big house. And within the large house, I feel a very powerful factor, as a result of it’s so darkish right here most times of the yr, is that now we have daylight mild tubes. I don’t know what they’re known as in English. It’s like full daylight — to go there’s a bit like having mild remedy. Or simply having correct daylight, which I feel helps loads. To be capable to be right here within the winter. So I feel that’s the smartest thing in regards to the studio. In my little work studio room, it’s not full daylight. Then it’s extra cozy.

What’s the worst house you’ve ever labored in?

I’ve rehearsed and recorded in actually, actually [expletive] locations. I feel one among my first rehearsal areas, with one among my first bands — that is like early ’90s — we had been sharing an area with one other band with solely guys. They peed in glasses and left them within the rehearsal house, as a result of there was no actual rest room round. That was very disgusting, however it additionally tells loads in regards to the time, the way it was after I began to make music. It was tremendous male-dominated and it was actually troublesome to discover a house the place you felt protected and free.

How have you learnt when a tune is completed?

That is a really troublesome factor to know — however if you hearken to it in many various locations and depart it for some time and might come again to it and nonetheless really feel prefer it is smart. But then when you hearken to it one yr later, you most likely would really feel in a different way and need to redo loads and alter issues since you are in a distinct place your self. This time I labored with 10 tracks: To have all of them performed on the similar time, that could be a little bit of a problem.

What is your relationship to deadlines?

I set my deadlines myself. And then after I’m fully performed with all the pieces, I begin to work with my administration and the totally different labels. I’m very blissful to not have anyone concerned within the musical course of that tells me, “Oh, you must be prepared now.” That would by no means work for me.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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