Johanna and Klara Söderberg’s relationship is particularly intense at the moment. The sisters behind Swedish folk duo, First Aid Kit, just launched their third album, Stay Gold, and are currently touring. They’ve just visited Australia for the fourth time, where they played at Splendour in the Grass, and had gigs at Melbourne’s Hi-Fi Bar and Sydney’s Metro Theatre, all of which sold out. When there’re not touring, Johanna, 23, and Klara, 20, say it’s crucial to spend time apart to keep the peace and to restore their creative energy.
In 2010 the Söderbergs released their debut, The Big Black and The Blue. Their second album, The Lions Roar (2012), instantly topped the Swedish charts and was internationally acclaimed. This success, however, did add stress to the excitement of releasing Stay Gold. “It was hard to follow up The Lion’s Roar. We did feel some pressure and suffered from writers’ block,” Johanna says.
The sisters collaborate instinctively and complement one another’s creative strengths. “I come up with a lot of ideas and Johanna can see were I am going and pulls it all together, so it’s not just a mess of melodies and words,” Klara says. They never begin an album with a specific theme or final product in mind. They simply start writing songs and piece them together at the end. Putting an album together is an intuitive rather than an intellectual process, and this approach translates into their music.
Stay Gold comes from the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost, one of Klara’s favourite poets. “It’s about how fleeting everything is, and the golden glow of the sunset and sunrise, and how you can never really hold on to anything,” she says. In many ways the album documents how the sisters have processed their success, developed as artists and matured in their personal lives. “It’s a lot about time and change and how to deal with those things. In the end the message is pretty hopeful – you’ve just got to keep on going regardless of your situation and try to find a way through it because its all worth it in the end,” says Johanna.
Stay Gold is out now.