With their new singles Full of Fire and A Tooth for an Eye and the accompanying videos, Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson aka The Knife have already made very clear statements about where they are heading right now: Their approach in their own sounds, lyrics and artwork has become more opently political, more radical, and less easy to consume. With the full stream of the new album “Shaking the Habitual” on the duo’s website it is now finally possible to experience the consequences of their new turn in full force: Many of the songs on the record are longer than 10 minutes, most of the tracks have no clear song structure and are full of unidentifiable sounds and noises, the lyrics are full of open statements against heteronormativity, capitalism and patriachy.
After the interview I did with Olof and Karin for the German Intro magazine a few weeks ago I was really impressed by how hard the duo has questioned not only their whole project, but also the structures under which they’ve been working as artists and musicians in the past. I’ve rarely met artists in the pop industry that have so radically rethought their work and transformed it into something new and more reflected. This English transcript of the interview published below was edited by Sean Dunn, the German article I wrote about the interview and my experiences with the new album can be found on the website of Intro magazine. All pictures were taken by Alexa Vachon.
Olof: I was in Stockholm at the time at the Gender Studies Department and we both decided to study more and read more theory around the issues that we had already been into, like feminist theory and queer theory. We wanted to learn more about colonial history and anti-racist theory. We hadn’t studied so much theory so both of us were into learning more. So we kind of read the books from the field of Gender Studies, both of us, and wrote down many common interests that we wanted to learn more about and gather books on. And started a common ground, a good equal starting point.
Karin: Olof came to Stockholm and I’ve been in Berlin a lot as well in the past years.
Can I ask what you read?
K: First it was the literature list from the Gender Studies Program, like Mohanty’s “Feminism without borders”, also Franz Fanon, Judith Butler, Foucault, Spivak and some of Wendy Brown. Some fiction as well, I’ve been very into Jeanette Winterson… Olof, did I forget anything?
O: Well, there is so much, but I mean we’ve also read a lot of Swedish post-colonial feminists who are really good at summarizing different international thinkers and talk about intersectionality. Are you familiar with this term?
Yes I am…
O: … kind of how to use that. And that’s been really important for us. It has really helped us understand many things, like limits in feminist activism for example.
You’ve involved other artists into your most recent work, both the video and the album. At least four of them queer women – you worked with Shannon Funchess and Emily Roysdon on the song „Stay out here“ and with Marit Östberg and Liz Rosenfeld on the video for „Full of Fire“. Is the Gender Studies background the link to these artist, is this how you approached them and why you chose them?